I’ve been living in Albuquerque for over 8 years now and I have never truly appreciated how much the Sandia Mountains really had to offer. Since getting into this little adventuring hobby, I’ve tried to find as many unique places to visit as possible. After a few suggestions from a few friends, I created a mini-list of places that would be cool to see.
• Sandia Cave (Sandia Man Cave)
• Travertine Falls
• Carlito Springs
• Sandia Crest
In terms of the most recent places I have explored, I have been to Sandia Cave twice. Sandia Cave is located near Placitas, New Mexico and there are two different directions that you can arrive there. The first time I visited the cave was after a goodbye lunch with my mom who was moving to Alaska for the next two years for work. I must say, I am a little jealous about that. Anyways, on the way back to Albuquerque, I decided I’d go the scenic route from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. For the scenic route, you’ll want to look head out from Santa Fe and go Southbound on I-25S and take exit 276 and head South on NM Highway 14. By going this way, you drive through towns such as Los Cerrillos, Madrid, Golden, and Sandia Park.
By going this way, you’ll want to stop and make a few little pit stops such as in Los Cerrillos or Madrid
When arriving in Sandia Park, you’ll want to head toward the Sandia Ski Basin and Crest. You’ll eventually take a left and head North on State Road 165. This road is all downhill and very bumpy, to say the least. After the fact, unless you have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, I’d definitely recommend the alternative route from Santa Fe. I beat up my car pretty good and the condition of the road isn’t the best for lower profile vehicles. There are a lot of sharp turns, so I’d also recommend driving as slowly and carefully as possible.
According to Google, by going in this direction it should take roughly an hour and fifty minutes. Although I did bottom-out my car a few times, this was definitely the better direction for getting there in terms of scenery.
After getting to the parking area, it’s a .75-mile hike to the cave entrance and the cave roughly is 100 yards deep. I’d definitely recommend bringing a flashlight and shoes that have some decent grip. The hike itself is fairly easy. The first time I visited the Sandia Cave, I had a water bottle, no flashlight, and my shoes weren’t the best for hiking.
Also in the area, there are a few picnic areas near a small creek that would be great if you want to make a day of it.