Tag Archives: Sandias

A Walk Up to Sandia Crest

Recently I went to Sandia Crest with intrepid fellow explorer Bosque Bill to photograph hummingbirds and do a bit of hiking in the area. After Bill managed to drag me away from the hummingbirds, we went for a short hike in the Sandia Mountains.

Rufous and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

It was very difficult to tear myself away from watching the hummingbirds.

The walk is easy, and the trail is well-marked. Because of the drought conditions this year, there were many fewer wildflowers than we saw last year. However, we did see pretty purple Spreading Fleabane …

Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens)

Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens)

… and Indian Paintbrush.

Indian Paintbrush (Scrophulariaceae Castilleja)

Indian Paintbrush (Scrophulariaceae Castilleja)

The stunning view from Sandia Crest affords an 11,000 square mile panorama of the State of New Mexico.

View to the west from Sandia Crest, showing a partial view of Albuquerque, across the Rio Grande to Mount Taylor.

View to the west from Sandia Crest, showing a partial view of Albuquerque, across the Rio Grande to Mount Taylor.

View to the southwest across the city.

View to the southwest across the city.

View across the more gentle eastern slope to the plains to the east.

View across the more gentle eastern slope to the plains to the east.

View to the south along the Sandia and Manzano mountain ridges.

View to the south along the Sandia and Manzano mountain ridges.

Common Ravens flying overhead.

Common Ravens flying overhead.

Looking to the southeast we watched one of the Sandia Peak Tram cars ascend to the upper tram terminal. The Sandia Peak Tram is the third longest tram in the world, and the longest in the United States, rising from 6,559 feet at the base and traversing 2.7 miles to the 10,378 foot summit. Mid-span, the cables are 900 feet above the mountainside. At that point, if a passenger were to fall out of a tram car it would take the passenger eight seconds to hit the ground.

There is a restaurant at the top of the tram, and the upper terminal is at the top of the Sandia Peak Ski Area. Because the base of the tram is at the northeast edge of Albuquerque, it is possible to leave Albuquerque on the tram at 9:00 a.m. and arrive at the ski area fifteen minutes later. At the end of the day, you ride the chairlift to the top and then catch the tram for the ride back to Albuquerque.

Tram car, upper terminal and restaurant.

Tram car, upper terminal and restaurant.

Tram car, upper terminal and restaurant, a closer view.

Tram car, upper terminal and restaurant, a closer view.

The trail from the upper tram terminal to the Kiwanis Cabin first goes through the forest and then goes along the edge of the escarpment. The views from the trail are lovely.

A view of the hiking trail.

A view of the hiking trail.

The Sandia Mountains are a fault block range on the eastern edge of the Rio Grande Rift Valley. The Sandias were uplifted in the last 10 million years as part of the formation of the Rio Grande Rift. There is an impressive, moderately sheer drop of approximately 4000 feet on the east side of the Sandias. Climbing up the west side of the mountains, there is a gain in elevation from approximately 5,500 feet on Tramway Boulevard to 10,678 feet at the Sandia Crest rest. The Sandias encompass four different life zones because of the elevation change.

Trees at Sandia Crest, showing flagging from the strong winds.

Trees at Sandia Crest, showing flagging from the strong winds.

We walked up to Kiwanis Cabin, a rock structure built on the very edge of the crest by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. What you see in my photo is the third incarnation of the structure, as the first two were destroyed by fire and wind.

Kiwanis Cabin and intrepid explorer.

Kiwanis Cabin and intrepid explorer.

At one time there was another rock cabin at the base of the Sandias at the start of the La Luz Trail. It was an extremely popular party spot for local high school students, who would occasionally get into accidents when attempting to negotiate the winding road back to the city after a night of partying. I believe that the Rock House was demolished in the 1990’s, but a similar structure exists at another trail head in Elena Gallegos canyon.

On our way back from Kiwanis Cabin we again saw the lovely wildflowers in Kiwanis Meadow. I saw this beautiful Question Mark butterfly on some Spreading Fleabane.

Question Mark Butterfly on Spreading Fleabane.

Question Mark Butterfly on Spreading Fleabane.

Here is a closer look at the butterfly …

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

… and of the punctuation on its wings that gives the butterfly its name.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

Do you see the question mark?

The Crest Trail between the parking lot for the Sandia Crest House and the upper tram terminal is an easy hike with spectacular views. To find out more about this hike, you might enjoy this website. You might also keep in mind that a hike at 10,000 feet can be strenuous for people who are used to sea level elevation.

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A Trip to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

In early December last year Bosque Bill and I went to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico’s newest national monument. Because of my work and travel schedule I never managed to put a blog post together on the trip. Kasha-Katuwe is a fascinating geological landscape of wind erosion, water erosion and hoodoos. The area’s striking geology is the result of layers of volcanic rock and ash deposited by a volcanic explosion. Over time, weathering and erosion of these layers created canyons and tent rocks, or hoodoos. The tent rocks themselves are cones of soft pumice and tuff beneath harder caprocks.

