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Cycling Albuquerque:
From Airport To Sandia Pk

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Airport To French Quarter

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Cycling Albuquerque: From Airport to Sandia Peak

The Albuquerque Skyline

Albuquerque, New Mexico is renowned for its pleasant year-round climate. Although located at about the same latitude as Las Vegas, Albuquerque's 5000' high altitude results in mild, dry days & cool nights, making it an enjoyable place to bicycle during any season. Breath taking scenery (the city hugs the western side of 10,400' high Sandia Peak), miles of paved, car-free bike trails (such as the Bosque along the Rio Grande River), genuine frontier appeal, a hip college vibe and great air connections all combine to make Albuquerque an excellent, affordable cycling destination.

Like New Orleans, Albuquerque is one of the few places where you can get off the plane, unfold your bike and start cycling right from the airport.

Cycling From The Airport
Closeup of Albuquerque trail mapFrom the terminal, head down Sunport Blvd. and make a left on University Blvd. From there, a bike lane runs south (see the blue line on University Blvd. on Albuquerque's bicycle trail/route map). The lane only goes a few miles but there is very little traffic so the rest of the road is fairly safe to ride on. After University Blvd. passes below I-25, it becomes Rio Bravo Blvd. Continue west on Rio Bravo until the intersection of Broadway Blvd., then begin looking for the Rio Bravo Trail on your left.

Rio Bravo Trail
The Rio Bravo is a loop trail and is less scenic than other trails like the Bosque. My suggestion is to continue west on the Rio Bravo Trail and use it as a connector to the Bosque Trail. When the Rio Bravo meets the Bosque, turn right and you will be heading north along Albuquerque's most popular trail.

Bosque Trail
The Bosque Trail is the backbone of the Albuquerque's bicycle trail system. Almost completely flat and requiring very little street riding, this recreational trail along the Rio Grande offers tranquil riding in urban and semi-urban environments. In the desert southwest, flowing waterways such as the Rio Grande are a treasure, fostering forests of tall Cottonwoods and sustenance for wildlife such as lizards, roadrunners and even pheasants. The Bosque allows riders to experience & enjoy this environment.

Route 66 signRoute 66 & Old Town
Ride the Bosque about 5 1/2 miles north and the trail intersects with one of the best preserved segments of Route 66, one of the world's most storied highways. The Bosque passes beneath Route 66 (known locally as Central Ave.) so cyclists can ride unimpeded; however, this junction marks the southwest corner of Albuquerque's historic heart, Old Town. Attractions such as the original Central Plaza, San Felipe de Neri church, centuries old adobe buildings, art galleries, cafes, the Albuquerque Aquarium, the Botanical Garden, NM Natural History/Science Museum, the Children's Museum and more are all just a few short blocks away; therefore, cycling tourists will want to leave the trail here to site see at the very least.

Two kilometers (1.3 miles) east of Old Town's Central Plaza is Civic Plaza and Downtown (New Mexico's governmental hub and Albuquerque's main business district). Throughout the year, a variety of events are held at Civic Plaza; most notable is Summerfest, a celebration of New Mexico's ethnic cultures held in June & July. The Convention Center, Kimo Theater and luxury hotels are located in this area. Frequent stoplights regulate traffic so you could bicycle eastward into Downtown along Route 66 or follow the bike route on Grand Ave., a parallel side street.

Rio Grande Nature Center, Tranquil B&B Lodging
When your visit to Downtown is concluded, follow the Grand Ave. bike route back to Old Town. Turn right (north) onto 7th St and follow the bike route about a mile. Turn left (west) onto Mountain Road; cycle @ 2 miles then turn right (north) onto Rio Grande Blvd. & follow the bike lane north through quiet, pleasant neighborhoods (several tranquil bed and breakfasts are in this area). At Candelaria Rd, turn left (west). Ride half a mile and you'll reach the Bosque Trail and the Rio Grande Nature Center, an outdoor museum about the Rio Grande ecosystem with pleasant views of wetlands & wildlife.

Paseo del Norte Trail
Leaving the Nature Center, ride another 5 miles north until the Bosque Trail intersects with the Paseo del Norte Trail. Turn right onto the Paseo del Norte and this will take you east away from the Rio Grande into Albuquerque's Northeast Quadrant & towards the mountains. After Edith Blvd. (1.5 miles along), the trail climbs noticeably. If you are not acclimated to the altitude (Albuquerque's similar to Denver at about a mile high), you'll probably want to take this section more slowly.

Albuquerque's Northeast Quadrant abuts the base of the Sandia Mountains. Running east from the Rio Grande to the Sandia Peak Aerial Tram, this is the largest area both geographically and by population. The University of New Mexico, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, the Uptown area (including both Coronado and Winrock malls), Journal Center, Balloon Fiesta Park, Albuquerque Academy and some of the most affluent regions of the city are located here.

Journal Center & the University of New Mexico
Two miles into the Paseo del Norte, the trail makes a 90 degree turn south and becomes the Diversion Channel Trail. At this point, you can exit the trail and make a short connection to Jefferson St. and the Journal Center, one of Albuquerque's business, retail and lodging areas. The Diversion Channel continues straight south and is not very scenic but it is a major connector to a variety of other bike trails, routes and lanes. After crossing beneath I-25, the trail forks. The right fork leads south to the University of New Mexico where you can hang out with about 25k students on the 600 acre campus on old Route 66. The left fork leads up the Paseo del Nordeste Trail. Either way, you can connect via bike lanes and routes to the car free Paseo de las Montanas Trail and eventually to the Tramway Trail.

Sandia Peak
Just minutes from the heart of Albuquerque is the world's longest aerial tramway. If you like mountain biking, the Sandia Peak Tramway is an effortless and breathtaking way to reach the top of Sandia Peak. Even in the dead of summer when Albuquerque is warm, Sandia Mountain is cool and inviting. The Peak offers 30 miles of ultimate downhill and even has a full service bike shop with rental bikes.

Whether you spend a day or a week exploring Albuquerque's many, crisscrossing bike trails, routes and lanes, cycling here certainly ranks among the world's Great City Rides.

Helpful, Local Cycling Links:
Interactive Bike Trail Map
Biking in Albuquerque
New Mexico Touring Society
New Mexico Cycling

Special thanks to Brian Fletcher for his Albuquerque cycling blog and his help writing this profile.

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