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Sandia Peak Tramway

Towering over Albuquerque to the east, the Sandia Mountains rise over 10,000 feet above sea level.   The mountains sit anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 feet above Albuquerque.  The Sandia Mountains offer various recreational opportunities.  Hiking, hang gliding, rock climbing, and in the winter skiing make the mountain range one of the most popular recreation spots in Albuquerque.

Sandía translated from Spanish to English is watermelon and the red, pink and brown reflections of sunlight at sunset led to its naming.  The mountains sit within the grounds of the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands.

The Sandia Mountains as you ride the tramway.
There are two ways to get to the top of the Sandia Range.  New Mexico Highway 536 climbs the east side of the mountain and leads to Sandia Crest which at 10,678 feet is the highest point in the range. 


On the west side, the Sandia Peak Tramway is an extremely popular way to get to the top of the mountain.  The 2.7 mile tram gains nearly 4,000 feet in elevation from the base of the mountain to a station that sits 10,378 above sea level.  The Sandia Peak Tramway opened in May 1966 and makes an average of 10,500 trips a year.

The city of Albuquerque from the Sandia Mountains.
The tram ride offers amazing views of Albuquerque and the rugged surroundings.  At the top, there is a gift shop, restaurant, and access to the many trails.  A little over one mile trail leads to the Kiwanis Cabin and to Sandia Crest.  Built in the 1930s by the Civil Conservation Corps, the cabin was planned by a local Kiwanis group.  It is a popular spot for long or short distance hikers to rest and take in the views.

The Kiwanis Cabin as viewed from the tramway mountain station.

Also, the 7.5 mile La Luz trail is one of the most popular and most challenging hikes on the mountain.
A look east from the Sandia mountains and the ski lift in the fall.
If you have the time, the Sandia Peak Tramway is definitely worth the stop while you are in Albuquerque.  The tramway typically operates 9 am to 9 pm in the summer and from 9 am to 8 pm in the Winter.  Trams leave approximately ever 15 minutes Round trip tickets are $25 per adult, $20 for students & seniors, $15 for kids 5-12.  Tickets can be purchased in advance on-line or at the tram ticket office. One way tickets are also available.

All photos taken by post author - October 2007 & April 2010.

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