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Kirtland Air Force Base Guide

Just the Facts | Seasons & Climate | Albuquerque Attractions | History
Ballooning | Area Pueblos | Arts & Culture | Around the State

Just the Facts
New Mexico is one of the nation’s most sparsely populated states. The Albuquerque Metro area, with nearly 710,000 residents, can’t help but retain its neighborhood feel.
Albuquerque is bordered on the east by the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, the west by Petroglyph National Monument, the north by Sandia Pueblo and the south by Isleta Pueblo.
The city sprawls over more than 100 square miles at elevations ranging from 4,500 feet above sea level in the Rio Grande Valley to 6,500 feet at the foot of the Sandia Mountains.
Albuquerque enjoys blue skies and sunshine 310 days out of the year. The weather

makes Albuquerque a sports lovers’ paradise and outdoor activities of all kinds are popular with residents.
Seasons & Climate
Albuquerque has four distinct seasons. Mild winters and warm comfortable summers make Albuquerque a year-round city
Average Temp
Albuquerque Attractions

Old Town

There is a treasure trove of history hidden near the center of modern Albuquerque. This “original Albuquerque” saw its beginning 70 years before the American Revolution when King Philip of Spain gave colonists permission to settle an area of the Rio Grande Valley known today as Old Town. This area, now a historic zone, looks much like it did centuries ago. Activities still center around the picturesque plaza. The first building erected was the church, San Felipe de Neri. Still standing on its original site, the church remains the center of life in Old Town. Settlers build their homes, shops and government offices around the plaza.

The Pueblo-Spanish style architecture, characterized by the use of adobe, makes
Old Town a beautiful place to visit. The flat-roofed buildings and their soft contours mirror the southwestern landscape. Long portals or porches; line the fronts of most buildings. Bancos or benches are often found built into the back walls of portals so that weary bones can be soothed by the sight of a Southwestern sunset.
Visitors are free to stroll the streets and plazas of Old Town. More than 24 galleries call Old Town home. A wide variety of Southwestern artwork is available including jewelry, sculpture, paintings, weaving and hand-crafted work. Through renovations and new construction, the Old Town area now houses more than 150 stores and fine restaurants. (^top of section)

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
The rich treasures of tradition, culture and creativity are just part of the legacy of the original inhabitants of the Southwest thousands of years ago. Their story unfolds in the fascinating exhibits at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The center is a nonprofit organization owned and maintained by the 19 Indian pueblos in the state. A triumph of dedication and determination, the multilevel building is patterned after a traditional pueblo. The lower level houses a museum and tells the story of the Pueblo Indians from prehistoric times to the present through displays of ancient artifacts. The upper level, divided into a series of alcoves (one for each of the
19 tribes), explains the culture of each through changing exhibits, murals and contemporary art.
The museum’s restaurant is unique, serving only Native American food, with Indian baked bread and Indian fry bread as its two most requested “take-out” items. The Center showcases its collection of original paintings and sculpture, emphasizing only the finest quality work, jewelry, pottery, leather crafts, and paintings that are on display and available for sale. Indian dances are featured during the summer and on special occasions. Cameras are permitted. This should be your first stop before visiting the area pueblos. (^top of section)

American International Rattlesnake Museum
Dedicated to animal conservation and preservation through education, this
museum is the world’s largest collection of live rattlesnakes. (^top of section)

Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
The world’s longest single-span tramway, a glorious mountain setting and a varied recreational playground come together to make a marvelous getaway anytime of the year. The Sandia Peak Tram travels 2.7 miles from the base of the foothills northeast of Albuquerque to the top of the 10,400 foot Sandia Peak. From the lower terminal, the tram car travels suspended over rugged boulders and rocky mountain landscapes and the city drops beneath you as you glide over the lush ponderosa forest. The view from Sandia Peak encompasses a panorama of more than 11,000 square miles. The view is one of deep rugged canyons, extinct volcanoes, distant mountains, unusual formations carved by erosion and a sensational desert landscape. At the top of the peak, riders can head down the other side of the mountain by skiing down snow covered slopes in the winter/spring seasons or aboard the primary chairlift at Sandia Peak Ski area in the summer and fall.
During the winter, the Sandia Peak Ski Area is a popular destination among visitors and residents alike. In addition to the Tram, you can also access the ski area via the Turquoise Trail. Ski rentals are available at the ski lodge. In the summer, enjoy the

cool mountain temperatures and fresh mountain air while riding a chairlift or mountain biking on a series of trails across Cibola National Forest. Bike rentals are available at the base, or the top of the chairlift. For quick access, bikers can transport their bikes via the chairlift. Sorry, no bikes on the tram. (^top of section)

