muleshoe-ranch-CMA
Muleshoe Ranch Muleshoe Ranch CMA, Arizona. Galiuro Mountains in background. © Betsy D. Warner/TNC

Places We Protect

Muleshoe Ranch CMA

Arizona

Cooperative Management Area safeguards native fish in seven permanently flowing streams.

The Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area is 49,120 acres of rugged beauty, lush riparian areas and an array of recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. This area is a mosaic of public and private land cooperatively managed by The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management and Coronado National Forest. These three partners work together to conserve and enhance the unique ecosystems found here and to protect endangered species, as well as the areas they depend upon.

The Muleshoe Ranch CMA encompasses most of the watershed area for seven permanently flowing streams, representing some of the best remaining aquatic habitat in southeast Arizona. Some 80% of the region's wildlife species depend upon these streamside communities at some time in their lives. The importance of this area to early settlers is seen in the numerous ranches and homesteads that dotted the area in the last 150 years. 

Stewardship

A primary goal of the Ecosystem Management Plan for the Muleshoe is to restore and enhance streamside and aquatic habitat in Hot Springs, Bass, Double R and Wildcat Creeks. The EMP's strategy for doing this is to improve the watershed condition by increasing the abundance and cover of perennial grasses and reducing shrubs. This will be accomplished by (1) restoring fire as a natural process to the Hot Springs watershed using prescribed burns; and (2) continued grazing rest until vegetation recovery occurs.

Watershed improvement benefits aquatic habitat and native fish. In-stream cover, an important component of fish habitat, has increased by more than 3.5 times in Hot Springs Creek. This includes increases in overhanging vegetation, floating/emergent vegetation, and undercut bank. The maximum depth of pools, glides and runs has also increased. The maximum depth of pools has increased and has the number of deep pools per mile in Hot Springs.

Five species of native fish can be found in Muleshoe's streams. Native fish density has increased significantly in Hot Springs showing an average annual increase of 6.9%. Gila chub captures and chub density have also increased with density increasing at an average annual rate of 18.5%. In 2005, the Gila chub was listed as an endangered species. Conservancy scientists are using innovative approaches to increase native populations.

The headquarters is closed to the public. Trail access is available from the day-use parking lot located south of the main gate. Maps and information are provided.  Trails are open year-round, daily from dawn to dusk. Trails may be subject to periodic closure for maintenance and/or to protect sensitive wildlife areas. Please call (520) 212-4295 or email muleshoe@tnc.org for current information.

All Muleshoe Ranch headquarters buildings and the hot springs are closed to day visitors and open only to overnight casita guests.

All regulations and guidelines pertaining to public lands, including wilderness areas, apply to BLM and USFS lands within the CMA.  Access to the CMA by vehicle, horseback, or hiking is provided via Jackson Cabin Road. However, this road is limited to high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicles only, since it is very rough, not maintained, and subject to regular washouts. Drivers assume all risks. Day hikers wishing to drive to Bass Canyon via Jackson Cabin Road are asked to park in the designated area found in the canyon.

A map of the CMA is posted at the welcome kiosk located at the entrance to the 4-wheel drive road. The Jackson Cabin Road passes through private property owned by The Nature Conservancy. Please respect its posted regulations. All visitors are required to sign in and out at the kiosk.

Gear

Sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen, binoculars and plenty of water. High clearance vehicles with 4WD required for back country exploration.

Stay Overnight

Charming, historic casita rentals are available for members of The Nature Conservancy including exclusive use of natural hot spring tubs. Available October through April. See the Lodging tab on this page for more information. Please call or email for availability and reservations: 520-212-4295 or muleshoe@tnc.org.

Primitive Camping 

No camping and no overnight parking are permitted at the Muleshoe Ranch headquarters or at the day visitor parking lot. However, camping is permitted on BLM public lands and backcountry destinations in the CMA including Jackson Cabin (approximately 14 miles) and Hooker Cabin (approximately 20 miles). These facilities are on public land managed by the Coronado National Forest; visitors are welcome to use them on a first-come basis. Please respect these historical buildings. Activities permitted within these areas include hiking, low-impact camping unless posted otherwise, and horseback riding.

For the safety of others and protection of the sensitive wildlife and habitats in these areas, the CMA partners ask that you use all firearms in accordance with the Arizona Game and Fish rules and regulations and refrain from the following activities within these areas: collecting flora, fauna, minerals and artifacts; disturbing or collecting wildlife; car or RV camping; operating vehicles off existing roads; littering or dumping refuse and woodcutting.

Preserve Regulations

In consideration of our sensitive wildlife habitats, we ask all visitors and guests to observe the following regulations:

  • All visitors must remain on established trails. Smoking is not permitted at headquarters, on the trails or parking areas.
  • No pets, radios, tape players or electronic calling devices, swimming, wading, hunting, fishing, picnicking, camping, fires, firearms, alcoholic beverages, motorized vehicles or bicycles are permitted on the trails. Do not feed or disturb wildlife or damage or remove any plants, animals, wood, minerals or artifacts. Collecting of any kind is prohibited.
  • Day-use parking available from dusk to dawn in designated parking areas only. No camping or overnight parking.
  • To preserve the natural character of our lands for our wildlife and the privacy of our visitors, we restrict the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), whether amateur or commercial, anywhere within this preserve.

