The long dry spell across the state of New Mexico, and recent massive wildfires in the north of the state, have forced authorities in Bernalillo County to raise danger levels to stage-II in many areas and close most of the hiking trails and other picnicking areas in Mountainair, Sandia, Magdalena and Mount Taylor Ranger Districts.

The stage-II of danger level, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture, is when “fires start from most causes and spread rapidly”.

Donna Nemeth, the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands public affairs officer, said “all hiking trails are closed except for 365-Foothills Trail and Tijeras Pueblo Administrative Site trail.”



The closure orders do not affect private property owners, on-duty firefighters, special use permit holders and native tribes. According to a notice posted on Forest Service department website, the penalty for violation is $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations.

At a time when many outdoor hiking and biking options are closed, one might wonder what other possibilities might be available during summer. Here is a list of suggestions that you might like to consider as alternative summer activities.

1. Albuquerque Museum of Art and History

Located in the Old Town, Albuquerque Museum of Art and History provides a deep look into the city’s past and reflects the culture and history of not only the surrounding region of Albuquerque, but also the southwest in general over the past centuries.

The exhibits of the museum include artifacts from the earliest European settlements, to native cultures and modern day urban life.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is $4 per adult.

2. Old Town

Albuquerque’s Old Town has for centuries remained a mix of Spanish, Mexican and Native cultures. Visitors get a peculiar Southwestern feel by looking at the giant cottonwood trees and adobe style structures. Art galleries, souvenir shops, restaurants and mini-museums make Old Town a perfect summer spot.

3. Albuquerque Biological Park

Albuquerque Biological Park is also one of the major attractions of holiday goers in Albuquerque.

The park comprises of Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Zoo and the Rio Grande Botanical Gardens, and has amusements for children and adults alike. The zoo has very rare and endangered animal species, the aquarium has sharks and stingrays, and the botanical gardens has lush green space, which is very pleasant to breathe in on a summer day.

4. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, a couple of miles north of Old Town, is a good place to get a look into the past and present of native communities.

The center has a museum and holds several art and cultural events throughout the year. Attending one of the traditional dances offers an interesting way to beat the summer heat.

5. Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument is a site of historical images spread out on more than 7,200 acres of land. Many trails allow for biking and hiking within the officially managed area. Petroglyph National Monument is an outdoor museum with thousands of images hewed into the volcanic rock. The visitor center also holds a variety of educational programs.

This is a good alternative for hikers who are affected by the closure of hiking options in the Sandia region.

6. National Museum of Nuclear Science and History

The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History is one of the most important historical museums, and a place worth seeing. The outer view of the museum has many original models and replicas of fighter planes, missiles and submarines. The inside of the museum is an amazing display of the nuclear and war history of the U.S. from stage to stage.

If one has interest in military science, one can spend the entire day in the museum looking at the exhibits. Some of the notable exhibits include replicas of “The Little Boy” and “The Fat Man,” the nuclear devices that were used in the second World War against Japan.

All these options are right within the Duke City. If you are willing to drive a little bit, then you might consider visiting Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, which is around a 50 miles drive. Tent Rocks provides a fascinating hiking opportunity with beautiful site-seeing and intriguing rock formations. The wonderful sight of the amazingly shaped rock formations draws the attention to the hidden mysteries of majestic nature.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is another option that requires driving almost 300 miles from Albuquerque to the site, but is filled with enjoyable views of caves and water besides hiking opportunities. The organizers have arrangements for bat viewing tours, which is a good way to get out of the sun with friends or family.

Ahmad Yar Ranjha is a freelance news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com.