Albuquerque's High Desert Neighborhood Guide

High Desert, Albuquerque New Mexico - from the corner of Academy Rd and Cortadena St
Wikimedia Commons/John Phelan

High Desert is a planned community built around a vision of preservation and sustainability. The natural land around each home is preserved and left undisturbed. At 6,160 feet above sea level, the area is 1000 feet above the Rio Grande. Natural vegetation includes sagebrush and native flowers, with water conservation as a key component to the community's philosophy. Buildings are structured to fit into the environment.

Like Mesa del Sol to the south, it was envisioned with a particular plan in mind. High Desert was built with the idea that development should take place within its natural context. It has restrictive covenants that prescribe design and building standards to ensure it remains a sustainable community with a cohesive look. The community's commitment to maintaining a natural balance is evidenced by both entries, which feature gamma grass sculptures. Gamma grass can be found in the natural landscape, along with desert sage, pinon, and other native plants.

Trails and footpaths meander the terrain, allowing residents places to run, hike, and take shortcuts.

With water dwindling in the southwest, the developers of High Desert implemented water harvesting techniques that help maintain a lasting supply of water. Conservation can also be found in the way buildings are oriented, and in creating structures with proper thermal mass.

The High Desert community has also committed to preserving its open space. The arroyos are maintained in near-natural conditions. Building lots are left undisturbed beyond the buildings themselves, and lighting standards keep light pollution to a minimum, allowing for views of the stars as well as night views of the city below.

The High Desert community of Albuquerque is east of Tramway Boulevard, nestled in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque's far northeast heights. It is bordered roughly by the Arroyo del Oso to its south and the Elena Gallegos open space to its north.

Getting There

There are two entryways into the High Desert community. Take Tramway to Spain and go east on Spain toward the mountains. The other entry off Tramway is at Academy. The Academy Commuter, Route 93 on the city's bus system, begins at Spain and Tramway. The southbound line travels through Albuquerque's northeast heights and ends at the Alvarado Transportation Center at First and Central, downtown. It connects to other bus lines along the route.

Real Estate

High Desert features custom homes on large lots, gated communities, and apartment homes. Each village in High Desert has a unique architectural style in the southwestern vernacular. The custom homes range in price from the mid 200s to more than a million dollars. Villages and compounds feature unique elements, such as The Legends, which has stacked stone both inside and outside its home, or the Chaco Compound, which features sidewalks in the front and garage entry from the back of the home.

Parks and Gardens

With the Sandias as a backdrop, the High Desert community fits into the natural landscape because it was carefully planned to do so. It features xeriscaping, or low water use, by using native plants. Its numerous hiking and biking trails promote an active lifestyle. There are more than a dozen villages in High Desert, each with an individual architectural style.

High Desert Park is a 10-acre park maintained by the city of Albuquerque and is just east of Tramway off Academy. The park contains playground equipment and walking trails. There are also several parks maintained by High Desert. Lauda Miles Medara Memorial Park is a nine-acre park centered around a storm water collection pond along the Pino Arroyo. A water kiva and water harvesting garden are located at the corner of Spain and Imperata. The kiva provides the community with a space to view the process of water harvesting.

There are also smaller parks located throughout the community in individual communities.