How to Get From Albuquerque to the Gila National Forest

New Mexico is a beautiful state filled with exciting places to visit, but if you’ve never been to the Gila National Forest, you’re missing out. Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is one of the most unique places to stay as you’ll get an authentic dude ranch experience while exploring the vast, untouched lands of the 3.3 million acre National Forest. Part of our property’s charm is the fact that it’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Our dude ranch is located 85 miles from the nearest stoplight, and cell service ends about 70 miles from the property. This means you need to take some time for the journey to our location. Rent a car and make the drive from Albuquerque to the Gila National Forest for a truly unforgettable trip!

Planning a big trip can be time-consuming and overwhelming, which is why we offer the option to create a New Mexico Itinerary for each of our guests! Just provide us with some information on the types of activities you’re interested in, and we’ll send you a personalized itinerary to make your planning simple.

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Your Guide to a Road Trip From Albuquerque to the Gila National Forest

The Route

Getting from Albuquerque to the Gila National Forest can be a bit tricky if you rely on your GPS as it can be unreliable to find Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch. Our address is in Winston, NM, but the ranch itself is more than an hour away from this location, which is why it’s important for you to print out directions from our website and bring them with you. Otherwise, you may have trouble finding the property, especially once you lose cell service, which will happen as soon as you leave I-25.

The best way to get to our location from Albuquerque is to hop onto I-25 South towards Truth or Consequences (locally called T or C). You’ll get off the highway on exit 89, then take NM 181 South to get on to NM 52. This route takes you towards the Black Range Mountains. You will enjoy the changing scenery from high desert to high plains to forest as you travel the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway and come up into the mountains to the ranch. Because the GPS is unreliable to find our ranch, please remember to visit our directions page and print the directions out prior to traveling to our location. The trip from Albuquerque to the Gila National Forest should take about four hours total (without stops).

How to Prepare

Before embarking on your drive, be sure that you’ve packed everything you’ll need for a stay on the ranch. When you venture out to Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch, you’re taking a different type of vacation, so many of the conveniences of living in a more urban area will not be available to you. This means you should be extra careful to pack all the items you will need during your stay. 

During your time with us, you’ll have the opportunity for unlimited horseback riding and hiking, which means you’ll be spending a lot of time out in the sun. It’s important to protect your skin, so be sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and an extra layer to cover yourself if the sun becomes too much. When it comes to packing clothing, you should be prepared to dress in layers. The temperature can change drastically from day to night in the Gila National Forest, so bring a few extra layers and a jacket. For riding, you should bring (or plan to borrow from us) a pair of riding boots with a smooth sole and heel. You should also pack a pair of sneakers or hiking boots for times when you venture out on foot. For a full list of items to bring, see our Dude Ranch Packing List.

A bald eagle on Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch.

Things to Do in the Gila National Forest

There is so much to explore in the Gila National Forest. If you’re interested in wildlife viewing, this one of the best places to go. Elk, mule deer, javelina, black bears, mountain lions, and wild turkeys can all be seen roaming the land. If you prefer bird watching, keep your eyes on the sky and you may just spot a bald eagle, spotted owl, or red-tailed hawk. We are located on the migratory path for many species of birds. 

You’ll also have the chance to explore the great wilderness of the Gila National Forest during your stay. Whether you decide to venture out on horseback or on foot, you’ll discover many trails that showcase the region’s natural beauty. The Gila Wilderness was the first designated wilderness area in the country, and in combination with the forest’s other two wilderness areas, The Aldo Leopold Wilderness and the Blue Range Wilderness, adds up to a total of almost 800,000 acres. There are many other interesting places to visit within the forest including ancient cliff dwellings and natural hot springs. Let us know which types of activities you’re interested in and sights you would like to see during your trip, and we can help you create the perfect itinerary while visiting the ranch as well as for sights you want to see before or after your stay with us!

Have the Vacation of a Lifetime at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch

A stay at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch is a totally unique experience as you will have the chance to escape to the forest and explore the natural landscape. You will be able to unplug from the stresses of everyday life and spend the day riding horseback, hiking through the mountains, and swimming in the creeks. Once you arrive on our property, you’ll realize that the trip from Albuquerque to the Gila National Forest was well worth it. 

Every guest has unlimited access to horseback riding and hiking trails. You’ll stay in one of our four well-appointed cabins and receive three home-cooked meals every day. At the end of the day, you will also have time to bond with your horse and brush him or her. There will be evening activities throughout your stay that you can participate in such as campfires with s’mores, fantastic stargazing, line dancing, board games, and Western movies. Or you are welcome to kick back and enjoy the extraordinary peacefulness of our area! Each cabin has a private bath with heated running water, a propane fireplace, comfortable mattresses and soft linens. We will provide you with a Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch water bottle, and complimentary cookies throughout your stay. 

Check our availability and book your once-in-a-lifetime experience today!