A Photographers Guide to Albuquerque in Partnership With Visit Albuquerque

Albuquerque is known for a few things, Breaking Bad, green chile, it’s culture, and citizens that love their city. While all these are true, there is one main thing that many do not see. Albuquerque is an incredible city to photograph. If you are a traveling photographer and do not have Albuquerque on your list of travel destinations, get out your pen and mark it down! This is my Photographer's Guide To Albuquerque. 

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The sky is different in Albuquerque. With a very spread out population, New Mexico has some of the clearest skies in the U.S. Pair that with over 300 days of sunshine a year and you get some pretty good shooting conditions. Your first morning in Albuquerque wake up about an hour before sunrise and head west of the river. (rio grande) For an incredible view overlooking the river with downtown Albuquerque to the right. This is Oxbow Bluff. This is my singular favorite spot for sunset. Park at the end of Namaste road (4801 Namaste Rd NW) in the dirt lot and walk through the wooden opening in the fence to find the overlook facing east. This is also my number one spot to take photos of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

My second favorite place to catch sunrise is at West Bluff Park (2408 Alamogordo Dr NW). Since this park sits higher up and further south you get a much better view of downtown Albuquerque. So if you want more of an urban image West Bluff Park is the spot to go!

After an early morning sunrise send (photographer lingo for an adventure to take a photo) you will need some coffee asap and a great place to sit and edit all the bangers (more photographer lingo for good photo) you just captured. While there is ALWAYS a starbucks nearby I recommend heading downtown to a great brew and a comfortable place to work. If you’d like to take a look at some local art or sit on a pretty cool patio while you work, Zendo Coffee is the place to stop by! But if you want a choice of over 48 differant blends of coffee and a pour over coffee class head to Michael Thomas Coffee.


If you want to have a high chance of running into a cute dog (due to the connecting apartments above) and know you’ll have a place to sit and an outlet to charge, I recommend Humble Coffee Downtown.

In the likely situation you need some food soon after the caffeine fix, you're in luck! Two of my favorite places to grab breakfast or lunch are within ten minutes of downtown Albuquerque. For a meal that will you feel better about yourself after, head east on central ave to The Grove. This cafe / market offers some great, fresh breakfast opinions in a beautifully designed restaurant. I HIGHLY recommend anything with poached eggs on it or the granola, yogurt bowl!

Now, if you want to eat like you are on vacation and fully experience the New Mexico food rage, head further east on central ave to The Frontier. This is an Albuquerque landmark. The Frontier has New Mexican dishes such as green chile stew and smothered burritos. If you didn't know New Mexico is the only state with a state question and you will hear “Red or Green” pretty often at The Frontier. One MUST of this restaurant is get a sweet roll, and get it before your food comes out. This is a type of cinnamon roll that will just melt in your mouth! Pro Tip: eat the roll within 5 minute of receiving it.

After an inevitable mid day nap, which is a staple in any photographers routine, it's time for the sunset! New Mexico is one of the few places I have been where it feels like its almost more common to get an insane burn (more lingo for a bright colored sky) than not. If you want to take photos over downtown Albuquerque and also enjoy a very well made adult beverage, head to the Apothecary Lounge. Situated on top of Hotel Parq Central, this is not only my favorite bar in the city but my favorite view of downtown at sunset. Order yourself an old fashioned or local beer, find a seat with a view (they all have views) and enjoy the most relaxing sunset shoot of your photography career!  Photos are allowed here I just always recommend asking one of the bartenders in case of some special event or circumstance.

Now it's your last evening in Albuquerque and to this point I know what you’re thinking. “But Ian, every city has coffee shops and rooftop bars. What is something truly unique here in Albuquerque?” Well i’m glad you asked that kind soul! My absolute favorite place for sunset in all of New Mexico is on top the Sandia Crest. The most unique way to get here is on the second longest aerial tramway on the planet! Not good enough yet? Well once at the top there sits, at over 10,000 feet high, the brand new Ten3 restaurant and bar.

Ten3 offers amazing food and drinks with an unparalleled view of the sunset. Dinner reservations are required to dine in the main restaurant, but the bar does not require a reservation and offers its own menu and unique drink selection. I personally recommend the Alpine Martini.

Bartender Hailey Fortin said that “The combination of incredible views over the city and selection of food and drinks has really left an outstanding experience with all our guests. This is far and above anything else available in Albuquerque.”

Really anywhere up here will give you an incredible view of the sunset so don't be afraid to explore and find a unique composition. If you are feeling a little adventurous, take the mile long hike north on the ridge to Kiwanis Cabin. This old stone cabin has my absolute favorite view of anywhere in New Mexico.

