White Sands National Monument, Albuquerque & El Paso Roadtrip
Perhaps I am a bit off, but I think most people think of New Mexico and Western Texas as vast swaths of nothingness. While this is true to some extent, it doesn’t mean this area of the country won’t amaze you. I recently visited on a weekend trip and let’s just say, I’m a fan!
My recent visit came when two of my friends and I embarked on a quick weekend excursion to Albuquerque and El Paso. Our original motivation was to visit a couple of smaller and lesser known amusement parks in the area, but we also visited quite a few other places.
The trip started with a quick Friday evening Southwest flight from LAS-ABQ and a stay at the Hyatt Place near the airport. From there we began our Saturday with a pleasant surprise. Did you know there is a ski resort in the mountains overlooking Albuquerque? Yup and it is beautiful in the Summer.
We reached Sandia Peak by taking the 50+ year old Tramway. At an elevation of 10,378 feet, the peak was quite cool and a nice break from the heat below. I love these types of tramways because they provide spectacular views and picturesque photos. At the top we took in wonderful views of Albuquerque on one side while on the other we saw where the locals go to ski in the winter.
Of course we were there to ride some coasters, so we eventually made our way down and headed for Cliff’s Amusement Park after a quick stop at the Breaking Bad house. Cliff’s is a family owned park which has a ton of charm. The New Mexico Rattler wooden roller coaster is a ton of fun as well and the train is awesome too!
From Cliff’s we did what tourists (and locals) do in Albuquerque. We headed to a local restaurant to eat chiles! New Mexican food is among my favorites and I couldn’t wait to share this cuisine with my friends. After consulting Yelp we settled on Monroe’s and were not disappointed. The service was amazing and the food delicious!
Despite the already action packed day we had one more stop on our way to El Paso and it was AHHH-MAZING. White Dunes National Monument is located in Southeastern New Mexico and is a MUST VISIT. To get inside you follow a road that in the beginning is partially surrounded by sand, but that changes quickly.
Once you get fully inside of the Dunes it is as if you are on another planet. The best part is that the sand doesn’t retain heat and you can walk barefoot. I had high expectations for this serene place and they were exceeded. I am so happy that we visited.
We arrived late in El Paso on Saturday and crashed, but Sunday brought even more fun. Since the park in El Paso didn’t open until 2pm, we decided to kill time by waking through a park near the border and driving up to a lookup above El Paso. It truly is amazing how close the city’s Downtown area is to the border!
Of course when you are in Texas then you must also have BBQ. Over the years and over many different visits to Texas I have grown to love Rudy’s. In fact I first ate at Rudy’s over 10 years ago and wrote about it on the previous version of this blog. In my opinion it is a great way to experience Texas BBQ. I’m not saying it is the absolute best, but considering it is a local “chain” it comes close.
Finally afternoon came and it was getting close to being time for Western Playland to open. While the park is in the El Paso area, it is actually in New Mexico adjacent to a large Casino. This area is also right next to the border, but the Rio Grande doesn’t act as the barrier. This meant we were able to take a walk across its muddy waters.
After our “river walk” it was time for a quick visit to Western Playland. Like Cliff’s in New Mexico, this park had a ton of charm and was fun for a quick visit. We did unfortunately have to drive back to Albuquerque, so we made a quick loop of the park and then headed back.
In the end our weekend trip was quick, but we visited two awesome amusement parks, ate some delicious local food, got some interesting view points of the cities and most importantly got to experience the White Dunes. It was an amazing weekend in a place that most people prefer to just flyover.