The state of New Mexico is favoured for its dramatic landscapes, ranging from barren drylands to mountain ranges. Amidst all this natural beauty lies Albuquerque, the largest city in the state and an excellent vantage point to delve into the scenery.

    Spread across the city, there are heaps of spots to enjoy views of Albuquerque and the brilliant nature that encircles the city. You can explore all of the locations for free, making them an affordable way to soak up the stunning views and atmosphere. Check out our list of viewpoints in Albuquerque offering sunsets and scenic panoramas that take your breath away.

    1

    West Bluff Park

    Overlook the entire city at sunrise

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    West Bluff Park, located on an elevated plateau at the banks of the iconic Rio Grande river,  gives you a total overview over the area. This recreational space overlooks the Rio Grande, downtown Albuquerque, and the Manzano Mountains in the distance. If you don’t mind waking up early, this is also one of the best places to see the sunrise over the city. 

    West Bluff Park has plenty of benches, so you can soak up the epic scenery in the most relaxing way possible. The best way to reach West Bluff Park is by parking your vehicle in El Aguila Pl and continue by foot from there.

    Location: 2408 Alamogordo Dr NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10 pm

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    2

    Bernardo Waterfowl Management Area

    Watch thousands of birds in this nature reserve

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    The Bernardo Waterfowl Management Area is distinctive for its bird population while most of the viewpoints in and around Albuquerque revolve around the dramatic mountains and broad valleys. In the puddles of this reserve, you can observe countless geese and sandhill cranes. You can follow a 4.5-km loop trail with viewing and photography points.

    It’s best to be here for sunrise when the fog above the puddles is visible. You can see the sun shining through the reed and massive groups of birds arriving from their sleeping grounds. Sunset at Bernardo Waterfowl Management Area is an equally fantastic moment when the birds depart in groups of thousands.

    Location: 164 NM-116, Bosque, NM 87006, USA

    Open: 24/7

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    photo by John Fowler (CC BY 2.0) modified

    3

    Bosque Peak

    Climb high up to witness epic scenery

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    Bosque Peak is part of the Manzano Mountains, a stretch of summits located east of Albuquerque. As one of the most significant crowning points of this mountain range, it towers 2,929 metres above sea level. From the top, you’ll have a stunning overview of the Manzano Mountains, along with pine forests and the red sands of the valley.

    To get to this fantastic area in the clouds, follow the 3-km-long trail that starts from a parking area along the Torreen Tajique Loop Road. While hiking up, look out for deer, raccoon, or even the occasional bobcat.

    Location: Bosque Peak, New Mexico 87031, USA

    Open: 24/7

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    photo by Mark Tyra (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Elena Gallegos Open Space

    Unwind in an enchanting environment

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    Elena Gallegos Open Space is an easy-to-access recreation space located just on the eastern edge of Albuquerque. A highlight here is the glimpse of the Manzano Mountains and the rocky outcrops on the slopes. You can get even closer to the mountain giants by following the Pino Trail, a tramp that starts from this open space.

    While Elena Gallegos Open Space is a fantastic a viewing point of the surrounding mountains, it’s also a wonderful place to revel in a picnic with family or undertake a thrilling mountain bike ride on one of the marked trails. If you and your partner are planning to tie the knot, this scenic spot is an official wedding venue as well.

    Location: 7100 Tramway Boulevard Northeast, Albuquerque, NM 87122, USA

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 9 pm

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    photo by City of Albuquerque Open Space (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    Sandia Crest

    Tackle the La Luz Trail for stunning scenery

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    Sandia Crest truly is a superb viewpoint, thanks to its excellent perspectives of rugged peaks, a seemingly endless valley in the deep, and wildlife encounters. To get here, hike on the 13-km-long La Luz Trail, or simply drive to the parking area along the Sandia Crest Scenic Highway. Right next to the peak, is a cafe and a gift shop. 

