a dirt road running through green trees on a sunny day

Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands

Acreage: 1,625,542. 
Elevation:  2,700 feet -11,300 feet.

The mountain ranges of the four forested districts of Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands include: the Datil, Gallinas, Magdalena, Bear, San Mateo, Zuni, Sandia and Manzano mountains, as well as the Withington and Apache Kid wildernesses. These are all located in central New Mexico. The Cibola National Forest also includes 263,954 acres of national grasslands in northeastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and northwestern Texas.

CLIMATE: Climate within the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands varies with elevation - from the desert up through juniper, pine, and spruce-fir forests. Summer nights are cool, and very cold above 8,000'. During July and August there are frequent afternoon showers.  

Sandia Crest’s elevation is 10,678 feet and is accessible by car, aerial tramway and trail. Capilla Peak’s elevation is 9,375 feet and is accessible by car. Mount Taylor peaks at an elevation of 11,301 feet and has a road within a mile of the top. The Cibola National Forest also offers several other scenic drives on its districts.

ACTIVITIES: Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands offers good deer hunting as well as some elk, antelope, and turkey hunting.  Fishing opportunities are available at Bluewater and McGaffey Lakes in the Zuni Mountains, Skipout, Spring Creek, and Dead Warrior Lakes in Oklahoma, and Lake Marvin and Lake McClellan in Texas. Nearby attractions also include the Sandia Peak Ski Area in the Sandia Mountains, the Very Large Array by the Magdalena Ranger District, prehistoric ruins, ice caves, lava flows, and Indian pueblos.

SEASONS OF RECREATIONAL USE:  Most of the Cibola is open all year, although the severe high country winter prompts the closing of select developed recreation areas. Extra care should be taken when visiting in winter.

Before you go, make sure there are no fire restrictions. Go to the National Fire Restrictions website.

Recreation Site Quick Guide 

Summer Safety Tips

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

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Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Lake McClellan Boating Site Closed to Visitor The water level at Lake McClellan is very low.
McGaffey Lake Closed to Visitor THE RESERVOIR IS CURRENTLY DRY.


Big Block Rock Climbing Area

Big Block climbing area

Big Block is East of Albuquerque about 15 miles away. From Interstate-40, take exit 175 (Tijeras). You will quickly come to a traffic light. On Hwy. 337, head south for about 5.5 miles. In between mile marker 25 and 24 you will find parking on the south side of the road next to a large road cut. Big Block is only about 100 yards hike from here. Hike around the road cut and in the valley you will see a large block and a large wall. Follow the trail down; you will cross a small stream and head straight to the main wall.