How to Visit Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Sandia Peak is located just outside of Albuquerque, and offers some of the best views in the area. The Sandia Peak tram provides a peaceful escape above the clouds.

This is a great place to enjoy with family and friends, with plenty to do and see. For any Albuquerque resident, riding the tram is a rite of passage!

So, read on for a guide on how to visit Sandia Peak. In this post, we’ll be covering…

  • Practical Info for Visiting Sandia Peak
  • A Brief History of Sandia Peak
  • How to Get to Sandia Peak
  • Things to do in Sandia Peak
  • Additional Tips for Visiting Sandia Peak

Practical Info for Visiting Sandia Peak

The Sandia Peak and Tramway are open year-round. They do, however, close for two weeks every April and every November. Be sure to check the tramway website for any closures.

The Sandia Peak ski area opens depending on the weather. Unfortunately, for the past two winter seasons, (as of 2023) the ski area has not been open due to absurdly short winters and lack of employees.

In previous years, skiers could expect powdery slopes on the peak anywhere from late November through early March. Word for the 2023-2024 season hasn’t been announced yet.

The tramway is open Wednesday through Monday, from 9am to 8pm. The last ride up leaves a little before 8pm, and the last ride down leaves the mountain at 10pm.

A Brief History of Sandia Peak

Sandia Peak was New Mexico’s first ski area, opened in 1936. Prior to the tram being built, people had to make the long, harrowing drive to the peak to ski or sight see.

After a trip to the Swiss mountains, Robert Nordhaus and his partner Ben Abruzzo wanted to connect Albuquerque to the top of Sandia Peak. They began planning for the construction of the tram in the 1960s.

The tram was completed in 1966, and it became the longest tramway in the world until it was surpassed in 2010. The tram quickly became an iconic spot for the Albuquerque locals.

Today, the tram is the longest tramway in North America, and it makes 10,500 trips every year!

How to Get to Sandia Peak

The easiest way to get to Sandia Peak is to take the tramway. In my experience, the tramway is a bit terrifying, considering you climb over 10,000 feet/3,000 meters!

Overall, the views are truly magical as you drift further away from the city and up into the clouds. The guides are fun and well-informed about the ecology and history of the Sandias and the tramway.

Sandia Peak tramway tickets can be purchased on their website.

In the summer, the Sandia Peak hike is a popular yet daunting adventure that many people take on. In this instance, you can buy a one way ticket for a ride up or down. There are numerous trails that will take you up to the tramway at the peak. 

One of the most straight-forward ways to the peak is to hike the Pino Trail, and then follow the Sandia Crest Trail until you reach the tramway. Any way you choose, it will prove to be a difficult yet rewarding hike!

During the winter, the Sandia Peak Ski Area opens and visitors are able to drive to the peak on the other side of the mountain. Experienced skiers and snowboarders are able to ski back down the mountain rather than taking the tram.

Image by SeanGV from Pixabay 

Things to Do in Sandia Peak

Sandia Peak is a great place to get away any time of year.

No matter what, the views are always spectacular. You’ll be able to see nearly 100-miles in each direction, and you can see Santa Fe from the Far Horizon. 

Skiing and Snowboarding

In the winter, skiing and snowboarding run the show at Sandia Peak. The mountain has 30 trails, and those who are experienced can ride back down the peak instead of taking the tram down.

Also, the Sandia Peak Ski Area has a full rental shop with all the gear you need for a day in the snow. 

Hiking and Mountain Biking

During the warmer months, Sandia Peak is a beautiful place to go hiking or mountain biking. The mountains hold over 100 hiking trails.

The most popular hike is the La Luz Trail. It is a 7.5-mile out and back hike, and it proves to be quite difficult. It follows the lush desert and turns at unparalleled views of the mountains. 

The Peak Nature Trail is a shorter, leisurely hike that follows signs talking about the ecosystem of the peak. 

Hikers are also able to hike up or down (or both) Sandia Peak. There are several different trails varying in length and difficulty that will get you to the top of the peak.

Any way you choose, you’re up for a long trip. The Sandia Crest trail is the most well known.

To shorten the trip, you can drive up Highway 536 and park at the Ellis Trailhead. From here, you will only have a 1.5-mile hike to the peak!

TEN 3 Restaurant

After a long day of exploring, relax at one of the restaurants at the Peak. TEN 3 is at the top of the tramway, and it offers one of the most incredible experiences.

Choose between their casual and fine dining experiences. Fine diners must adhere to a dress code and make a reservation to this intimate section of the restaurant.

At over 10,000 feet/3,000 meters above sea level, TEN 3 promises an elevated experience. Whether you sit indoors or out on the balcony, you’re bound to enjoy the views!

Sandia Peak Drive

On the opposite side of the mountain is the Sandia Crest drive, which takes motorists from Sandia Park to Sandia Crest.

The views along this drive are unsurmountable! This route is one of the highest elevated byways in the Southwest and takes you through the high desert of New Mexico.

Enjoy the Sunset

My personal favorite activity to do at the Sandia Peak is admire the sunset! Take advantage of the late night tram rides and watch the sunset from one of the balconies at the peak.

Looking for a fun date night idea? Enjoy some drinks on TEN 3’s balcony and watch the sunset paint the Sandia Mountains a pink, watermelon hue.

Image by Michael from Pixabay 

Additional Tips for Visiting Sandia Peak

The Sandia Peak elevation is high, which can make hiking more difficult than usual. Keep this in mind when you plan hikes.

Even during the summer, it can get chilly on the peak! Pack a light jacket or sweatshirt for your trip.

Finally, the Sandia Peak tramway tickets cost $29 for both ways, and $19 for a one-way trip.

I hope you enjoyed this guide to Sandia Peak!

Let us know in the comments if there are any more Sandia Peak recommendations we should add to our guide!

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