Open to the Public
Self-guided hiking and wildlife watching View All
The preserve is open year-round, dawn to dusk. View All
In 1994, the Conservancy established the Mimbres River Preserve in southwestern New Mexico, near Silver City. The preserve is an irreplaceable riparian area covering 600 acres and five river miles. The river is a closed-basin desert stream—meaning its surface water never flows out of the Mimbres River basin. But over its 40-mile length, the Mimbres covers a wide and diverse landscape, from its headwaters near 10,000 feet in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness of the Gila National Forest to its terminus in the Chihuahuan Desert grasslands near the Mexican border.
The Mimbres watershed includes dense forests of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine, piñon-juniper savanna, desert grasslands, Chihuahuan desert scrub, riparian forests, cienegas (or marshes), springs and stream reaches that may be perennial, intermittent or ephemeral. The basin, located between the mountains of the Mogollon Rim, the Rio Grande watershed and the Chihuahuan Desert, has been alternatively isolated from and connected with other river systems over time. As a result, the Mimbres has evolved a remarkably diverse fauna and flora, including a handful of species, such as the Chihuahua chub, that are found nowhere else in the United States.
The waters of the Mimbres, replenished by abundant summer rainfall in the upper basin, also support an extensive network of cottonwood-willow forests, sacaton floodplain grasslands (a coarse perennial grass), hot and cold springs and other rare riparian communities.
The preserve was established not only for the characteristic riparian communities it supports but to conserve river habitat for the endangered Chihuahua chub and Chiricahua leopard frog. The chub and leopard frog have declined because of habitat degradation due to water withdrawals, river channelization, parasites and pathogens and the introduction of non-native fish species.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Conservancy and its partners are working to re-establish the river's natural flow regime, restore fire to the watershed's uplands and encourage the recovery of riparian forests and aquatic habitat lost to channelization. Our ultimate goal is to fully restore the river's native species and natural communities and the ecological processes—including fire and flooding—that support them.
Key strategies include land acquisition for direct protection; development of conservation partnerships with individuals and public agencies to improve river and watershed management; compatible economic development via conservation ranching in the upper Mimbres River watershed; and sponsorship and dissemination of ecological research to enhance community understanding.
The preserve's self-guided trail allows you to learn as you go. At the trailhead, you will find a pamphlet containing blocks of information corresponding to each of a series of numbered markers along the trail.
The Mimbres River preserve provides habitat for the endangered Chihuahua chub and the Chiricahua leopard frog. Other species to keep an eye out for include the Rio Grande sucker and the desert viceroy butterfly.
From Silver City take U.S. 180 east for about 10 miles and turn left (east) onto Rt. 152. Take Rt. 152 east to Rt. 35/61 north near the town of San Lorenzo. Follow Rt. 35/61 north approximately eight miles up the west side of the Mimbres Valley. About 1/4 mile after mile marker number eight turn right into an unmarked driveway. There is a parking area on the left in front of an old barn.