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New Mexico State Symbol

As is familiar to anyone with a smartphone, Google photos sent me a “rediscover this day” tag last week with photos from our New Mexico road trip in July 2015. My parents were visiting us that summer. We drove to Albuquerque with them to meet friends, enjoy some family time together and explore the splendor of Albuquerque.

As its name attests, New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment to me. I have always been drawn to its mountains, the color of its earth, the shape of the adobes, the history of the land, its deep cultural vibe and of course, its food.

Our first day in Albuquerque, we went to Sandia Peak Tramway early in the morning. Situated in the Cibola National Forest on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, the Sandia Peak tramway climbs to over 10000 feet to provide stunning vistas of the surrounding terrain. It was a sunny morning as we approached but as we purchased tickets and waited for our turn to board the tram, the weather started changing. By the time we reached the deck up top, it had started drizzling. And then there was a heavy downpour that just wouldn’t stop. Beyond the main enclosure, the deck offered no protection from the rain and the temperature was dropping quickly at that elevation. We were ill prepared for both the rain and the cold. But the glorious views of the canyon and valley beckoned. Eventually, with the rain slowing a little, we made our way to the deck to get as much of a view as we could. And the scenery didn’t disappoint!

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Entrance to Sandia Peak Tramway

Later on in the day, we also made our way to the Petroglyph National Monument, only a short drive from our friends’ home. We were surprised that this monument was surrounded by several residential neighborhoods. And yet, it seemed to be secreted away once one reached the trails. There are four trails in this Monument, with three trails allowing access to petroglyphs (Boca Negra, Rinconada, Piedras Marcadas Canyon). The last one, Volcanoes Day Use area has trails but no petroglyphs.

Our trip led us to the Piedras Marcadas Canyon trail (“marked rocks” as named by Spanish settlers) where about 300 different petroglyphs can be seen. The trail was not very strenuous and my parents were able to walk the whole 1.5 mile trail. There is a lot to see, to admire and to ponder along the trail and we did, exclaiming in delight as we came across yet another petroglyph.

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Petroglyph at Piedras Marcadas Canyon

The volcanic landscape of this canyon with its black basalt rocks contrasts with the yellow-brown sandy trail and the greenery of the whispering bush. Its said that the ancient Puebloans who lived here about 600-700 years ago, carved the outer layer of the basalt rocks using stone tools, etching various images and designs. They are thought to have spiritual and cultural significance.

The trail did not have any restrooms. We were lucky to have worn sturdy footwear and since it was before sunset, the weather was pleasant and very conducive for a trail hike.

Enjoy some of our photos from our July 2015 Albuquerque trip, thanks to inspiration from Google photos.

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Darkening skies at Sandia Peak 
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View from Sandia Peak observation deck
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View from Sandia Peak observation deck
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View from Sandia Peak observation deck
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View from Sandia Peak observation deck

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Petroglyphs at Piedras Marcadas Canyon
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Petroglyphs at Piedras Marcadas Canyon
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Petroglyphs at Piedras Marcadas Canyon
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Petroglyphs at Piedras Marcadas Canyon
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Piedras Marcadas Canyon landscape

Read more about the Sandia Peak Tramway.

Explore or plan a visit to the Petroglyph National Monument.

If I were to visit again, I would go prepared with extra layers for Sandia Peak and perhaps, an umbrella. And consider doing a trail hike in the area. As for the petroglyphs, a bathroom break before the trail, water and good hiking shoes are a must.

All in all, a fine day in Albuquerque!