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Albuquerque and New Mexico

"I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had." - D.H. Lawrence

High Tech Outdoors Culture Albuquerque New Mexico Events

High Tech

  • Wired Magazine has listed Albuquerque as one of 46 leading world-wide high-tech hot spots. Santa Fe also made the list.
    "New Mexico boasts more PhDs per capita than any other state in the US, many drawn to Albuquerque by the variety of research facilities within a 20-minute drive of the city. (Others head 60 miles northeast to Santa Fe - see page 268.) Sandia National Laboratories is best known for engineering design work in the nuclear weapons industry; the Air Force Phillips Laboratory specializes in lasers and space and missile technology. Local talent has been able to turn high-level research into commercially viable products; perceptual computing software maker Muse Technologies and compound semiconductor developer Emcore were spun out of Sandia. The area is also home to one of the world's largest chip fabs, owned by Intel and lured here in the '80s in the wake of federal defense spending cutbacks. Research into nanomachines and data visualization holds promise, and new work in photonics at Sandia may lead to the next revolution: computing at the speed of light."
  • A Milken's Institute Study ranks Albuquerque number one in high-tech growth.
    "A recent national study published by the Milken Institute found that the fast-growing high-tech sector was "increasingly determining which metropolitan areas are succeeding and which are failing." By this measure, Albuquerque can be listed among those that are succeeding. In the Milken analysis, high-tech activity could explain 65 percent of the difference in economic growth among various metropolitan regions during the 1990s. And it found that "research centers and institutions are undisputedly the most important factors in incubating high-tech industries." The institutions provide local companies streams of cutting-edge knowledge, as well as streams of smart labor. New Mexico is, of course, the home of two national laboratories, Sandia and Los Alamos, and Kirtland Air Force Base houses the Air Force Research Laboratory, Phillips site. The University of New Mexico is one of the country's premier research institutions. In Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Institute is a hotbed for scientists and other deep thinkers."
  • The popular book The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life by Richard Florida ranks Albuquerque first among medium-sized cities in "creativity". Rankings were done according to a "creativity" index which is a combination of: patents per capita, social and ethnic diversity, and number of workers in "creative" jobs (e.g. scientists, engineers, writers, artists). The book argues that the key to economic growth for cities in the new economy lies in their ability to attract and maintain a "creative class". (Santa Fe was also ranked first among small-sized cities.)
  • Career Center for CS Grads
  • New Mexico Site Search

Outdoor Recreation

"It is all very beautiful and magical here, a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake you into it. The skies and the land are so enormous, and the details so precise and exquisite that wherever you go you are isolated in the world between the micro and the macro, where everything segues under you and over you and the clock stopped long ago." - Ansel Adams

"My only regret about dying is not being able to see this beautiful country anymore, unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here long after I am gone" - Georgia O'Keefe

Year-round good weather and easy access to the outdoors (the Sandia mountain wilderness is 20 minutes from UNM) make Albuquerque an incredible area for outdoor enthusiasts. New Mexico has a great diversity in landscapes and wildlife, containing six of the seven "Life Zones" on Earth. The Sandia Mountains, for example, contain arid, rocky areas, high alpine meadows (with lots of wildflowers in the spring and summers), and forests of aspen and oak.

