CLOSURE: Due to forest thinning and restoration operations, Cienega Picnic Area is closed Monday through Friday from July 24 until August 29 and September 2nd until September 26th, 2014.


Cienega Picnic Area is one of several picnic areas in the scenic Sandia Range within close proximity to Albuquerque, making it a popular place for visitors to enjoy a nature-filled getaway. The surrounding forest and mountains provide a beautiful location for sightseeing, as well ...
Status: Open through Tue Oct 14 2014   Season Dates

Book a Campsite at CIENEGA PICNIC AREA, NM

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Know Before You Go
  • Water is not available
  • Bears frequent the area; use appropriate containers for food and garbage
  • Gate key must be picked up at the Sandia Ranger District Office in Tijeras; $10 refundable deposit required
  • Live music and stereo systems are not allowed
  • Click here for more information on the Cibola National Forest
  • Don't Move Firewood: Prevent the spread of tree-killing pests by obtaining firewood near your destination and burning it on-site. For more information visit
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Electric Hookup - no Full Hookup - no
Pets Allowed - no Near Water - no
Enter Date
** Arrival dates earlier than the online-reservation-window may also be available at the campground.


Cienega Picnic Area is one of several picnic areas in the scenic Sandia Range within close proximity to Albuquerque, making it a popular place for visitors to enjoy a nature-filled getaway. The surrounding forest and mountains provide a beautiful location for sightseeing, as well as ample opportunity for recreation.

Natural Features:

The picnic area is located in the Sandia Mountains just 15 miles from Albuquerque at an elevation of 7,500 feet. It is situated in a meadow surrounded by densely forested mountainous terrain.


A variety of hiking and horseback riding trails are available from within the picnic area, including one leading to the mountain crest. The nearly 10-mile round-trip trail winds through a fir forest, abundant with wildflowers. Much of the hike is in the shade, although the terrain can be rough. Day hikes are available along the route. In non-drought times, the trails follow a mountain stream with a beautiful travertine waterfall.

An accessible interpretive trail begins in the area and travels along the nearby stream and meadow. The Sandias are home to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bear and many other species of wildlife and birds, including golden eagles often seen soaring at the crest.


The picnic area offers a semi-private space that can accommodate up to 50 people. Accessible vault toilets are provided, but water is not available. A small fee is typically charged for day use parking. Additional picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Visitors must obtain a key from the Sandia Ranger District office, in Tijeras. There is a refundable deposit of $10, due at the time of pick up. The gate is to remain locked at all times.

Nearby Attractions:

The campground lies along the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway, which extends to the ridge of the Sandia Mountains. It is a popular path for motorcyclists, with its miles of winding road to the summit. The nearby ski area also offers a tram to the crest, giving visitors a different vantage point to see the surrounding range and valleys. It provides a panoramic view of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley below.

Booking Window
Tue Sep 23 2014 - Tue Sep 22 2015

Reservations must be made 1 Days(s) ahead of arrival and can be made up to 12 Month(s) in advance.

Season Dates
Reservation Start & Opening Date is May 15th.
Last night to camp is October 14th.
Park Closes on October 15th.

Season Schedule

Park Season Start End
Peak Thu May 15 2014 Tue Oct 14 2014
Peak Fri May 15 2015 Wed Oct 14 2015
Services and Amenities
Within Facility
  • Accessible Picnic Areas
  • Accessible Vault Toilets
  • Birding
  • Day Use Area
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding Trails
  • Interpretive Trails
  • Parking Area
  • Tables
  • Trailheads
  • Wildlife Viewing
Within 10 Miles
  • Gift Shop
  • Restaurant
  • Rock Climbing
  • Scenic Drive
  • Scenic Overlooks
Fees and Cancellation Policies

Fees and Cancellation

Fee Information
Payment in full will be charged to your credit card upon completion of the reservation. A $9.00 non-refundable on line reservation fee may be charged for some facilities.

Payment Methods Accepted On-line:
Visa Mastercard Amex Discover UnionPay JCB

Changes and Cancellations
A $10.00 service fee will apply if you change or cancel your reservation. Late cancellations are subject to additional fees. For full details see NRRS Reservation Policy

Facility Rates*
Park Season Site Type Nightly/Daily Rates
Peak Season
May 15 2014 -
Oct 14 2014
GROUP PICNIC AREA $40.00-$60.00
Peak Season
May 15 2015 -
Oct 14 2015
GROUP PICNIC AREA $40.00-$60.00

*Displayed rates do not reflect discounts, attribute fees (electrical hook-ups / water hook-ups), taxes or incremental charges
**Weekly rates may not be available for all sites
Getting There
GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
35.16972, -106.38417
35°10'11"N, 106°23'3"W

From Albuquerque, drive approximately 7 miles east on Interstate 40 to exit 175. Go about 7 miles north on Highway 14 to Highway 536. Go west on Highway 536 for just over a mile to the picnic area. Process a half-mile to the group site.
Contact Information

Mailing Address:

11776 HIGHWAY 337
TIJERAS  NM  87059

Phone Number:

Project Office: (505)281-3304