Places We Protect

Mishak Lakes Preserve


Mishak Lakes Preserve in Colorado
Mishak Lakes Twilight view of Mishak Lakes Preserve, a key breeding and migratory habitat for wetland birds and the largest and best known example of a natural shallow-water wetland system © J. D. Marston

A key migratory habitat for wetland birds.



Preserve Highlights    

This is one of the largest flourishing wetland complexes in Colorado. It consists of dozens of shallow seasonal ponds in the San Luis Valley basin - an oasis nestled amongst a mountain backdrop.

Waterfowl and shorebirds, including American avocet, Wilson's phalarope, greater sandhill crane and white-faced ibis, thrive here. 

Why TNC Selected This Site  

Because it is one of the state's most important breeding and migratory habitats for wetland birds. It also plays host to several globally rare plants and insects. 

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

The Conservancy's foremost goal is to preserve the natural processes that supply water to this wetland complex, thereby also protecting the endemic species that live here. 

The health of this wetland system depends on a complex relationship between precipitation and ground and surface water. The preserve's dozens of shallow seasonal ponds typically dry out by mid-summer, but late-season rain can fill the lakes again in August. Although water levels may fluctuate dramatically from year to year, plants and animals living here are well adapted to these cycles. 

We also are working within the local community to create partnerships in conservation and education.




4,000 acres

Explore our work in this region

What Species Are Found Here?


The globally rare slender spiderflower 


Two mammal subspecies found only in the San Luis Valley live at Mishak Lakes:

  • Least chipmunk
  • Ord's kangaroo rat 


  • American avocet
  • Greater sandhill crane 
  • White-faced ibis
  • Wilson's phalarope 


San Luis Valley sand hills skipper, a state rare butterfly that feeds on the spiderflower and is known only from the San Luis Valley.