Taos Ski Valley: World renowned for its difficult runs and the ridge where skiers hike for up to 2 hours to ski fresh powder, Taos has long been a pilgrimage site for extreme skiers. Over the years, the ski area has opened up new bowls to accommodate intermediate and beginning skiers, and, most recently snowboarders have become welcome too!
Sandia Peak Tramway: The world's longest tramway ferries passengers 2 3/4 miles, from Albuquerque's city limits to the summit of the 10,378-foot Sandia Peak. On the way, you'll likely see rare Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and birds of prey. Go in the evening to watch the sun set, and then enjoy the glimmering city lights on your way down.
Bandelier National Monument: These ruins provide a spectacular peek into the lives of the ancestral Puebloan culture, which reached its peak in this area around 1100 A.D. Less than 15 miles south of Los Alamos, the ruins spread across a peaceful canyon. You'll probably see deer and rabbits as you make your way through the canyon to the most dramatic site, a kiva and dwelling in a cave 140 feet above the canyon floor.
Whitewater Rafting on the Rio Grande: In spring and early summer, the region's most notorious white-water trip, the Taos Box, takes rafters on an 18-mile jaunt through the Rio Grande Gorge. Less extreme types can enjoy a trip down Pilar and still get plenty wet.
Llama Trekking: Also in the Taos area, two outfitters take hikers on day or multiday trips. You get to enjoy the scenery while the stout and docile creatures do the work. The trips come with gourmet food.
Hot-Air Ballooning: One of the biggest treats about being in Albuquerque is waking each day and looking at the sky. Unless it's very windy or extremely cold, you'll likely see some colorful globes floating serenely on the horizon. You might even be startled with the sound of flames blasting as one flies over your head! The experience of riding in one is indescribable. You're literally floating, being carried along by nothing but the wind. Try it!
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (Socorro; tel. 505/835-1828): About 80 miles south of Albuquerque, this is one of the nation's finest refuges. In winter, visitors come to see volumes of birds. In early December, the refuge may harbor as many as 45,000 snow geese, 57,000 ducks of many different species, and 18,000 sandhill cranes. Seeing them "fly out" to the fields in the morning, or "fly in" to the lakes in the evening is a life-altering experience.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.