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Elevate your senses on the Sandia Peak Tram

Elevate your senses on the Sandia Peak Tram

I love a view, anytime, anywhere. I make it a point to seek out opportunities to soar above the landscape, whether in a hot air balloon, on a zipline, in a small sightseeing plane or helicopter, or on a gondola. There’s something magical about having the vantage point of a bird, surveying the scenery in all its vast glory. 

In New Mexico, there’s no better way to appreciate the beauty of the Land of Enchantment than via Albuquerque’s famed Sandia Peak Tram. At a span of 2.7 miles, it’s the longest aerial tram in the country. 

Sandia Peak Tram

Sandia Peak Tram

Sandia Peak Tram

The tram was the brainchild of Robert Nordhaus, one of the original founders and owners of the Sandia Peak Ski Company. Inspired by the trams he rode on during a trip to Europe, Nordhaus returned to New Mexico with the idea to build a similar one connecting Albuquerque to the top of Sandia Peak. The tram would serve as efficient transportation for skiers, avoiding a harrowing drive up the often-treacherous mountain road, while providing stellar views. 

Nordhaus, together with partner Ben Abruzzo, helped bring the idea to fruition, though it took much planning and involved city and state hearings, geological and topographical studies and complex financial efforts. The project cost two million dollars, took two years to construct and involved 5,000 helicopter trips due to the challenging terrain. 

Sandia Peak

The system’s four cables (each weighing in at a whopping 100,00 pounds) are supported by a pair of towers. Tower one is located at 7,010 feet and is 232 feet tall, while tower two is situated at a dizzying 8,750 feet and measures 80 feet tall. 

Each tramcar is capable of carrying fifty passengers up the mountain at a max of 200 passengers per hour. The tram makes over 10,000 trips per year on average. Since its completion in 1966, more than twelve million passengers have taken a ride on the Sandia Peak Tram. 

Sandia Peak

Sandia Peak

On your exhilarating, fifteen-minute trip, you’ll leave the hubbub of Albuquerque behind to ascend the state’s most dramatic urban mountaintop. Along the way, you’ll be privy to a magnificent panorama that stretches as far as the eye can see. 

Your cabin operator will narrate the experience with details about the types of vegetation – you’ll go through four life zones, including Spruce Fir, Mixed Coniferous, Ponderosa Pine and Piñon/Juniper – and wildlife that frequent the area. You’ll also hear about the unique rock formations, some of which have been given names based on their shapes, i.e., Golf, Cannon, Totem Pole, and more. If you’re lucky, you might even see some rock climbers attempting to scale one of these jagged beauties. 

Sandia Peak

The scenery unfolds as you rise and are transported above deep canyons. Depending on time of day, the desert skies produce an array of hues akin to an Impressionist painting. About halfway up, you’ll pass the other tramcar on its descent. Wave if you’re feeling friendly.

At the terminus of your trip, exit the tramcar and step outside to bask in the awe-inspiring vistas. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see 11,000 square miles of majestic landscape from your 10,378-foot perch atop Sandia Peak. 

If you’re up for some exploring, head out on a hike. There are over one hundred trails, from moderate to challenging. And in winter, if you’re a skier or snowboarder, you’ll be in heaven with 300 acres of slopes encompassing the Sandia Peak Ski Area. 

Dine with a view at Ten 3 (the restaurant’s name is a nod to the elevation), where you can enjoy a casual mid-day bite or upscale evening dinner. The fare is a mix of international, New Mexican and American dishes prepared from scratch and locally-sourced whenever possible. 

Sandia Peak

For lunch, you’ll find everything from street tacos and green chile stew to a brisket sandwich and grilled Portobello stacker on a brioche bun. Or opt for the field greens salad with lime poached shrimp. No matter what you order, start your meal by sharing the yummy Chip Trio with queso blanco, guac and fire roasted salsa. 

When night rolls around, the menu (as well as the dining room space) shifts gears, with such offerings as wasabi crusted tuna, seared foie gras, house made pappardelle, roasted lamb, grilled ribeye, cauliflower steak and more. Accompany your meal with a glass of wine or signature cocktail like the Sandia Pink, a concoction of vodka, strawberry, watermelon and lemon. Or maybe you’re in the mood for the Feldspar, a meld of pea flower gin, lemon and lavender syrup. 

When you’re ready to return to civilization, your tramcar awaits. And if it’s nighttime, you’ll get not one, but two light shows as you descend– one from the twinkling stars above and the other from the lights of the city shining below. 

If you go: www.sandiapeak.com 

Reserved timed tickets are required.

 

Sandia Peak Tram


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About The Author

Debbie Stone

Deborah Stone is a travel and lifestyle writer, who explores the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers. She works in collaboration with tourism boards, CVBs, public relations agencies, properties and lodging associations, as well as with tour companies and cruise lines in pursuit of her discoveries. She’s an avid adventurer who welcomes new opportunities to increase awareness and enthusiasm for travel.

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