Friday, June 24, 2016

The Top of Sandia Peak

On Thursday, Ed and I decided to take a drive up State Road 14, from Tijeras, New Mexico. All I could tell from the maps was that it paralleled the back side of the Sandia Crest... the east and opposite side that the tram is on. If nothing else, we thought it should be pretty country with some views... which it was.

If we had continued north, it would have taken us into Santa Fe again. If you have read the previous post, you know our feelings on that... "been there, done that, don't need to do it again". As soon as we realized we were past most of the mountains, we turned around and went back the way we came, except this time, we turned off at the Cibola National Forest sign. This is the starting point for the long, steep and winding drive to the top of the mountain.

Entrance sign to Sandia Crest in Cibola National Forest.

We had no idea what was at the top. We thought it was going to be the terminus of the Sandia Tram, which is on the west side of the mountain. As we found out, this is actually the Cibola National Forest road and viewpoint.

The entrance to the restaurant and gift shop on Sandia Peak.

It does have a nice snack bar and gift shop, along with restrooms and other expected amenities, but the actual Sandia Tram is about a mile and a half farther south along the peak. We couldn't even see the cables for the tram from this point! They are somewhere on that next peak shown below.

From Sandia Crest looking south toward the top of the tram on the next peak.

It is posted that you can see a hundred miles in nearly a 360 degree circle from this point, although parts of it are interrupted by trees. But we could see most of the city of Albuquerque, and I even pointed out Tramway Drive at the base of the mountain to Ed. The lower tram terminal was behind some rock outcroppings, but we got the general feel for its location.

Sandia Peak viewpoint looking southwest.

Another view of Albuquerque, southwest from Sandia Peak.

We just "had" to have lunch up there, just to say we did it, and the snack bar served several kinds of hot sandwiches from a grill (among many other offerings, including specialty coffee). I had a "One Mile High" burger (only one beef patty... the "Two Mile High" has two patties, totaling 12 ounces of beef!), with potato chips and a pickle. The burger was seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning, and it was very good. They included a tomato slice, onions and lettuce for those who wanted to make it "deluxe" (which I added to the burger). Ed ordered a grilled chicken sandwich, which he says was "nothing special".

Our lunch table at Sandia Peak restaurant.

We took many photos (Ed also took some video) from the walkway around the lookout point.

Ed Helvey getting some video from the Sandia Peak restaurant balcony. 

Looking east from Sandia Peak viewpoint, across the plaza.

I took a stroll through the gift shop, but saw nothing that encouraged me to buy.

The Sandia Peak Gift Shop was pretty large!

After lunch we wandered out to the balcony seating area, where we saw this nice tribute to a local sculpter.

A piece of sculpture by a local artist outside the Sandi Peak restaurant and above the plaque below. 

A plaque dedicated to the local sculptor who created the work above.

When we had done everything we came to see and do, we headed back down the mountain and toward "home", which is almost directly across the top of the restaurant gift shop.

The restaurant and gift shop complex on top of Sandia Peak.

There are only three other times that I remember being this high (10,678'). One was Mt. San Jacinto, in Palm Springs, at the top of the tram, at 10,833'. Then there was Snowbird Ski Area, also accessed by tram, just east of Salt Lake City, at 11,000', and when we went through Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado, on I-70, where the west entrance is 11,158'. Of course, from there, you can't see anything, so you don't even know you are that high. But all the other places have great viewpoints where you can see that you are level with the tops of the other mountains (more or less).

The road to get up there is a well-maintained and paved road, but the higher you get, the tighter the turns become, and the steeper it seems to get. Even Ed's van was downshifting to second gear to get up many of the grades, so do not attempt to bring a large RV up here unless you know it has the engine and cooling capability to handle the task.

Friday, June 10th, we got a late start to our project of laundry at the very nice laundromat in Moriarty. I put a pork roast in the crock pot before we left, and upon our return, added potatoes, onions and carrots to it. Usually Ed and I contributed to the evening meals (unless we decided to forego that meal due to a late or over-sized lunch). Sometimes we just visited... other times we would watch a DVD movie. I have collected quite a stock of them.

On Saturday, Ed and I had breakfast at Denny's before he left just before noon for points farther west. Ed has been gracious enough to do most of the driving for sightseeing and errands while we have been here. I appreciate that. It is a much more practical and economical choice than using this RV at about 8 mpg to do our running around. Besides, we would have never been able to park this RV in some of the places we went! Ed went out of his way, and out of his wallet to not only pay for his site rent here, but also his fuel. The timing of our meeting here also caused him to forego some other stops that he had originally planned to make on his way here, as well as some that he would have gotten to after he left here. His sacrifice will forever be appreciated.

I stayed at the park we were in by myself for the next couple of days while I awaited Sharon's return on Tuesday. I had to pick her up at the airport and then we made our way to Texas... for as short a stay as we can possibly make it. The heat and humidity of the Midwest is gradually moving in, and since we are going to be boondocking most of the way there and back (means using the generator for air conditioning during the day, if not all night) we want to get out of there ASAP! We were hoping that all the flooding has run its course, and that we will have dry roads and "accommodations" there and back.

As it turns out, we took a full hook-up site for a week at a resort, just so we could run our air conditioner... and then it quit right before we got there! But we have an appointment on Wednesday to get it repaired and have new front shocks installed. Then we have about two and half days to take care of other vehicle business, or else we will be here a little longer!

Our first order of business was to use the on-site laundromat for three loads of clothes! This was the first opportunity to do laundry (for Sharon) since before she left for Alaska. Then they had free ice cream for Father's Day ($1 a bowl for others) at the Clubhouse. Surprisingly, there are lot of people here, even at this hot and muggy time of year. There are still many activities planned, among them line dancing and some limited square dancing, but it's too hot for those kinds of activities, when we don't have air conditioning here at "home"... yet. They do have a couple of free movies planned (also, free popcorn is included), though, so we may go sit quietly in "their" air conditioning for those!

As always, thank you to those who take the time to comment, as well as to those who have used the links on our site for their online purchases. Remember, when it comes to Amazon (and most other stores as well), it matters not whether the ad you see is for something you want or not. Once you get to their site, you can order literally ANYTHING you want from their store, and we will still get credit for sending you there (for the duration of the "cookie"). Example: someone once bought a pair of flip-flops after clicking on a link for a tool organizer! I could name hundreds of other examples like that! So don't worry about what the banners or text links are showing... they're only suggestions. If you want something else, just do a search for it after you get to their store! That's the correct way to use shopping links on ANY site!

Stay well and travel safe.


  1. I am hoping and awaiting Sharon's blog on her trip with her sister. I know she had a fantastic time. I am so glad she got to go!!! Until then......happy traveling!!!

    1. Hi Thermie! Thank you for commenting. She has started writing her posts and publishing the pictures, but she took over 760 photos, so it's taking some time to go through them and decide which ones to use. The link to her blog is in the upper right hand side, in the margin of my blog. People on mobile devices may have to scroll down and click on the "View Web Version" link near the bottom of my posts. Doing so will show them the entire blog, just as it shows on a PC.

      Also, some people have said they have trouble navigating my blog. They have to click on the archived posts widget in the right column, and that will open up a drop-down box with links to previous posts. Also, at the bottom of every post, there's a forward and back arrow on either side of the "Home" button in the middle. If you only want to move to one post at a time, that's an easier way to do it. Thanks for reading!


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