The day was fairly overcast, but I did get some photographs to share.

Cliffs near the entrance to Kasha-Katuwe

Cliffs near the entrance to Kasha-Katuwe

You can see the Sandia Mountains from the foot of the trail.

You can see the Sandia Mountains from the foot of the trail.

Starting up the trail at Kasha-Katuwe National Monument, New Mexico.

We got closer to the hoodoo formations as we started up the trail.

Large hoodoo at Kasha-Katuwe National Monument, New Mexico.

This large hoodoo was really impressive.

Sedimentary rock layers showing  volcanic tuff and rhyolite.

Sedimentary rock layers showing volcanic tuff and rhyolite.

Starting up the trail.

Starting up the trail.

Close view of tree roots showing water erosion from periodic flooding through the canyon.

Close view of tree roots showing water erosion from periodic flooding through the canyon.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Starting up the slot canyon trail.

Starting up the slot canyon trail.

Continuing up the slot canyon trail.

Continuing up the slot canyon trail.

Looking up from the slot canyon trail.

Looking up from the slot canyon trail.

Looking up a little farther along the slot canyon trail.

Looking up a little farther along the slot canyon trail.

A beautiful swirl in the rock.

A beautiful swirl in the rock.

Emerging from the slot canyon.

Emerging from the slot canyon.

Manzanita shrub, a closer view.

Manzanita shrub, a closer view.

A view up the cliffs.

A view up the cliffs.

Close view of a hoodoo.

Close view of a hoodoo.

Going back down the trail, a view of the slot canyon from above.

Going back down the trail, a view of the slot canyon from above.


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A Visit to Rinconada Canyon

Recently Bosque Bill and I decided to go for a walk in Rinconada Canyon in Petroglyph National Monument. It was a beautiful day, although not particularly filled with birds. The petroglyphs, however, are spectacular.

The path that we took runs along the edge of the volcano escarpment.

Rinconda Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument.

Rinconda Canyon, Petroglyph National Monument.

The landscape is very rugged.

Rugged volcanic landscape

Rugged volcanic landscape

Looking to the east you can see Albuquerque, and even farther to the east you can see the Sandia Mountains.

Looking to the east toward the Sandias.

Looking to the east toward the Sandias.

The scenery is striking, but it is the petroglyphs, images made by native people by pecking or chipping pictures into the rock, that are the main attraction.

Petroglyph grouping

Petroglyph grouping

This one looks like an alien. Perhaps he got lost on the way to Roswell.

An alien?

An alien?

An interesting Petroglyph grouping featuring a snake.

Petroglyph grouping

Petroglyph grouping

These grazing sheep or goats don’t seem to notice the snake.

Grazing sheep or goats.

Grazing sheep or goats.

This impressive fellow was likely carved by a later resident of the area.

Petroglyph

Petroglyph

Is this snake attacking a person?

Snake attack!

Snake attack!

This coyote seems a bit outmatched.

Coyote and snake.

Coyote and snake.

I like the way this face is made on two sides of the rock.

Two-faced

Two-faced

We saw petroglyph birds…

Dancers and a soaring bird.

Dancers and a soaring bird.

A bird on the ground.

A bird on the ground.

… and a few real birds too, although most were too far away for good photos.

Rock Wren

Rock Wren

White-crowned Sparrow.

White-crowned Sparrow.

Petroglyph National Monument includes volcanoes, archeological sites and thousands of carved images. It is a fascinating place.

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Corrales Sunrise

I never tire of watching the sunrise from my patio.

Sunrise seen from my patio in Corrales, New Mexico.

Sunrise seen from my patio in Corrales, New Mexico.


Sunrise over the Sandias seen from my patio in Corrales, New Mexico.

Sunrise over the Sandias seen from my patio in Corrales, New Mexico.


Sunrise through the cottonwoods seen from my patio in Corrales, New Mexico.

Sunrise through the cottonwoods seen from my patio in Corrales, New Mexico.


Sunrise through the cottonwoods seen from my patio in Corrales, New Mexico.

Sunrise through the cottonwoods, another perspective.

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Sandia Wildflowers

Last weekend when Bosque Bill and I went out in search of Three-toed Woodpeckers, we found that the Sandia Mountain wildflowers were blooming everywhere as a result of the monsoon rains.

Red Elderberries

Red Columbine

Harebells

Orange Agoceris

Wild Geraniums

Mountain Asters

Orange Mountain Daisy

Cut-leaved Coneflower

Rocky Mountain Penstemon

Indian Paintbrush

Wildflowers and Painted Lady Butterfly

It was a beautiful day for a walk in the mountains!

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Filed under Butterflies, Flowering shrubs, Flowers, Scenery, Wildflowers