A short drive from the center of Albuquerque and an even shorter drive from the Balloon Fiesta Park (if that’s what brought you to the land of enchantment) is the foot of the Sandia Mountains and the Sandia Peak Tram. That 15 min or so tram ride takes you just shy of 11,000 feet to the peak of the mountain.
This is a side of the city I am sure you won’t expect. The views when you get to the top, and as you ride to the top, are incredible!
Here are some things you need to know before you head up the peak.
Arrive early, earlier the better. Seriously. I recommend getting there at least 30 min before they open. We got there 15 minutes before opening and we still ended up waiting about an hour to board. Tours get priority bordering, then fill the trams with the non-tour riders so only a few people at a time get on each tram. Depending on the number of tour groups you will likely wait a while since you can not buy tickets ahead of time. The tickets also sell out pretty quickly, especially if you are there during the Balloon Fiesta week. When we were leaving at about 1 they were already turning people away and the people that were there waited much longer than we did.
Sandia Peak Tram Ride
On the way up, I would try and get a spot on the city side of the tram. The view is cool on the other side too but the city side is where it’s at. You can grab the Mountain View on the way down to change it up some.
It’s much colder at the top! It can be up to 30 degrees (or more!) colder than in the city. So plan accordingly. I recommend layers, gloves and a hat. Even though it can get chilly, if you decide to do a little hiking you will be so happy you wore the layers!
I mentioned 11,000 feet. That’s is some high altitude! If you aren’t familiar with high altitudes you might not realize the thinner air makes breathing a bit tougher, especially when hiking. Be sure to drink plenty of water, take your time and stop and rest if you need to. Have a sweet snack with you, sugar can help combat altitude sickness. A few Advil could be handy too if about of it hits you.
The view from the top is amazing. You could just get some food at the new restaurant that opened this year, ten 3.
I would recommend if you are up to it though to take advantage of the many hiking trails at the top.
We took a left at the top and followed the signs to the crest. It’s about 3 miles round trip and more than worth it. The top leads to a rock cabin with 360 degrees views. It is truly breathtaking. We sat at the top and just took it in for a while before heading back.
Balloon Fiesta and the Tram
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the largest balloon fiesta in the world. Yes, THE WORLD. So this brings people from all over the globe to the city during those first couple weeks in October. If that is what has brought you to Albuquerque ( like it was me) there is a few things you should know about going to the Sandia Areal Tram during this peak time.
This will undoubtedly be the busiest time so plan to be there extra early and expect to do some waiting.
You can not buy tickets in advance and they do sell out fast during the fiesta so this is another reason to get there early.
A common question that arises about the tram during Balloon Fiesta is whether or not you can see the balloons from the tram. Well, depending on the balloon and how they took off you might be able to see them, but it’s still pretty far so while you can see them they will be quite small.
Seniors (62+), students (13-20) and military with ID: $20
Children (5-12): $15
Under 5: Free
Summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day):
9:00am to 9:00pm
9:00am to 8:00am Wednesday to Monday
5:00pm to 8:00pm on Tuesdays
Balloon Fiesta (first Saturday through the second Sunday in October):
9:00am to 9:00pm
They close the first two weeks in April and November for maintenance.
Getting to Sandia Peak Tram
The trams are easy to find, follow tramway road or tramway blvd to get there from the 40 or 25. It is located at 30 Tramway road NE, Albuquerque 87122.
For further information head to sandiapeak.com