By far the highlight of the day, our journey to the top of Sandia crest was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. The mountain was first discovered by the Spanish, who gave it it’s rather interesting name. It’s many granite faces are rife with a reddish mineral called feldspar. When the evening light hits the mountain, the feldspar is illuminated, and the entire range glows a brilliant pinkish red. This crescent sliver of pink on the horizon is what gave the mountain its title, as “Sandia” in Spanish, is watermelon.
The 15 minute tram ride 12,000 feet to the peak was spectacular in and of itself, but upon reaching the crest, you are awarded a panoramic view of New Mexico, encompasing almost 10% of the ENTIRE state. To the west you can see all of Albuquerque, laid out in the rain shadow of the mountains, a stark contrast to the green conifer forests to the east of the mountain. To the north and south, the range stretches for as far as the eye can see, wrapping around the city as if to shield it from the world outside.
The air alone was something of a rarity, it was pure and light, barely able to hold aloft the clouds which so lazily cast their shadows low across the cliff sides. The pictures alone could never do it justice, it’s really just something you have to see for yourself. Although if you’re going to, we recommend doing it as early as possible. The crowds get thick fast, and even at about 10:30 the line took us close to 45 minutes to get all the way through. It wasn’t time wasted though, as we befriended a mother and her son from Houston, who had just come from our next destination; The Grand Canyon. We spent the time swapping travel stories, and telling them about the mystical north and all its snow. We even met them again up at the peak, where they gave us some tips on hiking trails. We struck out and spent the next couple hours hiking through the mountains, where we felt so at peace we almost forgot where we were.
All in all it was a compltely unforgettable journey, and it came as no surprise why it ranks as the number one attraction in Albuquerque. A must see for anyone in the area, Sandia Peak has been the first of many mountains were sure to see on our journey, but certainly not the least of them.