Life In Albuquerque & NM

Albuquerque and New MexicoMoonrise, Hernandez NM

“I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had.” - D.H. Lawrence

High Tech & Business

  • Perhaps best known for the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and as the setting for AMC's hit show "Breaking Bad," Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a culturally rich and naturally beautiful metropolitan area. Sitting at the crossroads of New Mexico's major highways (Interstates 40 and 25), Albuquerque has long attracted new residents with its favorable economy and artistic atmosphere. U.S. News & World Report has named it in the top 100 places to live in the U.S.
  • New Mexico is the home of two national laboratories, Sandia and Los Alamos, and Kirtland Air Force Base houses the Air Force Research Laboratory, Phillips site, and the Santa Fe Institute focuses on cutting edge research. The CS Dept enjoys a close relation with the Santa Fe Institute: Prof. Cris Moore and Prof. David Ackley, not to mention Department Chair Stephanie Forrest are all external faculty members. Prof. Forrest also served on its science board and served as its Interim Vice President from 1999-2000.
  •'s Stephanie Grenada has ranked the best college towns in the West, and Albuquerque scored a spot in the top 10 rankings, joining several other Mountain West cities in the process.

Outdoor Recreation

“It is all very beautiful and magical here, a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake you into it. The skies and the land are so enormous, and the details so precise and exquisite that wherever you go you are isolated in the world between the micro and the macro, where everything segues under you and over you and the clock stopped long ago.” - Ansel Adams

“My only regret about dying is not being able to see this beautiful country anymore, unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here long after I am gone” - Georgia O’Keefe

Black Mesa, Georgia O'KeeffeYear-round good weather and easy access to the outdoors (the Sandia mountain wilderness is 20 minutes from UNM) make Albuquerque an incredible area for outdoor enthusiasts. New Mexico has a great diversity in landscapes and wildlife, containing six of the seven “Life Zones” on Earth. The Sandia Mountains, for example, contain arid, rocky areas, high alpine meadows (with lots of wildflowers in the spring and summers), and forests of aspen and oak.New Mexico also has a unique blend of attractions such as: other-worldly rock formationsAnasazi ruins, plunging gorges,Chaco Canyon, a World Cultural Heritage Anasazi ruin, and 19 pueblos who trace their ancestry to the Anasazi. Given this, it’s not surprising that Outside Magazine, has its headquarters in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Popular outdoor activities around Albuquerque include:
  • Hiking and MountaineeringNew Mexico Mountain Club, based in Albuquerque, is very active, sponsoring a variety of technical climbing activities along with hiking, skiing and snowshoeing activities. There is also a Rio Grande Sierra Clubwhich organizes hikes and is active in protecting wilderness in NM. See also the the book “100 Hikes in New Mexico” by Craig Martin and the web wite Explore New Mexico, which has detailed hike descriptions.
  • Downhill Skiing: Skiing is good at Sandia peak, great at Santa Fe, and amazing at Taos (chosen as one of the top 10 resorts in North America by Skiing Magazine). There are also several great “undiscovered”, family-friendly ski resorts.Sipapu, nestled in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, about two hours from Albuquerque, is one of the nicest of these. Ruidoso, about two hours southeast of Albuquerque, and Red River about 3 hours north of Albuquerque is another. See also the comprehensive web site Ski New Mexico
  • Cross Country SkiingNew Mexico Cross Country Ski Club has headquarters in Albuquerque. Also check out the book “Cross Country Skiing in Northern New Mexico”
  • Rock climbing: World-class sites are within a short drive of Albuquerque. Bernard Moret has online guides to Palomas Peak and U-Mound Bouldering and some pictures. If you want to take a class, check out Stone Age Climbing Gym. Also check out the book “Hikers and Climbers Guide to the Sandias” by Mike Hill.
  • Mountain Biking: There are many scenic and challenging mountain biking trails very close to UNM. It’s possible to bike from the University area to the Sandia foothills, bike on the foothill trails for a hour or two, and get back to UNM in time for an 11 o’clock class. Sandia peak ski area rents bikes and hosts races during the summer season (you can take a lift up the peak and then bike down). The store Two-wheel Drive lists trails and events in the area. Also check out the book “Mountain Biking in Albuquerque” by Nicole Blouin for trails along the Rio Grande and in the Sandias.
  • CyclingNew Mexico Touring Society is a bicycling club of recreational riders based in Albuquerque. Critical Mass rides also occur here. See also the Albuquerque city page on cycling and the UNM page
  • Rafting and Kayaking: This page gives information on boating, including rafting and kayaking in New Mexico, which ranges from challenging to pretty mellow. Adobe Whitewater Club is an Albuquerque-based organization dedicated to kayaking and canoeing.
  • CavingSandia Grotto is an Albuquerque-based organization for exploring the many caves of New Mexico.


