Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve

//Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve
Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve2018-02-15T15:26:13+00:00

The Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve is a 35-acre nature preserve located on the I-25 frontage road south of Santa Fe. The preserve is adjacent to El Rancho de las Golondrinas in La Cienega. This rare natural cienega, or “marsh” in Spanish, hosts a bountiful diversity of plants and wildlife.

The Preserve contains three distinct plant communities or zones. They are: riparian/wetland, transitional, and dry uplands.

The Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve is named for Leonora Scott Muse Curtin who first came to New Mexico from New York in 1889. She was an avid naturalist, who spoke fluent Spanish, and became interested in plants with medicinal and nutritional values used by Native Americans and early Spanish settlers.  She quickly became fascinated with the healing skills of the curanderas, who used naturally growing herbs to treat the sick and injured. Healing Herbs of the Upper Rio Grande compiles Curtin’s research from time spent in the mountain villages of Northern New Mexico.

Hour of Operation during Open Season May – October:

  • Saturday and Sunday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Third Saturday – Early Opening at 7:30 AM. $5 early entrance fee.
  • Fourth Saturday – 8:00 AM Bird Walk with Rocky Tucker

Guided nature walks are offered the first and third Saturday at 10 a.m. No reservations are necessary for these free walks.

Fall colors of the cottonwood trees and pond at the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve. Photo credit: Stephanie Feldman


Entry to the preserve is free. Donation suggested.

Group Rates and Special Access

To receive the group admission price or special access during off hours, please make a reservation at least one week in advance.

Fill out a group visit request online by clicking here.

You can also call or email the SFBG office at 505-471-9103 or info@santafebotanicalgarden.org. (We consider a group as 20 or more people. The group rate is $50. If you do not have 20 or more, the fee per person is $5.)

  • Preserve is also open Wednesdays in season for group access – times are variable. Required scheduling in advance.


No pets please. Service animals are permitted.

Preserve Address

27283 I-25 West Frontage Road (not a mailing address)
La Cienega, NM

Directions from where you live >


The Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve (LCWP) is fully staffed by trained volunteer docents.  Docents are adults of all ages, walks of life and educational backgrounds. There are currently 70 trained docents volunteering twice per month or more at the Preserve.

Each year, we offer a Docent Training Program to prepare volunteers to lead nature walks for the public or school groups. The docents’ responsibility is to help visitors to the Preserve and people in the community better understand and appreciate Santa Fe Botanical Garden and our very unique wetland Preserve.

Read more about the Preserve…

June 22, 2011: Travel: Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve is alive with tours, insects and some flora despite persistent drought > (PDF 51 kb)

Just south of Santa Fe, an unusual natural preserve hides behind a gate off the I-25 frontage road near La Cienega. The preserve offers a rare wetland environment…

August 27, 2006: New Mexico pond slakes many a thirst >

Whatever lakes and ponds once dampened the vast, pinyon-specked desert in northern New Mexico were long ago sucked dry to irrigate crops or water grazing animals or slake people’s thirst. The rare shallow stream is usually flagged by a clump of cottonwoods and a cluster of settlement. After spending several days driving through the desert, even in the comfort of air-conditioning, visitors from wetter places may find themselves pining for water — just the shimmering, soul-quenching sight of it. This is when it pays to know a few words in Spanish. “Cienega” means “marsh,” and so the name of this village about 11 miles south of Santa Fe betrays its secret: the presence of a wetland and all the cooling plants and water-loving wildlife that go with it. Officially the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, the marsh is managed by the Santa Fe Botanical Garden and kept open to the public for enjoyment and education…