Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve
Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve - Santa Fe is a portal to the great outdoors and most visitors to the city
understandably focus their activities in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains which jut up right
on the edge of town.
To the south of the city about 25 miles, however, are the Ortiz Mountains,
a beautiful low range that seems to catch the best light of morning and evening
and is worth discovering. The Ortiz Mountains were once home to the largest load gold mine in the Southwest.
Today, a small, 1,350 acre, portion of this mountain chain has been set aside for public
exploration, and it is full of flora, fauna, geology, and history.
Managed by the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve (OMEP) is home to dozens of different native flowering plants,
bear, coyote, over two dozen species of butterfly, a large bat population, and over 80 different bird species.
The mountains themselves were formed by subterranean volcanic activity which peaked 29 million years ago.
At one point these hills were estimated to have been 4,700 feet higher. The story of the people in the Ortiz
is a story of gold, pure and simple. The mountains were home to the first major gold rush in what is now the U.S.
While the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico are spectacular and worth any time spent there, this lesser known
portion of public land holds its own charms and beauty. It is most often overlooked and can legitimately be
called "undiscovered" but is valued for those very reasons. The OMEP is open to the public on most weekends but
reservations are required and may be arranged by calling the
Santa Fe Botanical Gardens at 505-428-1684.