Coronado Campground in Bernalillo, New Mexico
This is a campground operated by the city of Bernalillo and the University of New Mexico. It’s about 10 miles north of Albuquerque. It’s an older park with the standard amenities and they were upgrading the sites while we were there. We are finding out that New Mexico has some of the best deals for camping – very economical. Being near a bigger city gives us opportunities for restocking, laundry and dining out. The views of the mountains and the Rio Grande River are great from our spot in the park. There is an ancient historic pueblo ruins site within walking distance from the park.
Trip to the Jemez Mountains
The campground host gave suggestions for a few day trips, one being a trip up into the mountains. This was a nice drive in the jeep. We did get to take a few short hikes along the way. One of the trails led us to the Jemez Falls.
The weather was changing…
Tram ride to Sandia Crest
We had a few days of clouds and rain – the mountain range stayed in the clouds all day. As soon as it started to clear out, we headed to the tram for a ride up to the top of the Sandia Mountains, on the world’s longest aerial tram. The tram was constructed between 1964-1966 and the cars were upgraded in 1986. The cars are due for replacement again in 2016.
We hadn’t been on a tram since our Alaska trip. The temperature was a mild 52 degrees at the base. When we reached the top at 10,378 feet it was a windy and chilly 38 degrees. After taking a hike to look out at the scenic overlooks and checking out the ski runs, we headed inside to the bar and cafe for a snack and warm drinks.
It won’t be much longer and the skiers will be flocking in! Oh, another tidbit we learned from the guide on the tram – 2 weeks earlier during the balloon festival there was a 3 hour wait to get on the tram.
Day trip to Santa Fe
Just to do something different, we planned a trip north to Santa Fe – but instead of driving we used the light rail train that runs from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. The train is the Rail Runner, with a big road runner bird painted on the side. It must hit a top speed somewhere around 80 MPH, because at one point the tracks run parrallel with I-25 and the train was passing all the cars. There were a few cyclists on board, there was a spot as you entered each car for bicycle storage, that would be nice to travel and bring your bike along.
This was a relaxing way to travel and we both got to enjoy the scenery along the route. I laughed every time we made a stop – just before the doors would start to close a warning “beep – beep” would sound, like the Wiley Coyote/Road Runner cartoons.
We planned this trip around the Santa Fe Saturday Farmer’s Market, which is one of the top ten in the U.S. Wow – now this was a market! Lot’s of fresh local farms produce, huge crafts displays, peppers for consumption, peppers for decorative wreaths & figurines, peppers roasting, Navajo bread (which was great), bundles of sage, lavender, & all types of hand made blankets and clothing.
After strolling through the market, we took a walking tour of Santa Fe. First we checked out the nearby REI store and then walked to the downtown area, through the town square where there were more locals selling handmade goods. We had lunch at Cowgirls BBQ and after that it was time to start heading back towards the train depot for the 3:30 train back to Bernalillo.
Red, Green or Christmas?
While in New Mexico we had to try out a few of the local authentic restaurants. We soon learned that just about anything you order can be topped with chiles, and you choose red, green, or both. I just had to try both so I got the Christmas topping on the breakfast burrito. This was at the Range Cafe, which appears to be where the locals hang out. It’s along old Hwy 66 and has that look and feel from back in the 50’s and 60’s.
Travel plans as solid as Jello
Our original plans were to spend a week at this stop, stay 7 nights and you only pay for 6. After watching Texas getting soaked and the chance of flooding, we decided to extend our stay for a few more nights before heading further south.
Drive up to Sandia Crest
Even though we took the tram up the Sandia Mountains, there is also a winding mountain road that you can take up another side on the mountain. This is the highest part of the Turquoise Trail, a scenic byway drive. After the drive up, we started to see patches of snow that was leftover from the storm that came through a few days earlier.
Till next time.