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CARLITO SPRINGS IS 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. Our target re-opening date is during the Spring/Summer of 2022.

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

About the Property 

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 has now also been named to the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places. 

This property 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.   

The State Cultural Properties Review Committee approved listing Whitcomb (Carlito) Springs on the state register of cultural properties and the Department of the Interior approved listing on the National Register. The listing provides formal recognition of the property’s historic and cultural resources, encourages preservation through benefits and incentives.

The property qualified as an historic district worthy of preservation because of its significance in the fields of outdoor recreation and landscape architecture.

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. 

The Property Today

Carlito Springs Open Space remains closed to the public as Phase II of the rehabilitation project moves forward at the property. The Board of County Commissioners recently approved additional funding to support renovation of the main house including construction of a caretaker’s unit. Phase II furthers the county’s goal of offering educational programming and opportunities to the public for meaningful engagement in the outdoors at this historically significant site.

The timeline for this phase of construction has a targeted re-opening of the property in Spring/Summer of 2022. Bernalillo County Public Works is managing site work at the property including improvements to civil infrastructure such as roads, additional parking capacity, wastewater disposal, fire suppression systems and improved ADA access. While the renovation work will allow for increased visitation, the overall design and rehabilitation plan will maintain the historic character of the buildings and site.

In the past, Bernalillo County has 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.

Previous and Upcoming Projects

Improvement Projects 

Work Completed To Date (Nov. 2019)

  • Design of site utilities, upgraded drainage, parking lot expansion, landscaping
  • Repairs to Grace Bridge
  • Construction of Council Ring/ outdoor classroom
  • Relocation and restoration of existing block wall
  • Construction of new parking lot

What Happens Next?

  • November 2019 – re-roof flat portion of main house
  • Early April 2020 – November 2020 Construction will begin on the remainder of site work. The work in this package will include fire suppression system, domestic water, sanitary sewer, upgraded electrical, erosion control and upper most parking lot improvements
  • Early April 2021 – November 2021 Main House and Caretakers renovation
  • 2022 – Start cabin renovation design and construction dependent of available funding

           

Forest Health Initiative

As part of a forest health initiative the county partnered with the Ciudad Soil & Water Conservation District and the State Forestry Division to implement fuel thinning on the property. Crews accomplished cut and removal of non-native trees, hazardous trees and reduction of fuel load. The benefits of the project include improved wildlife habitat, decreased threat of insects and disease, addressing erosion control concerns, and reduction of the threat of catastrophic wildland fire to provide safety for the public, property and natural resources.

Additional Resources

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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