Sandia Peak Tramway

Written by on October 5, 2015 in NM Attractions - Comments Off on Sandia Peak Tramway

Sandia Peak Tramway
If you love heights and love the feel of looking down over vast amounts of land, then a trip on the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will amaze you! The aerial tramway transports you above deep canyons and breathtaking terrain for a distance of 2.7 miles — the world’s longest passenger aerial tramway. From the observation deck atop Sandia Peak (elevation 10,378 feet) you will overlook Cibola National Forest and 11,000 square miles of the Rio Grande Valley, also known as the Land of Enchantment. Some claim the view is similar to looking down from an airplane on scenic tour.

Located on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city, the Tram is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Central New Mexico. The 2.7 mile trip ascends 4,000 feet in about 15 minutes and the view is utterly amazing. The granite rock faces of the Sandia Mountains have been eroded into spires, cliffs and pinnacles. Looking down on these natural wonders is a truly humbling experience as you understand the sheer size and scope of the land. From the tram, you may be lucky enough to spot an eagle, mule deer or even a black bear amongst the aspens, pines, fir and spruce that dot the Sandia range.

Desert sunsets are spectacular from the tram, but no matter what time of day you visit the view is awe-inspiring. Looking west across the Rio Grande and ancient volcanic flow, on a clear day you can see Mount Taylor more than 100 miles away. Looking north and west, you’ll see Redondo Peak and the Jemez Mountains. To the north is Cabezon, a stump of an eroded volcano, and other volcanic necks and plugs. To the east lies the heavily wooded backside of the Sandias and, on the far horizon, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the capital city of Santa Fe. Farther to the south, the Estancia Valley and the Manzano Mountains frame the view.

From the observation platform, many hiking and mountain biking trails strike off into the Cibola National Forest. The tram also serves the Sandia Peak Ski Area. In the summer, you can take a chairlift ride down the east side of the mountain through towering trees. The base facility offers sand pit volleyball and horseshoe games and picnic areas, not to mention the Double Eagle II Cafe if you don’t want to bring your own food.

For the 2009-2010 season, round trip tickets on the tram cost $17.50 for adults, $15 for seniors and teens and $10 for children. The view is worth every penny! Take a picnic basket, do a little hiking and enjoy a whole day on Sandia Peak.

Construction of the Tramway

The Tramway took two years to design and two years to build, plus another 60 days of testing before opening on May 7, 1966. Bell Engineering of Lucerne, Switzerland, was the company contracted to build this monster. Bell had already built more than 50 tramways throughout the world, but their engineers admitted that the Sandia Peak project was their most challenging. There are just two towers supporting the cables between the terminal — one at 7, 010 feet and is 232 feet tall and the second at 8,750 feet and is 80 feet tall. It took five months just to string the all of the cables up the mountain.

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