Elena Gallegos Open Space

Information about Elena Gallegos Open Space.

Elena Gallegos Picnic Area

Visitors to Elena Gallegos Picnic Area and Albert G. Simms Park enjoy many activities below the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains, which were named for their pink colors at sunset - "Sandia" is Spanish for "watermelon."

The 640-acre park is a gem in the Open Space system. At an elevation of about 6,500 feet, visitors can view Mt. Taylor to the west, the Jemez Mountains to the north and the vast Tijeras Arroyo to the south.

The landscape supports a piñon-juniper habitat that includes chamisa, Apache plume, scrub oak, cane cholla cactus, blue grama grass, bear grass, and soapweed yucca. If visitors use their observation skills pack rat nests can be seen under juniper trees, coyote and bear scat can be identified along the trail, and the elusive cougar may be spotted traveling through a natural drainage.

Proposed Improvements & Education Center

A feasibility study was conducted during the winter of 2021-22 to determine the feasibility of proposed improvements at Elena Gallegos, including locations for a potential Education Center. Click here to view the feasibility study. Additional information about the planning process, including previous meetings, can be found at the following website:

Also, click on the link to see a presentation regarding the study.

Walking tours are being offered to learn more about the project. If you are interested, contact [email protected]

A survey will be posted soon to solicit additional public input

Comments can be sent to [email protected] Check back for future public meetings and opportunities for public input.

Use & Restrictions of Grills

Hours of Operation

  • Winter Hours (In effect starting Nov. 1): 7am - 7pm
  • Summer Hours (In effect starting April 1): 7am - 9pm


Seven covered picnic areas and two reservation areas with barbecue grills provide magnificent views to the east and the west. A network of multi-use trails offer challenges to hikers, bikers and equestrians. Hikers also enjoy two trails for foot traffic only and access to the Sandia Mountain Wilderness area. On the north boundary of the picnic area is the Cottonwood Springs Trail, a self-guiding trail accessible to all people, leading to a pond and wildlife blind. A special feature of the Cottonwood Springs Trail are the shaded rest stops with original art work by Margie O'Brien interpreting the surrounding environment. A map of the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area trails is available. Refer to the facility chart and the facility map for more information.

School programs and family-based activities are offered throughout the year. Visit the Elena Gallegos Information Center, located at the entrance of the park, to learn more about the natural and cultural environment of this area.

Reservation Areas

The following two areas are available for group reservations:


Monday - Friday: $1 per vehicle
Saturday - Sunday: $2 per vehicle


To access the park from Interstate 40, exit on to Tramway north. After the Academy Road traffic light turn right onto Simms Park Road and travel east to the Information Center.