How to Visit Cibola National Forest and Where to Camp

Apr 7, 2023 | Campgrounds

How to Visit Cibola National Forest and Where to Camp

You'll find fishing, mountain biking, and lots of history at this national forest in New Mexico.

By Robert Annis

Six Mile Canyon Dispersed Camping. | Photo by: SiriusOGD

From high desert to mountain lakes to alpine spruce-fir forest, Cibola National Forest has it all. It includes part of nine mountain ranges across three states—New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. The following guide focuses on the New Mexico portion.


About 26 miles of singletrack start from the Hilso Mountain Bike Trail, weaving through the lush pine forest. It’s great for intermediate-level riders who love scenery as much as thrills. Keep an eye out for the pigment mines that ancient Native Americans used to color pottery and other art.

Related The Best Campgrounds Near Mountain Biking Trails

The North Sandia Peak Trail leads you to the top of the mountain in less than 2 miles, with plenty of gorgeous views of the surrounding valley atop the ridgeline. If you’re still up for more walking, you can take another short hike along the Crest Trail, which takes you to a cabin built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.   

Anglers will want to cast a line in McGaffey Lake. Rainbow trout and two types of catfish are the most common fish found in the manmade lake. 

View of New Mexico desert boondocking area from RV window
Six Mile Canyon Dispersed Camping area in the national forest. | Photo by: Fireground

How to Get There by RV

Interstate 40 bisects Cibola National Forest through New Mexico. Several roads through the national forest are gravel, but manageable. 

Where to Camp

Quaking Aspen Campground is a bit of a misnomer; it’s surrounded by pine trees, not aspens. Nevertheless, it’s still a great option. This is a seasonal campground, typically open from May to October.

Manzano Mountains State Park offers both electric hookups and primitive sites. The park has a nice trail network that you can use to hike out to ancient Pueblo ruins.

Other Nearby Camping Options