Louis Abruzzo, president of Sandia Peak Ski and Tramway, first rode what is still the world’s longest passenger aerial tram as a boy in 1966 – the year the tram opened. Since then, he’s gone up and down the mountain hundreds of times.
Now, when he rides up with “first-timers” and hears their awe-stricken gasps as the swaying tramcar crosses the cable towers, he remembers, “This is really something.”
One of Albuquerque’s best-known tourist attractions, the Sandia Peak Tramway ascends 4,000 vertical feet during its 15-minute, 2.7-mile odyssey.
“You go through four distinct climactic zones between the bottom of the mountain and the top,” Abruzzo says. “It’s always about 15 to 20 degrees cooler on top of the mountain than down in the city. In the summer, there are all kinds of wildflowers, and you can get away from the heat. In the winter, people go skiing, and it’s like you’ve gone to another planet.”
On the way, granite spires jut up from the mountainside where deer, bears and bobcats range and hawks and golden eagles soar overhead. At the 10,378-foot summit, stunning 360-degree views sweep more than 100 miles in every direction.
And the mountain itself is a geological wonder. Composed entirely of granite except for a 100-foot limestone cap at the top, the mountain lacks the transitional layers usually found between the two rock types. Hikers and bicyclists traversing the mountaintop’s 26 miles of trails can see fossils in the limestone.
“Once people have made it to the top, they can spend an hour, or half a day,” Abruzzo says.
Or even stay for dinner. High Finance, a steak-and-seafood restaurant, is located at the top of the tram. Now that’s a dining room with a view. The restaurant also serves lunch.
In its 42 years of operation, the handicapped-accessible tram has hauled 8.8 million passengers to the top of Sandia Peak – and back again.
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