Adventure Activities in Albuquerque - Try if You Dare
If you're looking for an adventure activity in Albuquerque, you won't have to look far. In a region that typically enjoys clear blue skies and an average of 310 days of sunshine, there are heaps of outdoor activities and travel adventures. Albuquerque's sunrises, sunsets and vistas will likewise take your breath away. Here are just a few Albuquerque adventure activities:
1. Albuquerque Balloon Ride
Watch the city come to life with a pre-dawn balloon ride. Your personal balloon ride with Skyspan Adventures will begin before the city awakens. Fly beneath the stars and over the twinkling city as you watch the sun rise above the Sandia mountains.
This city has wonderful ballooning weather, perfect for this most exhilarating of Albuquerque outdoor activities. During the first two weeks of October, the skies over Albuquerque fill with hot air balloons of every shape, size and color imaginable. It is one of the most photographed events in the world.
"The Albuquerque Box" is a local phenomenon where the balloons rise and float lazily down the valley above the Rio Grande. After a while, the pilot will place the balloon in a higher elevation to catch a different air current that will carry the balloon back up the river, so that you actually land close to where you take off. The city will slowly awaken as you float above it.
When you land, you will be greeted with the traditional champagne toast to a first-time flier and a light continental breakfast. It's the perfect start or end to an Albuquerque adventure vacation.
Call Skyspan Adventures for reservations at 505-293-6800 (toll-free 1-800-351-9588). A champagne flight costs $150 for adults and $125 for under-15s, but more exclusive options are available. Note flights are weather-dependent.
2. Albuquerque Rattlesnakes
This most daring of adventure activities in Albuquerque will have you staring rattlesnakes right in the eyes. The American International Rattlesnake Museum has the largest collection of live rattlesnakes in the world. If you combine the different species of rattlesnakes on display at the Bronx Zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo, the National Zoo, the Denver Zoo, the San Francisco Zoo and the San Diego Zoo, you'll still have fewer species than what is on display at the American International Rattlesnake Museum in beautiful recreated habitats.
This Albuquerque family adventure will teach you how rattlesnakes are beneficial, as myths are explored and phobias cured through artifacts and memorabilia. If you are scared of snakes in general, or rattlesnakes in particular, this is a safe place to study them.
American International Rattlesnake Museum, 202 San Felipe NW, Suite A, Albuquerque, NM 87104, 505-242-6569
3. Sandia Peak Tramway: Scenic Albuquerque
Ride the world's longest passenger tram on this scenic Albuquerque family adventure. While traveling 2.7 miles on the Sandia Peak Tramway, you will be rising 3,819 feet vertically. Two cars counter-balance each other to carry up to 50 people per trip. The tram makes four trips per hour and averages 275,000 passengers a year.
Keep your eyes peeled while you cruise up the mountain. There is a wide variety of wildlife to spot, including the occasional golden eagle, mule deer and black bear. About halfway up the mountain, you might spot the wreckage of a small aircraft. The plane crashed during the 1960s and the terrain made it impossible to retrieve the fuselage.
At the top of the mountain, you will have a commanding view of over 11,000 square miles. The city of Albuquerque is laid out like a carpet, with the sparkling Rio Grande winding lazily down the valley. There are mountain trails to explore during the summer and world-class skiing during the winter. Come for the ride, stay for the sunset. Have a drink at the High Finance Restaurant while watching the sun dip below the horizon.
To get to Sandia Peak Tramway, take I-40 to Exit 167, or take I-20 to Exit 234. Hours: Wed-Mon 9AM-8PM, Tue 5PM-8PM. Tickets range from $12-20. Call 505- 856-7325 for information or reservations.
4. Albuquerque's Million Dollar Question: Red or Green Chili?
New Mexico's chili is unlike chili found in any other part of the country. The influence of New Mexico's three predominant cultures of Native American, Mexican and Anglo have combined to create a flavor as unique and as enchanting as New Mexico itself.
El Pinto Restaurant, in the North Valley of Albuquerque, began in 1962 using recipes handed down through generations. The eye-watering chili sauces come in either red or green. If you are not sure which one you prefer, order both by saying "Christmas" when asked about your choice. If you are not brave, you can always order the chili on the side.
For those brave souls not worried about counting calories, order the "chili relleno" plate. "Chili rellenos" are New Mexico green chili peppers stuffed with cheese then battered and deep-fried. These heavenly creations can pack a punch, as some peppers are spicier than others.
El Pinto Restaurant, 10500 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114, 505-898-1771. Hours: Mon-Thu 11AM-9PM, Fri & Sat 11AM-10PM, Sunday brunch 10:30AM-2PM.
Top tip for budget travelers: if you want a spicy culinary adventure activity in Albuquerque and don't have time to head to El Pinto, just pop into your favorite chain hamburger joint, order your favorite cheeseburger and have it topped with spicy green chili. Every burger joint, including McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Blake's and Sonic, offers variations on the green-chili cheeseburger. The flavor of the chili adds a special zip to a burger and you will never look at old-fashioned cheeseburgers the same way.
5. Spend the Night at Albuquerque's Haunted Hotel
This adventure activity in Albuquerque is one I have experienced many times through the years. The Southwest Ghost Hunters Association investigated the Shaffer Hotel in 2008, on the theory that the original builder of the hotel, Pop Shaffer, still wanders its halls.
The hotel was built in the 1920 and has been painstakingly restored, with handcrafted wooden chandeliers, antiques and an intricately painted ceiling in the dining room. The wedding suite features a claw-foot bathtub. The front of the hotel is decorated with swastika-like carvings that many people might find offensive, until they realize that the hotel was built well before Hitler's time and that the carvings are actually the mirror reverse of the swastika. The symbols come from a Native American symbol for "peace."
For those who are after daring activities in Albuquerque, be warned: the hotel is haunted, and there are noises, cold spots and shadows that cannot be explained. Spend the night here -- if you dare.
Shaffer Hotel, 103 West Main St, Mountainair, NM 87036, 888-595-2888.