Museums, Galleries, and Art Venues




The music scene in Albuquerque is very eclectic, encompassing pop (the Shins), ska (Giant Steps), jazz, goth, alternative and classical. Some major links:
  • NM Jazz Workshop - The leading jazz presenting and education organization.
  • Classical Music in Albuquerque An exhaustive schedule of classical music events and venues in the city.
  • The Outpost Non-profit performance space in Nob Hill presenting a variety of music.
  • Information source on alternative music and events in Albuquerque. “Burque” (or sometimes ‘Burque) is a favored abbreviation for Albuquerque among people who read the Alibi.
  • Santa Fe Opera World class opera with a spectacular open-air opera house on the outskirts of Santa Fe.
  • Thirsty Ear Festival. Takes place each summer on the “…Eaves Movie Ranch near Santa Fe, where many westerns have been filmed…features internationally-acclaimed folk, blues, alt-country, Zydeco, cajun, bluegrass and roots rock.


  • The Southwest Film Center on the UNM campus shows a great selection of alternative movies, short film festivals and student movies. Admission is $3 for students so you’ve got no excuse not to go. (phone is 277-5608)
  • The Guild (address: 3405 Central NE , phone: 255-1848) is a great art house cinema. They usually show only one or two independent films at a time but their taste is impeccable.
  • Century 14 Downtown is a great place to see more mainstream movies
  • Duke City Shootout - Successor to the Flicks on 66 festival. Selected participants are given a week in which to shoot their movies. In 2006, they joined forces with the 48 Hour Film Project, in which all-volunteer teams were “… provided with one of 13 genres picked out of a hat, along with a character, a prop and a line of dialogue that must be included in the movie.” and given only 48 hours in which to complete their films to enter in the competition.
  • New Mexico Film Office - Tracks all the movies being shot in New Mexico.
  • ABQ Studios - New state-of-the-art movie studios located to the south in Albuquerque. Many major movies have been shot here, including Terminator: Salvation.
  • Santa Fe Film Festival
  • Taos Mountain Film Festival



  • Institute for Medieval Studies at UNM sponsors free lecture series each semester on Medieval Studies. Recent series topics have been Medieval Hospitals, Leper Houses, and Leprosy and Doing Business with Barbarians


Albuquerque proper has a population a little over 500,000, with the population in the area of just under 800,000, or about 1/3 the population of New Mexico. The two greatest strengths of the city are its diversity and its proximity to the great outdoors. Albuquerque is ethnically, culturally and economically diverse and the cost of living is low enough to support a surprisingly large population of artists and writers. The city has a certain funkiness and authenticity that you won’t find in most other cities of its size. People in Albuquerque are friendly and casual. Very few restaurants have a dress code.Albuquerque also borders the Sandia Mountain Wilderness, the Rio Grande(which has a 20 mile bike path through the forest (or bosque) of cottonwood trees that borders it), and the Petroglyph National Monument. All of these areas are within a 20 minute drive of UNM. In fact, The Trust for Public Lands picked Albuquerque as the #1 city with the largest amount of park space (as a percentage of city size) in the entire country, with a whopping 28.7 percent dedicated to parks and Open Space.

