Albuquerque Moving Guide: East Mountains


I’m a “mountain girl” having had the privilege of growing up in the mountains east of Albuquerque, the “East Mountains.” I’ve lived in Sandia Park, Cedar Crest, Tijeras, and Carnuel. Businesses have expanded and communities have grown, but what I and many others love about mountain living remains.

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All the senses are involved in the best ways in the East Mountains! You get to look out and see nature instead of houses.

Sometimes the wildlife will surprise you in your own yard. The clear night skies are amazing for star gazing. You can smell the wonderful scents of nature (especially the pine trees) while breathing in the crisp and fresh mountain air. You are close to hiking trails you can explore or even scenic drives. If you love snow, you will get more in the East Mountains! On many trails, you can find wild edibles.

Albuquerque Moving Guide: East MountainsYou can grow a garden and fruit trees. You can also buy local produce and more. The quiet of mountain living cannot be beaten. But you can also hear the sounds of nature uninterrupted which is so relaxing! Living here can make you more relaxed as an individual and as a community too.

This blog will encompass the East Mountain area and communities from Carnuel to Moriarty.

I hope these points can aid in making your decision to live here a little easier. There is a lot of land and houses available, especially the farther you move east. And the land is cheaper the farther east you go. You can find houses or land to build on! The closer towns have easy access to the freeway, and you can get to Albuquerque quickly. Your biggest question may be: How much land do you want to have and how many trees do you want surrounding you?

The drawbacks of mountain living are few and far between, but you want to make sure you are prepared for mountain living and all that comes with it.

It is a longer commute to many things in the city, so prepare to spend money and time on travel and gas. You may have to plan “city days” to go into Albuquerque and make the most of it. You will have to plan more travel time to get places, especially in the winter snow.

» » » » » » » » » » »  RELATED READ: A Guide for the East Mountain Newbie  « « « « « « « « « « «

Make sure you have your vehicle prepped for winter as well. There is more fire danger, but thankfully we have wonderful first responders in every community. You may find more critters to deal with but sometimes a cat can help with that. You also have to take the proper precautions to protect yourselves and pets from wildlife. Access to water may be tricky in some areas, but there is usually a solution.

Albuquerque Moving Guide: East MountainsHere’s some information about each of these East Mountain communities, arranged in order from closest to farthest to Albuquerque.


  • Population: 709 (2023)
  • Driving time to Smith’s on Tramway & Central: 5 min
  • Land Cost Per Acre (approx.): $100-280,000
  • Land & Home Cost (approx.): $300,000

Located between the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, Carnuel is the closest town to Albuquerque. It has easy freeway access. Bicyclists love Route 66 and often you can find posts about rides that are happening that you can participate in!

One of my favorite hiking trails is called Three Guns Spring Trailhead in the Monticello Neighborhood. Santo Nino Catholic Church hosts Fiestas Celebrations twice a year in May and September. Soon, Carnuel will be the location of a new Open Space and Education Center.

I really enjoy living in Carnuel, the canyon east of Albuquerque. It is super close to Albuquerque but just enough away. There are basically three sides you can live in here–either side of Route 66 or south of the freeway. Because we are on Route 66, we get a lot of traffic especially when there is an accident on the freeway. I wouldn’t recommend a leisurely stroll because of traffic and dogs but thankfully there are some places to hike with or without kids!

Schools in the Area

Kids in this area would attend A Montoya Elementary and Roosevelt Middle School located 5 minutes away in Tijeras. For high school, the nearest option would be Manzano High School in SE Albuquerque.


  • Population: 465 (2023)
  • Driving time to Smith’s on Tramway & Central: 10 min
  • Land Cost Per Acre (approx.): $14,500-39,000
  • Land & Home Cost (approx.): approx. $350,000-1.18M

Tijeras also has quick and easy freeway access, a US Post Office, and a town hall which has MVD services. There are banks, a gas station, and several churches. The East Mountain library offers lots of activities for children and adults year-round. Luis Garcia Park and Veteran’s Monument are located right next to the library. Los Vecinos Community Center also offers a lot of great activities including summer recreation programs and the Bernalillo County lunch program.

» » » » » »  RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Moving Guide: Southwest Albuquerque  « « « « « « « «

Proximity to nature is a huge advantage to the Tijeras Area. Nearby Carlito Springs Open Space is absolutely beautiful! Grand Enchantment Trailhead and Travertine Falls are very nice hikes (the falls flow only at certain times of year). On Highway 337, you have access to Doc Long Picnic Site, Tunnel Canyon, Birdhouse Trail, Jackalope Trail, Otero Trail, Lower Pine Trailhead, and much more.

Carlito Springs
Carlito Springs Open Space

The Tijeras Pueblo Archaeological Site and Sandia Mountain Natural History Center provide fun and educational outings. For dining, Tijeras has a Subway as well as some fun local options such as Rock Canyon Cider Taproom, Molly’s Bar, and Roots Farm Cafe.

“Tijeras was a great place to grow up. It’s quiet and beautiful. You get a rural feel of being in the mountains with only a 15 min drive into Albuquerque. I always felt safe and there was minimal crime. Tijeras also had great places to hike and enjoy the outdoors. The community has grown to have some of the main staples of a larger city like banks, restaurants, schools, and a library. If you need groceries, you can take a quick drive to Cedar Crest where you can get even more shops and amenities. It’s a very welcoming tight-knit community where everyone still waves as you drive by!” -Bridget P.

