Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico

I traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico in hopes of finding ancient ruins, good Mexican food and beautiful scenery. The flight was cheap – $203 roundtrip including taxes from LAX. I have to say that when I left the airport and started to discover the city, I was more than a little disappointed. The photo to the left is typical scenery for Albuquerque — miles and miles of endless desert. I was expecting red sandstone rocks and cool rock formations but there were none in sight.

If you are planning on visiting New Mexico, you will definitely need a car to get from place to place. Not too many things are within walking distance of each other and there isn’t a whole lot of public transportation. There are two main areas to check out in Albuquerque: Old Town and the area around University of New Mexico.

Old Town Albuquerque

Old Town is a 1/2 day trip. I traveled in January and learned that most places in Old Town close around 6PM. There are touristy and miscellaneous shops and a few great restaurants. If you ever make it to Old Town Albuquerque, I highly recommend eating at a Mexican restaurant called Church Street Cafe. The food, salsa, chili and sopapillas were all amazing.

On the other side of town, you can visit Albuquerque’s university area where there are lots of shops and restaurant choices. You can also cover this area in about 1/2 a day. The restaurants and bar stay open late but the shops close around 7PM.

Hot Air Balloon

I talked to a few locals who revealed that the winter is really slow in New Mexico and that most activity happens in the summer and fall, especially during the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. I was able to visit the Balloon Museum while I was there and if you have an interest in learning about the history of hot air balloons and their prominence in New Mexico, you might want to check it out.

We discovered that the Bandelier National Monument was about 2 hours north and decide to take the trip to see ancient cliff dwellings. We stopped in Santa Fe, a bigger and more lively city than Albuquerque and found that the restaurants close between 2PM to 5PM. We continued on up into the mountains to finally reach the Bandelier National Monument.

Ancient Anasazi Cliff Dwellings

Once we were in the mountains, the scenery changed. Red sandstone rocks and formations started to appear and become more and more present. We checked into the information center and learned that the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings were only a short .6 mile hike. We also learned that there was a trail 1.2 miles in the opposite direction of the cliff dwellings that lead to a waterfall – we decided to do both. The trail to the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings was easy to follow and we were there in no time. We were able to climb up a ladder into a few of the dwellings. The trail to the waterfall was easy to follow but parts were covered in snow so it was a little bit slippery in some parts. Overall, the trail to the waterfall was beautiful (lots of trees and red sandstone) and the waterfall was amazing and half frozen. Check out the gallery of pictures below!

Trail to Bandelier Waterfall

Scenery while hiking to Bandelier Waterfall

Badelier Waterfall

Badelier Waterfall

All in all, Albuquerque, New Mexico is my least favorite of the cities I have traveled to. I am still interested in going back but only to discover more of the mountain areas and the four corners area where New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona meet. I think this area would provide more adventure and scenery for the explorer in me.

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