Santa Fe Canyon Preserve

The Santa Fe Canyon Preserve is 190 acres of restored wetlands owned jointly by The Nature Conservancy and Santa Fe. At one time it was comprised of overgrazed hillsides surrounding a silted-in reservoir.  TNC worked with the county and the water authority to restore the land and the wetland.  Now it is a songfest of warblers and red-winged blackbirds and a construction zone for beavers.  A gentle trail loops the wetland with options for mucking along a muddy trail or avoiding the mud on higher ground.  We chose the would-have-been-muddy-if only-there-had-been-rain trail and were rewarded with a press through vibrant desert willow, fenced-trunk cottonwoods and wildflowers.   From the higher points along the trail, we looked down on cattails, peering among the reeds for illusive beaver.  And in the distance, the mountains rose to the 1.6 million acre Santa Fe National Forest.  And all within 1/2 hour of town.

About the Author

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I grew up and lived in the DC Metro area for most of my life. For the last 20-some years of my career, I worked for the Federal Government. Much of that time, I worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service. Visiting refuges and National Forests around the country, working with the folks whose jobs were to protect, restore, and manage the wild lands, forests and creatures that depend on them is where my heart resonated. I didn't know it then, but that's where my public lands advocacy must have been born. I moved from DC to southwestern NM in 2008. I continued to work until 2013, when I left the government in December. Now I spend my time volunteering for various conservation non-profits. And advocating for the protection of these lands that belong to all of us. I enjoy hiking, tracking, writing, photography, reading, birding, and driving bad roads in my big-girl 2013 F150 4x4.




This is an excellent description of the preserve. Especially in the hot, high desert of Santa Fe in June and July (before the monsoon rains start), it is an oasis. I would only add that the Nature Conservancy doesn’t allow dogs there–to protect the many fragile species that rely on the wetlands. If you have a dog with you, you may take him on the Dale Ball Trail that starts at the same trailhead.


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