The Santa Fe River Canyon contains bosque of willows and cottonwoods that is being restored. This restoration runs for several miles along the road and has a number of entry points through the fence. Pull well off the road as traffic can be heavy.

The Caja del Rio sits on a high mesa above the Santa Fe River. There are sparse scattered sections of Pi?on-juniper woodland, large sections of choya forest, and open grassland. The area contains a number of dry arroyos with associated Pi?on-juniper.

Directions: From the intersection of NM599 (Santa Fe Relief Route) and Airport Road go southwest past the turnoff to the Santa Fe Airport and the Santa Fe Sewer Treatment Plant. At 1.9 miles is the Santa Fe River Preserve on the left. Continuing another 1.3 miles, a gravel road on the right (SF County 56C) leads up the side of the mesa and onto the top to BLM land (Caja del Rio). [A high clearance vehicle is recommended for this road. Beware of rattlesnakes in this area.]

Ornithological Summary

Birds along the Santa Fe River include Killdeer, Say's Phoebe, Western and Cassin's Kingbird, Bullock's Oriole, Blue Grosbeak, Lark, Song, and White-crowned Sparrow, and Willow Flycatcher in migration. Up on Caja del Rio, birds include Curve-billed, Sage, and Bendire's Thrasher, Mockingbird, and Scott's Oriole. This is an unusual area which contains a strange variety of "desert" species often found further south.

Sources: Christopher Rustay personal observations,
NMNHP-1992, Breeding Bird Survey 60009 La Cienega

Conservation Issues

Legal or illegal grazing that has been stopped by the BLM. But there is constant pressure to restart it. A cinder mine is located adjacent to this area. Mining could expand into it. The area is used by recreational vehicles creating new roads and destroying the vegetation.


Rock, Desert, Grassland/shrubland

Land Use

The National Guard uses the area for maneuvers and training.

The area is criss-crossed with dirt roads used recreationally.

Stables are located in the canyon below this mesa, so the area has horseback riding.

A number of people use the area for shooting.

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