CENTRAL NM

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Come enjoy the “Heart of New Mexico.” Nearly smack in the geographic middle is Albuquerque, our largest city and only metropolitan area. Here you can find the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Sandia Peak Ski Area and North America’s Longest Tramway, the ABQ BioPark, numerous museums, art galleries, performance halls, vineyards, and historic Route 66. While the city and the surrounding area has a contemporary, bustling feel, the legends of the past are present and preserved.

Now a thriving city, Albuquerque was once unchartered territory sought after by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado who was in search of what proved to be a highly elusive legend – the Golden Cities of Cíbola. What he found were vast, beautiful landscapes and a rich Pueblo heritage. The Santa Ana, Sandía, Zia, and Isleta pueblos remain and do well, most of them operating successful business ventures, mainly in the form of Las Vegas-style casinos that feature nationally known musical acts.

To the east are the rocky precipices of the Sandía Mountain range, nearly visible from everywhere in the region. Named Sandia (meaning ‘watermelon’) by Spanish explorers, the mountainsides take on that pink color at sunset. Also of note is The Petroglyph National Monument on the West Mesa, which contains up to 15,000 ancient rock carvings created centuries ago by Native American artisans. To the south along the Río Grande, on the old path of El Camino Real and the Chihuahua Trail are the peaceful farming communities of Los Lunas and Belén. Migrating birds gather along these old paths as well, lending even more texture and character to our pure blue skies.

To the east and north of Albuquerque is the Turquoise Trail, a historic route through several legendary mining towns. In the adjacent hills are many abandoned turquoise mines first worked in by ancient Native Americans. If you enter our state by way of Albuquerque, you could easily be busy for your whole vacation in the Central region.

Central New Mexico is comprised of four counties:

Bernalillo County – Major cities are Albuquerque, Rio Rancho (partial), the Town of Edgewood, and the Villages of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and Tijeras. Also contains two Indian Reservations, Isleta and Laguna Pueblos

Sandoval County – The major City is Rio Rancho (partial), the Town of Bernalillo, and the Villages of Corrales, Cuba, Jemez Springs, and San Ysidro. Sandoval County also has twelve Indian Reservations:
Cochiti Pueblo (partly in Santa Fe County), Jemez Pueblo, Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation (partly in Rio Arriba County), Laguna Pueblo (partly in Bernalillo, Cibola and Valencia Counties), Navajo Nation (partly in six other counties in New Mexico, plus three in Arizona and one in Utah),San Felipe Pueblo, San Felipe/Santa Ana joint use area, San Felipe/Santo Domingo joint use area, San Ildefonso Pueblo (partly in Santa Fe County), Sandia Pueblo (partly in Bernalillo County), Santa Ana Pueblo, Santa Clara Pueblo (partly in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe Counties), Santo Domingo Pueblo (partly in Santa Fe County), and Zia Pueblo

Torrance County – The city of Moriarty, the towns of Estancia, Mountainair, and Willard and the village of Encino

Valencia County – The cities of Belen and Rio Communities, the Town of Peralta, and the Villages of Bosque Farms and Los Lunas

Bernalillo County Points of Interest

Albuquerque’s Museum of Art and History – has exhibits on the city’s origins as a Spanish colonial village, which will give you a whole new perspective on our city. The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History also includes artworks in all traditions, from the works of indigenous peoples to Spanish colonial art to cutting-edge modern installations. The Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, located in the heart of historic Old Town, features art of the Southwest as well as 400 years history of Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley through permanent displays and traveling exhibitions. (505) 243-7255

Albuquerque Nob Hill – Central Avenue, Nob Hill Main Street, has a split personality. It was, and still is Albuquerque’s original “Main Street,” like Main Streets all across the country, but its other personality is Route 66, the great Mother Road which carried countless Americans westward to California during the Great Depression. This dual personality has contributed to Nob Hill’s fascinating blend of roadside architecture designed to appeal to the weary motorist, and storefronts designed to appeal to neighborhood shoppers.

Albuquerque Old Town – Historic Old Town has been the heart of Albuquerque since the city was founded here in 1706. Today, historic Old Town Albuquerque is the city’s cultural center, with five museums and more than 100 shops, galleries and restaurants

American International Rattlesnake Museum – Learn about snakebites, venom and fangs at the world’s largest collection of live rattlesnakes. Dedicated to animal conservation and preservation through education, the museum offers a large array of snake-related artwork, artifacts and memorabilia. (505) 242-6569

Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum – The “Hot Air Ballooning Capital of the World” is home to the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque international Balloon Museum. The museum, located at Balloon Fiesta Park, houses engaging exhibitions and informative programs on the history, science and art of ballooning worldwide. (505) 768-6020

Archeology & Material Culture Museum – Discover archaeology excavation through analysis. Follow America’s first inhabitants through a 12,000-year timeline, ending in 1890 at Wounded Knee. Enjoy a computer enhanced exhibit held at the museum, which explores science conducted at Sandia Cave and turquoise mining in the local area. The museum is located in Cedar Crest along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. (505) 281-2005

Cibola National Forest (part)

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail (part)

Explora – Explora is New Mexico’s premier hands-on learning center with more than 250 interactive exhibits, educational programs and activities encouraging creativity, imagination, inspiration and inquiry into science, technology and art. (505) 224-8300

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center – Located minutes away from historic Old Town, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Pueblo Indian culture, history and art. The museum displays feature the Pueblo Indian cultures from prehistoric times to the present through a variety of fascinating exhibits and artifacts which represent all 19 pueblos found in New Mexico. The center also features a restaurant, which serves authentic cuisine throughout the day and special weekend brunches accompanied by Native American music. (866) 855-7902, 505-843-7270

