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CARLITO SPRINGS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. The closure is for the public’s safety and due to a forest health initiative and construction related to the Phase II, Priority 1 project. See below for additional information under Current Projects.

Location and Hours

Address: 82 Carlito Springs Rd. (Tijeras Canyon in the East Mountains)

Hours of Operation: For the public's safety, the property is closed starting March 26, 2018, until further notice.

Contact: Bernalillo County Open Space staff, (505) 314-0400 or email openspace@bernco.gov.

Property History 

Carlito Springs is located on the southeast face of the Sandia Mountains near the village of Tijeras. It encompasses 179 acres and ranges in elevation from 6,300 feet to 7,000 feet.

It borders the Cibola National Forest to the north and northwest and private property on all other sides. Bernalillo County purchased the initial 177 acres in 2000 and later acquired an adjoining two-acre tract in 2008 that includes its namesake spring.   

Carlito Springs is named for the spring that flows from exposed bedrock in the north-central portion of the property. This spring once provided water to a residence and several cabins and continues to feed several ponds and a lush riparian environment that nourishes ornamental gardens and an orchard. This spring water also provide critical habitat for many species of birds and animals, including black bear, mountain lion, badger and mule deer.

Bernalillo County Public Works is currently conducting rehabilitation work at Carlito Springs. Please click here to see details of the work. 


Planning and Management    

Bernalillo County completed the Carlito Springs Open Space Cultural Landscape Report in the spring of 2012. The work upon which the report is based had two foci: 1) inventory Carlito Springs’ resources, including its landforms, history, cultural resources, water resources, architecture, circulation routes, and vegetation, and 2) develop a treatment plan that protects Carlito Springs’ resources while also providing public access and enrichment. The first phase of the treatment plan was completed in 2014 and included a new trailhead and sustainable natural surface trail system, allowing visitor parking and access. 

Current Projects

Phase II Project Design and Scope: $ 1.3 million

Project Overview:

  • The Phase II project scope will include preparing the Carlito Springs Open Space to a wider range of visitors, vehicle access and a possible live-in caretaker.
  • Base Bid includes constructing a potable water system, a fire suppression system, a wastewater disposal system, expanded parking area and rehabilitate small-scale features to include retaining walls, fountains, ponds, steps and gardens as necessary. Estimated Costs - $1.13 million
  • Alternates: Depending on how construction bids come in, it is possible that improvements to the Main House and/or Caretakers Unit can be made during the Phase II site improvements. If this is not possible, the Main House and Caretakers unit improvements will be made in a later Phase.


  • Site Infrastructure estimate (Priority 1): $ 1,136,031.05
  • Caretaker’s unit (Priority 2) : $223,070.93
  • Main House estimate (Priority 3): $850,136.31


The Design will be advertised to bid in May 2018 with construction starting in June 2018.

Forest Health Initiative:

The forest health initiative will create a more productive forest at Carlito Springs while decreasing the threat of insects and disease, hazardous trees, and risk from fire without sacrificing the vistas. Treatments will address erosion control in identified critical areas. This project is being funded through a Non-Federal Lands grant managed by Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District and Open Space mil levy funds. The prescription is developed by the NM Forestry Division. There are three parts to the forest health initiative, including the following:

  1. Certified arborist will remove hazardous trees around the house and cabins.
  2. The orchard area will be enhanced by an inmate crew with oversight from the NM State Forestry District and assistance from BernCo staff and volunteers to remove invasive trees, dead and down wood, and additional hazardous trees in the orchard area and around the house and cabins, totaling 11.5 acres.
  3. Contractors will thin 55 acres following an approved prescription and with oversight from the NM State Forestry District. BernCo Fire Department will assist in this effort, saving additional county dollars while providing staff training.


Learn more about the history of Carlito Springs from the Carlito Springs Open Space Cultural Landscape Report. Or, watch the video below, featuring a talk by East Mountain historian Denise Tessier.


You can also learn more about the management plan for this open space in the Carlito Springs Resource Management Plan.

For a property/trail map, please click here.

Carlito Springs is well named for a perennial spring that flows from the property and supports lush riparian vegetation, a historic orchard and gardens, and is important for wildlife. As part of the Phase I construction, a spring box was developed to better protect the spring and address safety concerns. The spring box plans can be viewed in the Carlito Springs Open Space Phase II Rehabilitation Plans.

Bernalillo County completed the Architectural Program for Carlito Springs in 2016 that was the result of public meetings and input from volunteers, staff, partners and other stakeholder. Click here to view the Carlito Springs Architectural Program.

For additional information, contact Open Space staff at 505-314-0400 or email openspace@bernco.gov.



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