A city's elevation is its height relative to sea level. For Albuquerque and other towns in Bernalillo County and across New Mexico, residents and visitors are sometimes surprised to find out that they're thousands of feet above sea level despite being in the desert. (Albuquerque is at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert very close to the Colorado Plateau.) That's because Albuquerque is in what's commonly referred to as the high desert. And with the Sandia Mountains abutting the Albuquerque metropolitan area to the east, the elevations can go very high very quickly, and some visitors have reported developing altitude sickness.
Elevations in the greater Albuquerque area can vary quite a bit because some of the area's towns are located close to or in the foothills of the Sandias. Sloping down from the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque can be at elevations over 6,000 feet or at less than 5,000 feet in the Rio Grande Valley. Along with elevation variations, there are temperature variations, with cooler temperatures matching the higher elevations.
Elevations of Albuquerque Area Cities and Towns
The elevations listed below are at a general point and can vary within that city's limits. Cities and towns that are lower in elevation than Albuquerque will typically be a few degrees warmer on any given day. Those that are higher in elevation will most often be a few degrees cooler. Keep in mind also that the temperatures in Albuquerque, primarily covered in concrete, buildings, and houses, can be higher on average than in surrounding areas simply because the buildings hold the heat more than vegetation.
This is what's called an urban heat island effect.
Elevations in and around Albuquerque are:
- Albuquerque is 5,252 feet at the Albuquerque International Airport. Albuquerque varies in elevation from 6,700 feet in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains to 4,900 feet in the Rio Grande Valley.
- Albuquerque's Westside, on the West Mesa, is 5,308 feet.
- Bernalillo, 18 miles north of Albuquerque, is 5,049 feet.
- Corrales, also about 18 miles north of Albuquerque, is 5,023 feet.
- Estancia is 6,138 feet. Estancia is located on the eastern plains of New Mexico 54 miles southeast of Albuquerque.
- Jemez Springs, 60 miles north of Albuquerque, is 6,207 feet.
- Los Lunas, 25 miles south of Albuquerque, is 4,839 feet.
- Los Ranchos, about 9 miles northwest of Albuquerque, is 4,987 feet.
- Madrid, 44 miles northeast of Albuquerque, is 6,112 feet. Madrid is on the renowned Turquoise Trail between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
- Moriarty, 38 miles east of Albuquerque on Interstate 40, is 6,220 feet. Moriarty is on the eastern plains of New Mexico.
- Mountainair, 64 miles southeast of Albuquerque, is 6,519 feet.
- Placitas, just east of Bernalillo at the edge of the Cibola National Forest and 25 miles from Albuquerque, is 5,948 feet.
- Rio Rancho is 5,262 feet. Rio Rancho is 17 miles from Albuquerque on the West Mesa, like Albuquerque's Westside.
- Sandia Park is 7,070 feet. Sandia Park, 22 miles from Albuquerque, is on the way to Sandia Crest in the Sandia Mountains.
- Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico and 64 miles north of Albuquerque, is 6,755 feet. Santa Fe is in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains.
- Socorro, 77 miles south of Albuquerque, is 4,583 feet.