Hidden away in the wilderness of the Sandia Mountains, this breathtaking motorcycle route runs from Albuquerque to Sandia Crest, New Mexico. The ride will treat you to a hair-raising succession of tight twists, scenic views, and more.
About the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway
The Sandia Crest Scenic Byway is a stretch of road on the eastern slopes of the Sandia Mountains northeast of Albuquerque. After a succession of 21 hairpin turns through the heart of Cibola National Forest, the 13.6-mile byway ends at an overlook near the mountain summit. From there, you can enjoy spectacular views of Albuquerque and Tijeras.
The route is paved and open year-round, but you should ride carefully. Expect a lot of downshifting as you make your way back down the 180-degree turns. Passing showers are common, so don’t forget to pack rain gear.
Directions from Albuquerque to Sandia Crest, New Mexico
Start your ride on Old Route 66 in Albuquerque. You’ll begin to ascend when you reach the Turquoise Trail, gaining a whopping 4,500 feet in elevation by the time you arrive at the crest. You’ll pass the Sandia Peak Ski Area on your way to the summit. The round trip is 62 miles and should take about two hours without stopping.
What to Do on the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway
Here are some of the features that make the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway motorcycle rides one of the best in New Mexico.
If you need a snack, you can grab a bite at any of the local restaurants along the byway.
The crest overlook gives an amazing view of Tijeras and Albuquerque. Enjoy the city lights if you arrive after dark. During the day, bring your binoculars or use the on-site telescopes for some birdwatching. If you’re lucky, you may spot some of the golden eagles that roost in the area. Note that it costs $3 to park at the overlook.
The Sandia Crest Scenic Byway offers easy access to several hiking trails and overlooks. Leave your motorcycle at one of the pullouts and parking areas, and hit the trails to explore the wilderness and enjoy the famous native wildflowers.
The western slope of the Sandia Mountains is a designated wilderness, and Cibola National Forest covers most of the area. The mountains are home to several big mammals, including black bears, mule deer, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, so make sure you know how to handle unexpected encounters.
Near the summit and just south of the overlook, you’ll find the upper terminus of the 2.7-mile-long Sandia Peak Tramway (the world’s longest). It starts at the eastern suburbs of Albuquerque and gains over a mile in elevation before reaching Sandia Crest at 10,678 feet above sea level. The views along the ride are spectacular, so consider parking your bike at the crest overlook and hopping on the tram for a stress-free round trip.
Museums and Exhibitions
On your way to the crest, stop to marvel at the woodworking exhibition at Ross Ward’s Tinkertown.
At the lower end of the byway, you can visit the Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture in Cedar Crest. The museum hosts archaeological finds from the Sandia Cave and a rich collection of Native American artifacts, some dating back 12,000 years. You can also learn about local turquoise mining.
Had a Motorcycle Accident? Call Law Tigers
The road from Albuquerque to Sandia Crest, New Mexico, is well maintained, but accidents can happen. If you have an accident, call us at (888) 863-7216. Law Tigers will refer you to an experienced New Mexico motorcycle lawyer near you. They will review your case and advise whether you can seek compensation.