The Manzano Mountain Retreat near Albuquerque is a short drive out of town into the Manzano Mountains and is just south of the city. Going there is a fall ritual for many locals who make the drive to see the fall colors of the trees and to pick up some apples from the Manzano's orchard. Along with the orchard, Manzano Mountain has a retreat center and a place to hold weddings. The center is in the Cibola National Forest, about an hour from Albuquerque.
Many make the trek out to the center's apple orchard in the fall to pick up some of the many varieties of apples available. There's also cider, which is made each year with a mix of apples so it never tastes exactly the same but is always delicious. The many varieties of apples make Albuquerque bakers happy because they have just what's needed for a firm apple pie or tart apple cake. There are apples for making cider, applesauce, apple butter, jellies, and jams. They also carry varieties that are just good for eating out of hand, such as Red Delicious.
Apple availability varies from year to year, depending on the spring weather. Check first before heading out to get some.
Manzano Mountain is primarily run as a space for conferences, retreats, family gatherings, camps, and just getting together for fun. The center offers cabins, group houses, a BBQ pavilion for corporate picnics, hiking trails, an indoor gymnasium, a game room, and fields for playing volleyball, softball, and soccer. There's a heated swimming pool, basketball court, and an area for horseshoes. There is also a 30-foot climbing wall. The center provides team-building exercises with certified trainers. There is even a telescope for stargazing. The area can accommodate overnight groups up to 200.
The center can be used for corporate and non-profit retreats, reunions, picnics, and BBQs. Youth camps often use the space as well.
Because the center is nestled in the heart of the Cibola National Forest, the woods provide a serene setting for a natural wedding. There is a covered pavilion area or a party canopy for a reception, and a pond with a small jetty where couples often choose to exchange vows.
Because Manzano Mountain is a fall destination for apples, seeing the fall foliage nearby is often part of the day's activities. The nearby Fourth of July trail is the perfect place to put on your hiking shoes and take a look at the changing leaves. Seeing the leaves changing at their peak depends on the weather and the temperatures. Going while it's still warm won't net many changing colors, as the cold along with the shortening days cause the leaves to change color.