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Camping at Cienega Picnic Site

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Cienega Picnic Site Overview

Cienega Picnic Site is located within the Cibola National Forest and Grasslands, which spans New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. It offers an accessible, serene spot for enjoying a day in nature. The picnic area is characterized by its lush meadow, streamside environment, and tall trees, providing a cool escape during hot days. It's perfect for picnicking, wildlife viewing, and enjoying the peaceful outdoor atmosphere.


Cienega Picnic Site is situated in the Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest, approximately 15 miles north of the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Access and Fees

Access to the picnic site is typically via the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway (NM-536), which is a winding mountain road offering spectacular views. The site is generally open from late spring through fall, depending on weather conditions. It may be closed during winter due to snow.

There is usually a day-use fee required to access the site. This can either be paid on-site or by purchasing a pass in advance. The fees are used to maintain and improve the facilities. It is advisable to check the latest access information and fees before your visit.


  • Picnic Tables and Grills: Equipped with picnic tables and grills, visitors can enjoy a pleasant day of outdoor meals surrounded by nature.
  • Restrooms: Generally, vault toilets are available for visitors.
  • Trash Disposal: Trash receptacles may be provided, but as with all outdoor areas, the principle of 'pack it in, pack it out' is encouraged to maintain the cleanliness and natural beauty.
  • Parking: There's a parking area, but spaces might be limited on busy days so arriving early or visiting during off-peak times can be advantageous.


  • Picnicking: As the name suggests, the site is perfectly designed for picnicking amongst a beautiful natural setting.
  • Hiking and Walking: Trails in the area offer various degrees of difficulty for hikers and walkers of all levels.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The diverse habitat is home to a variety of wildlife. With a bit of luck and patience, visitors might spot birds and other wildlife.
  • Photography: The scenic vistas and abundant nature make for great photography opportunities.

Regulations and Safety

  • Fire Safety: Due to the potential for wildfires, there may be seasonal fire restrictions. Always check current conditions and follow all fire regulations.
  • Leave No Trace: Visitors are expected to adhere to "Leave No Trace" principles to preserve the environment for future visitors.
  • Weather: Weather can change rapidly in the mountains; it's essential to be prepared for various conditions.
  • Pets: Pets must generally be leashed and controlled at all times. Owners must pick up after their pets.

Reservations and Contact Information

  • Reservations: Picnic sites are usually first-come, first-served, without the need for reservations.
  • Contact: For the most current information, contact the Sandia Ranger District (or the Forest Service office governing Cibola National Forest).

Before heading to Cienega Picnic Site, always check for the most current information regarding closures, fire hazards, weather conditions, and any other important updates to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Location of Cienega Picnic Site
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