Cibola National Forest and Grassland

Written by on January 21, 2018 in NM Outdoor Adventures - No comments

The Cibola National Forest covers more than 1.6 million acres in the top half of the state of New Mexico, and extends into Texas and Oklahoma, with elevations ranging from 5,000 feet to over 11,300 feet. The mountains in the forested area include Mt. Taylor; the Datil, Gallinas, Magdalena, Bear, Manzano, Sandia, San Mateo, and Zuni Mountains; and four wilderness areas—Sandia Mountain, Manzano Mountain, Withington and Apache Kid. The grassland areas include Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands, as well as Black Kettle and McClellan Creek National Grasslands.
Cibola National Forest and Grasslands
Cibola (SEE-bo-lah) is thought to be the original Zuni Indian name for their group of pueblos or tribal lands. In 1539, the Spaniard Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led a large expedition north from Mexico to search for wealth and the “Seven Cities of Cibola.” He was disappointed when he entered Arizona and New Mexico to find only the pueblo people — Hope, Zuni and other tribes — but no gold. However, these Native American tribes told him stories of a wealthy civilization named Quivira far to the east. Following the tales, Coronado’s expedition traveled through Texas and then north into either Oklahoma or Arkansas, to the land of Quivira and found bountiful farmlands and lush crops. Coronado never did find his cities of gold, so perhaps they are still out there, but even if there aren’t, the Cibola National Forests and Grasslands are gems without price.

High country winters can be severe and the lower elevation can get extremely warm in the summer, but recreational opportunities exist in one part of the park or another in all seasons. Activities within the forests and grasslands include: photography, bicycling, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, climbing, caving, horseback riding, mineral prospecting, scenic drives, skiing, snowshoeing, water sports and much more. Sandia Crest, elevation 10,678 feet, is accessible by road, aerial tramway, and trails. Capillia Peak, elevation 9,375 feet, is accessible by road and trails. Mount Taylor, elevation 11,301 feet, has a good road to within a mile of the top. There are several other scenic drives available throughout the area.

On the Cibola there are hunting opportunities for deer, elk, antelope and turkey; and fishing is great at Bluewater and McGaffey Lakes in the Zuni Mountains; Skipout, Spring Creek, and Dead Indian Lakes in Oklahoma; and Lake Marvin and Lake McClellan in Texas. Downhill skiing is available at the Sandia Peak Ski Area, located on the east side of the Sandia Mountains.

Other places both historic and beautiful to visit in the region include and that offer amazing opportunities with your digital camera include:
Capulin Volcano National Monument
• Ft. Union National Monument
El Malpais National Monument
El Morro National Monument
Chaco Culture National Historic Park
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Pecos National Historic Park

Towns to base operations and room reservations when exploring the Cibola areas include:
Albuquerque, Datil, Grants, Gallup, Magdalena, Mountainair, Socorro and Clayton in New Mexico.

Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands
2113 Osuna Rd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113

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