Sandia Peak Ski Area will be closed summer of 2019 due to construction
Sandia Peak Ski and Tramway

Proposed Mountain Coaster

Project Timeline

  • Summer 2015 - Mountain Coaster identified as multi-season recreational opportunity at Sandia Peak Ski Area.
  • January 2017 - Sandia Peak Ski Area 2016 Master Development Plan submitted to the Forest Service, which included proposed Mountain Coaster.
  • January 2018 - Sandia Peak Master Development Plan accepted by the Forest Service.
  • June 2018 - Project Proposal Letter and Application for the Mountain  Coaster submitted to Sandia Ranger District, Cibola National Forest.
  • July 2018 thru March 2019 - Forest Service review process 3-8 months. Will include review and assessment of environmental, economic, cultural, wildlife, biological, archeological, visual management, recreation opportunities and public comment.
  • Spring/Summer 2019 - Proposed Construction, if approved by the Forest Service.
  • Summer/Fall 2019 - Proposed Mountain Coaster “Open for Operation”.


To view Sandia Peak Ski Area’s Master Development Plan please go HERE


Sandia Peak Ski Area -Proposed Mountain Coaster

Questions and Answers:

Q) Why build a Mountain Coaster at Sandia Peak Ski Area?

  • The primary goal of the Mountain Coaster is to create an incredible “new” experience for Tram riders, skiers, snowboarders, hikers, bikers and all mountain visitors that may not have ever experienced the trill of skiing, snowboarding or mountain biking.
  • The Mountain Coaster would allow guests to enjoy an exciting mountain experience while traversing through the natural terrain similar to skiing, snowboarding and mountain biking in the comfort of a secured sled traveling at approximately the same downhill speed (25mph-30mph).

Q) Are there other reasons to build a Mountain Coaster?

  • Another important goal of the Mountain Coaster is to help stabilize Sandia Peak Ski Company’s challenging business operations. With the decline in annual snowfall over the last decade, and subsequent reduction in skier visits, a year-round mountain experience that is non-weather dependent is desperately needed.
  • The Mountain Coaster will provide more year-round jobs.

Q) Where is the proposed location of the Mountain Coaster?

  • The proposed Mountain Coaster would start near the top of the Ski Area between Chairlift #1 & #2 and behind the upper Tram terminal.
  • The Mountain Coaster track would transverse downhill approximately 2,825 feet (one-fourth of the existing ski area) within the existing ski trails and forested areas, and then ascend back up the mountain 1,375’ to the start/finish.
  • The Mountain Coaster would be located within the existing Sandia Peak Ski Company’s Special Use Permit area on the eastern slope of the Sandia Mountains.

Q) How would the existing skiing, biking and hiking trails be affected?

  • Rob’s Run and a small portion of Fred’s Run would be closed for skiing as well as the upper headwall of Inhibition.
  • 4 to 5 switchbacks of the Golden Eagle mountain bike trail would be rerouted to accommodate the coaster.
  • The coaster would not affect the 10K Trail, King of the Mountain Trail or South Crest Trail.

Q) How big is the Sandia Peak Ski Company’s Special Use Permit area?

  • The Permit Area is 945 acres. The Permit Area represents approx. 1.1% of the Sandia Mountains area of approx. 87,040 acres.

Q) How many riders are expected to ride the Mountain Coaster?

  • In year one, the Mountain Coaster is estimated to have 75,000 to 100,000 riders.
  • The Sandia Peak Tramway currently transports approximately 250,000 visitors annually up and down the western slope of the Sandia Mountains.
  • Tram ridership may increase slightly (10-15%), however the Tram currently operates at maximum capacity during most weekends and Holidays.
  • The number of winter visitors at Sandia Peak Ski Area has averaged approximately 20,000 guests annually over the past six years. Over the last decade, skier visits have varied from a low of 3,714 in 2012/13 to a high of 45,9113 in 2011/12.
  • The number of summer visitors at Sandia Peak Ski Area has averaged approximately 5,800 guests annually over the five-year period prior the suspension of summer operations in 2016.

Q) How would the public access the Mountain Coaster?

  • Primary access to the Mountain Coaster would be limited to passengers of the Sandia Peak Tramway.
  • Access from Sandia Peak Ski Area’s lift system would be limited to the winter ski season only by chairlift #3.
  • Summer access from Sandia Peak Ski area would be limited to the Sandia Mountain hiking and mountain biking trails.
  • The Sandia Peak summer scenic chairlift and mountain bike operation has been suspended (beginning in 2016 and for the foreseeable future).
  • Chairlift #1, the existing scenic chairlift has been decommissioned and is proposed for removal.

