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SMNHC Overview

The Sandia Mountain Natural History Center is an environmental education center located in the Sandia Mountains just east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our beautiful 128-acre piece of pinon-juniper forest is owned by the Albuquerque Public School System, and is run by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Since 1967 the center has been teaching the students of New Mexico about the environment and how to preserve it. The primary mission of the center and its staff is to educate the citizens of New Mexico about ecology, ecosystems, the environment and conservation. The Center was declared an Environmental Education Landmark by the National Park Service and was awarded the Environmental Excellence Award by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Center consists of:

• Over 5 miles of trails

• 5 outdoor classrooms

• 5 indoor classrooms

• Access to the Cibola National Forest

• 5 picnic areas

• Geocache and orienteering course

• Restrooms

• Office space


The center serves more than 17,000 people a year in a variety of different programs for school groups, as well as the general public. Our school programs are an exciting part of the SMNHC experience. In the "Ecology Field Program" students visit the center for a 4-hour program. During that time they go for a 2-hour hike and participate in hands-on activities focusing on ecosystems.


While our Center is not open to the public during school hours, we do host several public events throughout the year to let people see this unique New Mexican treasure. From nature walks to bird watching and the SMNHC has something for all nature lovers.

Throughout the year the SMNHC hosts a number of teacher workshops. The topics for these workshops typically reflect some aspect of ecology and give teachers the knowledge and confidence to teach their students about  nature, both inside and outside of the classroom.


During the school year the SMNHC staff provides an outreach program, traveling the state teaching the "Traveling Ecology Field Program". This program features nature hikes at a park or wild area near the student's schools. This gives students a better understanding of the unique ecosystems near their schools.