One of our favorite places to visit when we are in the Santa Fe Albuquerque area is Sandia Peak from the Turquoise Trail side. While we enjoy taking the Sandia Peak tramway (You can see the Sandia Peak off the Turquoise Trail from the top of the tramway), it is always fun to drive to the top of the Peak for another vantage point. I always enjoy Rich sharing his memories of how his family drove to the top when his dad was stationed in Albuquerque for a short time.  

View from Top of Sandia Peak from the Turquoise Trail Side

The Sandia Peak Experience

The drive to the top of the Sandia Crest (I say that as the sign as you enter from the Turquoise Trail calls it Sandia Crest, although it seems locals call it Sandia Peak), is about 15 miles and offers many scenic views as you drive to the top.

Entrance Sign for Sandia Crest Off of the Turquoise Trail (Highway 14) Albuquerque Side

Sandia Peak is located in the Cibola National Forest, so there are ample places along the way to enjoy a picnic and spend some time in nature. It is a good idea to be mindful about trash as they have containers specifically made to put your trash in that bears cannot access.

There are many hiking trails sprinkled throughout the whole area, at different stops, so if you are an avid hiker, or just enjoy hiking occasionally like we do, there are many trail areas where you can hike. Across from one of the picnic areas, you can see the ski lift, which goes up to the top of Sandia Peak from the tramway side, which is used for skiers in the wintertime.

There used to be a gift shop and snack area at the top, called Sandia Crest House, which was owned by a family for many years. Unfortunately, it seems to now be permanently closed, so it is a good idea to make sure you have some water and snacks with you.

Top of Sandia Peak Parking Area from Turquoise Trail Side

Visitor Information

Depending on your cell coverage, it is possible you may not have service in all areas or at all. There are ample restrooms located at different pull off areas. It is a good idea to have a jacket with you, depending on the weather, as it is cooler at the top. You might notice snow on the sides of the road, even in moderate weather as the weather can change in mountainous areas.

The top of Sandia Peak is a fee area, which is reasonable. I think it was $5.00 for our vehicle.  There may be fee areas at other pull off areas; however, I do not think that is the case for all of them. If you are interested in more information, you can view their website here.


Driving to the top of Sandia Peak is exhilarating and a fun experience. For those of us who love to explore, and love scenic views and spending time in nature, it is a must place to add to your bucket list when traveling in the area.

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