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Sandia Crest Byway

13.6 miles (21 km)
1 hour to drive the byway
Fees for skiing


Sandia Crest Byway is the highest scenic drive in the southwest, following NM 536 for nearly 14 miles up to Sandia Crest, which stands a mile above the surrounding countryside and two miles above sea level. The craggy, asperous western face of the Sandia Mountains contrasts the forested eastern slopes that you'll follow up to Sandia Crest. Beginning your journey, stop at two museums; as you proceed up the route, take in the rugged recreation and wonderment of this central New Mexico region.

At the beginning of the route in Cedar Crest, stop and visit the Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture. The museum features a variety of archaeological and historical exhibits that cover over 12,000 years of Native American history. One computer-enhanced exhibit explores the Sandia Cave and local turquoise mining. From there, head west along the byway and visit Tinkertown. In contrast to the Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture, Tinkertown is an eccentric, fanciful place. The museum represents one man's work of 40 years to create this curious 22-room museum. Over 50,000 glass bottles form the outside walls, and antiques, hand-carved pieces, and figurines arranged in miniature scenes fill the inside rooms.

Every inch of the byway lies within the borders of Cibola National Forest, which holds its own in offering recreation and wildlife viewing. Miles of trails provide biking and hiking in warm weather and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in colder months. The Sandia Mountains reside within the forest, and mountain wildlife such as Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, deer, black bears, and golden eagles can all be seen here.

Sandia Peak Ski and Tramway are on the last leg of the route. Take the Sandia Park Tramway to see for yourself the 11,000 square mile panoramic view of New Mexico. Stretching 2.7 miles, the Sandia Park Tramway is the world's longest tramway, and it hovers over New Mexico's desert canyons and forests until it reaches the peak. Once you reach the top, you'll be at the Sandia Peak Ski Area. In the winter, 30 trails wander through this New Mexico mountain. In the summer, mountain biking is a must; the mountain trails cover 24 miles of variation for both novices and pros. Sandia Peak offers the ultimate downhill experience, whether you ski or bike down its slopes. From Sandia Peak Ski and Tramway, travel to the end of the byway, where Sandia Crest awaits you. Standing at 10,678 feet, the view from the highest point on this route is unsuppressed and scopious.

Drive the Sandia Crest Byway up the eastern slopes of the Sandia Mountains through Cibola National Forest to Sandia Crest. Stop at local museums, then enjoy forest recreation and a truly panoramic view of Cibola National Forest from Sandia Crest's peak.

Points of Interest

Points of Interest Along The Way

Cibola National Forest (NM)

Occupying three states and claiming four wildernesses, the Cibola National Forest provides endless recreational opportunities to visitors during all seasons.

Sandia Crest (NM)

The view from the Sandia Crest, the "Highest Point on the Turquoise Trail," is awe-inspiring.

Sandia Peak Tramway (NM)

Experience the drama of an 11,000 square mile panoramic view of New Mexico from the World's Longest Tramway (2.7 miles). From the base to the top of 10,378 foot Sandia Peak, time and terrain seem to move in harmony as passengers lift from the desert floor, abovecanyons and lush forests, to the mountain top - 2.7 miles of sky-view travel and discovery of New Mexico's varied landscape andlife zones.

If winter blues have got you wanting to hit the slopes,experience some of the longest cruising terrain available in New Mexico. Sandia Peak Ski Area offers 30 trails serviced by four chairlifts, a surface lift and children's mitey mite.

Perhaps summer mountain biking is more to your liking? Take the scenic summer chairlift up Sandia Peak for the ultimate downhill. Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway offers complete mountain bike rentals and the perfect outdoor setting for family reunions, club gatherings and company picnics.

Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway's 24 miles of mountain trails offer scenic adventures for the novice or the pro. Bike Sandia weekends and holidays, Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The Museum of Archaeology & Material Culture (NM)

The Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture was conceived in 1986 when the present director and founder, Bradley F. Bowman, became aware that many important issues dealing with our past weren't being addressed, by museums, in a way in which the general public could benefit. The past belongs to everyone and an understanding of the past has beneficial implications that, used as a guide in decision-making, could result in a better future for everyone. The Museum became a reality in 1995 when the collections found a home in Cedar Crest, New Mexico, on the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway.

The Museum's permanent exhibits deal with the science ofArchaeology and History. A 12,000-year-plus Native Americantimeline is presented from a synthesized scientific and Native American point of view. A grant from the Federal Department of Transportation made possible a computer-enhanced exhibit housed at the Museum, which explores science conducted at Sandia Cave and turquoise mining in the local area. Other exhibits deal with scientific methodologies employed in archaeology. The Museum offers educational field schools to groups, of any age, and is active in New Mexico cultural resource preservation and archaeological research.


Located in the town of Cedar Crest.

Tinkertown Museum (NM)

It took one man 40 years to create the whimsical 22-room Tinkertown Museum. The outside of the museum was formed with over 50,000 glass bottles, and inside, magical carvings and figures are displayed in miniature scenes from a circus to Star Wars.

Antiques and hand-carved pieces line the museum walls- from Esmeralda the Fortune Teller who will tell your fortune for a quarter, to Otto the one-man-band, who will play a song for the same price.

Just 20 minutes north of Albuquerque, the museum attracts young and old.


13.6 miles (21 km)
1 hour to drive the byway
Main Roads:
NM-536 W
Fees for skiing

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