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Albuquerque, New Mexico Biological Park: Zoo, Aquarium, and Botanic Garden
After 6 long and lovely years of residence in the ever-gorgeous Albuquerque, I've learned a lot about the places to go. Since I've always been an outdoorsy gal, the conglomerate zoo, biopark, and aquarium were some of my first stops!
In this hub, you'll learn more about what makes each place unique, general pricing information, who would enjoy these facilities, and whether or not it's worth the trip. Hint: it is!
Which do you prefer?
What is the history of the Albuquerque Biological Park?
The Albuquerque Biological Park is an environmental museum consisting of four parts in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The facilities range in age. The Zoo was the first part of the park, and was founded in 1927. In 1996, the Aquarium and Botanic Gardens were added, too.
Each hosts special events throughout the year to celebrate key days or ideas, and are wonderful centers of community throughout the city.
A Visitor's Experience
Rio Grande Zoo
Although the Albuquerque zoo is not the biggest, best, or fanciest, it is a lovely specimen. It is well-maintained, hosts a variety of regional animals, and hey, you can even ride a camel! Peacocks traverse the park on their own, so expect to see a few wherever they decide to travel.
I always loved the polar bears, Mexican wolves (lobos), and elephants. I told them they could go home with me, but it never took...
Some other popular attractions include the "Cat Walk," ape exhibit, and sea lions. As soon as you enter the Zoo, you'll see an exhibit of flamingos. They're the unofficial greeters, so say hello!
There are also a few train rides available around the park that provide an expert look into the park without walking around in the hot sun all day!
Shark Tank Action Shot
For a behind-the-scenes look at the zoo, drive, bike, or walk down Tingley Drive. On one side, you see the beautiful bosque along the Rio Grande. On the other side, you can see elephants and other critters in their homes!
I've only been to the Albuquerque Aquarium twice, but every time we go, we remark on how great it is for such a small, local place.
It houses a wide variety of animals, including examples of regional water ecosystems. It is a fantastic place to learn about these creatures, but there's also a touch tank! Little kids love sticking their mitts in to pet rays and other animals, and it's a wonderful, fantastic learning experience.
One of the most beautiful parts of the Albuquerque Aquarium is its enormous shark tank (over 285,000 gallons). The viewing room is darkened, and all of the animals are displayed in brilliant color!
Runner-up of awesomeness: the jelly fish tube! They glow from within, and look like magical beings.
The Albuquerque Aquarium is great for even non-fishy types. Must visit!
Rio Grande Botanical Gardens
The hidden gem of the Albuquerque BioPark consortium is the botanical gardens. Set upon 36 acres in Old Town Albuquerque, there are nooks and crannies to explore for days. Heck, I even have a friend get married there! It's picturesque, serene, and calming.
Although parts of the botanical gardens might be less exciting to the horticulturally-averse, there is one section in particular that gets my fires roaring: the Heritage Farm.
It holds an actual adobe building, which is a wonderful respite in the summer heat. Outside, there are fields of typical crops. My favorites were the artichokes. There are also lines of orchards and vines and farm houses complete with animals. It's gorgeous, and takes you back to much older days along the Rio Grande.
Kiddos love the Fantasy Garden with giant bugs and veggies. The Japanese Garden is another particularly delightful part of the park, and is extremely soothing and refreshing.
Inside the Heritage Farm
Extra Awesome: Tingley Beach
Although not often remembered as part of the Biological Park group, Tingley Beach is a totally public and free area for exploration! It has a stocked pond and lovely sitting areas, but I enjoy it for the lengthy, diverse walks along the bosque, or the wooded area surrounding the Rio Grande. There are paths up and down that entire area, which make for great walking, jogging, running, biking, and elbow jabbing (alright, not this last part).
It's perfect for a warm/hot summer day, crisp fall afternoon, or any time you want to pretend you aren't in a huge city.
ABQ BioPark Out-and-About
Just South of Old Town, you'll find all of the Albuquerque Biological Park amenities. Here's the zoo!
The Botanic Garden and Aquarium are on the same parcel of land. Park once, and explore for hours!
How do I get from one park to another?
Did you notice that the Zoo is separate from the Aquarium and Botanic Gardens? They're connected through a narrow gauge railroad that goes behind the Zoo and along Tingley Beach. It's fast, easy, scenic, and fun for kids!
Important Health Reminder
Hey! Listen up! Albuquerque sits at about 5,000 feet at its lowest point. If you're from out of town, specifically in areas at lower elevations, that altitude change can make you tired.
Plus, you're missing a major layer of cloud cover. You WILL dehydrate, burn, and wear out more quickly. I know it's tempting to go without sunscreen, backup water bottle, or taking breaks in the shade, but those are foolish mistakes to make.
I've written about this subject before. Follow these heat exhaustion prevention tips to keep everyone healthy and happy!
To avoid health problems:
- Take frequent breaks in the shade (notice the temperature drop!),
- Drink water constantly,
- Wear sunscreen or protective clothing,
- Avoid drinking alcohol (it'll hit you harder and faster, plus can exacerbate other health issues).
Got it? Okay, back to our regularly programmed discussion...
How much does admission to the ABQ BioPark cost?
Prices vary depending on the different venues you care to explore and age, but you can explore all for about $16. Since I do not work for the BioPark, please do not take my word as final on these matters. Instead, keep up-to-date on BioPark prices from the City of Albuquerque website.
Hey! Don't forget. There are special discounts for service members, senior citizens, and members of several institutions.
Fantastic Special Events
My most favorite part of the Biological Park is the constant influx of special events. From summertime concerts in a grassy, shaded part of the zoo or the River of Lights during the holiday season, there's always something going on!
I've attended several concerts at the zoo, and always have a lovely time. See a few pictures of these events below!
For more information on what's happening when, keep an eye out on BioPark events.
The Children's Fantasy Garden
Family Friendly Fun in ABQ
Pretty much everyone assumes that zoos and aquariums are family friendly places, but I want to reiterate just how great the entire Biological Park group is for families.
Little kids will delight in all of sounds, colors, and sights to see. There are play exhibits in all of the areas, including a huge playground in the zoo by the elephants, a touch tank at the aquarium, and the wonderful Children's Fantasy Garden at the Botanic Gardens.
Older kids will also enjoy the features, especially if they like to learn new things and observe nature!
These areas are done well enough to bring interest and excitement to the older or more single crowds too, though! I'm always up for a peaceful walk through the Botanic Gardens, and they have many fantastic events for adults at all three of these areas.
So YES, they are GREAT for families, but they're wonderful for everyone else, too!
Should I visit the Albuquerque BioPark?
Unless you experience pain at the mere thought of being outside in nature, I see no reason not to take advantage of these wonderful parts of Albuquerque. They really are very well done, and are a fantastic day out for so many different groups of people.