Cañada means “dell,” “ravine,” or “cattle path” in the Spanish language. The word is also used to describe a wetland rich with river reeds (caña means “cane” or “reeds”) as seen along arroyos and resacas (oxbow lakes). Cañadas choked with common reeds (Phragmites spp.) or cattails (Typha spp.) offer protective areas for waterfowl and aquatic mammals. Cañadas also harbor plants such as alders—Cañada del Aliso in Ventura, California—or grapes, as in Mary Austin’s The Land of Little Rain: “Fifty-seven buzzards, one on each of the fifty-seven fence posts at the rancho El Tejon, on a mirage-breeding September morning, sat solemnly while the white tilted travelers’ vans lumbered down the Cañada de los [sic] Uvas.” Other cañadas include La Cañada Honda in New Mexico and La Cañada Simada in Fresno, California (in these contexts honda and simada both mean “deep”), as well as the Pima, Arizona, trail, Cañada del Oro.

Arturo Longoria