Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve
The Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve (OMEP) incorporates 1,350 acres in the upper reaches of the Ortiz Mountains, including Placer Peak, the highest peak in the Ortiz range at 8,897 feet (2712 meters). Once a center of mining activity during the New Mexico gold rush in the early mid-nineteenth century, the Preserve contains several historic mine shafts. The Preserve is located approximately 30 miles southwest of Santa Fe off the scenic Turquoise Trail.
OMEP is owned by Santa Fe County and managed by Santa Fe Botanical Garden. A right-of-way agreement with Lac Minerals allows SFBG to cross their property to access the Preserve.
The Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve is a spectacular natural area, a ponderosa and piñon habitat with everything from black bears (Ursus americanus) and coyotes to horned toads, bats, antlions, and over 80 species of birds.
The Preserve is open for docent led hikes and activities only. Reservations in advance are required.
Hike and tour descriptions click here >>
Make reservations for regularly scheduled activities at the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve online:
- Look at the right sidebar of this page for a “Reservations ” listing OR go to the Upcoming Events page and view full details of event by clicking on the title.
- Completely fill out and submit the online form for the outing you wish to join.
- You will receive a confirmation email after you click on Submit.
Or Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, by calling 505-471-9103 or emailing email@example.com.
The Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve (OMEP) is fully staffed by trained volunteer docents. Docents are adults of all ages, walks of life and educational backgrounds. The Preserve is accessible only via high-clearance four wheel drive vehicles. People who like to be outdoors are encouraged to join us.
Each year, we offer a Docent Training Program to prepare volunteers to lead nature walks and hikes at OMEP. The docents’ responsibility is to greet visitors in the OMEP parking area and accompany and guide them up the road and into the Preserve.
Our Docent Training Program is a free one-day event with both classroom and on-site presentations. Training includes classes, nature walks and digital presentations all taught by our Teaching Team made up of SFBG senior docents, educators and resource professionals and covers topics including plant life, geology, history, mining and more.
Trainees are required to spend time at OMEP observing activities and interpretive presentations. In order to achieve full docent status, trainees are expected to attend the full day training. Upon successful completion of the training, trainees can begin volunteering as a docent.
Entry to the Preserve is free to members of Santa Fe Botanical Garden. Not-yet members pay $5 fee. A signed liability waiver is required.
Special access to OMEP is available for groups contingent on weather and transportation availability. To receive a group admission rate or special access to OMEP, please make your request at least two weeks in advance by calling or emailing the SFBG office at 505-471-9103 or firstname.lastname@example.org. (We consider a group as 20 or more people. The group rate is $50.)
No pets please. Service animals are permitted. There is no smoking or fire of any kind allowed. Also, take nothing from the Preserve, including botanical material. Be careful not to alter, or carry away, any historical artifact.
Most activities (hikes, tours and walks) gather in the parking area at the top of Goldmine Road. From here we caravan in 4×4 high-clearance vehicles up the 2 mile access road into the Preserve. OMEP is a rugged & remote wilderness, accessible only via four wheel drive vehicles. Occasionally, we begin walking directly from the parking area eliminating the use of vehicles.
Arrive at the gate a half hour in advance of your tour. The travel time from Santa Fe to the gate is nearly an hour. If you are late the group may leave without you.
The gate to the Preserve will be locked after a group enters. The group must travel together going in and out, because of the steep, narrow road and the fact that the 2-mile long access road crosses land owned by LAC Minerals. Most tours take about three hours from the time we leave the gate. Some activities are longer.
If there had been recent rain or snow, or if stormy weather threatens, the tour may be cancelled, as the road may become unsafe. You may phone Preserve Manager Todd Brown on the day of the tour at 505-438-3008 if weather is uncertain.
Whether you’re hiking for the first time or you’re an experienced pro, you’ll still need to double-check your gear before heading out. Please dress appropriately for a variety of weather conditions, wear sturdy comfortable hiking boots, and bring water and snacks and/or lunch. Bring a hat with a brim to keep the light out of your eyes and the sun off of your face. If you’re going to be in the cold, opt for a warm hat – most of the body heat you lose in winter escapes from your head. Wear plenty of sunscreen and bring more to reapply, even if it’s cloudy. Binoculars and cameras are suggested. Be prepared to carry out everything you bring in. Have fun and enjoy the gorgeous views.
At the top of the access road, there is parking, a sheltered kiosk with a table and benches, and a clean outhouse.
The Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve is located approximately 30 miles southwest of Santa Fe. The travel time from Santa Fe to the gate is nearly an hour.
From Santa Fe, take Cerrillos Road/Highway 14 south towards Cerrillos. Continue on Highway 14 past the turnoff for the village of Cerrillos, across the Galisteo River bridge, about a half mile further to the turnoff on the left for Goldmine Road/County Road 55. Note the collection of houses and a sign for the Preserve at this turnoff.
Drive southeast along Goldmine Road/County Road 55 to where it ends (about six miles from Highway 14). Please drive carefully, obeying all traffic signs and being alert for animals and blind driveways.
Call 505-471-9103 for reservations, to arrange a special tour, or for more information. Email email@example.com