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Colorado

San Miguel River Tabeguache Preserve




Open to the Public

Yes

Things To Do

Picnicking, hiking, fishing, canoeing and rafting View All

Plan Your Visit

Open year-round, dawn to dusk, but spring and fall are typically the best times to visit. View All

Get Directions
Location

Southwest Colorado: Montrose County, just upstream from the San Miguel River's confluence with Tabeguache Creek

Size

610 acres 

Educational Opportunities

The Nature Conservancy is partnering with the Cottonwood Institute and the Telluride Institute to offer an outdoor learning experience for high school students called the "San Miguel River Project." Students will hike and explore the San Miguel River, learn about watershed ecology, discover the impact of invasive plants and help remove tamarisk and other non-native plants that are destroying the habitat along the river. 

Why The Conservancy Selected This Site  

This preserve protects a broad floodplain supporting high-quality examples of the globally rare Rio Grande cottonwood/skunkbrush sumac and Rio Grande cottonwood/coyote willow riparian plant communities.

What The Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

In 1988, The Nature Conservancy protected 250 acres along the San Miguel River - the first site to be protected along this waterway. Now with two more preserves and cooperative projects with the Bureau of Land Management and other partners, we have helped to protect more than 30 miles of the river.

Preserving the riparian habitat is The Nature Conservancy's foremost concern at this preserve. This is accomplished through actions such as the following:

    • Non-native weed control (tamarisk, Russian olive and Chinese elm)
    • Educating the local community about the riparian plant and animal communities, and
    • Creating partnerships within the region to promote conservation.  
Why You Should Visit    

More than 80 percent of Colorado's wildlife depends on rivers and riverside habitat. The San Miguel, one of the few remaining naturally functioning rivers in the West, supports some of the best riparian (streamside) habitat in the Upper Colorado Basin.

Natural flood cycles and a history of very little development have kept many parts of this river in pristine condition - much as they would have appeared before the state was settled.

A 7-mile stretch of the San Miguel meanders through the preserve, occupying a broad floodplain. Unlike areas upstream, the waters flowing through this site are tame and peaceful. 

What You'll See: Plants

Healthy examples of the rare Rio Grande cottonwood/coyote willow and Rio Grande cottonwood/skunkbrush sumac riparian plant community line the shores of the San Miguel River.

What You'll See: Animals

Look for the following:

    • Bald eagles (only in winter)
    • Beaver
    • Black bear
    • Great blue heron
    • Mountain lion
    • Peregrine falcon
    • River otter
When to Visit

Open year-round, dawn to dusk. To make the most of your trip, consider visiting the two other Nature Conservancy preserves upstream: San Miguel Canyon and South Fork.

Catch-and-release fishing is allowed, but only with artificial flies and lures. There is a short walking trail so that you can explore the area and do some wildlife watching. There is also a visitor area with an information kiosk, an outhouse and some picnic tables.

Consider bringing a raft, canoe or kayak to see the preserve from a different vantage point. There are no put-ins or take-outs on the preserve, but they can be found upstream and downstream.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit. The summer months can be very hot, and often buggy. If you visit during this time of year, bring bug repellent and plenty of sunscreen. There is a visitor area with a kiosk, an outhouse, picnic tables and a short walking trail.

Consider bringing a raft, canoe or kayak to see the preserve from a different vantage point. There are no put-ins or take-outs on the preserve, but they can be found upstream and downstream.

Directions

From Telluride:

    • Take Hwy 145 N to Placerville.
    • Turn left on 145 past Norwood.
    • Continue on Hwy 141 N through Naturita.
    • Preserve runs from milemarker 67.2 to milemarker (mm) 74.
    • Visitor Area and parking are located on the North side of the road at mm 74. 

From Montrose:

    • Take Hwy 550 south to Ridgway.
    • Turn right onto Hwy 62 west at the light.
    • Continue on Hwy 145 N through Norwood.
    • Continue straight on Hwy 141 N through Naturita.
    • Preserve runs from milemarker 67.2 to milemarker 74.
    • Visitor Area and parking are located on the North side of the road at mm 74. 

From Grand Junction:

    • Take Hwy 50 South to Whitewater.
    • Turn left on the Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic Byway (Hwy 141 S); follow it through Gateway to Uravan.
    • Preserve is located after Uravan; it runs from milemarker (mm) 74 to 67.2.
    • Visitor Area (mm 74) includes parking and a restroom.
Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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