Hot Spot: Sandia Mountains, New Mexico

WHERE: The Sandia Mountains is an easily accessible range immediately to the east of Albuquerque, New Mexico within the Cibola National Forest. Part of the range is protected as the Sandia Mountain Wilderness. Its highest point is Sandia Crest, at 10,679 feet (3256m).

Panorama of the Santia Mountains. By mnchilemom courtesy Flickr CC license.

Panorama of the Santia Mountains. By mnchilemom courtesy Flickr CC license.


WHY: Just a short drive from a major metropolitan area of more than half a million people, there awaits tremendous hiking, rock climbing, bouldering, scrambling, mountains biking, and skiing.
Autumn aspens in bloom.

Autumn aspens in bloom.


Just off I-40, there sit the western Sandia Mountains which are rugged and desert-like, juxtaposed with the eastern Sandia Mountains which are gentle and sloping and covered with a blanket of trees.

Sandia Crest is the tallest peak in the Sandia Mountains standing well above 10,000. It dominates Albuquerque’s eastern skyline. At night you can pick out the summit area from the red lights on the radio towers. The La Luz trail or route 536 gets you to the summit. The tramway will take you to the top of the crest not far from the summit.

Tramway to the Sandia crest.

Tramway to the Sandia crest.


Yes these Sandia Mountains are home to the world’s second longest tramway, which is 2.7 miles long. Over this distance the tram cars ascend over 4,000 feet.

This mountain range also offers something else: world class hang gliding and paragliding. Because of its 5,000 elevation above the city below, and the rising thermals, the Sandia Mountains offer amazing hang gliding conditions.

Bird's eye view courtesy Doc Searls via Flickr CC license.

Bird’s eye view courtesy Doc Searls via Flickr CC license.


For more information, check out www.friendsofthesandias.org and also www.sandiahiking.com. You don’t have to glide through the skies to have a blast just east of Albuquerque.

And don’t forget, you can always hit the city and take a tour of all the Breaking Bad locations…

Looking down on Albuquerque in July.

Looking down on Albuquerque in July.


And looking from the tram station in winter.

And looking from the tram station in winter.

© 2016

Red Fox thanks the following Flickr photographers:
mnchilemom
Lee Ruk
Kolin Toney
Doc Searls