Petroglyph National Monument
Bordering the city of Albuquerque to the west stands Petroglyph National Monument. More than 17,000 ancient Indian petroglyphs are carved into the black rock remnants of five extinct volcanoes. This one site contains the world’s largest accessible collection of prehistoric rock art. Petroglyphs in this site were left as long ago as 1000 B.C.; most were created by the
occupants of late prehistoric pueblos circa A.D. 1300 to 1540. These images reflect a life richly steeped in religion and ceremony, in nature and connection to the land, in mythology and healing. Dancers, priests, shamans, mythic creatures, clan symbols, a variety of animals and geometric designs all portray a way of life before the written record. (^top of section)

Albuquerque Biological Park
The BioPark consists of three separate facilities, the Rio Grande Zoological Park,
the Albuquerque Aquarium and the Rio Grande Botanic Garden. (^top of section)

Rio Grande Zoo
The Rio Grande Zoo sits on more than 60 acres just blocks from Old Town and downtown Albuquerque. The Rio Grande Zoo has become one of the leading zoos in the nation. Modern zoo medicine, scientifically researched diets, naturalized habitats and specialized animal management techniques have helped transform the Zoo into an oasis for both exotic and native species.
In keeping with its mission of wildlife preservation, conservation and education, the Zoo has established captive breeding programs for a number of threatened and endangered species. In addition to a top-notch education program and year round classes, the Zoo also offers an outstanding summer concert series. (^top of section)

Albuquerque Aquarium
At the Albuquerque Aquarium, visitors follow the story of a drop of water as it enters the upper Rio Grande high in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The story continues as the drop flows past canyons, deserts and valleys of New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, through the lower Rio Grande and finally into the Gulf of Mexico. A 285,000 gallon shark tank with floor to
ceiling viewing windows is the home of many large Gulf sharks. An eel cave gives visitors the opportunity to see moray eels. Other tanks display schooling fish, giant groupers and a variety of invertebrates. A tidal pool demonstrates the effects of the tide on beaches and the animals that live just below the surface. (^top of section)

Rio Grande Botanic Garden
The Rio Grande Botanic Garden is 16 acres of developed and undeveloped land including a 10,000 square foot conservatory. The conservatory is divided into two houses--a Desert Pavilion that displays plants from the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts and a Mediterranean Pavilion that displays plants from areas around the world with Mediterranean climates.
The Botanic Garden is home to several specialty gardens, an herb garden, the Spanish/Moorish Court, a ceremonial rose garden and a demonstration garden. Conservation and environmental management, especially in terms of water, plant and energy utilization, are a major focus. www.cabq.gov/biopark.
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Activities for Kids
Explora! Science Center and Children’s Museum of Albuquerque is New Mexico’s premier hands-on learning center providing hands-on exhibits and activities encouraging creativity, imagination and discovery in the arts and sciences! Explora’s exhibits and programs excite and educate visitors of all ages. Full of fun and educational toys, the gift shop is almost as exciting as the
museum! Explora offers 50,000 square feet of enjoyment with over 200 hands-on exhibits. Volunteers and staff are available to explain and demonstrate how art, science, culture and technology interrelate. The facility is accessible to people with disabilities. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for children.
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Albuquerque was founded in 1706 by a group of colonists who had been granted permission by King Philip of Spain to establish a new city on the banks of the Rio Grande. They named their new city to honor the 10th Duke of Albuquerque but over the centuries the first “r” has been dropped.
These early Spanish settlers were religious people and the first building erected was a small adobe chapel they named San Felipe de Neri. It remains to this day on the plaza where it was built. It continues to serve as the centerpiece of Old Town, the historic and sentimental heart of Albuquerque. When the railroad came to town in 1880, however, a “New Town” grew up along the right of way several miles east of the old city and quickly became the business hub for the area. Merchants provided goods and services to people migrating westward on the Santa Fe trail and also supplied the forts protecting their passage.
Albuquerque never was a part of the “wild west” lawlessness associated with the latter part of the 19th century because it already had a well established culture a century-and-a-half old.
Albuquerque grew up along Route 66, the storied highway connecting the east to the west and it continues to measure the pulse of the city by connecting its most popular attractions. Beginning with Petroglyph National Monument on the city’s far west side, modern adventurers will pass through the Rio Grande Botanic Garden and the Albuquerque Aquarium, historic Old Town, the Albuquerque Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. Continuing east will guide you through the University of New Mexico and a bit further still the trendy Nob Hill area which is home to many of the city’s best restaurants and most unique boutiques and shops. The National Atomic Museum sheds light on our nuclear past, present and future.
Albuquerque is home to some of the nation’s finest high-tech research facilities, Sandia National Laboratories, Air Force Research Laboratory and the University of New Mexico. Together these institutions are leading the way in technology transfer. Civilian application of military technology has provided the spark for many an entrepreneur and led to a technological boon. Albuquerque continues to set the pace for success in the southwest as a visitor destination and a great place to live.
Albuquerque has a long and colorful history with ballooning and for good reason. The weather is widely considered to be the best in the world for this spectacular sport. In 1972, hot air ballooning really took off. That year 13 balloons participated in the very first Balloon Fiesta. In the years since, that number has grown to more than 1,000, making the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta the largest and most photographed ballooning event in the world.
Popular events during Balloon Fiesta are the Mass Ascensions, Balloon Glows and Special Shapes Rodeos. Mass Ascensions are held on all four weekend mornings during the Fiesta. Held just after dawn, the sight of several hundred balloons taking flight with the sunrise is stunning. A “Balloon Glow” is held in the evening with the launch field filled with balloons of every color, shape and size. As the propane burners are lit against the dark sky, they light up the balloons like giant light bulbs. Perhaps the most popular balloons with kids of all ages are the Special Shapes. Dinosaurs, dragons, motorcycles, moving vans, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, Mother Hubbard’s Shoe have all been spotted over time floating overhead.
Hundreds of thousands of people attend the nine-day Balloon Fiesta each year. Thousands more watch the balloons as they

