Sandia Peak Tramway
The tram boards at the base of a mountain in Albuquerque and travels a distance of 14,657 feet. I'm glad, I'm not afraid of heights, because looking out the windows can be pretty scary! Wide open windows allow the passengers to see rocky cliffs and canyons below as the tram car climbs 2.7 miles up into the Sandia Mountains.
I was a bit nervous and curious about safety. I asked the travel guide who rides in the cart with the passengers if there has ever been a crash or accident of any kind. I was happy to find out that the Sandia Peak Tram hasn't had any accidents and it has been running since 1966! I was reassured even more when I found out that every year there are more than 10,000 tram car trips to the top!
The Sandia Tram was designed by an engineer in Switzerland in 1939. He came up with the idea of having two tram cars that can carry up to 50 passengers each. The tram was designed with multiple emergency braking systems and a grounding system that keeps passengers safe in the case of a lightening storm.
As we headed toward the top, I could see another tram car coming from the other direction on another cable. The Sandia tram is known as a double reversible jigback aerial tramway. A jigback means that as one tram car is going up the mountain, the other is heading back down. We waved at the passengers riding the other tram car as they passed by.
The trip to the top took 15 minutes. We got off at an observation deck. I realized that I'd forgotten to bring a jacket and it was windy and about 20 to 30 degrees colder at the top than at the bottom.
At the 10,378-foot summit you can see amazing scenery. It's a great place to see the entire city of Albuquerque. You can also see Santa Fe and other surrounding cities. There are hiking and biking trails at the top and a ski lift that goes down the other side of the mountain.
We ate at a restaurant called High Finance. It had pretty good nachos with traditional New Mexican green chilies. We also visited a museum about the wildlife and landscape of the mountain.
As I boarded the tram car to head back down the mountain, I saw a sign that warned about bears. I was disappointed that I didn't get to see one! Sometimes passengers see mountain lions, too. I did see lots of birds and I could see the dormant volcanoes off in the distance. It was an exciting and interesting experience.
PHOTOS: (TOP) The Sandia Peak Tramway is the longest tramway in the world. (BOTTOM) Kid Reporter Jacob Schroeder by the tram car on the peak of the mountain. (Photo Courtesy Jacob Schroeder)