Many people who have visited Santa Fe New Mexico have taken the opportunity to riding the very unique Sandia Peak Tramway. The Tramway is located just north of Albuquerque and is a one of a kind adventure. It’s really a must stop on your Albuquerque tour. Whether you’re coming or going from the Santa Fe area, a side trip to the Sandia Peak Tramway is as close as you can get to a must stop. Young and old will marvel at this Sandia Peak Tram feat of engineering which makes it the most unique aerial tramway in the U.S.
The view from the top of Sandia Peak is absolutely spectacular. The view encompasses some 11,000 square miles of New Mexico. The ride on the Sandia Tram up to the top is also as spectacular in engineering terms.The tramway was built by Bell Engineering of Lucerne Switzerland which not only built tramways all over the world but built Switzerland’s first in 1888.
The building of the Sandia Tramway posed a very difficult challenge for the engineers from Switzerland mostly due to the mountains very rocky and steep terrain. When you ride the tram up the mountain you can readily appreciate the job they did to complete the 2.7 mile cable. One quite unique thing about the Sandia Peak Tramway is that there are only two towers supporting the cable over the 2.7 mile distance. The towers are anchored in granite by several 30 foot deep stressed steel rods. The elevation of tower two is 8,750 feet and it’s construction involved the use of helicopters because the terrain around it’s base was simply too rugged to build service roads.
The first riders took the aerial tram on May 7, 1966. This was after two years of construction and then after two months of testing. The two tramcars are attached to the hauling cables and the weight of the downhill tramcar helps to pull the uphill tramcar to the summit. The point where the two tramcars pass midway between the base and summit, they are almost 1,000 feet above the ground. The tramcars average 12 MPH. The main power is a 600 horse power dc electric winch motor. The tramcars have cable brakes which close automatically and hold the car firm if any emergency develops. Each car can carry up to fifty passengers.he tramway system such as the Sandia Peak Tramway requires servicing. In fact, the original cables were replaced in 1997. The replacement of the cables took seven weeks to complete and was again with the aid of Swiss engineers.
Again, the view from the top of Sandia Peak is spectacular. In addition to getting some great pictures, there is also hiking along the trails of the Cibola National Forest. I have hiked a few times on these trails and it’s a good fairly level hike with a lot of great vistas. There is also dining at the top of Sandia Peak. In fact, a restaurant named High Finance is the one restaurant at the top and also is the only restaurant which has such a unique way of getting there. It’s an excellent place to dine while enjoying the one of a kind view.
When you’re walking the trails on the top of Sandia Peak you will also notice the Sandia Ski area which is on the east side of the mountain. Albuquerque’s ski area, Sandia Peak is a winter sports mecca very near the city. The ski area is accessible by both the aerial tram and by automobile from the east side of Sandia Mountain.
The Sandia Peak Tramway is located on the western base of Sandia Peak in Albuquerque’s Sandia Mountains. This is north of Abuquerque and east of Interstate-25. From Interstate-25, take Exit 234 which is called Tramway Road. Follow Tramway Road, East to the Sandia Peak Tramway.
From Interstate-40, take Exit 167 which is Tramway Blvd. Take Tramway Blvd. North for about 9 miles to the Sandia Peak Tramway.