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Arizona

Muleshoe Ranch CMA


The Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area is 49,120 acres of rugged beauty, lush riparian areas and an array of recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. This area is a mosaic of public and private land cooperatively managed by The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management and Coronado National Forest. These three partners work together to conserve and enhance the unique ecosystems found here and to protect endangered species, as well as the areas they depend upon.

Your support is vital to restoring this special place. The Muleshoe Ranch CMA encompasses most of the watershed area for seven permanently flowing streams, representing some of the best remaining aquatic habitat in southeast Arizona. Some 80% of the region's wildlife species depend upon these streamside communities at some time in their lives. The importance of this area to early settlers is seen in the numerous ranches and homesteads that dotted the area in the last 150 years. You can experience it firsthand by staying overnight in one of our casitas!

Stewardship

A primary goal of the Ecosystem Management Plan for the Muleshoe is to restore and enhance streamside and aquatic habitat in Hot Springs, Bass, Double R and Wildcat Creeks. The EMP's strategy for doing this is to improve the watershed condition by increasing the abundance and cover of perennial grasses and reducing shrubs. This will be accomplished by (1) restoring fire as a natural process to the Hot Springs watershed using prescribed burns; and (2) continued grazing rest until vegetation recovery occurs.

Burns completed:
1998: Double R Burn, 4,720 acres
1999: Hot Springs Burn, 5515 acres
2000: Hooker Burn, 6950 acres
2005: Cherry/Swamp, 2500 acres
2009: West-Central, 5,000 acres

Watershed improvement benefits aquatic habitat and native fish. In-stream cover, an important component of fish habitat, has increased by more than 3.5 times in Hot Springs Creek. This includes increases in overhanging vegetation, floating/emergent vegetation, and undercut bank. The maximum depth of pools, glides and runs has also increased. The maximum depth of pools has increased and has the number of deep pools per mile in Hot Springs.

Five species of native fish can be found in Muleshoe's streams. Native fish density has increased significantly in Hot Springs showing an average annual increase of 6.9%. Gila chub captures and chub density have also increased with density increasing at an average annual rate of 18.5%. In 2005, the Gila chub was listed as an endangered species. Conservancy scientists are using innovative approaches to increase native populations.

Day Visitors
Day visitors have year-round access to the headquarters trail network from the day visitor parking lot located just south of the Muleshoe Ranch headquarters gate.           

All Muleshoe Ranch headquarters buildings and the hot springs are closed to day visitors and open only to overnight casita guests.

All regulations and guidelines pertaining to public lands, including wilderness areas, apply to BLM and USFS lands within the CMA.  Access to the CMA by vehicle, horseback, or hiking is provided via Jackson Cabin Road. However, this road is limited to high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicles only, since it is very rough, not well maintained, and subject to regular washouts. Drivers assume this risk. Day hikers wishing to drive to Bass Canyon via Jackson Cabin Road are asked to park in the designated area found in the canyon.

A map of the CMA is posted at the welcome kiosk located at the entrance to the 4-wheel drive road. You will also find brochures and other information at this site. The Jackson Cabin Road passes through private property owned by The Nature Conservancy. Please respect its posted regulations. All visitors are required to sign in and out at the kiosk.

Stay Overnight
Charming, historic casita rentals are available for members of The Nature Conservancy including exclusive use of natural hot spring tubs. Available October through April. Please call for availability and reservations: (520) 212-4295. Get the details.

Gear
Sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen, binoculars and plenty of water. High clearance vehicles with 4WD required for back country exploration.

Primitive Camping 
No camping and no overnight parking are permitted at the Muleshoe Ranch headquarters or at the day visitor parking lot. However, camping is permitted on BLM public lands and backcountry destinations in the CMA including Jackson Cabin (approximately 14 miles) and Hooker Cabin (approximately 20 miles). These facilities are on public land managed by the Coronado National Forest; visitors are welcome to use them on a first-come basis. Please respect these historical buildings. Activities permitted within these areas include hiking, low-impact camping unless posted otherwise, and horseback riding.

For the safety of others and protection of the sensitive wildlife and habitats in these areas, the CMA partners ask that you use all firearms in accordance with the Arizona Game and Fish rules and regulations and refrain from the following activities within these areas: collecting flora, fauna, minerals and artifacts; car or RV camping; operating vehicles off existing roads; littering or dumping refuse and woodcutting.

Questions?
Call (520) 212-4295 or e-mail muleshoe@tnc.org

The Muleshoe Ranch headquarters are owned and managed by the Conservancy. This area includes the nature trail, casitas and hot springs areas. Information for day hikers is available in the public parking area at the trailhead.

Directions

Need help finding our preserves? Download directions (.pdf, 205 kb) to the six Arizona preserves open to the public.

Discussion

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