New Mexico's largest city is home to the Southwest's most vibrant outdoors community
With 29,000 acres of open space in and around the city, 310 annual days of sunshine, a major river, and hundreds of miles of trails and bike routes, there's enough in Albuquerque to climb, ride, hike, and explore for a lifetime of adventure.
Hike the La Luz Trail
Hikers and trail runners will love this winding, eight-mile mountain route, which climbs about 4,000 vertical feet from the desert valley into a high-alpine oasis. In summer, start early to avoid the heat and be sure to carry plenty of water and snacks. Up top, read about the geology of the Albuquerque Basin and surrounding mountain ranges. Cruise back the way you came or hitch a ride on the iconic Sandia Peak Tramway ($15 one way). The views of the Rio Grande from the tram are worth the ride.
Explore the City by Bike
Launched in 2013, the 50-Mile Activity Loop is a network of bike paths and trails that circle the city, from the northeastern foothills down to the Petroglyph National Monument, home of one of the country’s largest collections of ancient rock carvings. Fit cyclists can knock off all or most of the loop in a day, but shorter sections along the Bosque Trail or Paseo de Las Montañas are perfect for quick-hit tours of Albuquerque's culture and neighborhoods. New connecting trails are slated to come online by late fall.
Ride Along the Sky
White Mesa, famous for its ridgetop singletrack trails, is a mountain-biking mecca 45 miles from downtown. Located on federal and Jemez Pueblo land south of the town of San Ysidro, riders come to White Mesa for expansive views, steep, punchy climbs, and well-marked trails. The riding isn’t too technically demanding, but be prepared to wind along jagged mesas with drop-offs to each—you’ll want to keep your balance. Check out The Bike Smith for full-suspension rentals.
Climb the Sandias
The Sandias, the mountain range that looms above the city, are home to some of New Mexico’s most iconic rock-climbing options, from multipitch 5.14 trad climbs to mellow sport routes. In warmer months, head to Palomas Peak, a subpeak of the Sandia Crest, for its beautiful limestone cliffs. The crag at Palomas is well bolted and spaced, and you won’t have trouble shifting routes to stay in the shade as the day grows warm. “There’s usually nobody out there besides climbers, and the view on hike in is enjoyable," says Marc Beverly, owner of Beverly Mountain Guides. “Some of the best climbers in the country come from Albuquerque. There’s all kinds of climbing within an hour of downtown. It’s why I live here."
Every Sunday morning, the city’s Open Space Visitor’s Center hosts 90-minute yoga classes at its 18-acre campus. For first-time attendees, the cost is $5, and an outdoor meditation session before class is free. If you like a little wine with your yoga, check out the Casa Rondena Winery, located in Albuquerque’s North Valley, the city’s historic agricultural center. Every Tuesday evening, they host Pilates and Wine sessions—a glass is included in the $15 fee. If margaritas are more your thing, El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina pairs yoga and brunch on their patio on Sundays.
Run the Foothills Trails
For almost two decades, Albuquerque has been a go-to choice for professional runners—locals know they might see world-record holders or Olympic champions stretching by the popular trailheads. Why? Albuquerque’s combination of sunny weather, extensive trails, and high altitude (5,300 feet) makes it a perfect place to get in shape. “Albuquerque offers the total package,” says Danny Mackey, coach of the Brooks Beasts, a professional running team that trains in Albuquerque each spring. Whether you’re training for an ultra or a local 5K, the Elena Gallegos loop, part of the popular Sandia Foothills Trail network, boasts ten miles of rolling singletrack just north of town. And Mackey’s runners say the Bosque Trail, with its consistent grade and riverside scenery, is perfect for long runs.
Paddle the Bosque
The mighty Rio Grande, one of the largest and longest rivers in the western United States, snakes right through town. That means anyone with a canoe or kayak can experience the natural splendor of the river corridor, which is carefully preserved and managed along a section called the Bosque, Spanish for “forest.” Put in at the Alameda Bridge and enjoy a three-hour float through this cottonwood forest. Keep your eye out for bald eagles, Great Blue Herons, or even coyotes along the riverbank. Quiet Water Paddline Adventures offers guided tours and boat rentals.
Albuquerque is world-famous for its hot-air balloon festival, where thousands gather each October to take colorful flight across the New Mexico sky each morning and evening. But the reason the city has become a ballooning destination—its calm air, clear skies, and open vistas—has produced a year-round ballooning culture. Half a dozen local companies offer balloon rides, all of whom will be happy to take you aloft before dawn to catch sunrise as it explodes over the Sandia Crest. To the west, you’ll be treated to views of the lush Jemez Mountains; to the northeast lies Santa Fe and the rocky, vertiginous Sangre De Cristo mountains.
Maybe it’s the 310+ days of sunshine per year, the sweeping blue skies, or the abundance of open space that makes Albuquerque a natural playground. It could be the unexplored climbing routes of the mile-high backdrop, the more than 400 miles of bike trails, or the legendary waters of the Rio Grande. In Albuquerque, epic adventure awaits. Learn more at VisitABQ.org.