Panorama of Santa Fe Canyon after record monsoon rains.
Santa Fe Canyon Preserve Panorama of Santa Fe Canyon after record monsoon rains. © Alan Eckert Photography

Places We Protect

Santa Fe Canyon Preserve

New Mexico

Hiking trails and a thriving bosque just minutes from downtown Santa Fe.

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, bears, and beavers.

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.

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.

Santa Fe Canyon News

Visit the Preserve

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! 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 sight at this urban preserve.

Conservancy scientists have also been working since 2012 to re-establish the northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens) at the 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 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.

Support Our Work at Santa Fe Canyon Preserve

We're grateful for the enthusiastic support for our efforts! You can help us continue our important conservation work to protect New Mexico's diverse habitat and wildlife.