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Open Space Rules, Regulations & Etiquette

Information about Open Space rules, regulations, and etiquette.

General Information

The City of Albuquerque Open Space is an ambitious program to preserve and protect unique land and cultural resources that have significant scenic, ecological, recreational, and cultural value to Albuquerque residents. These rules and regulations have been adopted to protect our valuable resources and enhance your outdoor recreational experience.

All visitors are subject to State Statutes and City/County Ordinances governing public conduct. The rules and regulations stated are those generally enforceable or permitted under Bernalillo County Ordinance 88-9 and City of Albuquerque Revised Ordinances, R.O. 1974, 5-6. Violation of many of these rules and regulations are punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. Open Space areas are patrolled by fully commissioned Open Space Police Officers. If you witness illegal activity, please call 242-COPS (2677). For a complete listing of Bernalillo County and City of Albuquerque ordinances please visit American Legal Publishing Company.

Recreation & Uses of Open Space lands

  • Low impact recreation is permitted in most Open Space lands including:
    • Hiking, Bicycling, mountain biking, in-line skating, and horseback riding
  • Low-impact recreation is prohibited in some Open Space lands including specified wildlife and agricultural preserves.
    • These areas are posted clearly with signs. Trespassers and violators will be punished by applicable laws.
  • High-impact recreation is prohibited in most Open Space lands including:
    • Soccer, football, frisbee, softball, and any other activity that harms or impacts the fragile ecosystems in the Open Space lands.
  • High impact recreation is permitted in the following Open Space areas:


Please keep in mind that Open Space would like to keep our parks safe and enjoyable for all visitors. Always be courteous when using trails. Disorderly conduct is not acceptable and officers will handle this behavior accordingly.

  • Have Fun!
    The City of Albuquerque Open Space Division encourages low-impact, responsible recreation throughout its extensive trail system.
  • Be Courteous
    Trails are for the enjoyment of all visitors. Please be courteous and respectful when encountering fellow trail users.
  • Pack it in - Pack it out
    Keep your impact to a minimum when on the trail - take your trash out.
  • Stay on Established Trails
    Well-built trails are designed to protect the land from erosion and promote preservation. When users cut their own trails they promote degradation of the fragile landscape and wildlife habitat.
  • Yield
    • All users must slow and stop for horses. Cyclists must also yield to hikers.
    • Saddle and/or pack animals must stay on established trails and yield to all hikers.
    • Mountain bikes must stay on established trails and yield to saddle and pack animals and hikers.
  • Announce Yourself and Pass on the Left
    Let people know when you are approaching from behind and that you are passing on the left.
  • Share the Trail
    Keep to the right of the trail and allow faster users enough room to pass on the left.
  • Keep Pets Leashed
    Promote wildlife preservation and enhance the wilderness experience for other users. Keep your pet safe and avoid hefty fines by keeping your dog properly leashed.
  • Clean Up after Your Dog
    Not only does dog excrement stink, but it also spreads disease to other dogs and pollutes groundwater. Some trailheads provide "Mutt Mitts" to clean up after pets.
  • Keep noise level low
    The use of radios, tape or CD players, televisions, or audio amplifying electronic devices or instruments is strictly prohibited.

Bosque & River Rules

Information on regulations specific to boating and river access.


  • Camping is not permitted in Open Space without a permit. Please call 505-452-5200 to request a camping permit.
  • Visitors to adjacent Wilderness areas (such as the Sandia Mountain Wilderness) may park their vehicles overnight. Please, check with a park attendant before leaving your vehicle. Vehicles left overnight are done so at your own risk. They will be locked in until the facilities reopen the following morning. View Sandia Mountain Wilderness information.

Cultural & Natural Resources

  • All archaeological artifacts, petroglyphs, associated historic and archaeological sites and boulders are protected. The penalties for vandalism are severe.
  • Stay on marked trails. Walking off trails can damage fragile desert habitat and lead to increased erosion.
  • Do not disturb, remove, harass, or hunt any mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, insect, or other form of animal life in Open Space. Fishing is permitted in the Rio Grande Valley State Park only. All New Mexico Game and Fish laws apply in Open Space.
  • Do not disturb, cut, chop, and/or remove any tree, shrub, plant, cactus, and/or grass.
  • Due to the fragile desert plants and grasses, activities such as softball, football, frisbee, and other high impact recreational activities are prohibited.

Fee Areas

  • All Open Space fees areas are clearly signed. Please pay the appropriate fee before using the facility. Vehicles that do not display a parking stub verifying payment of an entry fee or an annual permit are subject to being cited.


The discharge of any firearms, bow, pellet gun, BB gun, paint ball gun, sling shot, or similar device is not permitted. See Shooting Range Park for information on public range facilities.

Fires & Fireworks

Please see our fire information webpage for up-to-date information on fire warnings and restrictions.

  • Obey all fire restrictions. Check with Open Space regarding current restrictions before starting any fires. Add phone number and 311
  • Do no set off fireworks or other explosives in Open Space. Damaging fires have occurred due to misuse of fireworks.
  • When fire hazards are high, no fires are permitted in Open Space areas. Charcoal fires are permitted only in provided fire rings, grills, or fireplaces. Open wood fires are permitted only in the fire rings provided in the reservation areas.
  • Current restrictions may restrict charcoal and/or wood fires at any given time. Restrictions may also include no smoking in outside areas.
  • Chopping or removal of firewood is strictly prohibited in Open Space.
  • Gas or propane are allowed in developed Open Space facilities only. You must have a fire extinguisher on hand. Please contact the Fire Marshall's Office (505-764-6300) with any questions. During some fire restrictions, open fires are not allowed, but propane are allowed in developed facilities. Fire restrictions will be clearly marked at Open Space areas. Please call 505-452-5200 for up to date fire restrictions.


