About the Area

Like most of the National Forests in the western United States, the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands grew out of lands that originally were known as Forest Reserves. These reserves were first established in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a means protecting natural resources, such as watersheds, trees and soils.

The name, Cibola, (pronounced See'-bo-lah), is thought to be the original Zuni Indian name for their pueblos or tribal lands. Later, the Spanish interpreted the word to mean "buffalo."

The Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands is valued for its recreation opportunities, natural beauty, timber, watersheds, water, forage, and wilderness resources.

Acreage:1,949,637.  Elevation:  2,000'-11,301'. Located in New Mexico, western Texas and western Oklahoma.

We have 4 mountain districts (total of 1,687,720 acres):

  • Mt. Taylor (Grants, NM)
  • Magdalena (Magdalena, NM)
  • Mountainair (Mountainair)
  • Sandia (Tijeras, NM)

4 National Grasslands (total of 263,954 acres)

  • Black Kettle (Oklahoma)
  • McClellan Creek (Texas)
  • Kiowa (New Mexico)
  • Rita Blanca (NM, OK, TX)

Because the Cibola is spread across three states, vegetation types and climate varies by region. Summers can be temperate to hot, while winters can be mild to severe. Vegetation ranges from shortgrass prairie, sand sagebrush, piñon-juniper and Ponderosa pine.

The forest has eight mountain ranges: Datil; Gallinas; Magdalena; Bear; Manzano; Sandia; San Mateo, and Zuni Mountains

And four Wilderness Areas: Apache Kid; Manzano Mountain Sandia Mountain and Withington.

The Cibola offers a wide range of recreational activities including: hiking, biking on roads, rock climbing, fishing, wildlife viewing, sightseeing, dispersed camping (both backpacking and motorized), picnicking, hunting, gathering forest products, OHV riding, cross-country and downhill skiing and pleasure driving.Three mountains have incredible views with easy access: Sandia Crest, accessible by car, aerial tramway and trail; Capilla Peak, accessible by car and Mount Taylor has a road within a mile of the top.

Visitors can learn about the history of our region at several interpretive trails:  the Santa Fe Historic Trail and the Mills Orchard Ranch on the Kiowa NG; the Black Kettle Interpretive Trail in Cheyenne, OK; the Tijeras Pueblo Interpretive Trail outside Albuquerque, NM. 

In addition, there are many nearby cultural and recreational sites including: Indian pueblos, the Very Large Array, prehistoric ruins, ice caves and lava flows.