From desert mesas to the highest mountain peaks, Albuquerque has a lot of outdoor fun to celebrate!
Sun drenched skies, high summer temperatures and beautiful high desert mountain landscapes make for great outdoor summer adventure right here in the city. But, as Albuquerque residents know well, this is also a perfect recipe for extreme fire danger.
The National Forest Service has issued a series of closures begining this week, closing the Mountainair, Sandia and Mount Taylor districts of Cibola National Forest - the mountains and forests adjacent to and surrounding the Albuquerque area. In an effort to keep the Sandia Mountains and surrounding areas safe and pristine, this closure will include all public access to campgrounds, picnic areas, trails, trailheads and some roads.
But, don’t let these closures discourage your outdoor fun this summer! There are still a multitude of outdoor adventures you can experience, while keeping our beautiful public lands safe from flames.
Here are just a few ways you can still explore the diverse outdoor recreation and adventure that Albuquerque has to offer:
Take a day trip to the Jemez Mountains
The Jémez Mountain National Scenic Byway connects living ancient cultures, spectacular scenery and outdoor recreation. Just a short drive from metropolitan Albuquerque, a day trip through the Jémez Mountains takes you into a reality where red cliffs rule the landscape, and multi-colored mesas frame the horizon and sheer cliffs cut into the blue sky. This is land with a legacy where sacred traditions still preserve a tribal way of life. The following is a suggested itinerary for those interested in exploring mountains and nature preserves in New Mexico.
Spend the Day Fishing at Tingley Beach
With three fishing lakes, a model boating pond and train station with a gift shop and food service, Tingley Beach offers year round entertainment for visitors. Open everyday from sunrise to sunset, the beach is free and open to the general public. During the summer months, visitors can rent out pedal boats and bicycles. While at Tingley, don't miss the world's largest trout on display at the Tingley Train Station.
Explore the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
The 170-acre park is part of the Rio Grande Valley State Park, which borders both sides of the river for 25 miles through Albuquerque from the Isleta to Sandia Pueblos. The 16-mile, paved Paseo del Bosque hike/bike trail, highlighted in National Geographic Adventure magazine, has seven access points - one of which being the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park - from the east bank of the river. In the winter, the ponds at the Nature Center attract Sandhill Cranes and waterfowl, visible from a glass-fronted observation room overlooking a pond. Trails, interpretive exhibits, a native plant garden and programs begin at the center.
Hike the Trails of Petroglyph National Monument
Located on the Westside of the city, Petroglyph National Monument is alive with the sights & sounds of the high desert- a hawk spirals down from the mesa top, a roadrunner dashes into fragrant sage, a desert millipede traces waves in the sand. Visitors to the Monument can explore an estimated 20,000 ancient rock carvings against the backdrop of the glittering city skyline. Many of the petroglyph images are recognizable as animals, people, brands and crosses; others are more complex. Don’t miss a hike amongst the ancient rock carvings while immersing yourself in the beautiful high desert atmosphere.
Ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
Hiking in the Sandia Mountains is closed but the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway is still open! The 2.7-mile Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, the longest aerial tram in the world, starts in the desert and traverses four of the seven life zones in North America. In 15 minutes you go from desert to spruce-fir forest. From the viewing platform at the High Finance Restaurant at the top, Albuquerque spreads across the Rio Grande Valley like pieces on a game board. Mt. Taylor dots the horizon 65 miles distant. A 3.8-mile trail with stunning views loops below the rim to the Crest House and returns through spruce-aspen forest. In the tram terminal at the base of the mountains, Sandiago’s Mexican Grill serves a fresh lunch (summer) and dinner menu and deli selections.
Cool Off in the Rio Grande
Up north, the Rio Grande rushes through rapids, but through Albuquerque, it runs low and slow. Cool off on the waters right in the Duke City - learn how to paddle board, try out a kayaking adventure or take windsurfing lessons. Discover ways you can get wet in the Rio Grande here.
Bike All or Part of the 50 Mile Activity Loop
The 50 Mile Activity Loop starts in Albuquerque's historic downtown before crossing the Rio Grande river and heading north toward Petroglyph National Monument on the city's westside. Continuing north along the river, the trail plateaus on the West Mesa, offering beautiful views of the North Valley and historic farmland. The trail then returns to the river, navigating through the exquisite cottonwood-lined Bosque before bending eastward and gaining elevation toward the Sandia Mountains. Passing Balloon Fiesta Park, the 50 Mile Loop shares the scenic Tramway Road that runs alongside the mountains. After reaching the loop’s highest point near the intersection of County Line Road and Tramway, it's all downhill, winding through Albuquerque's North East Heights, Uptown and Historic Nob Hill Neighborhoods. After crossing world-famous Route 66, the trail has a final downhill section back to the start point at Downtown Civic Plaza.