New Mexico also has many attractions you can only find in the area including: slot canyons, other-worldly rock formations, Anasazi ruins, and plunging river gorges. Given this, it's not surprising that Outside Magazine, has its headquarters in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Popular outdoor activities around Albuquerque include:
  • Hiking and Mountaineering: New Mexico Mountain Club, based in Albuquerque, is very active, sponsoring a variety of technical climbing activities along with hiking, skiing and snowshoeing activities. There is also a Rio Grande Sierra Club which organizes hikes and is active in protecting wilderness in NM. See also the the book "100 Hikes in New Mexico" by Craig Martin and the web page Explore New Mexico.
  • Downhill Skiing: Skiing is good at Sandia peak, great at Santa Fe, and amazing at Taos (chosen as one of the top 10 resorts in North America by Skiing Magazine). There are also several great "undiscovered", family-friendly ski resorts. Sipapu, nestled in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, about two hours from Albuquerque, is one of the nicest of these. Ruidoso, about two hours southeast of Albuquerque, and Red River about 3 hours north of Albuquerque is another. See also the comprehensive web site Ski New Mexico
  • Cross Country Skiing: New Mexico Cross Country Ski Club has headquarters in Albuquerque. Also check out the book "Cross Country Skiing in Northern New Mexico"
  • Rock climbing: World-class sites are within a short drive of Albuquerque. Bernard Moret has online guides to Palomas Peak and U-Mound Bouldering and some pictures. If you want to take a class, check out Stone Age Climbing Gym. Also check out the book "Hikers and Climbers Guide to the Sandias" by Mike Hill.
  • Mountain Biking: There are many scenic and challenging mountain biking trails very close to UNM. It's possible to bike from the University area to the Sandia foothills, bike on the foothill trails for a hour or two, and get back to UNM in time for an 11 o'clock class. Sandia peak ski area rents bikes and hosts races during the summer season (you can take a lift up the peak and then bike down). The store Two-wheel Drive lists trails and events in the area. Also check out the book "Mountain Biking in Albuquerque" by Nicole Blouin for trails along the Rio Grande and in the Sandias.
  • Cycling: New Mexico Touring Society is a bicycling club of recreational riders based in Albuquerque. GASP is an Albuquerque-based advocacy group for bicycle transportation. Critical Mass rides also occur here. See also the Albuquerque city page on cycling and the UNM page
  • Rafting and Kayaking: This page gives information on rafting and kayaking in New Mexico, which ranges from challenging to pretty mellow. Adobe Whitewater Club is an Albuquerque-based organization dedicated to kayaking and canoeing.
  • Caving: Sandia Grotto is an Albuquerque-based organization for exploring the many caves of New Mexico.


"Every calculation based on experience elsewhere fails in New Mexico" - Lew Wallace, Governor of Territorial New Mexico, 1878-1881


Event Listings

  • For the section on event listings, click here

Museums, Galleries, and Art Venues




The music scene in Albuquerque is very eclectic, encompassing pop (the Shins), ska (Giant Steps), jazz, goth, alternative and classical. Some major links:


  • The Southwest Film Center on the UNM campus shows a great selection of alternative movies, short film festivals and student movies. Admission is $3 for students so you've got no excuse not to go. (phone is 277-5608)
  • The Guild (address: 3405 Central NE , phone: 255-1848) is a great art house cinema. They usually show only one or two independent films at a time but their taste is impeccable.
  • Century 14 Downtown is a great place to see more mainstream movies
  • Flicks on 66. Premiere magazine called this "the strangest little film festival in the world". Aspiring filmakers are given one digital camera and seven days to create a short film on any topic. These films are then screened on the Eighth day at the 66 premier night (in mid July).




Albuquerque, with a population of about 500,000 contains about 1/3 the population of New Mexico. The two greatest strengths of the city are its diversity and its proximity to the great outdoors. Albuquerque is ethnically, culturally and economically diverse and the cost of living is low enough to support a surprisingly large population of artists and writers. The city has a certain funkiness and authenticity that you won't find in most other cities of its size.

Albuquerque also borders the Sandia Mountain Wilderness, the Rio Grande (which has a 20 mile bike path through the forest of cottonwood trees that borders it), and the Petroglyph National Monument. All of these areas are within a 20 minute drive of UNM.

