Protected Natural Area
Since 2014, El Charco del Ingenio has had a federal certificate from the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), in the category of Area Voluntarily Destined for Conservation (ADVC).
Avant-garde space that combines traditional architectural concepts with contemporary designs. It contains a permanent exhibition on El Charco del Ingenio: the conservation project, the territory around and the watershed where it is located, plus its natural wealth, flora, fauna, as well as its history and the cultural expressions that the site houses.
It is also a space that offers temporary exhibitions associated with art, science and popular culture, with various activities throughout the year.
The Four Winds Plaza
Main panoramic and ceremonial space of the Garden, scoping the three habitats of the conservation area: the scrub, the canyon and the wetlands. The surrounding horizon shows the mountains' profile conforming the watershed of San Miguel de Allende, known as Támbula Picachos.
Built with colored stones, the Plaza is a ceremonial space inspired by the Toltec Chichimeca Codex (16th century). The outer circles indicate the four cardinal points and, in their classic colors, figures that evoke the four natural resources (land, water, flora and fauna). The central circle represents the Sun at the moment of being covered by the Moon. It is the memory of the solar eclipse of 1991, astronomical date of the foundation of the Botanical Garden. This plaza is the meeting point for the indigenous communities of San Miguel, during the annual festival held every July.
The reserve is crossed by an extensive network of trails. In addition to its magnificent landscapes, they are pedestrian routes of environmental interpretation that allow us to discover and enjoy the natural life of the site. The main ones are:
Regional Plants Trails
They display a sample of trees, shrubs and cacti from the semi-arid region, most of them native to the reserve. They also disclose an exceptional view of the Las Colonias dam and wetlands, as well as El Charco's ample northern reserve. These trails lead to the Conservatory of Mexican Plants and the ethnobotanical exhibition areas.
The Dam Trails
Along these routes and among the trees and bushes on both banks of this ancient reservoir, the rich wildlife that is home to its wetlands and islands is revealed. They are observation paths for aquatic birds, both resident and migratory, which take refuge and nest on the islands covered with vegetation.
The Canyon Trails
The higher and lower routes that border the deep canyon, disclose the rocky formations of the natural monument. Cacti and other plants grow on the cliffs and boulders, while the tall trees' tops surge from the bottom of the canyon. The paths' edges provides an interesting diversity of ferns and other plants. It is also possible to watch the birds dwelling at the canyon, and sometimes mammals and reptiles. From some points you can see, down there, the legendary pool and spring that names the site: El Charco del Ingenio.
The West Viewpoints
The trails by the canyon continue westwards as the cliffs open gradually to reveal, through rocks covered with lichens, a wide landscape that encompasses the Obraje Dam and the city of San Miguel at the foot of the hill, the great valley of the Laja River and the distant horizon of the Guanajuato mountain range.
North Reserve Trails
Crossing the dam you can access this large conservation scrubland of the Botanical Garden, located on the northern side of the canyon and the wetlands. A wide paths' network lined with rocks unfolds with extraordinary views over the dam, the canyon and, towards the west, over the city of San Miguel and the landscapes in the distance.
The Sculptures Trail
Starting from the Four Winds Plaza, this path displays a series of sculptural pieces by artists from both San Miguel and abroad, permanently exhibited in the Garden, framed by the landscape and vegetation of El Charco del Ingenio.
The Conservatory of Mexican Plants
Large pavilion containing a significant sample of the Garden's botanical collection. These are mostly specimens collected over the years in various regions of the country, especially cacti and other succulent plants, families of which Mexico has a great diversity.
Botanical Exhibition Areas
Throughout the Garden there are various exhibition spaces displaying plants from Mexican deserts and semi-deserts, whose botanical and ecological importance is mostly complemented by a great ethnobotanical value, based on the ancestral uses and knowledge preserved by indigenous and peasant communities up to the present days.
The Agave Garden
Space dedicated to the wide Asparagaceae family, which brings together various species of agaves and other related semi-desert plants, whose local social uses (food, drink, fiber, medicine, ink, ornament, rituals...) are as varied as their shapes and sizes, from the huge pulque agaves and the tall Joshua trees to the smallest and wildest varieties.
The Nopal Garden . Focused on cacti known as nopales (prickly pear), emblematic plants of our country. Essential food for fauna, nopales have also been essential for humans for millennia (stalks and fruits), being also a medicinal plant and useful as a living fence. Along with native species from El Charco, the sample includes specimens collected from various regions of Mexico.
Rescued Plants Exhibits. Areas dedicated to specimens and groups of cacti and other succulent plants in some category of risk. They were collected or obtained in different rescue operations, due to construction of hydroelectric dams, highways and housing developments. You can see these collections near the Conservatory and mainly at the western end of the Botanical Garden.
Las Colonias Dam. Built at the beginning of the 20th century above and older reservoir, this solid quarry and stone structure discharges rainwater during the rainy season over the Charco canyon. It is an outstanding viewpoint from where you can see westwards a good section of the canyon and, to the east, the wetlands of the reserve.
The Iron Pipeline. This long aqueduct was built to convey the water from the dam to the La Aurora textile factory, for generation of electricity. It stopped working at the end of last century, due to the depletion of the springs that fed the dam, as well as its increasing silting.
the fulling Stone structure in ruins from the viceregal era, of what was a water mill to grind grains or to treat wool, which moved thanks to the force of water from a permanent stream that existed at that time. You can still see the base of the axis of the spinning wheel and, above it, part of the stone aqueduct that poured water onto the wheel. It is a relevant element of the historic site of Charco del Ingenio.
The ranch. Vestiges of the hull of the old Hacienda Las Colonias, located at one end of the Reserva Norte del Charco, where there is still a granary with an elongated vault, called the "barrel vault".
Solar Observatory and Amphitheater
Double spiral-shaped stone structure that culminates at an observation point, displaying explanations on the movement of the Earth based on the solar beams. It works as a sundial and annual calendar, indicating relevant astronomical moments: equinoxes, solstices and zenith points. The spiral path is inverted downwards, giving rise to a small amphitheater where various scientific and cultural events take place.
Garden of the Senses
This interactive space, next to the main entrance, seeks to arouse the interest of children, youth and families in various aspects of the environment. It has a viewpoint over the reserve, equipped with binoculars, and an ethnobotanical display focused on aromatic plants. It reaches out to the contiguous sunken Garden of Pollinators, always flowering and attracting insects and birds.
In 2004, El Charco del Ingenio was selected by the Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan people and Nobel Peace Prize winner, to be consecrated as a Peace Zone, during his visit to Mexico. Five peace zones were then selected as spaces free of violence and weapons, committed to nature conservation and community development. Peace Zone by the Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan people and Nobel Peace Prize winner, during his visit to Mexico. There were five peace zones declared in different parts of the country. These are spaces free of violence and weapons, dedicated to nature conservation and community development.