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Sandia Crest – New Mexico

Sandia Mountains, east of Albuquerque


Sandia Crest, Albuquerque, ski resort

Summit Elevation

10,678 ft

Time Required

2+ hours




Yes. I believe it was $5 per parking

Water Info

Bring one liter of water

Best Season



Open year round

Sun Exposure

Lots of shade on this short hike

Trail Condition

Good dirt trail


Yes, located in the gift shops and tram station


Not allowed


Bring meals and snacks as needed. There are a few restaurants and shops at the very top.


Bring hiking shoes, hat, jacket (you are on the top of a 10,000+ foot mountain) and sunglasses.

GPS Coordinates:

Sandia Crest: 35.2105, -106.4494

Trail Map:

Driving Directions:

The Trail:

On a recent trip to New Mexico we were coming back from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and decided to take the scenic route back.  We drove from the east side of the Sandia Mountains and found we still had about 4 hours until we needed to be at the airport.  We took a chance and drove to the very top of the Sandia Mountains to see what was up there.  If you aren’t familiar with Spanish the word Sandia means watermelon.

It is a long scenic drive to the top with many incredible views of the surrounding area.   There are tons of pine trees and grassy meadows to be seen as you make your way to Sandia Crest.

At the top you will find communications towers and the ski resort which is located just a little bit south of here and you can hike to it if you want.   We didn’t bother hiking there since we had a flight to catch and didn’t want to spend too much time here.

Sandia Crest

Right when we arrived and got out of our car I saw two men come seemingly out of the bushes and ask us “have you paid for parking yet?”  I replied that we were only using the restrooms, checking out the Crest then headed back down the mountain.  He replied “you still have to pay for parking.”  I was kind of annoyed because we had been there no longer than 1 or 2 minutes and we were already ambushed, immediately being asked to pay for parking, which we were fine doing.  We paid the $5 and figured we could find a trail around here or something and took a little time to explore.

Sandia Crest

Near the parking lot were the outside bathrooms, the Sandia Crest which was very easily accessible (you walk right to it from the parking lot) and even the Sandia Crest House which features a snack bar and gift shop.  We stepped inside the gift shop and wasn’t impressed at all with what we saw.  It was basically cheep gifts and it smelt like an outhouse so we quickly went back outside.

Sandia Crest

Here is the Sandia Crest.  It features some benches, displays and several viewing scopes. The views from up here are incredible!  It would have been nice if the clouds were gone so we could see farther but it was still amazing.

Looking back down in Albuquerque

Looking back down in Albuquerque

From here we found a dirt path that winds around the top of the mountain ridge and followed it for a little ways.  I think the trail is called the Crest Spur.

Sandia Crest

Sandia Crest

The trail continues on down to the tram (which was closed by the time we were up on top) but we went another 1/4 mile then came back to our car.

The tram is the fastest way to the top.  It begins down in Albuquerque and goes to the top of the actual ski resort.  It would have been fun to do if it were open.

Sandia Crest

Sandia Crest

Sandia Crest

The Return:

Head back towards your vehicle.

Personal Thoughts:

 Sandia Crest was really fun to see.  It was a nice and unexpected side trip that wasn’t part of our New Mexico adventure.

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Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

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About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

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