TRAVEL FEATURE - - LOUIS LA PLANTE

Vacation Destination: Albuquerque

Visitors to Albuquerque, New Mexico, needn’t have both feet on the ground to have an adventure at the highest and lowest points in the city.

Highest Points for Activities in Albuquerque:

Technically, the highest point in Albuquerque is 10,678 feet. That’s the height of the Sandia Crest, accessible to tourists and citizens alike via the aptly named Sandia Peak Tramway. It’s the world’s longest aerial tramway at 2.7 miles. And once atop the mountains, vacationers will see a panoramic view of the 11,000-square-mile Rio Grande Valley.

Other high points are all around Albuquerque—and tourists need only look to the usual crisp blue skies to see them. Thanks to the city’s fair weather and predictable wind patterns, it’s a mecca for hot air balloon riders. So much so that balloons fill the air, especially during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fest on Oct. 4-12.

Travelers can enjoy hot air balloon rides throughout the year, and the flight itineraries vary. Pilots can take passengers real low (think just a few feet above the Rio Grande, which snakes through the city) or high into the clouds.

That’s not the only air show in the city. Tourists can also ride in gliders, planes with no engines. Once again, Albuquerque meteorology plays a part as glider pilots can ascend up to 18,000 feet above sea level, thanks to columns of hot rising air called thermals.

Lowest Points for Activities in Albuquerque:

Considering Albuquerque itself is nearly a mile above sea level, its lowest points don’t seem very low. Continue up the Sandia foothills, an area rich with mountain biking opportunities, the elevation can be concerning for travellers with respiratory issues.

Fear not. Cyclists with not the strongest lungs can take the Paseo del Bosque Trail which winds along the Rio Grande, the lowest point in the city. Uninterrupted by roadways, this 16-mile path moves through metro areas into a cottonwood forest.

For a less-active experience at a low altitude, tourists can always take their feet off the bike pedals and place them inside a jeep on a guided tour. These experiences can vary, but one in particular offers plenty of family fun as it takes tourists through San Felipe, an area with a history that dates back thousands and thousands of years.

Check out archaeological dig tours, and you’ll find impressive rock formations carved by Ice Age glaciers as well as fossilized seashells, 80-million-year-old remnants of a time when an ocean spilt North America. Broken pottery also fills the landscape. These artifacts, which date back 1,300 years, are a testament to the Pueblo Indian tribes who have lived in this area for centuries.


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