float over the city. It is held annually from the first Saturday through the second Sunday of October and is the city’s major balloon spectacular. Albuquerque counts over 300 balloonists among its residents (more than any other state) and is truly the “Balloon Capital of the World.”
Area Pueblos
Discover New Mexico’s culture in the ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs, and in the lifestyles and beliefs which are found in the area’s earliest civilizations. Pomp, pageantry and religious commemoration are woven into the colorful tapestry of American Indian celebrations.
Nowhere are so many pueblos accessible to the public than in the Albuquerque area. New Mexico is home to 19 Indian Pueblos and most are within an hours drive of the city and most welcome visitors. In addition, the Navajos, Jicarilla Apaches and Mescalero Apaches each have a reservation located in New Mexico. Fall is a particularly active time because the harvest season is celebrated with special ceremonies, dances,
brilliant costumes and sacred rituals.
The works of many talented Pueblo Indian artists and craftsmen are frequently on display and for sale: handmade jewelry, pottery, distinctive craft items and even traditional Indian food. Pueblo life is a window to another world and time. Not relegated to history books or museums, this is a living culture carrying on the centuries-old traditions of their ancestors.
Those interested in finding out more about the Indians of New Mexico should first visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center for a broad overview of what to expect and how to conduct themselves while visiting the individual sites.
Arts & Culture

Performing Arts

Albuquerque’s thriving performing arts community features the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the Albuquerque Little Theatre, the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera Association and La Compania de Teatro plus numerous independent theatre companies. Performances of various kinds are regularly

scheduled in the University of New Mexico’s grand Popejoy Hall, the historic KiMo Theater in downtown Albuquerque, Albuquerque Little Theater’s performance hall as well as the many smaller theater spaces around town. (^top of section)

Albuquerque is home to more than 100 galleries and studios offering visitors a choice of art styles and expressions. Local galleries host a monthly gallery tour called ArtsCrawl.
This community event gathers novices and seasoned art collectors together to celebrate the arts by attending exhibition openings, artist receptions, demonstrations, and open houses. (^top of section)

KiMo Theater

The KiMo Theater has undergone extensive renovation to restore its original splendor that once earned it the title of “America’s foremost Indian Theater.” Built in 1927 in Pueblo Deco, a short-lived architectural style that fused the spirit of the Indian cultures of the Southwest with the exuberance of American during the roaring twenties, the KiMo Theater offers a remarkable setting for audiences to enjoy performances. (^top of section)

