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Climate & Dress

Does it ever rain or snow in Albuquerque?
Yes it does. We actually receive much more rain than people think. The average annual rainfall in the city is about 9.47 in. (24 cm.). However, in the nearby Sandia Mountains to the east, the annual rainfall is about 40 in. (102 cm.) with an average annual snowfall of about 111 in. (282 cm.). On those rare occasions when snow falls on the city of Albuquerque, it melts quickly. Residents say, "We like to keep the snow in the mountains, where it belongs."

What should I wear when coming to Albuquerque?
Southwestern informality prevails, but business and theatrical events offer opportunities to dress more formally. Sweaters are advisable in higher altitudes during Albuquerque's warmer season. Also, visitors should bring clothing such as hats that provide protection from the sun. In the winter, days can be warm and sunny, but nights are often cold enough for a heavy coat or jacket.

Should I be concerned about Albuquerque's high elevation?
Albuquerque's high elevation of over 5,000 feet will affect visitors in different ways. When staying in Albuquerque it may take your body a couple of days to adjust to the high altitude. At this elevation the air is thinner and you may become tired faster during physical activity. Albuquerque’s high desert climate also causes people to dehydrate faster. It is important to drink a lot of water to keep your body hydrated; this is the easiest way to avoid altitude sickness. If you plan on visiting any of our excellent restaurants or bars while in town, you should be aware that alcohol may affect your body faster at higher elevations. Also, sunscreen is vital while vacationing in Albuquerque. Whether it is sunny or cloudy, summer or winter, the UV rays are stronger at higher altitudes. Visitors should wear a high SPF sunscreen at all times to avoid sunburn and wear sunglasses to protect their eyes.

 

Visitor Information

Can I get information at the airport?
The Airport Information Center is located in the lower level of the Albuquerque International Sunport in the baggage claim area. There's information available 24 hours a day, but it is staffed with volunteers daily from 9:30am to 8pm., except Saturdays when it is staffed from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

Is information available at Old Town?
The Old Town Information Center is located at Plaza Don Luis on 303 Romero NW, across from the San Felipe de Neri church. It is open daily; hours vary by season.

Where can I access a current calendar of events?
Visit our online calendar of events which is updated monthly.

Where can I get other visitor information?
Contact the New Mexico Tourism Department by calling 800-733-6396 or by visiting www.newmexico.org.
 
You can also visit the New Mexico Visitor Information Center at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center at 2401 12th St NW. Call 505-843-7270 or visit www.indianpueblo.org

The University of New Mexico Welcome Center also has UNM information and limited information for tourists. Call 505-277-1989 or visit www.unm.edu.
 
If you have questions while you are in Albuquerque, contact the city's non-emergency hotline 24 hours a day by dialing 311 inside city limits. You can also reach the operators while outside of Albuquerque by calling 505-768-2000.

Getting Around

Where can I find a free map of Albuquerque?
Visit our online maps section to access a wide range of  Albuquerque maps. You can also pick up maps from our Visitor Information Centers.

What are the speed limits in Albuquerque?
Speed limits vary; obey posted signs. For more information, contact the Albuquerque Police Department at 505-768-2020. www.cabq.gov/police/index.html.

What about Albuquerque's public transportation?
ABQ Ride buses run routes throughout the city. For schedules and route information, call the Transit Department's Customer Service Center at 505-243-7433 or visit www.cabq.gov/transit. Plan your ride with the ABQ Ride trip planner.

What airlines fly into Albuquerque International Sunport?
Airlines that serve Albuquerque include: Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, JetBlue, New Mexico, Southwest, United and US Airways. There are non-stop flights to and from 29 major cities in the United States. For more information see www.abqsunport.com.

How many square miles does Albuquerque cover?
The City of Albuquerque covers 187 square miles, the greater Albuquerque area covers approximately 400 square miles.

How far away are Santa Fe and Taos?
Santa Fe is 59 miles away, which is about a 60-minute drive and Taos is 129 miles away, a 2 hour and 45 minute drive.

 
 

International Travelers

Where can you exchange money in Albuquerque?
Wells Fargo exchanges money only for existing customers, 800-869-3557. https://www.wellsfargo.com/foreignexchange/

Where can you find foreign translators/guides?
The Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau has a list of translators and interpreters for most international travelers requiring this service. For more information, e-mail us at info@visitalbuquerque.org, call 011-505-842-9918 or fax 011-505-247-9101. We also offer brochures in Spanish, French, German and Japanese.

What about U.S. Customs?
International visitors go through U.S. Customs at their original port of entry before arriving at the Albuquerque International Sunport.

 

Money Matters

What about gratuities?
A gratuity is not usually added to your restaurant bill. Waitstaff generally receive 15 or 20 percent, more if service is exceptional.

What about sales tax?
Instead of sales tax, New Mexico charges a gross receipts tax on goods and service providers, which is passed on to the buyer. In Albuquerque, this tax is 7%. There is an additional 6% lodgers tax on hotels (totaling 13%). On automobile rentals there is a combined tax (totaling roughly 24%).