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With its unique culture, food, and landscapes, Albuquerque is guaranteed to be a memorable trip for anyone visiting. So when packing your bag, don't forget to grab your camera and and explore everything Albuquerque has to offer. Thank you Visit Albuquerque for partnering with me for this article!

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Balloon Fiesta Pro Tips with @TravelNewMexico and Simply Social Media

Every year thousands of people come together to see over 500 massive hot air balloons fill the sky in the Land of Enchantment for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta! From the standard multi colored balloons to crazy special shapes such as Darth Vader and Yoda, this event is a one of a kind and a totally worthwhile trip to make! With over 800,000 visitors in 2018, the Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event on the planet and the largest in all of New Mexico. After attending for the last five years, and taking photos of the last two, I have curated a list of some very helpful tips to get the most out of your hot air balloon experience!

Photo by Josh Lane (@photobyjl)

Photo by Josh Lane (@photobyjl)

TIP #1: Get there early! This is the most photographed event in the world and brings hundreds of thousands of people every year. I recommend getting to the park around 5 am to avoid lines and traffic!⁠ Besides beating traffic, there are a few other benefits to being at the park before anyone else. If you would like to take photos of the balloons and don't have a camera, or want to try a new camera, Canon has a booth where they rent out cameras for free to anyone with a driver's license. These rentals are first come, first serve and they will run out so being there early will make sure you can take advantage of their amazing offer.

Image by Riley Russill (@yoriles)

Image by Riley Russill (@yoriles)

TIP #2: Know where to take photos in Balloon Fiesta Park! The image below was taken in the southwest corner of the park where there are some pools of water that will get you a really great reflection in your photos! ⁠This is one of the newest ways to get a unique perspective of the balloons for your images. On the north end of the park there is a hill that sits about 25 feet higher than the field below giving you unobstructed views of the balloons and some pretty cool perspectives! For anyone not familiar with their sense of direction in Albuquerque, the mountains are to the east as a landmark to help you orient yourself!

Photo by Ian Beckley (@bklyphoto)

Photo by Ian Beckley (@bklyphoto)

TIP #3: Stay warm! During Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque really starts to cool down and you need to dress the part. I recommend layers! Long pants, a warm hoodie, and a beanie or scarf to keep your head warm is ideal! Bring a backpack to store your layers because when the sunrises it will warm up and you don't want to be too hot! If you need even more of a boost in the morning make sure to head straight to the Pinon Coffee booth when you get through the entrance for a needed caffeine boost!⁠

Photo by Josh Lane (@photobyjl)

Photo by Josh Lane (@photobyjl)

TIP #4: Go outside of Balloon Fiesta Park! Once you get a day or two inside of the park, right in the middle of the action, we recommend going to a few other spots to watch the balloons ascend! The two main locations I like are: West Bluff Park (2408 Alamogordo Dr NW Albuquerque, NM 87120, United States) and Oxbow Bluff (Near 4808 Namaste Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120, United States). ⁠These locations offer you some of the best views of sunrise with the hundreds of balloons rising up in the sky. On top of that, both these locations are right by the river so you can see the balloons do a "dip" down into the river!⁠

Photo by Ian Beckley (@bklyphoto)

Photo by Ian Beckley (@bklyphoto)

TIP #5: Know which way to get to the event and where to park! There are two ways to get to the park by vehicle - drive or take the shuttle. While taking a shuttle can be a fun way to get there at first, it is not the most efficient process. ⁠If you are driving, we recommend taking the northern entrance near Tramway Blvd for quicker access. Due to much less traffic coming from the north this entrance tends to be much quicker than the south entrance off Alameda. ⁠

⁠ALSO don't forget cash for parking! Usually it is about $10 a car so get some friends and carpool.⁠

Photo by Hyunju Blemel (@jujubeaniac)

Photo by Hyunju Blemel (@jujubeaniac)

For anyone that may not know, I work as a contractor for Simply Social Media as a Content Specialist. This possition have given me so many oppritunities to chances to learn and grow so when I had the chance to write about my favorite event, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, I knew I had to share it here as well!

Make sure to check out all the guest photographers featured on this blog below:

Instagrams : @yoriles , @photobyjl, and @jujubeaniac

Website: Riley Russill , Josh Lane

Thank you to Simply Social Media and @TravelNewMexico for letting me write this blog post! Make sure to check out the origional blog at the link below.

Balloon Fiesta Tips