General Links


  • Bike Map of the city. The city of Albuquerque has started spending 1 million dollars a year to build and maintain bike trails and bike lanes. If we use these new trails for transit and advocate for more spending, this amount will increase. Call 768-BIKE for a free laminated bike map.
  • Here is info on bus route maps, schedules and transit planning info. All busses are equipped with bike racks.
  • Motorcycling is also a popular, fun, alternative way to travel in the southwest. Southwest bike is a popular magazine and Easy Riders is a popular store and repair shop.
  • Amtrak has a train station in downtown Albuquerque. There is a sightseer lounge and Native American tour guide for the trip between Albuquerque and Gallup. Service extends to all major east and west coast cities.

Shopping and Commerce


Community Activism

"In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to the new." - D. H. Lawrence

Urban Planning:

  • Rio Grande Sierra Club A great organization for exploring the natural beauty of New Mexico. Also active in combating urban sprawl.
  • 1000 Friends of New Mexico Education and advocacy group for growth management in New Mexico.
  • Sage Council Grassroots organization advocating for growth management in New Mexico.
  • Downtown Revitalization Although some of the projects planned in this article have already come to fruition, the article still gives a good overview of the long-range plans and goals for a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown Albuquerque.


  • NM Wilderness Alliance Excellent group devoted to wilderness protection in New Mexico.
  • NM Rails Community based action group to bring rail service back to New Mexico


New Mexico

"On the license plates in New Mexico it reads: "The Land of Enchantment". And that it is, by God ... Everything is hypnagogic, chthonian, and super-celestial. Here Nature has gone Gaga and Dada." - Henry Miller

Useful Links


  • Turqoise Trail - national scenic byway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe
  • Ojito Wilderness Study Area "Imagine a place where goblin shaped hoodoos sit side by side with three hundred year old Ponderosa pine trees. A place where ancient Pueblo ruins hide in the rough geography and dinosaur fossils and petrified wood sometimes reveal themselves to the watchful eye. Now imagine that this place also boasts rare plants that haven't even been described by science, unique horizontal petroglyph panels, stunning redrock mesas, multi-colored badlands, and wildlife as diverse as golden eagles, porcupines, and mountain lions. If you are willing to go hiking in the proposed Ojito Wilderness, you won't need to imagine such a place. It will be burned into your memory forever."
  • Santa Fe - voted second favorite arts destination in the U.S. after New York City in a poll by "AmericanStyle" magazine. (Recently Albuquerque has also made the top 20 list)
  • 10,000 Waves in Santa Fe is an authentic Japanese-style onsen (hotsprings resort). They offer hot tubs, massage, facials, spa treatments, Watsu aquatic massage, Japanese hot stone massage, Thai massage, Anma Hand & Foot, Yasuragi Hair & Scalp, and Four Hands, One Heart. This is a great place to go after a day of skiing, snowshoeing or hiking at Ski Santa Fe (it's right off the road back into town).
  • Taos - a city with breathtaking natural beauty. Nearby Taos Pueblo has been continuously inhabited for about a thousand years.
  • Madrid, NM - an old ghost mining town between Albuquerque and Santa Fe which is currently undergoing a revitalization
  • Gallup, NM is 2 hrs east of Albuquerque. It's location between the Zuni and Navajo reservations makes it one of the most authentic centers for Indian arts and crafts. Also has a great historic downtown and lots of outdoor activities. For info on outdoor adventures, check out the book, "The Gallup Guide: Outdoor Routes in Red Rock Country", which you can buy at "Coyote Books and Scoreboard" in downtown Gallup.
  • El Morro National Monument or Inscription Rock is 2 hrs east of Albuquerque. This rock has a watering hole at its base which made it an important stopping point for early travelers. Countless Native Americans, Spanish conquistadors, and wester settlers all left records of their travels carved into the rock.
    "Here was the General Don Diego de Vargas, who conquered for our Holy Faith and for the Royal Crown all of New Mexico at his own expense, year of 1692."
  • Las Vegas, NM Quaint town with many old victorian houses and hotels and a great plaza
  • Acoma Pueblo - the oldest inhabited city in the United States - located on top of a spectacular mesa
  • Jemez is a beautiful town with some great hiking and hotsprings. There are some hotsprings you can find out in the woods and there's also a great bathhouse
  • Corrales is an old farming community just on the edge of Albuquerque
  • Quarai is a huge, beautiful Spanish church and mission dating back to the 1600's (~1 hour drive from Albuquerque).
    "An edifice in ruins it is true, but so tall, so solemn, so dominant of that strange, lonely landscape, so out of place in that land of adobe huts, as to be simply overpowering. On the Rhine, it would be a superlative, in the wilderness of the Manzano it is a miracle" - Charles Lummis's comments on Quarai, 1893
  • Gran Quivira is another Spanish mission also dating from the 1600's. The main church there was never completed.
  • Very Large Array Telescope
  • The Lightning Field near Quemada, New Mexico. (Description here)
  • Los Ojos is an ancient Hispanic town in beautiful Northern New Mexico that is now the home of a sheep raising and knitting cooperative. There is a also a quaint general store, coffee house and bed and breakfast.
  • Gila National Forest in Southwestern New Mexico is one of the first wilderness areas established in the world. This is a very large, beautiful and remote wilderness. Make sure you watch your gas gauge carefully when driving in the area as towns are few and far between. While there, make sure you do the Catwalk trail.
  • Silver City is a great little town near the Gila Forest with many historic shops and hotels.
  • Ruidoso - home of Billy the Kid
  • Flagstaff, AZ , gateway to the Grand Canyon is about 6 hours from Alb. by train.
  • The Grand Canyon - what more can be said about it? To get there, you can take Amtrak from downtown Albuquerque to downtown Flagstaff and then take a bus from Flagstaff. Driving directly takes about 7 hours.
  • Best of the West lists attractions throughout the west. Many of these are less than a day's drive from Albuquerque.