  • Hunting is allowed within the Sandia Mountain Wilderness Area, but is PROHIBITED on all Open Space properties.
  • Anyone witnessing poaching can call the Albuquerque office of the NM Game and Fish Department at 505-222-4700 M-F between 8am and 5pm or on weekends and after 5pm call 505-827-9376.
  • Please pay careful attention to National Forest Service and Open Space boundaries if hunting in the Sandia Mountain Wilderness.
  • NM Game and Fish Rules and Information, hunting season dates, etc. are available on line at


  • When placing or searching for geocaches in Open Space please observe all rules and regulations and geocaching guidelines to ensure the preservation of Open Space lands.
  • View more information about geocaching in Open Spaces.

Memorials on Open Space Lands

Motor Vehicles

Severe erosion has occurred on Open Space lands because of unrestricted vehicle use.

  • The operation of motorized vehicles is prohibited off the established roadways. Signs and barriers have been erected to inform you of vehicle closures.
  • All State, County, and City traffic laws apply in Open Space. Posted speed limits are enforced.
  • Do not block gates; park only in designated areas. Do not park on access roads. Emergency vehicles may need to access those gates and/or roads; vehicles blocking gates and/or roads will be towed.
  • Visitors to adjacent Wilderness areas (such as the Sandia Mountain Wilderness) may park their vehicles overnight. Please, check with a park attendant before leaving your vehicle. Vehicles left overnight are done so at your own risk. They will be locked in until the facilities reopen the following morning. View Sandia Mountain Wilderness information.
  • View more information about off-highway motor vehicles (ATVs)

Organized Recreational and Business Activities

  • All organized and/or sponsored recreational events must be approved and a Special Use Permit issued before the event may take place. Insurance is required. Charges for this permit is determined on an individual basis (i.e., type of event, group size, location, etc.). Please call 505-452-5200 for more information.
  • Permits are required for all commercial activities. Insurance is required and charges will be determined at the time of request.


There are many reasons dogs are required to remain leashed and under the direct supervision of the owner in Open Space lands. Dogs can cause damage to the environment, such as soil erosion and harm to naturally occurring flora and harm to the wildlife, such as a dog chasing a small mammal, exhausting it until it is immobile, unable to hunt for food, and is more vulnerable to attack. Dogs could encounter animals that carry deadly viruses, such as Rabies and Plague. Pet/pet or pet/wildlife confrontations are extremely difficult to control when the dog is not restrained by a leash.

  • All pets must be restrained on a leash no longer than eight (8) feet.
  • Mutt mitts are available at some Open Space trailheads. Please help us keep these lands clean and bring your own bag in the case that mutt mitts are not available. View more information about official off-leash dog parks here.

Public Property

  • Do not remove, alter, or damage any sign, barrier, fence, gate, or structure. Individuals responsible will be required to pay for damages.
  • Do not post any notices or signs without permission of Open Space authorities.
  • Do not enter or use any building, parking area, enclosed area, road, or trail that has been expressly closed to the public.
  • Use toilets properly. Unsanitary behavior and litter thrown into toilets vaults or bowls only increase our maintenance costs which are passed on to the visitor through increased fees or taxes.

Report a Trail or Open Space Issue

  • Trail problems can be reported to 505-452-5200 or [email protected].
  • Complaints for graffiti and trash should be directed to the main Open Space office number of 505-452-5200.
  • Any illegal activity should be reported to the Open Space Police Dispatch at 505-452-5206.


The Open Space Division is asking the public to help us conform with the City of Albuquerque's smoking ban. Please note that

  • The City of Albuquerque's smoking ban affects all City parks and property.
  • Smoking in Major Public Open Space areas, especially the Rio Grande Bosque and East Mountain properties, creates an extreme fire hazard and should be avoided at all times.
  • The smoking ban does not apply to City golf courses nor sidewalks.

Summer Hours

  • Elena Gallegos: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Reservation group hours 8 am to 8 pm.
  • Petroglyph National Monument: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily; closed January 1st, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25th.
  • Carolino Canyon: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Sandia Foothills Gates: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
  • Boca Negra opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 5:00 p.m. year round.

Winter Hours

  • Elena Gallegos: 7 a.m. to 7 pm. daily. Reservation group hours 8 am to 6 pm.
  • Petroglyph National Monument: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily; closed January 1st, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25th.
  • Carolino Canyon: Closed - October through April
  • Sandia Foothills Gates: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
  • Boca Negra opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 5:00 p.m. year round.


Albuquerque's Major Public Open Space areas are home to an abundance of wildlife. Please respect the wildlife during your visit. You are a guest in their home. Most visitors can expect to see lizards, birds, rabbits and squirrels. Infrequently visitors may also observe snakes (including rattlesnakes), bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, and bears.

Attacks and injuries due to wildlife are extremely rare, and mostly occur when people provoke an animal. Remember, wildlife is a precious natural resource, and we are guests in their home. Please follow these simple rules if you encounter wildlife while exploring Open Space.

  • If you see wildlife, keep at a distance and remain calm.
  • Always keep small children in view.
  • Always keep dogs on a leash for their safety and yours.
  • View more information from New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Enjoy your time in Open Space!