Above: One of the snake sculptures near Mesa del Sol in Albuquerque. Photograph courtesy of RoadsideArchitecture.com.
When the City of Albuquerque hired Sites Southwest to landscape the median gliding up a long hill to the Mesa del Sol development, near the airport, the job had a hitch: no water. George Radnovich and his team put their heads together. What could possibly grow in those conditions? Sculpture that would speak to the environs came to mind. Rabbits? Roadrunners? No, one of the team members said. Rattlesnakes. Everyone loved it. Completed in 2007, the pair (one near Rio Bravo Boulevard, the other at the Mesa del Sol entrance) consist of hollow cylinders dotted with cobblestones that, a few biologists have carped, don’t match true rattler colorations. “We couldn’t find stones in those colors,” Radnovich says. With six-foot-high heads and bodies that undulate for about 200 feet, the snakes have spawned a lot of Instagrams, along with urban legends, including one that claims they represent jilted lovers slithering away from each other. Nah, says Radnovich. “It was just creating something special that doesn’t need water.”
Go east on Rio Bravo from I-25. Turn south on University Boulevard and follow it up the hill. You can park at the top and walk down—carefully. There’s traffic.