"There is something in the air of New Mexico that makes the blood red, the heart beat high and the eyes to turn upward. People don't come here to die - they come here to live and they get what they come for." - Francis Aubrey, a famous traveler on the Santa Fe trail

Events around Albuquerque

Events around New Mexico

This section lists selected events for each season in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Many of these events are also found in the book "City Smart Guide to Albuquerque" by Brendan Doherty. All phone numbers are for area code 505. To find events for a particular date, first try these links:

Event Calendars

Selected Events

  • Flamenco Festival Internationale Since 1984, the National Institute of Flamenco has presented this annual festival of flamenco music and dance which is the largest of its kind in the U.S. The festival occurs in mid June.
  • Every Thursday from June to August is Summer Music Nights in the Albuquerque Biopark
  • Shakespeare in Santa Fe is New Mexico's oldest professional theatre company. Every summer they perform in the beautiful outdoor setting of St. Johns College.
  • The New Mexico State Fair takes place in Albuquerque in early September. This is surprisingly fun.
  • Burning of Zozobra occurs on the weekend following labor day in Santa Fe. The general fiesta event on this day dates back to 1712 but the burning of Zozobra started in 1926.
    "Zozobra is a hideous but harmless fifty-foot bogeyman marionette. He is a toothless, empty-headed facade. He has no guts and doesn't have a leg to stand on. He is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. He never wins. He moans and groans, rolls his eyes and twists his head. His mouth gapes and chomps. His arms flail about in frustration. Every year we do him in. We string him up and burn him down in ablaze of fireworks. At last, he is gone, taking with him all our troubles for another whole year. Santa Fe celebrates another victory. Viva la Fiesta!" - A.W. Denninger
  • Balloon Fiesta Annual ascension of thousands of hot air balloons on the outskirts of Albuquerque, occuring in late October. This is an ongoing event since 1971 and is the largest mass ascension of hot air balloons in the U.S.
  • Every Sunday in May is Arts in the Park (call 768-3483 for details)
  • Spring is the time to view wildflowers in the alpine meadows on the peak of the Sandias (Bring a windbreaker).
  • Spring is also the main season for city-sponsored music and art events.
  • Gathering of Nations Powow takes place in mid-April at "The Pit" at UNM

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