• Albuquerque, New Mexico: Sandia Peak Tramway

      High above the relatively flat landscape of Albuquerque and the desert around it, the Sandia Mountains offer, a peerless view of city, desert, and forests. It's a view, in fact, that Readers Digest named Best Bird's Eye View in its feature on the 100 Best Views. Since 1966, lucky visitors have had a convenient and enjoyable means to scale the mountains quickly, the Sandia Peak Tramway, which happens to be the longest aerial tramway in the world at 2.7 miles.

      Enter the tramcar and be transported up 3819 feet to a peak elevation of 10,378 feet, while being entertained and informed by a cordial tram guide. Chances are that during your ride you'll get a glimpse of some of the abundant wildlife such as raccoons, mule deer, bobcats and eagles.

      At the top, in addition to a breathtaking (literally, at this height) view of miles and miles of scenery, encompassing Albuquerque, the Cibola National Forest, and the Rio Grande Valley you'll have an opportunity to explore the pinnacle via some user-friendly hiking trails. During the winter, you can bring your skis along, or rent them right there, and ski down the other side of the mountain you've just ascended. During the summer, biking and running trails are open. There are even two fine restaurants at the top, waiting for you in the likely event that you work up an appetite.

      IF YOU GO: There is plenty of free parking. And there's a free New Mexico Skiing Museum at the entrance point of the tramway. Hiking trails on the peak are safe and mostly pretty easy to walk, but of course exercise all due caution, especially in winter. Be prepared for chilly temperatures on the peak, even in warm weather.

      WHEN TO VISIT: The tramway and peak offer incredible views any time of year, especially at sunset. (Note, however, that the tram may close during severe weather.) Open daily with shorter hours on Tuesday. Skiing season is roughly mid-December to mid-March.

      JURISDICTION: Sandia Peak Ski and Tram
      Last visit March 2010
      ADDRESS: 10 Tramway Loop NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122