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Albuquerque Innsights

Former New Mexico innkeeper knows secrets and tells anyone who will listen.

Elevation of Albuquerque, or how high is The Duke City?

Albuquerque should have the nickname “The Mile High City”, not Denver. Instead we are called The Duke City, and people are as confused about that as they are about the Big Apple. Things that make you go “huh?” So soon I digress. Now, back to the elevation of Albuquerque.


The elevation in the north valley at our Albuquerque bed and breakfast is 4,969′ above sea level, with the north valley being the lowest part of Albuquerque. In the foothills of our Sandia Mountains the elevations hover around 6,000′. At the top of our mountain, at the Sandia Peak Gift Shop, the elevation is 10,678′. I am pretty sure that the radio towers sit 100 or so feet higher, but I can’t get anyone to verify that.

In the center of town at Central Ave., (Route 66), and San Pedro Dr. NE there is a US Geological Survey brass cap that states that point is 5,280′ – one mile high.

What goes along with being a mile high city in the arid southwestern United States? Plenty that you should be aware of. First of all, the air is much thinner and people who live at sea level can often feel light headed until they have a chance to acclimate, which takes 24 to 48 hours. This is altitude sickness and it means you should NOT plan a trip up the Sandia Tram, or head right up to the Sandia Peak Ski Area right after landing if you travel here by plane. Even people in perfect health can be affected, so don’t chance ruining a good time by heading right for the hills.

The thin, dry air in NM is also a prescription for dehydration, so be sure to drink lots of water. Many of us don’t ever leave the house without a bottle of water. The elevation and lack of atmosphere is also a recipe for sunburn year round. Bring your sunscreen.

We are considered to be the high desert, and with that comes big temperature swings every day. It is not unusual for the high and low in a 24 hour period to stretch 30 to 40 degrees at any time of the year. This is especially nice in the summer, when we always experience a cool off after dark. I can’t tell you how many people think the weather in Albuquerque will be like in Phoenix. They are low desert and have humidity. We are high desert and don’t.

Be sure to check the weather forecast before you come to Albuquerque, as we have had guests show up here totally unprepared for our climate. It can get very cold here in the winter, but we can also have a week in the mild 50’s (F), so the best thing to do is plan to dress in layers. In the summer we sometimes have a few days over 100ΒΊF, but is not the norm, and remember, the temperature will drop in the evening. All in all, I find the climate here to be nearly perfect, with a definite change of seasons, but nothing too extreme. I could do with a tiny bit more humidity too. Bring your moisturizer! You’ll need to lotion up.

Keeping all the safety recommendations mentioned here in mind, you will have an excellent time in Albuquerque. Have you planned your trip yet?

Next – I will tell you why we are called The Duke City!

I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!

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29 Responses to “Elevation of Albuquerque, or how high is The Duke City?”

  1. Donn Fishburn says:

    If you look up the elevation for ABQ you will find 5,312ft. Do you know where the official elevation of ABQ is located?

    • adobenido says:

      Yup, that’s what it says in wikipedia, but where the official marker is located? Unknown and when writing this post I couldn’t find it either. I know the marker I spoke of in this post is an official marker, but THE official marker? Probably not. It is possible that as the city grew, the official marker was moved. I live much closer to the original “Old Town” and downtown of our city and our elevation is only 4969′.

  2. John Flanagan says:

    Why Duke City?? You never said. ….

  3. In 1949 there was a billboard at Cardenas and Central declaring Albuquerque to be a mile high at that point. We told visitors to turn at the bill board. Apparantly, the mile high location is more like San Pedro and Central. Of course, other locations across the city. Growing up in Albuquerque was my good fortune.

  4. Jacque Gonzales says:

    Fantastic article! Sure do miss my home state!!! πŸ™‚

  5. Paul Burger says:

    Hey, nice read. I’ll be out for 9 days @ the eom. I drove through “old town” in 1973. The clapboards in front of the saloons were still in place, the rode bed as it were, rustic at best. Dusty, I’m being kind. Anywhosit, I’ll be revisiting. I’ve been as close to returning as Durango, Co, Mesa Verde area just north. Looking forward to the visit.

  6. Angel says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. I plan to relocate from Ohio to the Southwest in 2014, but am a bit concerned about what you’e said about the elevation, since I’m @ 630′ above sea level. Is there a city close to Albuquerque that may be at a lower elevation? I’d hate to move across the country & then discover the elevation was an issue. There’s just nothing in this area that has all the art, flavor & drier hear like the southwest. Thank you!

    • adobenido says:

      A trip to Albuquerque will show if you can handle the altitude. Give yourself at least 5 days here.

    • Leo says:

      @Angel ~ Unfortunately there really are not areas of lower altitude in New Mexico. Down by Carlsbad is the lowest area of the state elevation wise, with an elevation around 2800ft above sea level. I doubt that the altitude will be much of a problem for you if you give yourself a week or two(two weeks tops). Also if you are well hydrated and eating well, then that should help mitigate out the effects of altitude sickness. I used to live outside of Cincinnati and have had a number of friends from Chicago and Ohio come and visit. The worst that has happened was a headache and a little bit of nausea(My friend insisted on going up to the crest of sandia less than 3 hours after landing at the SunPort. All in all what I am trying to say is that you will probably be perfectly fine when it comes to the altitude. Just remember the basics of keeping your body healthy and you should do fine here. Its a beautiful part of the country(once you leave the city) I moved to New Mexico for the scenery, though Albuquerque is not the prettiest city it is just a short distance from so much awesomeness that the nature of New Mexico has to offer.

