Sandia Conference Grounds has been a refuge for Presbyterians wanting to commune with nature since its inception.
 "We came to the mountain to get closer to God because we want to know Him better."
Mrs. B.F. Butts, 1933 Synodical President

The Grounds began as a five-acre site for Presbyterian meetings. Beginning in 1927, the Grounds hosted the Synod, Synodical, and Young People's Conference for nine straight years. Volunteers erected many buildings during these early years, buildings that continued to be used for the Young People's Conference after the other conferences stopped meeting here. Since 1937, the focus of Grounds has been on youth camps.

Seventy-one acres of the old Ellis Ranch were added to the Grounds in 1951. The Young People's Conference met at the expanded Grounds until 1956. When the Grounds were not used for Presbyterian meetings, other denominations and civic organizations used the camp for youth retreats and meetings.

In 1985 the Presbytery of Santa Fe decided to move all camps to its facility near Mount Taylor. For the next ten years the Grounds were not used as frequently as they had been in the past. To rekindle interest in youth camps, the "Friends of Sandia Conference Grounds" took over operations at the Grounds in 1994. Sandia Mountain Retreats incorporated and took over operations in 2000.

You may also read "How the Sandia Conference Grounds Began" from the book The Main Trail by Ralph J. Hall (1971), or a Personal Remembrance of the campground from 1926 to 1977.

In 1996, members and friends of the former Camps and Conferences Ministry Unit of the Presbytery of Santa Fe came together with the common desire to continue the outdoor ministry to children, youth, and adults at Sandia Conference Grounds that began in 1928. In 1999, Sandia Mountain Retreats (SMR) was organized and incorporated in New Mexico as a not-for-profit organization. SMR has operated the Grounds since signing a lease for the Conference Grounds in 2000.
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