When we made our “must see” list for Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway was near the top of the list. In El Paso, we rode the Wyler Aerial Tramway. We really enjoyed it and looked forward to another ride up a mountain. We waited until the temperature at the top of the mountain was above freezing, and the ground was still snow covered.
March 10th was a clear, sunny Saturday, with temperatures in the low 40’s at the peak, and in the mid 60’s at the base. We were excited to make the trip and left the RV by mid-morning. Located on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, the Tram is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Central New Mexico. The Tram has taken more than 11 million passengers to the top of Sandia Peak and back again. We hoped we had arrived before the peak time of day for riding up the mountain.
The Tramway tickets are $25.00 for adults. They have senior and military discount tickets for $20.00. We don’t qualify for the senior discount yet. However, we took advantage of the retired military discount.
The tickets are assigned a flight number. We were in flight 11 and only waited about five minutes until a tram came in. We were on the next flight to board.Each tramcar carries 50 passengers or 10,000 pounds up the mountain at a maximum rate of 200 passengers per hour. We were the first on the tram and stood at the front window. It filled up quickly and there was little room to move around once the doors closed.
We were on our way up the mountain!
A ranger accompanies the passengers and provides information regarding the tram and the mountain. On our way up, we learned various facts about the tram.
The Sandia Peak Tram is 2.7 miles in diagonal length and is a bi-cable double reversible aerial tramway.
Both tramcars are attached to the hauling cables and the weight of the downhill tramcar helps pull the uphill tramcar to the top. When the tramcars pass at midway, they are nearly 1,000 feet above the ground.
Top speed of the tramway is 24 feet per second, averaging 12 mph.
The tram cables are supported by two towers between the terminals. Tower One is located at an elevation of 7,010 feet and is 232 feet tall.
You can see the first tower in the distance in the above picture. When the tram passes by the towers, it sways slightly.The ride to the top takes about 15 minutes. During that time, the tramcar and passengers ascend about 4,000 feet along the western face of the Sandia Mountains.
Soon we were approaching the upper tram station and pulling in to dock.
The passengers are ready to get out, explore and enjoy the great views from the top of the mountain.
The tram station at the top of Sandia Peak has a large observation deck and steps leading down to the snow and forest trails. The elevation at the peak is 10,375 feet.
The tram serves the Sandia Peak Ski Area, a prime spot for intermediate and beginner skiers from mid-December through mid-March. Due to the lack of snow, the lifts were not running when we were there. That didn’t seem to bother the people enjoying the snow.
We walked over to a foot trail along the front side of the Tramway Station to get pictures of the great view.
Our feet were getting wet and it was time to head back to the upper tram station.
When you are ready to ride back down the mountain, you get in line and wait for the next tram. We waited about 20 minutes for a tram.
Riding down was as much fun as riding up. You see the mountain from a different viewpoint.
As we approached the docking station, Andy took a few pictures.
If you are in the Albuquerque area, I hope you have time to ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway. It is a great way to see the area.