One night in Albuquerque, NM–Tucson for Christmas trip

We visited Albuquerque in December 2023 as part of our Tucson for Christmas trip.

hiking in Rinconada Canyon
hiking in Petroglyph National Monument

Continuing our speed trek west, in the morning we were back on I-40 for 4.5 hours of not-fun driving between Amarillo and Albuquerque. We’ve skipped Albuquerque on previous trips west due to its size, and our assumption that it’s too hard to get any real feel of a big city in a short amount of time. This time, we decided to give it a shot, and while we barely scratched the surface of all the things to experience in Albuquerque, we had a good time and would go back for more–as long as the more doesn’t involve driving across town on I-25 or good old I-40. UGH.

Campground

NomadLand RV campground
the camping situation at Nomadland

We stayed at Nomadland RV, an odd strip of campsites along the back wall of an RV storage facility. It’s very secure and friendly place with a convenient location close to the interstate, west of downtown and just outside Petroglyph National Monument. There’s a lot of construction happening both inside the little campground area and outside the facility gates–the area seems to be a fast-growing commercial district with a Walmart and other shopping, restaurants, and a brewery in walking distance.

Hiking

snowy hike on La Luz trail
climbing the La Luz trail

After spending a few long days in the car, we were in need of mountain vistas, and so prioritized getting out for a hike over walking around town.

La Luz trail

snow getting deeper higher up on La Luz
La Luz trail getting snowier

For years, we’ve had the La Luz hike up to the Sandia Peak Tramway on our to-do list. It’s about nine miles up the mountain, with views all along the way, and your reward at the top is a drink at Ten 3 restaurant before riding the tram back down. At the bottom, if you don’t have a second car to set up a shuttle, you’ll have to hike three miles back to your car. It’s not a quickie afternoon hike… and add to the mix several inches of snowfall the previous night (while we were getting poured on in Amarillo), and this hike was definitely not happening for us this trip.

Ponderosa Point on La Luz trail overlooking Albuquerque
view of ABQ from Ponderosa Point

We still drove 25 minutes across town up to the La Luz trail and just hiked 2.5 miles in to Ponderosa Point, where the snow turned us back. It was beautiful, with views into the snowy mountains and across the city below, and someday we’d like to hike the entire trail with a cocktail at the top as planned!

Petroglyph National Monument

petroglyphs along the hike in Rinconada Canyon
the fellow on the left is definitely an alien, right?

Yay hiking close to home! We took Bugsy over to the national monument for a quick hike before the day’s drive. The trail through Rinconada Canyon was a pleasant, flat two-mile stroll along the base of the rocky hills dotted with neat petroglyphs and informational signs. Based on some of the drawings, I’m pretty sure the Ancestral Pueblo People were visited by aliens.

Eating and drinking

Here are J’s thoughts on the breweries we hit; notice that the brewery that’s walking-distance from the campground is not one we chose… maybe next time.

Ahead of our trip to Albuquerque, we found through Google 25 different breweries and were most interested in High and Dry Brewing, Bombs Away Beer Company and the two that we wound up being willing to brave Interstate 40 traffic for, Bow & Arrow Brewing Co and Gravity Bound Brewing Co. Both Bow & Arrow and Gravity Bound are dog friendly, but we went on the way home from our Bugsy-unfriendly hike so she did not get to join us.

Bow and Arrow Brewing Co

tasting flight at Bow and Arrow
tasting flight at Bow & Arrow

Our first stop, Bow & Arrow, had 11 beers on tap, including three New England IPAs for J and a sour IPA and a Flanders-style cherry sour for L. The tasting room is a single big open room with a long bar flanked by long beer garden-like tables; it’s a nice homey feel especially with their Christmas decorations, which included a large tree in the middle of the room. Lauren and I both liked the beers, despite the styles not being a perfect match for L. We only tried two each in a very healthily-poured flight that we shared due to time constraints. The Flanders-style cherry sour was aged in red wine barrels and stood out the most among the four that we tried. [Edit: after posting this, we saw that Bow & Arrow was nominated for a 2024 James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar!]

Gravity Bound Brewing Co

Gravity Bound brewing mural
Gravity Bound’s mural

Gravity Bound has a small tasting room in an old three-bay service station and a bit larger seating area outside in what otherwise may have been their parking area. The small space was consistent with a small operation, with just six rotating beers on tap, only two of which, their German Pilsner and their Czech dark lager, were available in cans. Aside from those two, they had a west coast IPA, a hazy IPA and a double hazy IPA, and for L a peanut butter and jelly coffee sour. The sour was a bit on the strange side, but L really liked it. And, J liked the hazy IPA he tried.

We liked both of these breweries but both gave the edge to Gravity Bound for flavor, although perhaps we were lucky that they had styles on tap that we prefer when we visited.

Food

Bugsy sleeping after dinner
Bugsy enjoyed her dinner, at least

In the interest of grabbing food quickly and getting home to Bugsy, we decided on carryout from one of the restaurants near the campground. It was super to be able to grab B and walk to pick up the food, but the food was not good, so I won’t mention the restaurant.

We had identified some good-looking dinner options but just ran out of time. Here they are for consideration on a future trip:

Next stop: Flagstaff, another 4.5-hour drive along I-40, but somehow a less onerous stretch.

3 Replies to “One night in Albuquerque, NM–Tucson for Christmas trip

  1. You can’t drink it…but the Range Cafe (for the best banana pudding this side of the south) is near the Turquoise Museum ( kinda crazy but unique).
    We also enjoy the Pueblo Museum.
    Way north but in ABQ is the Balloon Museum near the fiesta fields…and near a Range Cafe location to keep the theme going,

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