Places We Protect

Mimbres River Preserve

New Mexico

A flowering Yucca plant frames the landscape of The Nature Conservancy's Mimbres Preserve located in southwestern New Mexico near Silver City.
Mimbres River Preserve A flowering yucca frames the landscape near Silver City, New Mexico. © Alan W. Eckert
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An irreplaceable riparian area providing habitat for the endangered Chiricahua leopard frog




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 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.

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.

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.




Self-guided hiking and wildlife watching


600 acres, encompassing 4 river miles

Explore our work in this region


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.

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.

Support Our Work at Mimbres River Preserve

Your support will help us achieve our goal of fully restoring the river's native species and natural communities and the ecological processes that support them.