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A little more than 60 miles south of New Mexico’s capital of Santa Fe, Albuquerque is nonetheless New Mexico's largest city, and the venue for the largest hot air balloon fiesta in the world. The sight of colorful hot air balloons drifting upward all at once is truly a spectacular sight, so make sure you have a place to stay by finding RV rentals in Albuquerque well ahead of this fall festival.
Albuquerque is also the venue for the Gathering of Nations, the largest pow-wow in North America, which happens annually on the fourth weekend of April. This event is a testament to the widespread presence of Native Americans, especially Tiwa Pueblos, on the outskirts of the present-day city which grew along the Rio Grande.
In 1706, the Spanish established a colonial outpost on the banks of the Rio Grande, which today bisects the city from north to south. Follow it for 16 miles along the multi-use Paseo del Bosque Trail to experience the Rio Grande Valley State Park.
You can also see the entire Rio Grande Valley, all 11,000 square miles of it, from high up the Sandia peak. The Sandia Mountains tower over Albuquerque from the east, and with your motorhome rental in Albuquerque safely parked at the KOA campgrounds located at the base of the mountain, take the tramway up to the peak for a panoramic view of the entire valley and the deep canyons below your feet.
Or you can lace up your boots and hike up to the summit, standing at 10,679 feet above sea level, and then take the tram on your way down. For more hiking options and opportunities for wildlife encounters (with a choice to walk a mile-long trail or a more rigorous seven-mile route), head north to Cibola National Forest, about 16 miles away.
New Mexico has many national parks, some a few hours' drive from Albuquerque. The closest, at just 7.5 miles northwest of downtown, is the Petroglyph National Monument. It's home to about 24,000 images, like geometrical patterns, human-like faces, and animals, that were carved onto volcanic rocks by ancestral Pueblo peoples and early Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. Some sites, especially the Boca Negra Canyon area, even contain carvings that were dated at 3,000 years old. Access the park from Boca Negra and also Piedras Marcadas Canyon, Rinconada Canyon and the Volcano Day Use trails.
Albuquerque is surrounded by ancestral Pueblos that testify to the Native Americans’ engineering and building skills. Drive your Albuquerque camper rental 100 miles north to the Bandelier National Monument, or farther out to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, about 150 miles northwest, to gain insight into how the ancestral Puebloans lived more than a thousand years ago. To witness a living community that has remained culturally intact, take your Albuquerque travel trailer rental to Zuni Indian Reservation, approximately 150 miles west. Observe the rituals carried out from a respectful distance, or get hands-on and browse their trading posts for authentic Zuni and Navajo jewelry, arts and crafts.
Albuquerque is a huge city in terms of land area, so it's not surprising to find a handful of RV parks within five to six miles of downtown, with a few Walmart stores located within two to five miles of the campgrounds. If you wish to be close to the highway yet be within 15 miles of the urban core, consider finding a spot for your RV rental in Albuquerque along the north-south corridor of I-25 and the east-west historic Route 66, now under I-40.
Arbor RV Park is well situated, as it is only two miles away from the Old Town and seven miles east of the petroglyphs. Farther north but also within seven miles of the carvings is Green Acres RV Park.
Bandelier National Park’s Juniper and Ponderosa Campgrounds are also RV friendly, but the former has more campsites and access to a dump station. The nearest Walmart is in Los Alamos, about 17 miles away.
Stargazers might want to head to the Chaco Historic Park Campgrounds, a designated International Dark Sky Park. Aside from the massive buildings of the ancestral Puebloans, hiking and biking trails beckon those who wish to further explore the backcountry. Park your Albuquerque rental RV at the Gallo Campground for year-round access to (non-potable) water, a dump station, and restrooms with flush toilets.
Outside of the weeklong balloon festival, Albuquerque is a delightful place to visit anytime of the year as it gets more than 300 days of sunshine. Enjoy the warm weather as you stroll along the narrow streets of the Old Town where century-old adobe houses still stand and eateries serving enchiladas and sopaipilla can be found.
Route 66 has always passed through Albuquerque even before it was commissioned, and while some of the historic roadbed is now under I-40, follow the neon signs and mom-and-pop motels along Central Avenue and you won’t get lost. It’s a bonus if you love artwork and kitschy Americana style as they’re concentrated along this buzzing stretch of the Mother Road.
And don’t forget to hunt down relics of the past at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. New Mexico was once submerged under a shallow sea, so fossil hunting here is serious business. See what paleontologists have dug up apart from a roomful of dinosaur skeletons.
And there’s more. Albuquerque seems to have an affinity to celebrate anything associated with the American Southwest. There’s a museum or center dedicated to Indian Pueblos, Hispanic culture, nuclear science (Albuquerque played a key role during the US Atomic Age), meteorites, antique cars, gems (turquoise), hot air balloons of course, and even rattlesnakes.
New Mexico is indeed a ‘Land of Enchantment,’ and it’s not hard to see why. Find the best RV rental in Albuquerque, NM, pedal around, or take the ABQ Ride buses to get around the city, and prepare to be amazed.