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"Sandia Peak" Sandia Mountains Tip by toonsarah

Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque: 12 reviews and 14 photos

  View from Sandia Peak
by toonsarah
  • View from Sandia Peak - Albuquerque
      View from Sandia Peak
    by toonsarah
  • Albuquerque panorama - Albuquerque
      Albuquerque panorama
    by toonsarah
  • Aspens on Crest Road - Albuquerque
      Aspens on Crest Road
    by toonsarah
  • Aspens on Crest Road - Albuquerque
      Aspens on Crest Road
    by toonsarah
  • Chris on Sandia Peak - Albuquerque
      Chris on Sandia Peak
    by toonsarah

A very popular excursion from Albuquerque is to take the Sandia Peak Tramway to the top of the mountains that fringe the eastern side of the city, for the view and for the outdoor pursuits available there (walking in the summer, skiing in the winter). We did not do that. But there is another way to visit these mountains, which has its own appeal – driving. You don’t get the excitement of the tramway (which is actually, despite the name, a cable-car) but you do get to see some marvellous scenery en route and unlike a cable car, you can stop and get out to take photos whenever something catches your eye. We did the drive in late September and as we climbed we found that the trees, still green at lower altitudes, were starting to take on their autumn hues. There were several stands of aspens that were especially marvellous, and we found ourselves stopping several times as round each bend there appeared to be an even more magnificent group.

Highway 536, or Crest Road as it is called, is slow and winding, not one to be driven in a hurry. Soon after you turn off from Highway 14 you will pass the marvellous and not-to-be missed Tinkertown Museum (see my next tip) and then shortly will start to climb. By the time you reach the peak you will be at 10,678 feet above sea level. There is a large parking lot, nearly empty when we visited, and an honour pay system for the $3 per vehicle fee (also payable if you want to stop and hike on the trails that lead from the road up at various points). You then climb a short distance higher and the city is spread out beneath you.

I expected to see the Tramway terminus and be surrounded by the crowds who choose that route up, but we found that this spot is a couple of miles north of that and consequently much quieter. There are information boards along the path pointing out the landmarks that can be seen (including a distant Mount Taylor) and describing the geology and natural history of the area.

To get here from Albuquerque take Interstate 40 east, leave at exit 175 and head north about six miles on Highway 14. The junction with Highway 536 is at a wide point on the road and consequently a little hard to spot, or so we found – we nearly missed it! Make sure you take a warm top, even if it is hot when you leave the city – the thermometer in our car dropped from 70 Fahrenheit to 58 in the course of the drive up the mountain.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 18, 2011
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