Sandia Peak

Sandia Peak is New Mexico’s oldest ski resort, and also perhaps its best known for a variety of reasons. The most unique characteristic of this resort is the Sandia Peak Tramway that has the distinction of being the longest aerial tramway in the world. It is consistently ranked as one of the top spots in the United States for aerial views, and the opportunities for photographs and film from the observation deck are amazing. At the Sandia Peak Ski Area, it is just as much about the natural beauty of the surroundings, as it is about skiing and snowboarding. The Sandia Peak Ski Area is excellent for skiing and snowboarding, and the resort is perhaps the most easily accessible ski resort in the southwest from any major city. It is located on the eastern perimeter of Albuquerque.

The top elevation at Sandia Peak tops out at around 10,400 feet with a vertical rise of 1,700 feet. It is not so much the volume of runs that are important at the Sandia Peak Ski Area, but rather that they are all very well kept, and true to the skill levels that they advertise. Of the 30 trails spread out over 200 acres, you will find 35 percent of the trails to be suitable for beginners, 55 percent for intermediates, and 10 percent for advanced and experts. There are five lifts.

You will want to make absolutely sure to use the Sandia Peak Tramway if you get anywhere near this resort. It transports up to 60 people at a time over four miles in less than 20 minutes. The bird’s eyes views of the Cibola National Forest, Rio Grande Valley, and the Land of Enchantment from the Sandia Peak Tram are quite literally breathtaking. Take the Sandia Peak Tramway to the observation deck at nearly 10,400 feet and you will be afforded a magnificent, 11,000 square-mile panoramic view. These vistas are particularly striking during sunset when the desert skies are casting myriad colors against the broad shadows of the Rockies.

There is no lodging on the mountain at Sandia Peak, although there are over 12,000 rooms available in the city of Albuquerque just a couple of minutes away. Cedar Crest is also just ten miles away and offers a variety of bed and breakfasts and a hostel if you are searching for cheap ski vacations. There is also a rental and repair shop on the premises where you can buy gear or have your current gear refitted or repaired. There are a couple of dining options slope-side including a restaurant located at the summit and the lodge cafeteria, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are adaptive lessons for people of all ages and skill levels and instruction available for both skiing and snowboarding. People also enjoy chairlift rides, hiking, biking, and a variety of other activities in the summer months at the Sandia Peak Ski Area.

There is a lot of tradition at this resort, evidenced by the fact that there is a ski museum on the premises. The main advantages of staying here are the close proximity to a major city, and the impressive views available from the Sandia Peak Tramway. Other top New Mexico ski areas include Ski Apache and Santa Fe Ski.

Image: Rebecca Sudduth (flickr)

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