Up Up and Away in Albuquerque – Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway and Balloon Festival

Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway & Ski Area

The world’s longest double reversible bi-cable aerial tramway, a glorious mountain setting, and a varied recreational playground come together to make a marvelous getaway any time of the year. The Sandia Peak Tram travels 2.7 miles from the base of the foothills northeast of Albuquerque to the 10,378-foot Sandia Peak.

From the lower terminal, the tramcar travels suspended over rugged boulders and rocky mountain landscapes, and the city drops beneath you as you glide over the lush ponderosa forest. The view is one of the deep rugged canyons, extinct volcanoes, distant mountains, unusual formations carved by erosion, and a sensational desert landscape encompassing more than 11,000 square miles on a clear day. Tram riders may choose to take a hike or have dinner and then ride down, ski down the east side during winter/spring seasons, or ride the primary chairlift at the Sandia Peak Ski Area in the summer and fall.

Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway

During the winter, the Sandia Peak Ski Area is a popular destination among visitors and residents alike. in addition to the tram, you can also access the ski area via the Turquoise Trail to the Crest national Scenic Byway. Ski and snowboard rentals are available at the ski lodge, but skiers can also take equipment with them on the tram. in the summer, enjoy the cool temperatures and fresh mountain air while riding a chairlift or mountain biking on a series of trails across Cibola National Forest. Bike rentals are available at the base or the top of the chairlift. (505) 856-7325 www.sandiapeak.com

Balloon Fiesta

Gas ballooning is the ultimate challenge for balloonists: they fly higher and farther than hot air balloons, often exposing pilots to violent weather conditions. each year, the Balloon Fiesta hosts America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, which began in 1995. This competition, based entirely on the distance traveled by a balloon, is the premier gas ballooning event in the united states. Over the years, Albuquerque has also hosted two gas balloon World Championships and four editions of the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett, the world’s oldest and most prestigious gas balloon competition.

The most unusual and exciting feature of the Balloon Fiesta is that spectators are allowed to walk amongst the balloons as they inflate on the launch field each morning. Visitors are welcome to ask questions and meet the pilots–they may even be asked to help out a crew member with the inflation process! When it is time for a balloon to launch, “zebras” (the traffic directors dressed in black and white outfits) will clear a path in the crowd for each balloon to take off.

Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum

The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is the world’s premier facility dedicated to the art, culture, science, history, sport, and spectacle of ballooning. The museum, which opened in 2005, features one of the world’s finest collections of ballooning equipment and memorabilia. Set on the southern edge of Balloon Fiesta Park, the museum is a focal point in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, but its scope is much broader.

Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum

Through innovative exhibits, the museum showcases the adventurous spirit, endeavors, and achievements of individual balloonists, including several Albuquerque residents who continue to break records in the ballooning world. The museum is named after two Albuquerque pilots who were pioneers in the long-distance helium balloon flight. Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson were part of the crews who first successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a balloon in 1978 and the Pacific Ocean in 1981.

While the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum celebrates the accomplishments of several new Mexico balloonists, its scope is international, with a reach that encompasses noteworthy adventures and achievements spanning the history of ballooning. Since the first balloon flight in 1783, hot air and gas balloons have been used for adventure, scientific experiments, the arts, warfare, espionage, and space exploration. This story is told throughout the museum in interactive exhibits, historic facts, multi-media presentations, and changing exhibits. (505) 768-6020

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