  7. Mary Hill says:

    We (2senior cits) are going to move to your city,and want to find a house close to “artsy” people…interested in taking art lessons,and love all aspects of art.What area of town would you suggest? Safety is always a concern,too.
    Thank you Mary H.

    • adobenido says:

      What kind of safety, Mary? Safety is a relative term. Do you spend a lot of time walking around outside at night? If not you are pretty safe anywhere.
      Albuquerque is very spread out, and you are likely to find art lessons in every part of this city from someone. There are no “artist areas.” No particular senior areas either. Look for senior communities and it’s there you will probably find instructional art classes, for there is a willing audience who are likely to have money and time.

    • Leo says:

      I know this is a half year after you posted but maybe it will be of some help. Taos is amazing when it comes to the arts. If you drive out to Tres Pedras on the other side of the gorge(you take a left at the water tanks after the gorge bridge, then take a right onto the dirt road that has a sign that says EVOLVE) there are a ton of artists whom live off the grid, including some amazing metal artists. Then there is Santa Fe, its beautiful, classy, refined, and a little over priced. Santa Fe and Taos are where all the out of staters go to get their “art fix”. Then there is Madrid(pronounced Mah-Drid, I’ve been yelled at for pronouncing it like the capital of Spain). Madrid is home to a number of local jewelers and gem miners(including turquoise), most of the local rock shops are owned by individuals whom have several mining claims in the area(cerrilos hills) and sell their product in Madrid of Santa Fe(there is usually a 25-35% markup for stuff in Santa Fe compared to Madrid, ie buy your stuff in madrid, you can find almost the exact same inventory for jewelery as santa fe(exception is for a few high end retailers in santa fe) madrid does have some high end artists though, you can go to madrid with $20 and enjoy yourself or $250,000 and you could spend every cent on one purchase. There is more than just jewelers there in madrid, the jewelery is just what appeals to me. Madrid is on the Turquoise trail on the east side of Sandia.

  8. PAMELA says:

    Addenudum to post 5/12/13 regarding relocation to Albuquerque….by environment I meant elevation.

    • tom c says:

      It depends what altitude you are coming from. ABQ is a mile high. If you are coming from sea level, it is not a good choice to move here. Less oxygen, harder on the heart.

  9. PAMELA says:

    I have beginning stages of CHF and want to relocate to Albuquerque Is one with that diagnosis able to live in that environment?

    • adobenido says:

      Boy, I’m not a doctor and have no idea! I’m not familiar with CHF either. Sorry!

  10. ron says:

    I lived in Albq. for a year in 1997-1998 and traveled frequently to Santa Fe. I lived in the NE Heights and it was fantastic with a great view of the tram and Sandia Peak. Me recolection is that the peak is something like 11,500′ and read someone say the gift shop is at 10,700′. I imagine that is somewhere down the mountain from the peak. Just curious. Anyway, it’s great place with some of the best weather in the 48 contiguous states. I am thinking to possibly relocate there (again) perhaps this year. I drove through and stayed over about a year and a half ago and people are pretty nice. I’m in So. Cal. now and it’s getting weirder.

  11. mary says:

    Hey thanks for the great info I have a boxing match there I will be fight in the Albuquerque New Mexico but I will only be there 2days before the is that enough time to get acclimated is there something I can do to speed my acclimation please let me know asap I leave in 2more days πŸ™‚

    • adobenido says:

      Mary…all I can suggest is come sooner and give yourself at least 24 hours to acclimate.

    • adobenido says:

      Mary! Oh…two days is fine…just don’t be unhappy with yourself the first day of practice here…and drink lots of water. This climate will suck it out of you!

  12. JimM says:

    I suspect Denver got the Mile High nickname because the city was the first to proclaim it. Also, perhaps, it is because the brass survey plaque is mounted on the steps of the capitol building, which is often considered the center of a city for statistical purposes. When a map service tells you it is “X” miles from one city to another, it is from city center to city center.

    • Mark says:

      That’s how Denver is – square. They have to have everything marked as if it is to show everybody how hip they were to know these things.

  13. Saurabh says:

    Hey there,
    Nice to come across your blog. I just came this week to Albuquerque on a new job assignment. I could feel the effects of high altitude exactly as you have explained. I had few questions –
    1. I want to bring my parents from India to Albuquerque. My father (age: 75 yrs had a pneumonia attack last year but by God’s grace has been recovering well. Besides that attack, he is fine and has no asthma or breathing issue. Do you think it will be advisable to bring him here. I am a bit nervous because I do not want him to be sick again. Any precautions that I need to take?
    2. Also, I am looking for an apartment at a relatively lower elevation again because of my parents. Any areas you would recommend?

    Thanks for this informative blog.


  14. Rose says:

    FYI – The highest radio tower on Sandia peak is 850 feet tall.

  15. Alyse says:

    Just wanted to let you know that you put 5,280β€³ instead of 5,280′

  16. Jim says:

    We are going there around Oct. 8 for several nights for a quick “get out of town” without the kids… We are in Chicago, and personally we hate the deep cold of Chicago. I think the city is amazing, the food/restaurants are amazing, lake Michigan looks like an ocean, the museums are wonderful, the activities are endless… but the COLD is awful! It stays and stays… anyway, I have been online looking at the weather there in New Mexico and you seem to have a rather mild winter… have you lived there your entire life or did you move there? I am curious about the entire season… please let me know what you think about the food, climate, activities…
    Thanks for your help,
    Jim King
    I am looking to move somewhere in the future to a better climate…

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