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Enjoy the View: The Sandia Peak Tramway

By Ryan Rushton

Sandia Peak Ski Area and Tramway has offered magnificent views and lifelong memories for over 10 million people. Located on the eastern ridge of Albuquerque New Mexico, the Tram is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Central New Mexico.

The Tram was the brainchild of Bob Nordhaus, who intently studied chairlifts and ride tramways. Nordhaus even traveled to Europe to film them! In 1958, he acquired half of the assets of La Madera Ski Area, which was renamed Sandia Peak. Debi Owen, Director of Communication at Sandia Peak, says that, "The idea of a Tramway connecting ABQ and Sandia Peak was formulated. In 1962 the land for the lower terminal was purchased." Four years later, the Tramway opened to the public.

No matter what time of day, the view is unparalleled. To the west, across the Rio Grande and a volcano field, Mount Taylor rises more than 100 miles away. To the north is Cabezon, a stump of an eroded volcano, where you can see other volcanic necks and plugs. When you look northwest, Redondo Peak is visible within the Jemez Mountains, where it rises from a caldera known as the Valle Grande. This volcanic crater is reported to be the largest in the world!

After catching a breath, you'll find that when you look east, you'll see the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on the horizon. Farther south, the Estancia Valley and the Manzano Mountains.

Owen says that each season also offers its own appeal. She describes the changing environment at the peak: there's "the Winter Wonderland during Ski Season, the emerging of Spring and hiking the numerous trails, summertime escaping the heat of the city to the mountain,and fall- when the Aspens change to gold and the fall foliage emerges. So you can take your pick, but my favorite time of the year is fall."

Aside from the outstanding views, the Sandia Tram serves as an efficient form of transportation for skiers and those looking to get from Albuquerque to the top of Sandia Peak. The Tram allows skiers to avoid the icy, curvy mountain road.

Of course, the Sandia Peak Ski Area & Tramway also offer a number of activities throughout the year. The Sandia Peak Area opens back up on July 4th weekend with scenic chairlift rides and lifts for mountain biking.

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