Q) What season(s) would the Mountain Coaster Operate?

  • The Mountain Coaster would operate year-round, except during the annual spring and fall Tram closures.
  • The Mountain Coaster may close during extreme weather conditions including; high winds, heavy rain & snow and lightning, similar to the Sandia Peak Tramway.

Q) What would the normal hours of operation for the Mountain Coaster be?

  • Similar to the daytime operational hours of the Tramway.
  • 9:00am to Sunset

Q) Would the Mountain Coaster operate at night?

  • No, there are no plans for any night operations in the Sandia Peak Ski Area 2016 Master Development Plan (MDP).

Q) How long would the Mountain Coaster ride take?

  • The total time for the ride would be approximately 6 minutes.
  • The downhill and uphill sections of the ride each take approximately 3 minutes.

Q) What is the general make-up and construction of the Mountain Coaster system?

  • The Mountain Coaster is designed to keep a low profile as the cart “hugs” the natural terrain of the slope while running on steel rails with up-stop wheels that secure the cart to the track.
  • The Mountain Coaster tracks are designed for easy installation, with minimal impact to the natural environment.
  • The tracks would be built at a 3’ height average (with some sections up to 7, 10 and 13’), while taking advantage of the natural elevation of the terrain.
  • The braking system of the Mountain Coaster uses an eddy current magnetic brake which limits top speed to approximately 25mph. The brake pads are non-metallic and will not result in sparks during breaking.
  • The wheels of the Mountain Coaster are made of a rubber composite.

Q) What kind of noise levels might come from the Mountain Coaster operation.

  • The Mountain Coaster operates at noise levels less than 60 decibels.
  • The noise levels resulting from the Mountain Coaster are similar to the noise levels of the existing chairlifts and the Tram, including shouts of fun and excitement.

Q) How big would the proposed Mountain Coaster start house be?

  • Approximately 800-1,000 square feet.

Q) Who makes the Mountain Coaster?

  • The Mountain Coaster is manufactured by Wiegand, a German Company:

Q) Are there any other Mountain Coasters operating in the U.S. and world-wide?

  • There are about 25 Mountain Coasters in the U.S.
  • There are five in Colorado and two in Utah.
  • There are hundreds throughout Europe


Mountain Coaster Track Facts:

Approximately: 2825 of decent track:

2234’ up to 3’ height (80%)

509’ up to 7’ height (18%)

82’ up to 10’ height (2%)


Approximately: 1375 of uphill track:

685’ up to 3’ height (50%)

427’ up to 7’ height (31%)

148’ up to 10’ height (11%)

115’ up to 13’ height (8%)


Approximately: 4200’ of combined total track (decent + uphill):

2919’ up to 3’ height (70%)

936’ up to 7’ height (22%)

230’ up to 10’ height (5%)

115’ up to 13’ height (3%)


Other Info:

Vertical Drop: 378’

Ave Gradient: 13.4%

Max. Gradient: 24.5%

Speed: 25mph-30mph


Industrial Revenue Bond (IRB) Questions:

Q) What is an Industrial Revenue Bond (IRB)?

A) An IRB is a financing mechanism utilized by Counties and Municipalities which can provide for favorable financing terms and tax incentives. They are used to spur economic development.

Q) Why is a Bernalillo County Industrial Revenue Bond being sought?

A)  These projects have a projected cost which have risen to point that the favorable tax provisions provided by an IRB are necessary in order to make them financially viable.

Q)  Is the taxpayer obligated for repayment of the bonds?

A). No.  Only the Sandia Peak Ski Company will be obligated for repayment of the bonds.

Q) How many new and saved jobs are anticipated?

A) It anticipated that the new coaster and restaurant will employ 114 people.  With the restaurant requiring 98 employees and the mountain coaster 16. In addition, it is anticipated that 65 construction jobs will be required for the restaurant and 8 for the mountain coaster. Additionally, each facility will have a multiplier effect because of the various entities that will need to supply the contractors and ongoing facilities. Finally, the Tramway has been a significant tourism attraction for Bernalillo County and New Mexico.  The refurbishing of this 50+ year old facility is needed to ensure that it remains a draw for County Residents and Tourist who visit Albuquerque.

Edit date: 9-5-2018

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