You don’t have to travel far and wide to be able to enjoy nature and see such a great scenery. Cibola National Forest is just minutes away from the heart of the city, and is one of the best places to go to when you want to explore the wilderness. Why do many people get enchanted here? Keep reading if you want to know why.
Reason #1: You will see nature come alive at Cibola National Forest
Yes, you’ll get the chance to see lots of wildlife and the stunning forest New Mexico has to offer. Did you know that the Cibola National Forest gives nature lovers 1.6 million acres of trees, meadows, mountains, with campgrounds, and scenic trails? Not to mention, there are several climbing areas for you to explore. The forest has elevations ranging from 2,700 feet to over 11,300 feet – so there is something for every bold traveler.
The place also has four ranger districts namely the Sandia, Mountainair, Magdalena, and Mt. Taylor. As for the wilderness areas, these are Sandia Mountain, Manzano Mountain, Withington, and Apache Kid. Lastly, you will fall in love with their four National Grasslands: Black Kettle, McClellan Creek, Kiowa, and Rita Blanca. These areas cover not just New Mexico, but different states as well.
If you come at the right season, you will be treated to color therapy.
Reason #2: Cibola National Forest is indeed the best place to hike and enjoy the wilderness
New Mexico packs a lot of destinations every local would take pride in. However, not many individuals have the luxury of going to a faraway place to escape the daily troubles and stress. Cibola National Forest is very close to Albuquerque, and the best thing about it is that it is not crowded so you will have a wonderful and serene time.
Cibola National Forest’s rocky terrain also serves as an invitation to their many trails. It is absolutely gorgeous and you will be motivated to climb. Most beginners come here because the trail level is easy. If you are just new to hiking, this is where you can start because it is great for all ages. There are also moderate trails to give them a bigger challenge. Bring your furry friend along. They are welcome here!
Reason #3: You will have an enjoyable ride for sure
Bikers who want to have an enjoyable ride can also hit the trails. The picturesque scene of the mountains, as well as overlooking the city will only encourage them to ride for longer during their breaks. Make sure to appreciate the wildlife as well during your stops. There are some squirrels and bison around, and they usually seem to “see you out” after you’re done climbing. One thing you should take note of is the cacti that grow there. The place is beautiful, but you should be careful of the plants.
Reason #4: The trails at Cibola National Forest are well marked so you won’t get lost
Just stay on the trails and you won’t get lost. That applies to several hikes in the forest. Since the trails are all well-marked, it would be easy to find your way around. Just don’t forget to stop every now and then to soak in the views and pose for some photos!
The Sandia Mountains will have a different perspective since it will be up close. You will be amazed by what you see in front of you. Not to mention, Albuquerque’s skyline is something you never expected to look so lovely. Hiking is definitely recommended!
Reason #5: The forest is truly green and beautiful
The best thing about this place is all the greens you can find and explore. It definitely makes for a picturesque sight worthy of being painted on a canvas by an artist. Just by looking at the views of the mountains and the city, your troubles and stress will already melt away.
Reason #6: This might become your favorite drive
The drive to the forest is an unforgettable experience. It is cool, refreshing, and absolutely breathtaking! While some parts of the road are bumpy and rocky, that does not take away the fact that you are driving through one of nature’s best works. You will see streams of water that flow when you come across them.
Reason #7: Camping will be more lovely here
There are camping areas if you wish to immerse yourself in nature and stay longer. Just choose from several spots so you can be tucked away from everything and everyone. That way, you’d catch sight of more birds in the trees, and have more time to enjoy and explore.
You can also go on a picnic and grill delicious food for your loved ones since there are some areas especially for that.
What You Should Know
- Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, you should regularly check the website for information about Cibola National Forest. In addition to that, you may also call the Ranger District and inquire if it is open. If you want to visit the less-popular spots, there are many maps on the website available to assist you.
- Some developed recreation sites such as day-use areas and campgrounds charge fees.
- You can purchase your Day Use pass online to avoid the hassle of finding cash for the fee envelope. The pass will grant you access to all sites that charge a day use fee on Sandia Ranger District, and at Lake McClellan on Black Kettle Ranger District. If you really want the best exploration time, just purchase your pass ahead of time. Your license plate will be used to verify your purchase.
- All visitors are reminded to follow the public health guidelines regarding social distancing. If you are planning to visit, make sure you also follow the group size limits and other restrictions set under State law.
- During this time, some areas may have reduced services so you have to be responsible for your own trash. You may also encounter closed restrooms.
Experience the Wild and Scenic Slice of New Mexico
Here are some of the best spots to camp when visiting Cibola National Forest:
Lobo Canyon Campground
Do you want to stay in a shaded spot? Then this campground located at over 7,000 feet of elevation is perfect for you. You will enjoy looking at the pinon, juniper, and ponderosa pine that does not only provide you shade but your well-deserved privacy as well. The natural features you’d see at the campground include a waterfall, forest, lake, desert, and a cave.
Hughes Mill Campground
This is the Cibola National Forest campground that makes the most noise. If you ever get a spot, you should consider yourself lucky! Many hikers who like to conquer the challenging climb to Withington Lookout usually stay here. Don’t forget to take lots of photos to capture your beautiful time here.
Bear Trap Campground
You will certainly love the mountain forest setting that many travelers seek! Not to mention, Bear Trap Campground is only two miles from the Withington Lookout. Camp out here if you want to stay in a real hidden gem and get some peace and quiet. If you come during mid-July, there’s a big chance that the place will be filled with lots of beautiful butterflies. Just be prepared because nighttime may be a little chilly. Most campers love the walk up to the Bear Trap Canyon because it is plain gorgeous.
Have you visited Cibola National Forest before? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!
Before you go, take a look at our other articles that highlight New Mexico’s beauty: Visit This Paradise in New Mexico to Get Views of Boundless Mountains and Gorgeous Open Meadows and 10 Top-Rated New Mexico Destinations That Every Traveler Should Visit.