Sandia Ranger District

Area Status: Closed
A scenic view of the side of the Sandia Mountain

Just east of Albuquerque are the most visited mountains in New Mexico. Millions of people journey into the Sandia Mountains each year. More than half these visitors ride the Sandia Peak Tram or drive the Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway to take in spectacular panoramic views of Central New Mexico and to enjoy many other recreational opportunities. The Sandia Crest Scenic Byway 536, has several newly remodeled picnic grounds with shelters and group areas for reservation.

The National Fee Project is currently in operation for all developed sites on the Scenic Byway and along the west and north sides of the district inthe Juan Tabo, Basin, and Las Huertas Canyon Areas. A daily amenity fee of $3.00 is required for all vehicles parking in designated, developed recreation sites around the District. An annual pass is favorable, with particular support given to the concept of fees staying available to the unit where they are collected.  The annual Sandia Ranger District Amenity pass is $30.00 and can be purchased at the Sandia Ranger Station, Tijeras, NM, the Forest Service Supervisor's Office, Albuquerque, NM, and REI, Albuquerque, NM.

The Sandias are part of the signature of Albuquerque's unique sense of place. They serve as a premier refuge to a population of over 700,000 people in the extended metropolitan area. Over one-third of the State's school-age population lives within an hour's drive of the Sandias, and there is a great demand for fire prevention, fire ecology, and other environmental education programs.

Sandia Mountain is a landmark in the spiritual universe of many active traditional Indian beliefs. It is regularly visited for ceremonial purposes by the Sandia Pueblo and at least annually by many other pueblos. It also has direct ties to Spanish land grant communities established by the King of Spain in the 1700's and Mexican land grants from the 1820's. Some Spanish land grants adjoining the Sandias are still active.

Water sources are not only sacred to Indian beliefs, but also played a key role in sustaining the agricultural bases of the land grant communities. Several ditch systems still function today, including one actively maintained in Las Huertas Canyon as an "acequia madre" for a community's agricultural water. These traditional communities are encountering greater conflicts with the growing recreational uses of the Sandias.

The lesser-known southern part of the District includes the Manzanita Mountains, which form a low ridge between the Sandias to the north and the Manzano Mountains to the south.

The Tijeras Pueblo Archaeological Site is located behind the Sandia Ranger Station office. The Friends of the Tijeras Pueblo maintain and provide education through the use of a monthly lecture series which meets at the Sandia Ranger Station every second Tuesday of the month.

A portion of this area is in the Military Withdrawal, where public use has been restricted since 1943. The Military Withdrawal and adjacent Forest Service land is currently the subject of intensive ecosystem planning to reduce fuel loads and the risk of wildfire, to enhance wildlife habitat and ecosystem health.

In many ways wildlife, fish and rare plants are the measure of our success as ecosystem managers. Species diversity and abundance relate to ecosystem health. The District wildlife program features habitat enhancement projects, inventory and monitoring of emphasis species, and informative and education. The program relies heavily on the support of partnership groups such as the Albuquerque Wildlife Federation, Hawk Watch International, Central New Mexico Audubon Society, Sandia Mountain Bear Watch, and the New Mexico Habitat Stamp program; the wildlife program is integrated into fire/fuels, recreation, and forest health project objectives and Quivira Coalition.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Closed due to extreme fire danger
Operational Hours: The Sandia Ranger District Office is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, except on National Holiday's.
Reservations: N/A
Fees: Requires a fee or an amenity pass. If you do not have a pass, you may purchase one online, or look for the Pay Station on site. Envelopes for payment are in the box next to the fee tube. CASH OR CHECK ONLY at pay station.
Open Season: Open year round, Weather Permitting
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Closest Towns:  Tijeras, NM
Water: Outside water fountain
Restroom: Outside vault restrooms
Passes: The Cibola honors all types of America the Beautiful passes which are available for purchase at the Cibola Supervisor's Office and at all district offices. Day use passes can be purchased online. Sandia Annual Passes can be purchased At REI in Albuquerque, the Sandia Ranger Station and the Cibola Supervisor’s Office.

General Information


From the Albuquerque, drive East on I-40 and exit at Exit 175. At the bottom of the ramp there is a traffic light. Continue straight through the light on NM 337 for about one half mile.

The Sandia Ranger District office is on the left at 11776 Hwy 337, Tijeras, NM 87059.

**Tijeras Pueblo Archaeology site is directly behind the Sandia Ranger Station.


General Notes:

Sandia Ranger District

Manzanita  Mountain Trail System

Official Motorized Vehicle Map (MVUM) - South

Official Motorized Vehicle Map (MVUM) - North

More About Bears

Living With Large Predators in New Mexico

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Biking

Areas for Mountain Biking at Sandia Ranger District

Group Camping

Areas for Group Camping at Sandia Ranger District

Dispersed Camping

Areas for Dispersed Camping at Sandia Ranger District

Day Hiking

Areas for Day Hiking at Sandia Ranger District


Areas for Backpacking at Sandia Ranger District

Horse Riding

Areas for Horse Riding at Sandia Ranger District

OHV Camping

Areas for OHV Camping at Sandia Ranger District

OHV Road Riding

Areas for OHV Road Riding at Sandia Ranger District

OHV Trail Riding

Areas for OHV Trail Riding at Sandia Ranger District

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude :