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About Balsam Glade Picnic Area

Balsam Glade Picnic Area was named by an early American settler who mistook the white fir that grows here, for balsam fir, as they are similar in appearance. He called this area “Balsam Glade” for so long, that the name stuck. In the 1930s there was a YMCA camp here. One young man, who attended camp as a youth, later became a counselor for boys at the “Y” camp. He was a fun loving fellow, and gained the title, “Ghost of the Sandia’s”, for his wild antics, such as flying over the campfire on a zip line and scaring the campers. The only thing left of the ‘Y’ camp is one step that led thousands of hungry kids into the dining hall and out again to make more memories. Balsam Glade is a great place for you and yours to make your own memories. The surrounding forest and mountains provide a perfect backdrop for photography, flower walks, bird watching, hiking, relaxing and taking in nature, and other recreational opportunities. The sheltered area is a replica of a mid-1930s Civilian Conservation Corps design. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) has a rich history and lasting presence throughout the Sandia Mountains. In their honor, we ask that you take extra care to “leave no trace” when you visit. Natural Features: The picnic area is located just past the base of Sandia Peak Ski Area, about 23 miles from Albuquerque at an elevation of about 8,600 feet. It is adjacent to La Madera Canyon Overlook, with views of South Mountain. Elevation gain throughout this site is minimal. Recreation: The nature trail within this picnic area is well suited for any age, young or old. It is .3 (three tenths) of a mile long, with very little elevation gain. It leads from the reserved site to an overlook at Madera Canyon. There you will find an observation deck where many lovers have sealed their devotion to one another through wedding vows. Resting places and informative signage along the path give opportunity to relax and learn as you go. There is also an overgrown pathway that leads northwest from Balsam Glade toward the Capulin Picnic area. These trails are suitable for children and adults to enjoy hiking in the great outdoors.For more information on this path, view the Sandia Mountains Trail guide. Facilities: Water and electricity, firewood /charcoal are not available at the site. Accessible vault toilets and bear proof trash receptacles are provided. For details, please read the ‘Know Before You Go” below. Balsam Glade picnic area has one covered shelter, which is a replica of a mid-1930s Civilian Conservation Corps design. It can accommodate up to 30 people and is equipped with multiple picnic tables and grills. Parking: Each reservation comes with ten day use parking passes which should be picked up before hand at the Sandia Ranger Station, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., (505) 281-3304. Additional dispersed picnic areas, which do not require a reservation, are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each area can accommodate a small family group and have no covering. Tables and grills provided. Nearby Attractions: There are privately owned businesses and restaurants all along NM State Road 14 and a museum on your way up the 536 Scenic Byway. If you are interested in taking a short jaunt to the very top of the Sandia Mountains, take a right turn out of the Balsam Glade parking area, onto the Sandia Crest 536 Scenic Byway and wind your way up. The byway extends 13.6 miles from the base of the Sandia’s to the Sandia Crest, where you will find parking, a gift store, snack bar and a lookout deck. There you can see panoramic views from any direction you look. Sunsets are spectacular. It was voted Best Place to “P

USDA Forest Service
ADA Accessible
Balsam Glade Picnic Area is located in Cibola National Forest and Grasslands in New Mexico
35.2136 N
-106.4072 W
Get Directions
From Albuquerque, drive east on I-40 to Exit 175. Continue north on NM State Road 14 for another 7 miles to Highway 536. Turn west onto Highway 536. Balsam Glade is approximately 7 miles up State Road 536, about one mile past the base of the Sandia Peak Ski area.
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