Nestled amid mixed conifers and ponderosa pines, this riparian area provides an excellent outdoor setting for the physically challenged, as well as for other visitors. A stream passes through woods and meadow, while the forested slopes of Sandia Peak’s eastern face rise on three sides.
Simon Canyon, Cottonwood Campground
|Description: Two neighboring areas provide visitors with different aspects of the same cottonwood riverside habitat. Cottonwood Campground is park like, with green grass, mostly paved access, and many amenities, while Simon Canyon is more remote, allows backpacking and horses, and offers a hiking trail to a Navajo rock shelter dating from the early 1700’s.|
Wildlife to Watch: Along the river at both sites, look for downed trees, chew marks, and other evidence of beaver activity. Occasional viewing of muskrat, rock squirrel, weasel, porcupine, and raccoon. Good viewing of bald eagles November through March, as well as oriole, pinon jay, cliff and violet green swallow, black-billed magpie, northern flicker, flycatcher, and several species of woodpecker. Year-round viewing of Canada geese, which often nest here. Waterfowl may be seen April through June, and mid-October through early December-watch for northern pintail, bufflehead, mallard, and cinnamon teal. Deer frequently use Simon Canyon as a fawning area April through June. The canyon offers good viewing of diverse bird species: osprey, white-throated swift, canyon wren, mourning dove, and raptors, including turkey vulture, sharp-shinned hawk, American kestrel, northern harrier, golden eagle, and red-tailed hawk. Rare sightings of peregrine falcon.
Special Tips: After the spring runoff, watch for rainbow, brown, and hybrid cutthroat rainbow trout in the clear waters of the San Juan River.
Other Activities: Tent camping only at Simon Canyon; no wood fires permitted. Day use and camping fees at Cottonwood Campground.
Ownership: Cottonwood Campground, New Mexico Parks Division; Simon Canyon Recreation Area, Bureau of Land Management
Closest Town: Aztec
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: