How many private landowners do you know who have opened their land to the public or — even better — have enthusiastically encouraged the public to hike, mountain bike and explore their property by horseback? As far-fetched as it sounds, this is exactly what Commonweal Conservancy, a local conservation and community-building nonprofit, has done with the Galisteo Basin Preserve, located five miles south of Eldorado off U.S. 285.

Since its founding in 2003, Commonweal has been working quietly to create one of the largest privately-held, publicly-accessible open space areas in the American West. During the past 12 years, Commonweal has permanently protected more than 7,000 acres of the Preserve’s craggy escarpments, sandstone knolls, sculpted arroyos and savannah grasslands with conservation easements.

And in partnership with REI, the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society, the Trails Alliance, Santa Fe County Horse Coalition and other committed volunteers, Commonweal has built and maintained over 26 miles of publicly-accessible trails for hiking, mountain biking, trail running and equestrian use.