The 57,191-acre Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939 to try to help protect the last 17 living sandhill cranes. The sandhill crane population is now at 17,000 and rising.

In 1975, Congress designated the Bosque del Apache Wilderness on 30,287 acres of the Wildlife Refuge. The Wilderness is broken into the Chupadera Unit (5,289 acres west of the I-25), the Indian Well Unit (5,139 acres just across the Interstate from the Chupadera Unit), and the Little San Pascual Unit (19,859 acres just east of the Rio Grande). The Chupadera Unit is mostly a series of small mesas and ridges divided by dry arroyos. The Indian Well Unit has mesas and arroyos on its eastern side with rounded mountains on its western edge. The Little San Pascual is rolling desert terrain with sharp high points at San Pascualito Mountain and at Little San Pascual Mountain.

In 2009, the 140 acres that include Chupadera Mountain were donated to the US Fish & Wildlife Service and immediately included in the Chupadera Wilderness Area.

The US Fish and Game Service allows day hiking on the property but camping requires permission, something usually granted only to educational groups.

Bosque del Apache Wilderness map
Bosque del Apache Wilderness map
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Bosque del Apache Wilderness area map