General Links


  • Bike Map of the city. The city of Albuquerque has started spending 1 million dollars a year to build and maintain bike trails and bike lanes. If we use these new trails for transit and advocate for more spending, this amount will increase. Call 768-BIKE for a free laminated bike map.
  • Here is info on bus route maps, schedules and transit planning info. All the ABQ Ride busses are equipped with bike racks.
  • Motorcycling is also a popular, fun, alternative way to travel in the southwest.
  • Amtrak has a upgraded station train station in downtown Albuquerque in the same building as the major bus terminal for ABQ ride. There is a sightseer lounge and Native American tour guide for the trip between Albuquerque and Gallup. Service extends to all major east and west coast cities.
  • NM Railrunner - New commuter rail system. Currently goes to Los Lunas and Belen to the south of Albuquerque, and north up to to Bernalillo (the town) and Santa Fe. Both UNM and UNMH offer a shuttle to the Albuquerque station.
    Trivia note: Attentive fans of the TV show Mythbusters may have noticed that the train used to test the myth that you could get sucked behind a train was a Railrunner train.
  • Albuquerque Airport
  • Real Time Flight Info for Albuquerque Airport
  • ABQ Ride. Bus system. Especially interesting are the Rapid Ride busses featuring free WiFi. Albuquerque’s bus system has improved recently, although routes still lack late evening/night-time coverage (the notable exception being the Rapid After Dark program, which during the summer offers rides on Central Friday and Saturday nights until 3am.

Shopping and Commerce


  • Albuquerque city soccer league
  • Duke City Fencing
  • Albuquerque Isotopes baseball team. The episode of The Simpsons that features plans to move the Springfield Isotopes to an unnamed southwestern location (with mango salsa) is even funnier if you know about the Albuquerque Isotopes, because it’s clearly an in-joke for Albuquerque fans.
  • UNM Lobos
  • Duke City BMX - Home of the controversial Albuquerque Velodrome. It seems neighbors were not informed that the stucture would not be fully enclosed.. Your mileage may vary.

Community Activism

“In the magnificent fierce morning of New Mexico one sprang awake, a new part of the soul woke up suddenly, and the old world gave way to the new.” - D. H. Lawrence

Urban Planning:

  • Rio Grande Sierra Club A great organization for exploring the natural beauty of New Mexico. Also active in combating urban sprawl.
  • Cocoposts A weblog with a lot of informed talk/news about urban planning issues. She has a category called “Planning” (her quotes, not mine.). Also, depending on the time of year, some stuff about the New Mexico State Legislature (where the pdeudonymous Coco apparently works.)


  • NM Wilderness Alliance Excellent group devoted to wilderness protection in New Mexico.
  • NM Rails Community based action group to bring rail service back to New Mexico

New Mexico

“On the license plates in New Mexico it reads: “The Land of Enchantment”. And that it is, by God … Everything is hypnagogic, chthonian, and super-celestial. Here Nature has gone Gaga and Dada.” - Henry Miller