For more information see Affordable Albuquerque

Laws

What are the New Mexico alcoholic beverages laws?
New Mexico state law prohibits anyone younger than 21 years of age from purchasing, serving or consuming alcoholic beverages. Bars and lounges close at 2am and 12am on Sundays. Minors are not permitted inside lounges. Alcohol sales are prohibited before 12pm on Sundays. There is no alcohol service on election days.

How do I obtain a fishing or hunting license?
Contact the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish at 800-862-9310, 800-ASK-FISH or 505-841-8881.

What are the safety restraints laws?
All adults are required to wear seatbelts in moving vehicles. Children under 1 year must be in a rear-facing restraint seat in the back seat of the car. Children ages 1 to 5 and under 40 pounds must be in a child restraint seat. In Rio Rancho, all children under 12 must be in the back seat.

Whom can I contact to learn more about New Mexico gun laws?
Call the New Mexico State Police at 505-841-9526 for more information.

Where can I board my horse?
Horses can be boarded at EXPO New Mexico: Home of the State Fairgrounds. For more information call 505-265-1791 or visit www.exponm.com.

 

Demographics

What is Albuquerque's population?
The Greater Metropolitan Albuquerque area has a population of about 840,000 people with a median age of 32 to 33 years.

Who are the big employers in Albuquerque?
Albuquerque's largest employers are the Albuquerque Public School System, the University of New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque, Sandia National Laboratories and Presbyterian Hospital. The single largest employer is Albuquerque Public Schools. The school system covers a geographic area larger than the state of Rhode Island and serves students who are native speakers of 65 different languages.

 

History

Why is Albuquerque nicknamed the Duke City?
In memory of the Duke of Albuquerque, the city is affectionately called the "Duke City." There is still a Duke of Albuquerque residing in Spain. From time to time, he visits his namesake city.

What does Albuquerque mean?
The word Albuquerque comes from the Latin words "albus" and "quercus," meaning "white oak." The first "r" in the city's name was discarded over time. The original town of Alburquerque (notice the different spelling) is in western Spain near Portugal and has a population of about 8,000.

 

Trivia

When did New Mexico become a state?
New Mexico officially became part of the United States in 1912 as the 47th state. But the state's and city's history is much older. In fact, Albuquerque celebrated its 300th Birthday in April 2006. Albuquerque is one of only a few U.S. cities that is able to claim a tricentennial mark.

Who are some famous people from Albuquerque?
The late Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson, along with Larry Newman, piloted the "Double Eagle II," the first manned balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Repeat winners of the Indianapolis 500 auto race, Al Unser Sr., Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Unser live in Albuquerque.
The late, beloved World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle made his home in Albuquerque during the last years of his life. His home is now a branch of the Albuquerque Public Library and houses personal memorabilia (on permanent display to the public).

Coach John Baker, subject of the book and television movie entitled "A Shining Season," lived his highly inspirational life here until his untimely death from cancer.

How did the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® begin?
In 1972, a small group of balloonists launched 13 balloons from the parking lot of Coronado Center. Today the Balloon Fiesta has become the largest ballooning event in the world hosting hundreds of pilots and balloons at its own Balloon Fiesta Park just off I-25 north. Some of the special events are the Gordon Bennett Cup, a gas balloon race, daily mass ascensions, Balloon Glows, Night Magic, Special Shape Rodeo and Special Shapes Glowdeo with more than 100 uniquely shaped balloons participating.

More than 50 nations cover the event with live satellite broadcasts, and several television documentaries have been filmed for different countries. ESPN presented the Balloon Fiesta on the hour special, "Great America's Events," and it has been said that the Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event in the world. For more information on the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, visit www.balloonfiesta.com.

What is the significance of the Zia Sun Symbol?
New Mexico's insignia is the Zia sun symbol, which originated with the Indians of Zia Pueblo. Its design reflects their tribal philosophy, with its wealth of pantheistic spiritualism teaching the basic harmony of all things in the universe. Four is the sacred number of Zia and the figure is composed of a circle from which four points radiate. These points are made up of four straight lines of varying length and personify the number used most often by the giver of all good gifts. To the Zia Indian the sacred number is embodied in the earth with its four main directions; in the year with its four seasons; in the day with sunrise, noon, evening and night; in life with its four divisions; childhood, youth, adulthood and old age. Everything is bound together in a circle of life and love without beginning, without end.

Does New Mexico really have a state cookie?
Yes. The biscochito (bizcochito) was adopted as the official cookie by the New Mexico Legislature in 1989. This act made New Mexico the first to have an official state cookie. The biscochito is a small, anise-flavored cookie which was a custom brought to New Mexico by the early Spainiards. The cookie is used during special celebrations, wedding receptions, baptisms, the Christmas season and holy days. It was chosen to help maintain traditional home-baked cookery.

Why do servers ask "red or green" when ordering New Mexican food?
In 1996 the New Mexico State Legislature passed a House Joint Memorial declaring "Red or Green?" as the official state question. This refers to the question of whether one prefers red or green chile when ordering New Mexican cuisine. This measure was passed to signify the importance that the chile industry has on the economy of the state. In 2000 New Mexico produced 99,000 tons of chile valued at nearly $49 million, making it the number one cash crop in terms of sales in the state.