Sandia Crest Byway
State: New Mexico
National Forest: Cibola National Forest
Length: 13.6 mi / 21.9 km
Time to Allow: 1 hour to drive the byway
Sandia Crest is a mile above the surrounding countryside and 2 miles above sea level. The all- weather, paved Sandia Crest Highway (NM 536) is the highest scenic drive in the southwest. The Sandia Mountains were created by an uplift, leaving the forested eastern slope you'll drive up, and a craggy, cliff-like western face. Part of the Cibola National Forest, the Sandias are home to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bear and many other mammals and birds -- including the golden eagles you may see soaring at the Crest. To experience some of the many moods of the Crest, we recommend an afternoon hike along the trails. Then relax awhile at the Sandia Crest House Gift Shop and Restaurant. Stay to enjoy the sunset -- sometimes spectacular! -- and the incredible night view of the city lights and starry skies.
Drive the Sandia Crest Byway up the eastern slopes of the Sandia Mountains to Sandia Crest's peak. Stop at local museums and enjoy recreation, the Sandia Peak Ski and Tramway, and panoramas of central New Mexico along the way.