Useful Links


  • Turquoise Trail - national scenic byway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe
  • Ojito Wilderness Study Area “Imagine a place where goblin shaped hoodoos sit side by side with three hundred year old Ponderosa pine trees. A place where ancient Pueblo ruins hide in the rough geography and dinosaur fossils and petrified wood sometimes reveal themselves to the watchful eye. Now imagine that this place also boasts rare plants that haven’t even been described by science, unique horizontal petroglyph panels, stunning redrock mesas, multi-colored badlands, and wildlife as diverse as golden eagles, porcupines, and mountain lions. If you are willing to go hiking in the proposed Ojito Wilderness, you won’t need to imagine such a place. It will be burned into your memory forever.”
  • Santa Fe - voted second favorite arts destination in the U.S. after New York City in a poll by “AmericanStyle” magazine. (Recently Albuquerque has also made the top 20 list)
  • 10,000 Waves in Santa Fe is an authentic Japanese-style onsen (hotsprings resort). They offer hot tubs, massage, facials, spa treatments, Watsu aquatic massage, Japanese hot stone massage, Thai massage, Anma Hand & Foot, Yasuragi Hair & Scalp, and Four Hands, One Heart. This is a great place to go after a day of skiing, snowshoeing or hiking at Ski Santa Fe (it’s right off the road back into town).
  • Taos - a city with breathtaking natural beauty. Nearby Taos Pueblo has been continuously inhabited for about a thousand years; Taos Gorge is also a stunning place to visit (and whitewater raft too).
  • Madrid, NM - an old ghost mining town, now a funky artist-focused village on the Turquoise Trail between Albuquerque and Santa Fe which is recently had the movie Wild Hogs fimed there. Locals pronounce it “MAD-rid” (with the emphasis on the first syllable, and pronounced like the word “mad”).
  • Gallup, NM is 2 hours west of Albuquerque. Its location between the Zuni and Navajo reservations makes it one of the most authentic centers for Indian arts and crafts. Also has a great historic downtown and lots of outdoor activities. For info on outdoor adventures, check out the book, “The Gallup Guide: Outdoor Routes in Red Rock Country”, which you can buy at “Coyote Books and Scoreboard” in downtown Gallup.
  • El Morro National Monument or Inscription Rock is 2 hrs east of Albuquerque. This rock has a watering hole at its base which made it an important stopping point for early travelers. Countless Native Americans, Spanish conquistadors, and western settlers all left records of their travels carved into the rock.
    “Here was the General Don Diego de Vargas, who conquered for our Holy Faith and for the Royal Crown all of New Mexico at his own expense, year of 1692.”
  • Las Vegas, NM Quaint town with many old Victorian houses and hotels and a great plaza
  • Acoma Pueblo - the oldest inhabited city in the United States – located on top of a spectacular mesa.
  • Jemez Springs Jemez Springs is a beautiful town with some great hiking and hot springs. There are some hot springs you can find out in the woods and there’s also a great bathhouse.
  • Corrales is an old farming community just on the edge of Albuquerque
  • Quarai is a huge, beautiful Spanish church and mission dating back to the 1600′s (~1 hour drive from Albuquerque).
    “An edifice in ruins it is true, but so tall, so solemn, so dominant of that strange, lonely landscape, so out of place in that land of adobe huts, as to be simply overpowering. On the Rhine, it would be a superlative, in the wilderness of the Manzano it is a miracle” - Charles Lummis’s comments on Quarai, 1893
  • Gran Quivira is another Spanish mission also dating from the 1600′s. The main church there was never completed.
  • Very Large Array Telescope. You may have seen this feature in the movie Contact. Depending on the configuration, the 26 antennas may as far as 22 miles (36 km) apart.
  • The Lightning Field near Quemada, New Mexico. The season runs from March to October, and reservations for an overnight stay are required well in advance (and are not cheap). Photography is not allowed, however, as it’s an art installation. Check out the Reservation link for more information.
  • Los Ojos is an ancient Hispanic town in beautiful Northern New Mexico that is now the home of a sheep raising and knitting cooperative. There is a also a quaint general store, coffee house and bed and breakfast.
  • Gila National Forest in Southwestern New Mexico is one of the first wilderness areas established in the world. This is a very large, beautiful and remote wilderness. Make sure you watch your gas gauge carefully when driving in the area as towns are few and far between. While there, make sure you do the Catwalk trail.
  • Silver City is a great little town near the Gila Forest with many historic shops and hotels.
  • Ruidoso - home of Billy the Kid
  • Flagstaff, AZ , gateway to the Grand Canyon is about 6 hours from Alb. by train.
  • The Grand Canyon - what more can be said about it? To get there, you can take Amtrak from downtown Albuquerque to downtown Flagstaff and then take a bus from Flagstaff. Driving directly takes about 7 hours.


