When winter arrives in New Mexico, the weather in Albuquerque might just be colder than you expect. Temperatures can dip to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 degrees Celsius), so you will need to pack a set of warm clothes to enjoy everything the city has to offer in the winter. Those who associate New Mexico with images of hot and dry deserts may be surprised to learn that the Albuquerque area also gets a good amount of snow in the winter. Even if it's not snowing when you visit, you can always try to find some by driving up into the Sandia Mountains, which are about 53 miles northeast of the city and home to ski slopes and snowshoe trails.
Whether you're staying active through winter sports or are just looking to get some fresh air on a leisurely stroll, there are plenty of places to go for a winter excursion in Albuquerque.
If you haven't tried it before, snowshoeing is as easy as walking, albeit with a pair of oversized thatched shoes. Instead of sinking into the snow with each step, the wide design of the shoe distributes your weight evenly, allowing you to walk on top of deep snow. You can rent snowshoes in the city at an outdoor retailer like REI and drive to nearby trails in the Sandia Mountains like the tree Spring Trail or Crest Trail.
For a fun day on the slopes, it takes less than an hour to drive from Albuquerque to the Sandia Peak Ski Area. With three chairlifts, two surface lifts, a snow sports school, a cafe, and a ski shop, there are plenty of options for beginners as well as seasoned skiers. You can rent skis or snowboards if you don't have your own and snowboarding runs offer big appeal for anyone working on their tricks.
If you don't want to drive all the way up the mountain, you can take the Tramway which leaves from the outskirts of Albuquerque and ascends to the 10,000-foot elevation of the peak. Even if there's no snow, this is a great way to enjoy sprawling views.
Ice skating is a great way to burn off some calories while having a bit of fun. Outpost Ice Arenas is a large ice facility located within view of the Sandias Mountains The rink is open for public skate sessions, but also offers hockey and figure skating lessons. On-site, you'll find a skate shop and a food stand with a basic menu. The rink is also the home base of the New Mexico Ice Wolves, part of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), one of the country's top junior hockey leagues.
Albuquerque has many trails to choose from, whether you're interested in hiking into the mountains or taking a walk along the Bosque, the forest that borders the Rio Grande. Other popular trails include La Luz, which starts in the foothills of the city and ends with panoramic views of the whole Rio Grande Valley, or the Aldo Leopold Loop Trail, which is an easy two-mile hike through the Rio Grande Nature Center Park. If you want to a hiking trail with a worthy prize at the end, the Piedras Marcadas Canyon Trail will take you past some of North America's oldest petroglyphs.
Visit the Valles Caldera
The Valles Caldera is a part of the National Park Service and offers winter snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The 13-mile wide caldera in the Jemez Mountains is an active geothermal site, filled with hot springs and steaming fumaroles. You can also find over 50 animal species in the park, including the second-largest elk population in New Mexico. Located 93 miles north of Albuquerque, you can either camp in the park or stay at a hotel in nearby towns like Jemez Springs or Los Alamos.
On a rainy day, or when the temperatures are too low, indoor play centers are a great place to take the kids. Let them run and burn off a bit of energy at one of these play places. You'll find go-carts, arcades, climbing walls, and more. You could jump about at a trampoline park like Cool Springz or Gravity Park or give rock-climbing a try at the Stone Age Climbing Gym. If you have small children, you'll find more age-appropriate diversions at Hinkle Family Fun.
It's a fun activity any time of year, but bowling is a great way to exercise in winter if it's too cold for you outside. The city offers many venues for bowling such as Skidmore's Holiday Bowl and Kirtland Lanes Bowling Center. In addition to bowling, these venues also offer batting cages, arcades, bars, and restaurants so you can make a whole day of it.