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.
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.
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!