Desert Hike in Galisteo Basin Preserve

Winter in Santa Fe is sunny, crisp and cool - great weather for a hike in one of the area's many nature parks and preserves. One of my favorite things about exploring the area is that there are great hiking trails with stunning views of the nearby mountain ranges right around the city. Galisteo Basin Preserve is one of these parks, located just 10 miles south of Santa Fe near the suburban community of Eldorado at Santa Fe.

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Galisteo Basin Preserve is one of many urban and suburban hiking parks in the Santa Fe area. We take advantage of the (almost always) sunny weather to explore these parks whenever we're in town. What's great about these parks is you can enjoy the beauty of nature in your own neighborhood. Many Santa Fe neighborhoods are just a short walk, bike ride, or drive from any of these great parks. In addition to hiking, these parks offer mountain biking and horseback riding on select trails.

About Galisteo Basin Preserve

Galisteo Basin Preserve is a 9,500 acre conservation community that includes open spaces, conservation areas, recreational trails, and housing. The preserve is situated within the Galisteo Watershed and includes piñon juniper forests, various species of cactus, and grasses. The soil is rocky and with limestone formations and sandy soils in some areas. The area has been occupied by indigenous Pueblo Indians for centuries including the nearby Galisteo Pueblo. The preserve was most recently occupied by a private ranch. The Commonweal Conservancy purchased the land in 2003 to balance community development and conservation needs in the area. Today, the preserve includes miles of recreational trails for residents and visitors to enjoy the beauty and history of the area.

How to Get There & Tips

Galisteo Basin Preserve is located in the Eldorado at Santa Fe area, just south of Santa Fe. The Thumb and Cowboy Shack trailheads can both be and can be accessed from US Highway 285. Unless you live in the area, the easiest way to access the trail is to drive. There are small parking lots with signage and maps to guide your hike. If you live nearby or are an avid cyclist, you can also bike to Galisteo Basin Preserve. The Rail Trail travels all the way from the Railyard in Downtown Santa Fe, following the railroad right-of-way to Galisteo Basin Preserve. South of Interstate 25, the trail is gravel, so be sure you have appropriate tires. See more information below about the hiking trails at the park and food and beverage offerings in the area.

Level of Difficulty: Galisteo Basin Preserve is a massive park, with miles of well groomed trails and walking paths. This trail map shows the main paths through the area. Most paths are unpaved and dirt or gravel. Because of its location along an arroyo and craggy hillsides, there are some steep portions but generally climbs and descents are gradual. The park includes a numbered trail system as well as overlook areas that make creating hiking loops easy for any amount of time or ability.

Provisions: Galisteo Basin Preserve is outside of the Santa Fe city limits but is very close to the suburban community Eldorado at Santa Fe which is home to a handful of restaurants, breweries and a grocery store. Some nearby spots are:

El Dorado Supermarket offers staple grocery items if you just need picnic supplies, a quick snack, or beverage to take along for the hike.

Views from Galisteo Basin Preserve

Let's Chat!

We love hiking all over Santa Fe and New Mexico. Where should we head to next? What's your favorite desert hike? Leave your ideas below.


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