Anchored by Albuquerque but defined by history, culture, land, and sky, Central New Mexico is truly the heart of the state.
Albuquerque is a modern city with its past close by and nature just around the corner. Here you’ll find ground-breaking research institutions like Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico, as well as plenty of quiet corners. Old Town Albuquerque is full of adobe buildings, restaurants, and galleries, and is home to the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and the Explora Science Center. Not far away is the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and ABQ BioPark Aquarium.
The venerable Rio Grande cuts the valley in half, and on the west side you’ll find Petroglyph National Monument, where short hikes lead to thousands of rock art panels. On the other side of town, the Sandia Crest rises thousands of feet above the valley floor – a scenic drive takes you up the mountain and so does the Sandia Peak Tramway. Up in the mountains you’ll find a starkly different environment from the deserts below – pine trees sway in the breeze, and skiing is available in the winter.
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No matter the time of year you’ll find great events going on in Albuquerque. The biggest of them all is held each year in October when hundreds of hot air balloons take to the sky at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. If you are in town in April make sure to visit the Gathering of the Nations Pow Wow – it’s open to the public and features music, dance, art, and great food.
Albuquerque knows how to party! One of the city’s best festivals is Albuquerque Hopfest, which is held each summer and celebrates some of the city’s best beer. The state celebrates its culture each September at the New Mexico State Fair – there’s tons to do and a lot of great food. For an only-in-Albuquerque event, head downtown for SOMOS ABQ, which showcases the city’s unique heritage and traditions – it takes place each year in mid-September.
On the edge of Albuquerque sits an area riddled with thousands of petroglyphs. Petroglyph National Monument, on West Mesa, protects rock art created by the area’s prehistoric inhabitants. Many images are recognizable as animals, people, and crosses, while others are more nebulous and complex, their meanings being only understood by the carver. The park is easy to visit – there are four major sites that visitors can access, including the Volcano Day Use trails.