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Albuquerque New Mexico
Albuquerque New Mexico's Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway is the world's longest aerial tram with a 2.7-mile ride dangling from a cable. The cable car is spacious with glass. At the top there are tables and chairs for you to sit and relax and enjoy the views and fresh mountain air. However, we hiked around for about an hour then got on the ski lift for a ride down and back up just for something extra fun. Many locals ride the tram to the top and hike down. Afterwards we hung around the boardwalk and observation deck. There are two restaurants associated with the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. One is at the top of the mountain serving lunch and dinner and the other is at the base of the tramway with great views as well.
We have been here twice, both times during the afternoon in the summer months. But the next time we plan this trip I'm making sure we can stay past sunset. The dessert has some of the most spectacular and colorful sunsets; so from 10,378 feet high I'm sure this has got to be one of the most breathtaking. Sandia Peak is part of the Cibola National Forest allowing an 11,000 square-mile panoramic view. Within this view is the beautiful city of Albuquerque, the Land of Enchantment and the Rio Grande Valley.
We suggests that if you are within 500 miles of Albuquerque then you definitely need to take a day or two and visit. The cost of the Tram ride is well worth your money. And once you are at the top you can spend as much time wondering around as you would like. The Sandia Peak ski lift even works in the summer months. It's a 45-minute round trip ride allowing you to view the surroundings from a different side of the mountain coated with grassy slopes flanked between pine forests. If you are truly adventurous, take your mountain bike with you on the ski lift. From there you can either ride straight down or ride through 15 miles of trails.
Above: Picture taken while riding the Sandia Peak Tramway overlooking the valley and city of Albuquerque New Mexico.
The Sandia Crest Scenic Byway is 13.6 miles long and takes about two hours to travel. It is now part of the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. Highlights of the drive are Tinkertown, Sandia Peak Ski Area, Capulin Snowplay Area, Doc Long Picnic Area, Sandia Man Cave, Cibola National Forest, Sandia Crest, and of course the Sandia Peak Tramway. The Sandia Mountains are the predominant geographic feature in Albuquerque. During sunset the mountains turn a bright pink and green and this has given them their name Sandia which means watermelon in spanish. The pink is due to large exposures of granodiorite cliffs, and the green to large spots of conifer forests.
Above: Picture taken from riding tramway. You can see our 32 foot RV with the orange kayak on top sitting in the parking lot.
Albuquerque has one of the largest hot air balloon gatherings in the world. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is held during early October. This event is the most photographed event in the world. There are many opportunities to take your own hot air balloon ride above this gorgeous area any time of the year. Old Town Albuquerque is an easy place to walk around following the main sidewalk. However, I suggest taking any path that looks like you shouldn't because it will lead you to some beautiful gardens and patios which can be a great retreat if it's a busy day through Old Town. While shopping the square there is an abundance of native American Indian arts and crafts, visit the San Felipe church built in 1793, take in the one-of-a-kind southwestern-style adobe architecture, and my favorite, tasting all the fresh local cuisine my stomach will hold.
Travel info - There is RV parking at the Sandia Peak Tramway parking lot. Motorhomes can usually get away with parking free overnight at the huge casino within a couple miles of the Tram in Albuquerque New Mexico.