Institute of Meteorites – Meteorites Museum – The Institute of Meteoritics (IOM) is a premier research institution for the study of early solar system and planetary evolution. IOM research focuses on a wide variety of extraterrestrial materials and the IOM meteorite collection now totals more than 600 different meteorites, including one of the largest meteorites in the world. Located on the University of New Mexico campus, visitors can also take a virtual tour online. (505) 277-1644

Maxwell Museum of Anthropology – Specializing in the cultural heritage of the Southwest, this museum on the University of New Mexico campus has four exhibit areas and also features a reconstructed cave setting complete with replica Ice Age drawings and sculptures, and a spectacular collection of prehistoric pottery. The museum is world renowned for its holdings of art and artifacts from this region. (505) 277-4405

The National Hispanic Cultural Center – is an establishment for preserving and promoting the culture of the Spanish-speaking world. The NHCC is located in the South Valley of Albuquerque, just south of downtown on Avenida César Chávez and 4th St., and features a variety of architecture including a renovated hacienda-style school and modern buildings as stylized Mayan pyramids.

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
– Visitors can explore the development of the Atomic Age through The Manhattan Project and the Cold War. Learn about the contributions of nuclear medicine, and examine the pros and cons of nuclear energy. The museum also includes Heritage Park, a nine-acre outdoor exhibition area for aircraft, missiles and nuclear submarines. (505) 245-2137

New Mexico Holocaust & Intolerance Museum and Study Center – Learn about the Holocaust, genocides and other forms of bullying that have affected people around the world. Exhibits include the Holocaust, Native American cultural genocide, the Armenian and Greek genocides, Slavery in America, and an educational mini-theater. Content is not limited to one religion, culture, geographic area, or time. The museum, a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, is located downtown at 616 Central Avenue SW near the historic El Rey Theater. (505) 247-0606

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science – Located within walking distance of Old Town, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science features a Journey Through Time, eight permanent exhibit halls that take guests through the formation of the universe, the age of the dinosaurs, and geologic changes including volcanoes and ice ages. The extreme Screen DynaTheater is the largest movie screen in New Mexico and an ‘out of this world’ planetarium. The museum also features a comprehensive exhibit about the evolution of the personal computer called “Startup: Albuquerque and the Personal Computer Revolution,” which overviews Albuquerque’s role in the beginning of the personal computing era. (505) 841-2800

Petroglyph National Monument

Rio Grande Nature Center

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Salt Missions Trail Scenic Byway – traverses the heart of New Mexico, from the mountains to the plains. It follows old trade routes, rail beds, and footpaths that echo with the hazy activities of yesteryear. If you listen closely, you’ll hear the footsteps of Indians trading life’s necessities, the whistle of a train as it pulls into the station, or the chattering voices of families traveling across the country on Route 66.

Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway – A trip on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway transports you above deep canyons and breathtaking terrain a distance of 2.7 miles. See some of nature’s more dramatic beauty unfold before you. At sunset the desert skies produce a spectacular array of color, and your vantage point from the observation deck atop 10,378 foot Sandia Peak in the Cibola National Forest affords an 11,000 square-mile panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment. Located on the eastern edge of Albuquerque in the Sandia Foothills at the end of Tramway Road. 505-856-7325

Tinkertown Museum – Ross Ward spent more than 40 years of his life carving, collecting and constructing what is now Tinkertown Museum. During the 1960s and 1970s, his miniature wood-carved figures traveled to fairs and carnivals around the country. This collection includes over 50,000 glass bottles, wagon wheels, old-fashioned store fronts and a 35’ antique wooden sailboat that had been on a 10 year voyage around the world. Tinkertown is located in Sandia Park on Sandia Crest Road. (505) 281-5233

Turquoise Museum – Journey through a mine tunnel replica and see rare and spectacular turquoise specimens from around the world. Discover interesting facts about turquoise and its presence in New Mexico and view turquoise samples from over one hundred mines, educations and histories. Beautiful turquoise jewelry is available for purchase at the museum as well. (505) 247- 8650 or (800) 821-7443
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Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway – Named for the rich turquoise deposits found throughout the area, the byway carves through wild rock outcroppings, piñon and juniper-dotted hills, and a couple of delightfully quirky towns. Embark on the byway from the north, just outside of Santa Fe, or from the south, just east of Albuquerque, on NM Hwy. 14. Perfect for a one-way jaunt between the two cities, the 52-mile byway takes only a bit longer to drive than the Interstate highway taken by most travelers.

Unser Racing Museum – One of Albuquerque’s most well known families, the Unsers, are prominent in the world of car racing. The museum lays out the history of the Unser racing legacy from the early days at Pikes Peak to the dynasty they have carried on at the Indy 500. Changing and permanent exhibits provide a look at the technology and design of racecars. (505) 341-1776

Sandoval County Points of Interest

Sandoval County has 12 Indian reservations and two joint-use areas lying within its borders, the second most of any county in the United States (after San Diego County, California, which has 18 reservations. Riverside County, California also has 12 reservations, but no joint-use areas.)

Bandelier National Monument (part)

Cibola National Forest (part)


El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
(part)

Fenton Lake State Park

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Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway – twists through time and terrain, contrasting vermilion desert cliffs and snowy alpine peaks, 13 th century stone dwellings and the birth of the Atomic Age in nearly the same breath. Travelers may fish canyon waters at dawn, don snowshoes for a woodland trek, explore ancient Pueblo ruins and view elk crossing an immense volcanic caldera– all in the same day.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Santa Fe National Forest (part)

Valles Caldera National Preserve (part)


Torrance County Points of Interest

Cibola National Forest (part)

Manzano Mountains State Park

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument (part)

Valencia County Points of Interest

Cibola National Forest (part)


El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
(part)

Manzano Wilderness (part)