In 2019, Public Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard launched the Open for Adventure campaign, marking the first time a commissioner had dedicated a program and staff to promote, develop and expand outdoor recreation opportunities on state trust lands.

She is committed to increasing recreational opportunities on your state trust lands, not only to diversify revenue sources, but also to improve the quality of lives of New Mexicans.

Access to state trust lands is authorized via an annual permit. You can apply for the permit and pay the $35 fee online at Open

The permit provides access to a variety of pristine outdoor areas from the Tri-State Point and Sierra Grande in the northeast, to Golden Open Space and San Lorenzo Canyon in the central part of the state to the Gila Box in the southwest. Permits allow for activities such as hiking, bouldering and wildlife photography, but do not authorize hunting or camping. If you are looking to explore someplace new, a day hike on state trust land might be the answer.

The launch of the Open for Adventure campaign has resulted in rapidly increasing numbers of permits being issued. These efforts include partnerships with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.

The New Mexico Wildlife Federation provided funding that allows the families of New Mexico fifth graders to apply for a permit at no cost, and several of these free permits are still available for you and your family. Collaboration with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition allowed for ease of access to permits for thru-hikers traveling to the Bootheel to begin a multistate journey.

A partnership with the Central New Mexico Audubon Society has enhanced a preeminent bird watching site called Melrose Woods. The work included trash cleanup, establishment of short hiking trails, educational signage and habitat restoration efforts. Another partnership with the Albuquerque Open Space Division and the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge allows better access and planning for restoration activities in the Rio Grande Bosque.

The State Land Office has a terrific track record of working with local governments to manage recreational assets. The Church Rock Trail system in Gallup and the Moon Mountain disc golf course in Ruidoso are just a few examples.

We continue to expand on these successes with new projects coming soon. Keep an eye out as we develop a disc golf course at Maude’s Canyon in Silver City and create access to incredibly scenic state trust land in Embudo Canyon near Peñasco and a fat tire bicycle trail network in northwest Rio Rancho.

So come out and enjoy all that your state trust lands have to offer while helping to fund our public schools. For more details, visit

Craig Johnson is an outdoor recreation specialist at the New Mexico State Land Office.

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