Known for Breaking Bad, green chilies and hot air balloons, New Mexico’s vibrant city of Albuquerque has a diverse array of offerings for visitors. That goes for adventure-seekers, too. Whether you’re looking for a scenic trek, to partake in unusual active pairings or to explore an active volcano, you can find it around Albuquerque. To help you plan your trip, here are five not-to-miss thrills when visiting the city.
Amazing Scavenger Hunt offers an Amazing Race-style twist to exploring Downtown Albuquerque. There’s no set time, but instead you’ll get the clues to complete challenges on your own time. Once at your starting point, the quest begins, as you’re directed down streets to learn about landmarks, enter museums to answer questions, and solve puzzles before being able to find out where your next destination is. It’s an adventurous way to learn about Albuquerque!Price: $49 per team of up to five people.
Did you know Albuquerque is home to a volcano? The active Valles Caldera — located mainly within the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve — is a thrill, especially within the caldera. Yes, you read that right. You can actually explore the caldera through skiing, hiking and bird watching around its 13-mile-wide crater, created by an eruption that happened 1.25 million years ago. The caldera’s highest point is Redondo Peak, a 11,253-foot resurgent lava dome you can summit. The preserve itself offers a number of ranger-led excursions if you’d like a guide. After your adventure, head to the nearby hot springs like Jemez Springs Bath House, Soda Dam or Spence Springs for a curative soak. Price: $20 entry fee into the national park by car.
Located within the gorgeous Sandia Mountains you’ll find the scenic eight-mile La Luz Trail. On the uphill trail you’ll hike through all the mountain’s geological zones, with the landscape continuously changing. The pinnacle of the trip is summiting the Sandia Crest, the Sandia Mountains’ highest point at 10,378 feet. Take in surreal panoramic views of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley. Tip: arrive to the top around sunset and ride the USA’s longest aerial tramway back down. At this time you’ll really understand first-hand how the mountains got the name “Sandia” (thanks to the “watermelon” hue that gowns the area at sunset). Make sure to bring something warm, as temperatures can be up to 30 degrees cooler at the top (though the Sandia Crest House offers warm beverages and boozy cocktails to further help you keep cozy!). Price: The trail is free to hike; the tramway is $15 one way.
Albuquerque is a foodie city for sure, especially if you like your meals and drinks laced with spicy chilies. A number of active adventures pay homage to this, like a donation-based margaritas and yoga fusion class with YogaRites. Not your typical yoga class, your instructor will lead you through a fitness routine blending yoga, Pilates, barre, Zumba and dance — and margarita drinking. Additionally, Casa Rodena introduces guests to Albuquerque’s delicious homegrown wine scene, sourcing sips from small local vineyards and pairing them with Pilates. And at Old Town Farm, you can experience their Bike-in Coffee events on Saturdays and Sundays. Here, cyclists refuel on farm-to-fork meals and fresh coffee enjoyed at communal picnic tables in a farm setting. Tip: this is a great opportunity to fill your bike basket with local produce for a delicious taste of Albuquerque. Finally, Routes Bicycle Rentals & Tours offers an educational — and spicy — New Mexico Chile Bike Tour. For locals, the chile is so much more than a simple crop, and you’ll truly understand (and taste) why on this $65 excursion.
Albuquerque is world-famous for its annual autumn Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where 600+ hot air balloons take flight. The event also features laser light shows, fireworks, a choreographed Dawn Patrol show, competitive flights, night launches and more. It’s quite a spectacular experience, though even if you can’t make it during the festival you can still ride up in a balloon. World Balloon is one operator offering a 1-hour Champagne flight for up to 12 people ($139), while you can book a 3.5-hour serene sunset or sunset ride with Rainbow Ryders ($179). Price: Tickets to the Balloon Fiesta are $15 for parking, and $10 per session (a designated time frame of events).
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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