Hiking, walking, wildlife watching, birding View All
The preserve is open year-round, dawn to dusk. View All
Caution: Wildlife at Large
Recently a black bear and a mountain lion have been spotted at the preserve. Please be alert. Avoid hiking by yourself, especially during dawn and dusk.
Visitors should be aware dogs and bikes are not permitted on preserve trails. Mountain lion, coyote and black bear all frequent the preserve. A beaver was recently taken by a lion and a lion has been hunting deer in the preserve. A dog can be viewed as prey for a lion or as potential predator by other wildlife. A dog may seek out wildlife, but then flee once confronted and lead the predator back to you. Please leave your dogs at home and avoid the preserve at dawn and dusk when wildlife are most active.
Once the center of Santa Fe’s hydroelectric activity, Santa Fe Canyon Preserve is today a peaceful nature preserve brimming with wildflowers, willows, ponderosa pine, songbirds, deer and bear.
And beavers! Restoration efforts at the preserve have made the habitat enticing to these wood-gnawing critters. Beavers, along with their dams and lodges, are an increasingly common site at this urban preserve.
This 525 acres of open space, only a few miles from Santa Fe's bustling historic Plaza, offers a thriving bosque of cottonwood and willow trees, a pond, the ruins of an historic Victorian-era dam, hiking trails, more than 140 species of birds and the original route of the Santa Fe River. One of the last unspoiled riparian areas along the river, the preserve is nestled in the foothills adjacent to the Santa Fe National Forest. Once here you can see red-wing blackbirds, a beaver lodge, colorful wildflowers and remnants of the city's historic past.
The preserve was launched in April 2000 when the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) donated the site to the Conservancy. Developer Ralph Brutsche committed in 2007 to donate another 335 acres to the Conservancy for the expansion of the preserve, with the final 99-acre portion completed in 2011. Since the start of the preserve, the Conservancy, with a little help from Mother Nature, has worked to restore the land to its natural state and constructed a 1.5-mile interpretive loop trail detailing the colorful history and fragile ecology of the place.
Within the preserve are the ruins of Old Stone Dam, built in 1881. This was the city’s first official attempt to harness the Santa Fe River to supply local residents with water. A flood in 1904 filled the dam with silt. By then, Two-Mile Dam, the remains of which are also on the property, was in place to meet Santa Fe’s growing water needs. Completed in 1893, Two-Mile Dam was the second of four dams built on the Santa Fe River to store its seasonal flow.
Interpretive panels along the preserve trail detail this colorful past through archival photographs intertwined with information concerning the area’s ecology. The preserve also serves as a trailhead for the 20-mile Dale Ball Foothill Trail System—a joint effort now being constructed by the city, county, the Foothills Trail Trust and other private landowners.
Take a walk along the 1.5-mile interpretive loop trail which details the colorful history and fragile ecology of the place. You might even catch sight of one of the area's resident beavers!
The preserve also serves as a trailhead for the 20-mile Dale Ball Foothill Trail System, a joint effort now being constructed by the city, county, the Foothills Trail Trust and other private landowners.
Pets and bicycles, while welcomed on the Foothill Trails, are not allowed on the preserve trails. Also, large groups of people walking off-trail can quickly damage small plants that take years to become established. For group visits, please contact the Conservancy at (505) 988-3867 to get permission to use Santa Fe Canyon Preserve.
The preserve is located near the intersection of Upper Canyon Road and Cerro Gordo Road in Santa Fe.
Coming from Albuquerque on I-25 North:
Coming from Taos/Los Alamos on US 285: