With more than 320 days of sunshine and 288 parks, Albuquerque is definitely a destination for outdoor lovers. From family playgrounds to the rugged wilderness of the Sandía Mountains, Albuquerque has a range of public spaces for every person – and dog. Here are a few favorite parks and public spaces that offer a wide range of activities when you want to get outside.
Balloon Fiesta Park
This 72-acre field is the site of the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, when hundreds of hot-air balloons lift off daily during the first week of October. But this enormous green space is open to the public the rest of the year, too. Other special events at this park include the annual Albuquerque Renaissance Faire, Freedom 4th fireworks display, and Doggie Dash and Dawdle. The Albuquerque Golf Center here has 35 tee boxes, a putting course and pro shop open most of the year.
Open Space Visitor Center
The Open Space Visitor Center on Albuquerque’s West Side manages 18 acres of fields that are planted with grasses, corn and other crops that benefit wildlife along the Rio Grande corridor. A popular place for birders, the center has both indoor and outdoor wildlife viewing areas. Trails offer access to the river, and the Visitor Center hosts art shows and other special events throughout the year.
Maloof Air Park
Maloof Air Park is devoted to the safe operation of radio-controlled airplanes, helicopters and cars. It has an 800ft runway, helicopter landing pads, and shaded picnic areas with barbecue grills and restrooms. Anyone is welcome to visit and watch RC enthusiasts fly their models.
New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial
New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial is a park dedicated to honoring members of the armed services. There are monuments with the names of Albuquerqueans who have served in armed conflicts, and an amphitheater is used for ceremonies and performances. An on-site museum has exhibits with items and remembrances donated by New Mexico veterans.
Petroglyph National Monument
Managed by the National Parks Service and the city of Albuquerque, Petroglyph National Monument on the city’s West Side is a 7236-acre park with thousands of ancient rock art images called petroglyphs. Trails pass through basalt boulder fields, and visitors are welcome to respectfully hike the three areas that comprise this park. Leashed pets are permitted.
A Park Above
Located in Rio Rancho, a city just north of Albuquerque’s West Side, A Park Above is a playground with wheelchair-friendly swings and other ADA-approved playground features. A splash pad operates during the summer and shaded picnic areas, basketball courts and a dog park make this a fun destination for every family.
Albuquerque Foothills Open Space
Hiking and mountain biking trails lace throughout the 17-mile long Foothills Open Space of the Sandía Mountains to Albuquerque’s east. Managed by the city and the US Forest Service, this public space can be accessed from trailheads at the east end of most major streets including Candelaria, Copper, Spain and Indian School. Elena Gallegos Picnic Area has restrooms and covered shelters.
Located in Old Town across from the Albuquerque Museum and ¡Explora!, Tiguex Park has fields for soccer, volleyball and other sports, playgrounds for a range of ages, basketball courts, paved walking paths, and exercise equipment and stations. It’s a great place to relax and/or let kids play during a day of exploring Old Town and the museums.
Río Grande Nature Center State Park
Located at the west end of Candelaria off of Rio Grande Boulevard, the Río Grande Nature Center State Park has walking paths that lead to the cottonwood-lined Rio Grande. The visitor center has exhibits explaining the ecology of the Rio Grande corridor, and blinds and observation decks allow visitors to observe the many birds, turtles and other wildlife that live along the river. The park connects with the paved Paseo del Bosque Trail open to pedestrians and cyclists that parallels the river for 16-miles through the city. More hiking trails lead from the Paseo del Bosque Trail into the cottonwood forest lining the Rio Grande called the Bosque, Spanish for forest.
Also called Tijeras Arroyo or The Dig, Montessa Park in Albuquerque’s South Valley is 577 acres and open to off-road vehicles. The desert terrain has hills, sandy washes and other features that challenge motorcyclists, ATV trails, Jeeps, off-highway vehicles and all other off-road vehicles.