Photograph by Kelli Johansen.

Sure, the piñons dotting the landscape are expected, but the Galisteo Basin Preserve, near Lamy, is full of surprises. Top a ridge and find Moab-like red dirt and slickrock, or descend and end up in a waist-high grass-land that looks like an African savanna. The topography among the 50 miles of hiking, mountain-biking, and equestrian trails in this 20-square-mile open space is diverse and interesting.

With limited shade and water, the area can be stiflingly hot in midsummer—be careful with dogs—but come winter it’s one of the few places in the state that features dry, awesome singletrack. For mountain bikers and hikers alike, the trails are well maintained, varied, and challenging.

The preserve is maintained by the stewardship-oriented Commonweal Conservancy, which secured the land because it was a high-risk development area. The group does have development plans of its own, but instead of subdividing the area for maximum profit, its 275-home, clustered community, called Trenza, will help pay for the acquisition and restoration of the open space. Maps and more information can be found at

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