Sandoval Signpost


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Snowboarder Ty boards the Rail Runner train in Bernalillo for an easy public transportation connection to the slopes above Santa Fe.
Photo credit: —John Knight

Switzerland on the Rio Grande

—Ty Belknap

On December 14, a friend and I took the Rail Runner Express at 6:46 a.m. from 550 Station in Bernalillo to the South Capitol Station in Santa Fe, then we took the new 255 Mountain Trail bus at 8:00 a.m. to Santa Fe Ski Area. We snowboarded/skied all day, then took the 255 bus at 4:30 p.m. back to the South Capitol Station, then the 5:30 p.m. train back to Bernalillo. The bus cost five dollars each way, but you get a five-dollar token to apply to a lift ticket (or breakfast burrito).

I get a free Rail Runner annual pass for being a veteran, but even if you have to pay, the Rail Runner day pass only costs seven dollars—six dollars for seniors and another dollar off for buying the ticket online.

Later that week, we took the 10:08 a.m. train from Bernalillo and the 11:30 a.m. bus to the ski area. My long-time aversion to the higher cost of half-day skiing is offset by the cheap transportation. Anyway, skiing from the first lift until the last is a long day for a geezer like me. There is a 12:45 bus back to Santa Fe, but no train until 4:30. The bus driver will drop riders at a bar or restaurant near the depot.

An annual $69 dollar Peak Plus card gets me $25 dollars off the $55 dollar senior all-day lift ticket.

It’s not just that I am frugal. Downhill skiing is too expensive for most of us in the 99 percent. Driving to most ski areas on a nice powder day involves a white-knuckled drive up and down steep mountain roads full of aggressive and/or incompetent drivers. Sometimes there are parking issues. The Mountain Trail bus offers comfortable seats, seat belts, and a great view. It drops you right at the ski lodge, relaxed and ready to shred.

I had a few reservations about sharing this information with thousands of Signpost readers. What if you took all thirty seats on the bus? But then again, there were only a few riders aboard. If we don’t start filling that bus, they are liable to cancel it.

The weekend schedule includes six departures up and back, but the times don’t correspond very well with the Rail Runner schedule. Another option is to drive to Santa Fe and park at the South Capitol Station or the bus stop at Fort Marcy Park.

This was the first time in years that I have skied before New Years Day. El Niño has brought some of the best conditions in the Rockies to Ski Santa Fe.  As of December 26, the snow depth was 78 inches and counting.

Trains in the Alps carry skiers directly from downtown to the slopes. Bernalillo is like Switzerland on the Rio Grande!

Leon Krabbe of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish stocks a riverside drain near Bernalillo with trout.
Photo credit: —New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

A Bernalillo fish tale—The calendar says winter, but it’s still fishing season

—Karl Moffatt, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

Anglers, don’t put away your fishing rod just yet. The Department of Game and Fish will be stocking trout all winter in the ponds at Tingley Beach and in the Rio Grande drainage canals around Albuquerque.

“We’ll be regularly stocking plenty of trout this winter and even slipping in some of those extra-large ones we’ve been growing lately,” said Mike Sloane, chief of fisheries for the department.

Every fall, the department switches from stocking catfish in the summer to trout in the winter at Tingley Beach and other popular fishing waters in the southern half of the state. Catfish thrive in warmer water while trout prefer it much cooler, and these waters are ideal for this kind of stocking program.

Rainbow trout already have been stocked at multiple locations in the drains that run alongside the Rio Grande. Although the department doesn’t disclose exact stocking spots, general locations include: N.M. 550 river bridge in Bernalillo, the Corrales drain along the bosque, and the Rio Grande Open Space off Alameda Boulevard. Other stocking spots include the Shining River parking area, the drain between Bridge and Rio Bravo Boulevards, and the west bank of the Belen drain and the east bank of the Peralta drain between Los Lunas and Belen.

Trout are stocked every week from November through March with 2,400 going into the ponds at Tingley Beach and another thousand into the drains.

See the weekly stocking report at for more information, including maps of the drains.

Fishing for trout in the Albuquerque area drains is much like angling on any stream, said Shaun Green, a cold-water fisheries biologist with the department. “You just need to be a little sneaky,” he said.

Trout in the drains usually can be found in deeper pools, under the shade of overhanging trees or around any kind of protective structure. One good fishing technique involves suspending a salmon egg or worm on a short piece of lightly weighted line just below a bobber or bubble so the bait rides just above the bottom. Anglers also can use spinners and flies to catch trout in the drains.

Most areas along the drains are open to the public during daylight hours and can be accessed by walking, riding a bike, or driving if permitted. For more information about riverside recreation in the Albuquerque area, visit the city’s website at

At Tingley Beach, anglers will find a kids’ pond for anglers younger than age 12, a central pond where bait is allowed. The bag limit is four trout per day. There is also catch-and-release only pond where only single, barbless, hooks on artificial flies and lures may be used.

Anglers ages 12 and older need a current fishing license, available by calling the department’s customer service line, (888) 248-6866. A license also can be purchased online at or from vendors such as bait and tackle shops and sporting goods stores.

Tingley Beach, also called Conservancy Park, is operated by the City of Albuquerque and features a café, restrooms, hiking and biking trails, and security guards on patrol.

Great winter trout fishing can be found within a moderate drive from Albuquerque, including the Pecos River at Sumner Lake and Villanueva state parks. Anglers can wet a line for trout at Escondida Lake just outside of Socorro and on the Rio Grande below Elephant Butte Lake at Truth or Consequences.

Anglers will find many other winter trout fishing waters in the southern part of the state that are stocked by the department. For a list of those waters, visit the department’s website,

BLM designates 2016 Fee-Free Days, making it easier for Americans to connect with their public lands

—Anthony Small

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages more recreational opportunities than any other federal agency, and most of these recreational opportunities are accessible to the public for free. A small number of BLM-managed recreation sites charge a standard amenity or day use fee, which will be waived on January 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), February 13-15, September 24 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day), 2016.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public lands, which provide for a wide range of recreational opportunities. About 61 million visits were made to BLM-managed lands and waters in 2014, supporting more than 41,000 jobs nationwide and contributing $5.5 billion dollars to the nation’s economy.

Site-specific standard amenity and day-use fees at BLM recreation sites and areas will be waived for the specified dates. Other fees, such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use, and use of special areas will remain in effect. More details are available at

BLM dedicates trail and nature area east of Cuba

—Joshua Freeman, Wildlife Biologist, Bureau of Land Management

In September, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rio Puerco Field Office dedicated the Ted Mace Trail and Richard W. Becker Nature Area. The Trail and Nature Area are located just past mile marker 53 off of U.S. Highway 550. The trail and nature areas were projects completed by the Rio Puerco Management Committee (Committee). The Committee is a collaborative watershed organization that, through the BLM, collaborates with state, local, and tribal governments to protect the long-term sustainability of the Rio Puerco watershed in New Mexico.

The dedication was to recognize the efforts of two longtime members of the Committee whose work, commitment, and tireless advocacy were key to the success of the Committee’s watershed restoration and education outreach programs. 

The dedication ceremony was held at the Nature Area, which is located next to the La Ventana Project on the Rio Puerco, along U.S. Highway 550, east of Cuba, New Mexico.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.

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