Simon Canyon, New Mexico

Simon Canyon is a sandstone canyon of moderate to very steep broken, rough terrain. The 3,900 acres is managed for semi-primitive recreation: hiking, backpacking and fishing. At the mouth of the canyon is a parking area with a vault toilet and picnic table. Vegetation varies from cottonwoods and cactus at the canyon bottom through pinon and juniper mid sections to stands of Ponderosas and Douglas firs along the higher sections of canyon rim. The intermittent stream in the bottom provides for several riparian areas. You'll find deer, beaver, porcupine, prairie falcon, great horned owl, and golden eagle in the area. As Simon Canyon opens into the Quality Fishing Waters of the San Juan River, you might also find some good trout in the lower reaches of the stream.

On a bench overlooking the canyon you'll find the Simon Canyon Ruin: a well-preserved one-room structure built of top of a large boulder. This Navajo Pueblito defensive site dates back to 1754.

The Simon Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern is open year round with no fees. The property is about 3 miles west of Navajo Reservoir on the north side of the San Juan River. To get there, go to NM 173 near Navajo Lake. Turn north off of NM 173 onto the non-county-maintained Road 4280 and go about 3 miles to the parking area. This road may be impassable in bad weather. Bring everything you need because there's nothing at the end of the road except a vault toilet and a picnic table.

There are active gas wells within the property. That means well pads, pipelines, traffic, heavy trucks, oilfield equipment, etc. Be careful.

Special rules:

  • No motorized vehicles are allowed beyond the parking area.
  • Keep mountain bikes only on maintained roads and out of the canyon.
  • No camping in the parking area but you can camp in other areas.
  • Downstream from Navajo Dam, the San Juan River is designated Special Trout Waters. That means artificial flies and lures only, and either catch-and-release or reduced bag limits.
  • No firewood gathering allowed. Campfires allowed only above the canyon rim. You're better to bring a portable stove or grill.
  • No shooting in the canyon or in the developed recreation site.
  • Any commercial, competitive or organized group event needs a permit.

Maps: BLM - Navajo Reservoir; USGS - Anastacio Springs, Archuleta