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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 inches (24 cm). However, in the Sandia Mountains to the east, the annual rainfall is about 40 inches (102 cm), with an average annual snowfall of about 111 inches (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. Visitors should bring clothing such as hats to 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. Information is available 24 hours a day, and the Information Center is staffed with volunteers daily Sunday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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.

Where can I get other visitor information?

Contact the New Mexico Tourism Department by calling 800-733-6396 or visiting

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

The University of New Mexico Welcome Center has information about UNM and limited information for tourists. Call 505-277-1989 or visit

If you have non-tourism-related 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 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, or visit

What about Albuquerque's public transportation?

ABQ Ride buses run along routes throughout the city. For schedules and route information, call the Transit Department's Customer Service Center at 505-243-7433, or visit Plan your ride with the ABQ Ride trip planner.

What airlines fly into Albuquerque International Sunport?

Airlines that serve Albuquerque include Alaska Airlines, Boutique, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, Frontier and United. There are nonstop flights to and from major cities across the United States. For more information, see

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. Taos is 129 miles away, a drive that takes about two hours and 45 minutes.

International Travelers

Where can you exchange money in Albuquerque?

Wells Fargo exchanges money only for existing customers (800-869-3557,

Where can you find foreign translators/guides?

Visit Albuquerque has a list of translators and interpreters for most international travelers requiring this service. For more information, email us at, call 011-505-842-9918 or fax 011-505-247-9101. We also offer brochures in SpanishFrenchGerman 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 are gratuities like in New Mexico?

A gratuity is not usually added to your restaurant bill. Waitstaff generally receives 15-20 percent, or more if service is exceptional.

Does New Mexico have a sales tax?

Instead of a 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 7.625%. There is an additional 6% lodgers tax on hotels as well as a 2% Albuquerque Tourism Marketing District Assessment (totaling about 15.6%) . On automobile rentals, there is a combined tax (totaling roughly 24%).

For more information, see Affordable Albuquerque.


What are New Mexico's alcoholic beverage 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 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12 a.m. on Sundays and Mondays. Minors are not permitted inside lounges. Alcohol sales are prohibited before 12 p.m. 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 restraint laws in New Mexico?

All adults are required to wear seat belts in moving vehicles. Any child under 1 year of age 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 New Mexico State Fair. For more information, call 505-265-1791 or visit


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 top employers in Albuquerque?

Albuquerque's largest employers are the Albuquerque Public Schools 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.


Why is Albuquerque nicknamed the "Duke City"?

In honor of the 17th-century 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.


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 history is much older, as is Albuquerque's history. In fact, Albuquerque celebrated its 300th birthday in April 2006. Albuquerque is one of only a few U.S. cities that can claim a tricentennial mark.

Who are some famous people from Albuquerque?

Albuquerque residents 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.

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 "A Shining Season," lived his highly inspirational life here until his untimely death from cancer.

Other famous people from Albuquerque include actors Neil Patrick Harris and Freddie Prinze Jr. and UFC champions Holly Holm and Carlos Condit.

How did the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® begin?

In 1972, a small group of balloonists launched 13 balloons from the parking lot of the 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 Fiesta's special events are the Gordon Bennett Cup, a gas balloon race, daily mass ascensions, Balloon Glows, Night Magic, the Special Shape Rodeo and the Special Shape Glowdeo.

Nations around the world cover the event with live satellite broadcasts, and several television documentaries have been filmed. ESPN presented the Balloon Fiesta on the special "Great American Events." 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, please visit

What is the significance of the Zia symbol?

New Mexico's insignia is the Zia sun symbol, which originated with the Native Americans of the Zia Pueblo. Its design reflects the Zia 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 lengths, personifying the number used most often by the giver of all good gifts. 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; and 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, a small, anise-flavored cookie, was a custom brought to New Mexico by the early Spaniards. The cookie is used during special celebrations, wedding receptions, baptisms, the Christmas season and holy days.

Why do servers ask "red or green" when you order New Mexican food?

In 1996, the New Mexico State Legislature passed a House Joint Memorial declaring "red or green?" as the official state question. The measure was passed to signify the importance of the chile industry to the state's economy; "red or green?" asks whether one prefers red or green chile when ordering New Mexican cuisine.

Safety Tips

Traveling can be one of life’s most exciting experiences, but we know that being in a new city can be a little intimidating. To ensure you have the best, most memorable and safest vacation, take a look at the City of Albuquerque’s travel tips. 

With a little planning and research, Albuquerque is sure to give you an experience that will change your perspective!

Travel Safety Tips