“There is something in the air of New Mexico that makes the blood red, the heart beat high and the eyes to turn upward. People don’t come here to die – they come here to live and they get what they come for.” - Francis Aubrey, a famous traveler on the Santa Fe trail

Events around Albuquerque

  • The Weekly Alibi, Albuquerque’s alternative paper, lists most events going on in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
  • Includes the Weekend Fix, as well a lot of inside info and discussion about Albuquerque. Recently named one of the ten best placeblogs in America.
  • Route66 Central Good collection of links for travel, arts, events, etc in Albuquerque and New Mexico.
  • Albuquerque Arts Albuquerque’s monthly magazine of the Arts
  • Fine Arts Calendar for UNM Some of these events are free to the public
  • Monthly Arts Crawl A free self-guided tour of art galleries in a different section of the city each month.

Events around New Mexico

This section lists selected events for each season in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Many of these events are also found in the book “City Smart Guide to Albuquerque” by Brendan Doherty. All phone numbers are for area code 505. To find events for a particular date, first try these links:

Event Calendars

Selected Events

  • Flamenco Festival Internationale Since 1984, the National Institute of Flamenco has presented this annual festival of flamenco music and dance which is the largest of its kind in the U.S. The festival occurs in mid June. UNM is only university in the United States to offer a Bachelor of Arts in Dance with a concentration in Flamenco.
  • Every Thursday from June to August is Summer Music Nights in the Albuquerque Biopark
  • Shakespeare in Santa Fe is New Mexico’s oldest professional theatre company. Every summer they perform in the beautiful outdoor setting of St. Johns College.
  • The New Mexico State Fair, which is now officially called “ExpoNM”, takes place in Albuquerque in early September. Many locals still refer to it as “the state fair.”
  • Burning of Zozobra occurs on the weekend following labor day in Santa Fe. The general fiesta event on this day dates back to 1712 but the burning of Zozobra started in 1926.
    “Zozobra is a hideous but harmless fifty-foot bogeyman marionette. He is a toothless, empty-headed facade. He has no guts and doesn’t have a leg to stand on. He is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. He never wins. He moans and groans, rolls his eyes and twists his head. His mouth gapes and chomps. His arms flail about in frustration. Every year we do him in. We string him up and burn him down in ablaze of fireworks. At last, he is gone, taking with him all our troubles for another whole year. Santa Fe celebrates another victory. Viva la Fiesta!” - A.W. Denninger
  • Balloon Fiesta Annual ascension of thousands of hot air balloons on the outskirts of Albuquerque, occurring in early October. This is an ongoing event since 1971 and is the largest mass ascension of hot air balloons in the U.S.
  • The Festival of the Cranes at Bosque Del Apache takes place in late November.
  • Christmas in Old Town Albuquerque is very beautiful, and Old town Santa Fe and Taos should also not be missed.Farolitos are lined up along the plaza and on walkways to local businesses. Farolitos are little candles, possibly real, in small, brown paper sacks. Farolitos are also known as luminarias: there is controversy over which is the correct term. It seems that Santa Feans and other Northern New Mexicans use “farolito” more often, while from Albuquerque south, “luminaria” is more common.
  • Every Sunday in May is Arts in the Park (call 768-3483 for details)
  • Spring is the time to view wildflowers in the alpine meadows on the peak of the Sandias (Bring a windbreaker).
  • Spring is also the main season for city-sponsored music and art events.
  • Gathering of Nations Powwow takes place in mid-April at “The Pit” at UNM. World’s largest Powwow.

Visitor Guides 

  • Ruidoso Visitor Guide The Ruidoso Visitor Guide is your best source for everything you need to know about the beautiful mountain playground of Ruidoso, New Mexico. Inside, you will find lodging, dining, attractions and event details. Plan a memorable vacation or a long weekend now!
Disclaimer: All opinions on this page do not represent the official opinions of the Computer Science department or the University of New Mexico, nor imply any official endorsement.Last updated: July 2015