Cibola National Forest is a vast forested area located in the western part of New Mexico, including portions of the Westside of Albuquerque. Here’s some more information about Cibola National Forest and its attractions on the Westside:
Geography and Size: Cibola National Forest covers an area of approximately 1.6 million acres and is divided into four ranger districts: Sandia, Mountainair, Magdalena, and Mt. Taylor. The forest encompasses diverse landscapes, including mountains, mesas, canyons, and grasslands.
Outdoor Recreation: The forest offers numerous opportunities for outdoor activities. Hiking, camping, picnicking, and wildlife viewing are popular pursuits. There are also opportunities for hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding in designated areas.
Sandia Mountains: The Sandia Ranger District, located on the eastern side of Albuquerque, includes the stunning Sandia Mountains. The Sandias offer a wide range of recreational activities such as hiking trails, rock climbing, mountain biking, and scenic drives. The Sandia Peak Tramway provides a breathtaking aerial view of the surrounding area.
Mount Taylor: Located in the western part of the forest, Mount Taylor is an ancient stratovolcano and one of New Mexico’s highest peaks. It offers hiking and climbing opportunities, with trails leading to the summit where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
El Malpais National Monument: While not part of Cibola National Forest, El Malpais National Monument is located adjacent to the western boundary of the forest. This unique volcanic landscape features lava flows, cinder cones, and natural arches. Visitors can explore hiking trails, caves, and ancient ruins.
Wildlife and Natural Diversity: Cibola National Forest is home to a variety of wildlife species, including elk, mule deer, black bears, mountain lions, and a diverse array of bird species. The forest also contains unique plant communities, including ponderosa pine forests, aspen groves, and piñon-juniper woodlands.
Wilderness Areas: Cibola National Forest includes several designated wilderness areas, such as the Sandia Mountain Wilderness and the Manzano Mountain Wilderness. These areas provide opportunities for solitude, primitive camping, and unspoiled natural beauty.
Historical and Cultural Sites: The forest contains several historical and cultural sites, including ancient Native American ruins, rock art, and remnants of old homesteads. These sites offer insights into the rich human history of the region.
Seasonal Activities: Depending on the time of year, the forest offers various seasonal activities. In winter, areas such as Sandia Peak and Mt. Taylor provide opportunities for skiing and snowshoeing. During the fall, the forest’s vibrant foliage makes it an ideal destination for leaf peeping.
When visiting Cibola National Forest on the Westside of Albuquerque, make sure to check the forest’s website or contact the ranger district for current information on trail conditions, permits, and recreational opportunities. Enjoy exploring the natural beauty and outdoor adventures this forest has to offer!