    When you opt for the trail, you’ll meander through dense forests, with opportunities to spot deer. Keep in mind that ascending Sandia Crest is one of the most challenging endeavours in and around Albuquerque, as the peak has an elevation of 3,255 metres.

    Location: 701 Sandia Crest Rd., Sandia Park, NM 87047, USA

    Open: 24/7

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    6

    Tingley Beach

    Relax in the park with family or friends

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    Tingley Beach consists of a boardwalk and park that encircle a small lake on the western edge of downtown Albuquerque. Tingley Beach is loved by locals as a place to unwind, and for good reasons; you can go here for a picnic, watch the aquatic birds drifting in the lake, or enjoy fishing. Besides the fun activities one can relish here, the scenery itself is alluring. From one of the many seats installed in the park, you can see the sun and trees reflecting in the calm water.

    Tingley Beach is wheelchair accessible, and pets are welcome. For an in-between refreshment, head for the Tingley Beach Cafe, situated on the shore of the lake.

    Location: Albuquerque, NM 87104, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 7.30 pm

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    photo by gardener41 (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    7

    Black Volcano

    Discover Albuquerque’s volcanic landscapes

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    Black Volcano lies within a large area of volcanic cones and sediment around 20 km west of Albuquerque. You can reach this unique landscape via a trail that starts from the Volcanoes Day Use Parking area.  

    As you walk around the base of the Black Volcano itself, you’ll meander through dry grass fields. Although you can’t go up to the summit of this extinct volcano, the views over the rugged terrain of the Petroglyph National Monument are still unspoilt. Basalt rocks, expansive fields, and more cones appear on the horizon and make for spectacular backdrops.

    Location: Albuquerque, NM 87120, USA

    Open: 24/7

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    8

    Abo Ruins Salinas National Monument

    Visit the ancient ruins of a Pueblo people’s settlement

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    The Abo Ruins once was a community where the native Pueblo people lived, but nowadays Abo instead consists of abandoned remnants. Still, it’s a fantastic place to roam around and grasp the atmosphere of this ancient site. From the ruins, you get an overview of the encompassing bushland and the southern tip of the Manzano Mountain.  

    Abo Ruins Salinas National Monument lies directly next to road B005, and there’s a designated parking place as well, which makes this an easy stop during a road trip through the region. There are no food stops available, but the trees for cover and peaceful surroundings are enticing enough to bring your own pre-packed meal.

    Location: 105 S Ripley Ave, Mountainair, NM 87036, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

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    9

    Rinconada Canyon Trail

    See the most barren landscapes by foot

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    Being part of the Petroglyph National Monument, this walking trail is worth tackling for several reasons. Not only has this area volcanic rocks with ancient carvings, but it also offers world-class views of the beautiful desert-like landscapes in this part of New Mexico.

    Rinconada Canyon Trail is a loop track that stretches for 3.5 km. Along the way, you’ll have a view of the volcanic cones in the valley, lava fields, and in the springtime vibrant flower fields that stretch until the horizon. Dogs are allowed on this trail, but keep in mind that they need to be on the leash.

    Location: 7601 St Josephs Ave, Albuquerque, NM 87120, USA

    Open: Daily from sunrise to sunset

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    photo by Daniel Hartwig (CC BY 2.0) modified

    10

    Ellie’s Peak

    Undertake a hike for stunning vistas

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    Ellie’s Peak rewards those who conquer this mountain with the beautiful view that few vistas in the region can beat. The valley with its flower fields and some of New Mexico’s highest mountain peaks can be spotted from this summit, that’s dotted with massive boulders. 

    To reach the pinnacle, follow the Primitive Trail Loop, a part of the Trail 365. This 8.4-km-long trail is very popular, especially during the weekends, so try to tackle Ellie’s Peak on a weekday. Hiking here in March or April is ultimately rewarding, as the desert flowers are in full bloom. Make sure to wear proper hiking shoes, as the trail is covered with rocks and scrambling is sometimes required.

    Location: Cedar Crest, NM 87008, USA

    Open: 24/7

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    Huub Lakerveld | Contributing Writer

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