Attraction of the Week: The Sandia Peak Tramway
The 2.7 mile long Sandia Peak tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico is one of the longest aerial rides in the world. 2016 marked the tram’s 50th anniversary. A 15 minute ride (the tram supports 10,000 lbs and holds up to 50 people!) will take you to the top of the 10,378 foot tall Sandia Crest, the highest point in the Sandia mountains. The Sandia Mountain range is located within the Cibola National Forest. The name “Sandia” means watermelon in Spanish. This is speculated to be due to the gorgeous reddish color of the mountains at sunset.
On this scenic tram ride, you will be gaining almost 4000 feet in elevation as you take off from just 6559 feet! This means that the temps can be up to 30 degrees cooler at the top, so bring a jacket even during the hot summer months. The ride up is a bit cramped due to the crowds, however, the scenery is beautiful and constantly changing due to the drastic elevation differences from when you start to the top.
Activities at the summit
At the top you will find several recreational activities (miles of hiking and mountain biking trails), an observation deck, as well as a restaurant featuring great views (Ten 3). If you are lucky, you may see a black bear or mountain lion. A diverse range of animals call these mountains home. Over 20 miles of hiking trails are available. Options range from a short nature walk under a half mile to more challenging all day treks.
The best part of the tram ride is taking photos and enjoying the scenery from the observation deck. Check out the incredible vistas at sunset!
Best time to plan your ride
While spring and summer area great times to visit due to the enjoyable mild temps (the high altitude sure makes for a nice escape on really hot summer days in the desert), fall and winter visits should not be ruled out. Come fall, the mountains are alive with beautiful golden aspens. And, wintertime offers some of the most striking views of the snowcapped mountains, as well as opportunities for fun winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing.
Planning your ride just before sunset is a wise idea as it gives you more beautiful photo opportunities, and thus, makes the pricey ride feel more worthy of the cost. True to the name Sandia, the colors are pretty spectacular at sunset.
No matter what time of the day you visit, the mountains truly are spectacular. If you visit during the daytime, you will take in gorgeous views of the entire city as well as picturesque views of the Sandia Mountains and the beautiful diverse plant life which includes everything from desert scrub to ponderosa pines. Nighttime offers a completely different, yet just as breathtaking view of the city lights. No skyline view, yet still peaceful and beautiful scenery.
The best thing to do in Albuquerque!
Overall, a ride on the Sandia Peak tramway is a great addition to any Albuquerque vacation. It’s pricey, yet still worth it for the incredible scenery. If are limited on time and unable to complete any lengthy hikes in the area, the scenic tramway is a great alternative.
For an extreme challenge, you can hike the 9 mile La Lutz Trail up to the tramway and then purchase a cheaper one way ticket back down. Note: only experienced hikers should attempt this hike due to the rough terrain, distance and high altitude.
Address, Hours, & Pricing Info
Location: 30 Tramway Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122
Hours: 9am-8pm uphill (the last tram goes down at 10pm). Trips take off every 20-30 min.
Rates: $33 adults, $28 seniors, $28 Teens (13-20), $23 kids (2-12), Under 2 free. One way is $22. All tickets must be purchased online. Visit the Tramway site for more details.