Bernalillo has long had a reputation for beautiful scenery and friendly people. The location of the town has been a contributing factor to the success of the community and continues to draw people to the area.
The Town of Bernalillo is situated at the northwest slope of the Sandia Mountains and hugs the banks of the Rio Grande, offering a breathtaking view of natural beauty that has drawn thousands of visitors to the area each year.
Bernalillo evolved from a line of houses along the river bank in the 1600’s to a commercial center of trade among the Pueblos and the Mexican settlers in the 1800’s. Founded by Don Diego de Vargas in 1695, the Town of Bernalillo remains a retail trade and service center for this part of the region.
Bernalillo is located in Sandoval County and the main street, Camino del Pueblo, is synonymous with three other historical attributes: U.S. Route 66, El Camino Real and Old State Highway 85. Running through the center of town, this roadway is rich in history, and was the focal point in dealing with the outside world for several hundred years as it connected Santa Fe to Mexico City. It remains one of the oldest historical trails in the United States.
The community has much to offer in recreation, commerce and social amenities. It has the advantages of larger cities and access to large-city services without the strain of urban living. The Town of Bernalillo is 15 miles from Albuquerque and borders the state’s fastest growing metropolitan area, Rio Rancho. The Rio Grande splits the town from north to south.
Bernalillo’s location provides direct access to the Jemez Mountains to the northwest and the Sandia Mountain range to the southeast, which makes it an ideal tourist attraction. Numerous city parks, ball fields, playgrounds and picnic areas including historical, social and cultural events are mainstays of community life.
Wine making is a major industry in Bernalillo having survived floods, drought, and prohibition. Bernalillo celebrates their vineyards each Labor Day with one of the premier events in the state: The New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo. This event is jointly sponsored by the Town of Bernalillo Main Street Association and the New Mexico Wineries, Inc. and is billed as a tourism and economic development project that is nearing its 20th anniversary.
The community has seen a steady rise in population over the past few years and the inclusion of new businesses as well. Since the town is located between two Pueblos, Sandia Pueblo on the south and Santa Ana Pueblo on the north, there is little opportunity for expansion beyond the current municipal boundary. These facts put a premium on planning that is conscious of the unique heritage and culture of the town. All growth is predicted upon an awareness of and appreciation for the present inhabitants and the historical significance of the town.
Bernalillo has been a growing commercial area in recent years. The major highway that runs through the town, U.S. 550, carries an average of nearly 30,000 vehicles each weekday. Smaller employers find a willing and trained workforce eager to remain in their living community or lured to the area to escape the problems of the larger, neighboring communities. In addition, there are three Indian Casinos within a 10 mile radius of Bernalillo: Sandia, Santa Ana and San Felipe. Both Sandia Pueblo and Santa Ana Pueblo have opened resort properties within the past few years, as well.