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science
Within walking distance of Old Town, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science offers fascinating exhibits that take advantage of this state’s natural wealth. New Mexico is dinosaur country and recent discoveries of fossilized dinosaur skin and a dinosaur egg are on display. Visitors can step back in time in a one-of-a-kind “Evolator”, walk through a simulated active volcano and experience the Ice Age. Don’t miss the Dynamax Theater, a high-tech theater experience that puts you in the on-screen action.
The LodeStar Astronomy Center, opened in January 2000, is another exciting addition to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. The Center showcases a multimedia domed theater, a motion simulation theater, exhibit galleries and an astronomy themed retail shop. The 20,000 square foot astronomy center is one of three Lodestar Astronomy Education Projects administered by the University of New Mexico. www.museums.state.nm.us/nmmnh
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The National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico
The National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico is dedicated to preserving the rich artistic and cultural heritage integral to the Hispanic Community worldwide. The Center offers a Performing Arts Program,
a Culinary Arts Program and an Outreach Program each designed to educate the public. The Center has a visual arts museum and an amphitheater. www.nhccnm.org. (^top of section)

Rio Grande Nature Center
Located on 270 acres of riverside forest and meadows, the bosque, as this wooded area is called in the Southwest, is home to 100 year old stands of cottonwoods, clumps of willow, tamarisk and Russian olive and a cattail marsh alongside a 3-acre pond. Threaded throughout are more than two miles of trails offering a sense of isolation
and tranquility. More than 260 species of birds make this their temporary or permanent home. The visitors center, built partially underground, houses a library and exhibits on the ecology, geology and history of the Rio Grande Valley. www.unm.edu/~natrcent (^top of section)
Around the State

Angel Fire

Angel Fire is located in the majestic Moreno Valley in Colfax County, NM, 152 miles northeast of Albuquerque. Spectacular sunrise and sunset colors gave Angel Fire its name long ago, when Ute Indians observed the glowing skies and called it the “fire of the angels.”

Tourism is the primary industry, with visitors enjoying adventures from fly-fishing, hiking and biking, championship golf, horseback riding, and hot-air balloon
rides in summer to skiing, snowboarding and other recreational activities in winter. Take a trip down the road to a Vietnam Veterans Memorial nearby. No matter what season of the year you plan to visit, Angel Fire has a wide variety of family-oriented events for all to enjoy. For more information about the many adventures available year round, please contact the Angel Fire Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-446-8117 for your free Visitor’s Guide.
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Santa Fe
The capital of New Mexico is just an hour’s drive northeast of Albuquerque. While this may shock those of you native to the states comprising the original thirteen colonies, Santa Fe predates them all having been founded in 1607. This makes it easily the oldest state capital in America. It also boasts a celebration called the Fiestas de Santa Fe, which is the oldest continually observed event in the nation. The fiesta takes place in September which is an ideal time to experience this lovely city steeped in Hispanic culture. The city has also hosted many a Western movie company thanks to its two movie ranches, an abundance of natural beauty and the sound stage on the campus of the College of Santa Fe.
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Los Alamos
Translation “The Cottonwoods” lies 93 miles north of Albuquerque. It is nestled atop mesas at the base of the Jemez Mountains. Here you will find ancient Indian dwellings and dramatic geological formations brought about by gigantic, volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Los Alamos offers hiking, mountain biking, golf, rock climbing and an aquatics center. Its chief claim to fame, however, is that it is probably the only city anywhere to be founded in complete secrecy. During the World War II America was trying to beat Germany to the atomic bomb.
An out of the way spot that housed a boys school seemed ideal. The boy’s school moved out and the Manhattan Project moved in. Those secret beginnings have grown today into a national treasure, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, now one of the world’s largest scientific research centers covering 43 square miles and employing 10,000 people. You will enjoy going through the Bradbury Science Museum that speaks to everything from the early beginnings of the atomic age to today’s study of the human genome. Whatever your interest, Los Alamos has something for everyone.
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Taos is further still lying 126 miles north of Albuquerque. If you love to ski, this is the place for you in winter but it has much to offer the rest of the year as well. All of the attractions you associate with much of New Mexico are in abundance here. In addition, it has always been a haven for the arts. Authors, playwrights, photographers and artists have all spent time in Taos and loved every minute of it. Probably the most famous of its citizens was Georgia O’Keeffe, a world renowned artist, who spent most of her adult life there. Taos offers Indian culture, museums, galleries, festivals,
music, even white water rafting in the Rio Grande Gorge. It is well worth planning a vacation around.
The above just scratches the surface of what to see and do in New Mexico. Within four or five hours of driving time in one direction or another you can visit Carlsbad Caverns, the grave of Billy the Kid, White Sands National Monument, Shiprock and the Aztec Ruins to name but a few points of interest. Albuquerque and New Mexico welcome you and invite you to enjoy and explore your beautiful new home. You won’t want to miss any of it! (^top of section)

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