The Muleshoe Ranch headquarters are owned and managed by TNC. This area includes the nature trail, casitas and hot springs areas. Information for day hikers is available in the public parking area at the trailhead.

It's a peaceful and remote escape nestled far off the highway in southeastern Arizona's Galiuro Mountains. On 49,120 acres of rugged semi-desert grasslands, Muleshoe Ranch straddles the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. Streams that begin high in the ponderosa pine forest cross the Muleshoe Ranch and carve canyons into saguaro-studded hillsides, providing habitat for native fishes and other streamside species. Elevation at the preserve headquarters is 4,560 feet.

WHAT ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS LIKE?

Ideal for those looking for a relaxing and scenic retreat, the five charming casitas are original and renovated historic buildings dating from the late 1800s. Four of these units border a garden courtyard, while the fifth stands alone near the start of the nature trail. Each unit has a private bathroom and kitchen and is fully furnished with linens and kitchenware.

Nearby, natural hot springs fill tubs for exclusive use by overnight guests. Also on the courtyard, the McMurray Commons features a multi-use room with breathtaking views and a deck perfect for bird watching and star gazing. Download a brochure for more information, including rates.

While headquarters offers the comforts of home and a soak in the hot springs, you will be surrounded by thousands of acres of scenic wild lands. At your doorstep the opportunities for exploration are endless, with more than 22 miles of hiking trails and loops, canyons teeming with wildlife (over 180 bird species have been recorded here!) and dark skies for star-gazing. 

PLANNING YOUR VISIT

Muleshoe Ranch CMA is jointly owned and managed by the Conservancy, Coronado National Forest and Bureau of Land Management. In 1992 the Conservancy began an ecosystem restoration project in cooperation with the BLM. Conservancy scientists designed a program of grazing rest and prescribed burning with two goals in mind: Restore perennial grasses and reduce shrub cover, and protect the ranch's seven perennial streams that contain some of Arizona's best native fish and streamside habitats.

In only one year after a 4,000-acre treatment area burned, perennial grasses increased to 45 percent and shrub cover decreased to 9 percent. Successive photos of burn units reveal signs of grassland restoration - far fewer shrubs, increased native grasses including a flush of side oats gramma, one of the prized rangeland grasses that made southern Arizona such an attractive place to settlers 150 years ago.

The Muleshoe Ecosystem Project demonstrates how sound science and strong partnerships with public agencies can restore large landscapes for species such as pronghorn antelope, mountain lion, grassland birds, native fish and lowland leopard frog. 

LODGING POLICIES & NOTICES

Lodging at the Muleshoe Ranch is available for members of The Nature Conservancy during select weekends from October through April, Thursday through Mondays. Casita rentals are not offered during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays.  A three-night minimum stay is required. All rates listed are for double occupancy. For each additional guest there is a $50 charge per night. A 50 percent deposit is required on all reservations. Cash, checks and all major credit cards accepted. Please book well in advance as availability is limited.

Use of the hot springs is for registered guests only. Group rental is available for select mission-related organizations.  For groups renting all casitas, the McMurray commons dining room and kitchen may be rented for an additional $125 nightly. (subject to availability) There is no camping allowed at headquarters or on the preserve. 

Pets are not permitted at Muleshoe headquarters, in casitas, on preserve hiking trails or in the parking areas. Corrals are available for registered guests wanting to bring their own horse. $25.00 nightly fee required, subject to availability.

CANCELLATION POLICY

Casita Rental: Cancel more than 30 days prior to scheduled arrival date and deposit will be refunded less $50.00 administration fee. Cancel less than 30 days prior to scheduled arrival date and deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable. Guests are responsible for payment of all nights reserved, regardless of late arrival or early departure. Balance on account is due at check in. We accept credit cards, cash or checks. 

Prices, occupancy limits and availability are subject to change without notice.

Testimonials

Here is what some of our guests had to say

  • "Can't believe how peaceful it is out here! Has all the amenities of a home, privacy, shower."
  • "Tasteful with lots of atmosphere."
  • "The cabin is equipped with everything we need for a relaxing special occasion get away."
  • "Lovingly furnished. Immaculate. Excellently equipped kitchen. Fluffy towels. Actually we liked everything."
  • "After two days at the Stone Cabin we feel refreshed and ready to tackle that other world again. It's been fun to see our first coati in the wild, be "rattled" at by a resting diamondback (thanks for the warning!), and enjoy the solitude and beauty of this gentle place. Looking forward to a return visit!"

 Call 520-212-4295 or email muleshoe@tnc.org  for more information.