The "Thumb" is a large fin shaped formation on the west side of the Sandia Mountains
. From the City of Albuquerque the Thumb can be hard to differentiate from the many other rock formations. However, when the Thumb is viewed from north of Albuquerque or Bernalillo areas the Thumb is very prominent. The upper portion of the La Luz trail
also offers spectacular views of this amazing rock fin. Many consider the Northwest Ridge of the Thumb to be a classic alpine route. There are also many other trad climbing routes on this fin. There is only one non-technical route to the summit although it is exposed and does require some scrambling.
The Thumb at sunset
New Mexico Rank:
Rank and Prominence information from
Lists of John
Getting ThereTop-down approach:
Go east on I-40 to exit 175 (Tierjas). From the exit ramp turn left (north) and go under the highway continuing north on Rt 14. Follow Rt 14 north for approximately 6 miles and turn left (west) onto Rt 536. Continue up Rt 536 about 14 miles to the top of the Sandia Crest.
There are two options for getting to the Trailhead depending on where in Albuquerque you are coming from:
1) Go north on I-25 to exit 234 (Tramway Blvd). Drive east past Sandia Casino for approximately 3 miles to FR 333. Turn left onto FR 333. Stay on FR 333 until you reach the La Luz Trailhead.
2) Go east on I-40 to exit 167 (Tramway Blvd). Follow Tramway Blvd for approximately 10 miles. When you are nearing the northern end of Tramway there will be a 3-way stop. After the stop continue until Tramway Blvd starts to turn back west. FR 333 will come up on your right. Turn right onto FR 333. Stay on FR 333 until you reach the La Luz Trailhead.
The Thumb has many technical routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.10. The only non-technical route comes from the saddle on the southeast side. All routes have a great deal of exposure due to the fin shape of this summit.
The only non-technical route on The Thumb. Beginning at the saddle this route requires a 3rd class scramble up the exposed southeast ridge.
Considered a classic line and one of the best in the Sandias. This 5.6 route is six pitches with a few hundred feet of 3rd and 4th class scrambling at the top. This route has lots of exposure.
Other technical routes
There are numerous other technical routes that take a more direct line than the northwest ridge route. There are many rock climbing books available that contain the details of these other routes.
Views from the summit:
Looking E: Sandia Crest Towers Looking NW: Rincon Spur
Looking N: Needle(background) Looking East/Down
Looking SE: Upper Tram Terminal
There is a $3 per car fee to park the trailhead. Payment envelopes and stations can be located in the parking area.
There are no campgrounds in the Sandia Mountains. There are numerous commercial camping sites aloug route 14 between I-40 and route 536.
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City of Albuquerque open space info: here
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