Schools in the Area

Cedar Crest

  • Population: 796 (2023)
  • Driving time to Smith’s on Tramway & Central: 10 min
  • Land Cost Per Acre (approx.): $16,500-175,000 per acre
  • Land & Home Cost (approx.): $295,000-$875,000

Cedar Crest has gas stations, banks, and multiple churches. Stores include Triangle Grocery Store, Pioneer Ace Hardware, Thrift Stores, Cedar Crest Farmer’s Market, and Polk’s Folly Farm Butcher Shop & Farm Stand. There are plenty of places to eat, such as Burger Boy, Trail Rider Pizza, Greenside Café, El Mariachi, RIBS, and Grill at Cedar Crest Shell. Cabra Coffee is a favorite offering drive thru and pick up!

Cedar Crest Farmer’s Market is held May/June to mid October. The peak season is August to September. It’s held every Wednesday from 3-6 pm located in the Cedar Crest Center where the Triangle Grocery Store is on the north side.

Cedar Crest also offers some wonderful places to spend time in nature. There is a paved extended sidewalk going up N.14. You can walk, run, or ride a bike! You can even go all the way up to the Crest! Ojito de San Antonito Open Space, Milne/Gutierrez Canyon Open Space, and Milly’s Meadow are all nearby. Turquoise Trail Campground offers RV, cabin, and tent camping! Cedar Crest Country Cottage and Stables offers horesback riding and lodging in the beautiful Cibloa National Forest.

I grew up here, and I loved it! I still remember the cold and snowy winters, the amazing scent of the pine trees and the clear skies so you could star gaze! Of course I loved to visit cousins in Albuquerque but was happy for the quietness of mountain living.

Schools in the Area

Sandia Park

  • Population: 309 (2023)
  • Driving time to Smith’s on Tramway & Central: 17 min
  • Land Cost Per Acre (approx.): $11,700-175,000
  • Land & Home Cost (approx.): $250,000-3M

There is a lot of land available in Sandia Park! Sandia Park is home to many popular trails and picnic grounds, such as Cienega Picnic Grounds, Armijo Trail, Doc Long-Sulphur Link Trail, Faulty Trail, Bill Spring Trail, Oso Corredor Trail, Tree Spring Trail, Tecolote Trail Challenge Trail, Balsam Glade Picnic Site, and Las Huertas Pg Loop. Also nearby is the the Sandia Peak Ski Area, Las Huertas Creek, Capulin Snow Play Site (a favorite for sledding in the winter), the Sandia Man Cave, and more! Tinkertown Museum is a unique and fun outing, especially with kids.

Vista Grande Community Center and Dog Park is a great place for walking. Lazy Lizard Grill is a great option for food, and Sandia Park is home to the Community Church of the Sandias.

“Pros to living in Sandia Park: Beautiful views. Low crime. An excellent elementary school. Small-town vibes but easy access to anything in ABQ. Commuting to and from ABQ is easier than for Westside. Less crowded. Cons: Long commute. Limited choices in restaurants. Kids live far from friends. Fire danger.” -Julia B.

Schools in the Area


  • Population 6096 (2023)
  • Driving time to Smith’s on Tramway & Central: 25 min
  • Land Cost Per Acre (approx.): $3,900-20,000+
  • Land & Home Cost (approx.): $325,000-745,000

A lot of land is available at a low cost in Edgewood. Edgewood has multiple gas stations and banks and many chain restaurants such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Sonic, and Dairy Queen. Katrinah’s East Mountain Grill is a nice local option. There are many chain stores, such as Walmart Supercenter (“The nicest Walmart”), Smith’s, and O’Reilly’s. There are also multiple churches.

Church Street Market is a unique shopping experience featuring 20 shops filled with a variety of items. Wildlife West Nature Park and Edgewood Open Space (Equestrian Center) are in this area. The NM Renaissance Celtic Festival and the Harvest and Fiber Festival are both annual events held at the Wildlife West Nature Park. Edgewood Community Center is also a great resource for local activities and events! Venus and Bassett Parks are great parks to take the kids.

Stephanie D. describes Edgewood: “Country living but close to the city. Kids can have a variety of animals for learning experiences. I homeschool but the public schools have let my kids participate on their sports teams. Country living does mean critters though. We have cats so mice are not a problem for us. There are snakes. Long-term availability of water keeps coming up but maybe that’s everywhere. My packages don’t get stolen. It’s quiet. The town is starting to offer more family-friendly things like the recent water day fun at the park and Christmas tree lighting. There is no urgent care out here which is a huge bummer.”

Schools in the Area


  • Population: 2006 (2023)
  • Driving time to Smith’s on Tramway & Central: 30 min
  • Land Cost Per Acre (approx.): $2,300-88,500+
  • Land & Home Cost (approx.): $203,000-525,000

Moriarty is home to McCall’s Pumpkin Patch, a favorite of Albuquerque families! They also have Moriarty City Park and Crossley Park. Their Civic Center can accommodate small gatherings up to large conventions. Moriarty is large enough to have most conveniences of a city–gas stations, banks, chain restaurants and stores, hotels, etc.

Schwebach Farm Market is a wonderful place to shop for healthy local produce! Moriarty even has some events for families like a Twinkle Light Parade and a Fourth of July Parade.

Schools in the Area

I hope this guide to the East Mountains can help you decide if the mountains are the right place for you to live. I always prided myself on being a “mountain girl.” Maybe it made me sound like I could conquer a little bit more in life or handle situations better? Although that may be true, anyone can truly call themselves “mountain people” with so many options available depending on your needs and wants of mountain life.

Are there any senses (maybe that fresh smell of pine) you may be missing out on that can be fulfilled living outside the city?

For information about other areas in and around Albuquerque, check out our Ultimate Guide to Moving to Albuquerque.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.