Cibola County is located in west central New Mexico; its western border coterminous with the Arizona border.
The County is a diverse in terms of its physical setting, economic activity, and land ownership. Created in 1981 from Valencia County, Cibola County encompasses an area of approximately 4,540 square miles and a population of 27,213 (2010). The City of Grants is the County seat.
Cibola County sits entirely within the Colorado Plateau physiographic region with elevations from 5,460 feet to 11,300 feet (Mount Taylor). The County encompasses open rangeland, broken terrain, escarpments, plateaus, mesas, and mountainous areas with the Malpais lava beds in the central region. The Continental Divide runs roughly north to south through the western half of the County. Precipitation varies from as little as seven (7) inches to twenty-five (25) inches in the mountainous areas east of Mount Taylor.
Economic activity derives from tourism (national forest areas, wilderness areas), entertainment and lodging (casinos, various events such as the Seven Trails of Gold, Octoberfest, etc.), mining activity, agriculture, and the service sector (retail and healthcare are major employers). Interstate 40 runs through the county along with U.S. Route 66, BNSF provides rail transport, and the Grants Milan Airport offers regional flight service.
Land Ownership is characterized by the amount of land owned or controlled by the Pueblos (Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni), the Ramah and To’hajiilee Navajo Chapters, the federal government, State of New Mexico, and private land (less than one-third of the land area of Cibola County). Most of the County is rural in nature with only two major urban centers, Grants and Milan, together with a number of smaller designated places such as San Rafael, Bluewater Village, Fence Lake, Cubero, and San Mateo.