I'm going to be in Albuquerque next month and will be on a pretty tight budget. I'm looking for the best free and inexpensive things to check out! I love the outdoors, art, museums, you name it. Thanks!
Petroglyph National Monument charges $1-$2 for parking but it is free to hike. It is a special place that should not be missed when you are in the area. Stop at the visitor center for some information before you begin.
If you like the outdoors, hike the Sandia Mountains. La Luz trail is iconic, although hiking it all the way to Sandia Peak this time of year will require very warm clothing and at least spikes and probably snow shoes. Embudo Trail and Embudito Canyon are also excellent hikes, although again you will encounter snow at the higher elevations of the trails. There are miles of trails along the foothills that should be free of snow unless we get a snowstorm. You might also want to drive down to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, which is about 75 miles down I-25 from Albuquerqueand just south of the little town of San Antonio. It is a winter haven for large flocks of sandhill cranes, snow geese, and even some of the very few remaining western whooping cranes. They come flocking in en masse shortly before sundown, but you will see birds any time of the day. If you go there, stop in San Antonio at either the Buckhorn Tavern or the Owl Cafe for one of their famous green chile cheeseburgers and a beer.
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The easiest option for saving money would be a fun hike in the foothills near the sandia mountains or if you are feeling more ambitious, the La Luz trail will take you to the top of the mountain. You could take the tram down (15$) or hike all the way back. There are also fun hike in the Bosque, which would be south east of montano and coors. You could also check out the balloon museum, the nuclear museum, the natural history museum, or if you want to unleash your inner child, Explora is a fun interactive museum.