The Insider's Guide to Route 66's Must-Stop Spots
Get your kicks... well, you know the rest. New Mexico's stretch of Route 66 is unique and varied — and the rest of the state is, too. Whether you're looking to pull right off the Mother Road, hit a quick day trip, or planning to explore all of the Land of Enchantment, we've got recommendations for every kind of cruiser.
RIGHT ON THE ROUTE
No need to stray far from the Mother Road for some uniquely New Mexican adventures.
Route 66 Roadside Oddities
Perfectly created for Instagramability, these are some of the route’s classics: neon signs, architectural one-of-a-kinds, and can’t-miss curiosities on the Mother Road.
Santa Rosa Lake State Park
Pull off the route to check out the gorgeous high plains just outside of Santa Rosa and get your fishing fix on at the 3800-acre Santa Rosa Reservoir.
Petroglyph National Monument
Drawings have been etched into the rock in Albuquerque for hundreds of years, so grab your binoculars and play amateur archaeologist while spotting the Puebloan artwork from the main trail.
Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
As you cross over the famous Rio Grande, stop off and get acquainted with the mighty river. This center is just off the route and provides nature-viewing opportunities as well as river access.
Bluewater Lake State Park
Take in the stunning Zuni Mountains of western New Mexico on the banks of this well-stocked reservoir, which also hosts even ice fishing in the winter months.
Gallup Nightly Indian Dances
Each evening, members from area tribes fill the Gallup Courthouse Square, wearing colorful costumes and headdresses and sharing their traditional dances. The Zuni Pueblo, Navajo Diné Nation, Lakota Sioux, and San Juan Pueblo are among those that send dancers, often accompanied by music from drums, rattles, and flutes, and interpretation from tribal members on their traditions and meanings.
A SHORT DRIVE FROM THE ROUTE
No more than an hour out of your way, these destinations show a breadth of New Mexico’s culture and landscape.
El Morro National Monument
Naturally occurring water in this part of the state means that El Morro has been a stopping place for hundreds of years: first by Puebloans, then by the Spanish, and finally by U.S. railroad prospectors — all of whom carved their marks into the sandstone bluff.
Acoma Sky City
Route 66 will bring you within 20 minutes of the Acoma Pueblo, home to North America’s oldest continually inhabited community. At Sky City, you’ll find yourself atop a 367-foot sandstone bluff that’s been home to the Acoma people since at least 1150 CE.
El Malpais National Monument
Stretch your legs on the craggy, black-basalt terrain of ancient lava flows, the oldest of which is a million years old. Lava tubes created caves that you can explore with a permit from the park.
Experience the Zuni's unique artistry in their tiny, carved-rock “fetishes” and the sacred ancestral cliff dwellings that are endemic to the Zuni culture — situated in this part of New Mexico for the last 1300 years and the site of the first contact between Europeans and the Native people of the Southwest.
Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary
Open to the public Thursday - Sunday from 11am to 4pm with guided tours at noon and 3pm. During the summer season the sanctuary has a campground where volunteers and guests are permitted to stay to hear the wolves sing them to sleep.
READY TO ROAM?
New Mexico is the fifth-largest state in the nation, and there are infinite things to explore — here are some ways to get off the route and into the rest of the state.
New Mexico’s Ghost Towns
Some are accessible by traveling Route 66, but many others are dotted across the state, remnants of New Mexico’s boom-and-bust mining economy. Experience every kind of ghost town, from Old West leftovers to deserted railroad stops.
The Enchanted Eight
If you’re curious about anything New Mexico-related — family-friendly stops, agritourism, Native American heritage — we have a road trip designed for your every interest. Take a peek at our extensive network of itineraries and build the perfect trip in the Land of Enchantment.
New Mexico’s Scenic Byways
Enjoy a pretty drive? We’ve got a lot of ‘em. New Mexico has a whopping 25 scenic byways to explore, and these roads will deliver you to a vast diversity of experiences: antelope-filled grasslands to the gun-slinging history of Billy the Kid to the serene awe of the deep Taos Gorge.