New Mexico, often known as the “Land of Enchantment”, is an underrated state for journey. The state has a lot to supply, together with beautiful pure sights, wealthy Pueblo heritage, a vibrant arts scene, unbelievable meals, and journey.
The highest highlights of the state — White Sands, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque — are a bit far aside, however the journey and the fascinating stops alongside the way in which are price making it a highway journey.
This itinerary is about ten hours of driving time complete and the areas are divided into stints not more than two hours aside.
I made all of those stops in six days, however I like to recommend that you simply benefit from the state at a slower tempo when you can!
Since I used to be restricted on time, I moved by the journey shortly and spent numerous time within the automobile driving from place to position. I additionally advocate flying into El Paso and out of Albuquerque to avoid wasting your self the effort and time of needing to double again.
You’ll need to take your personal journey preferences into consideration when deciding the place to spend an in a single day. At minimal, I like to recommend an in a single day keep in Almorgado after visiting White Sands Nationwide Park and two nights in Santa Fe.
P.S. Don’t count on visitors on this highway journey! A lot of the journey occurs on quieter roads. So pack up your highway journey necessities, get comfy, and let’s go on a New Mexico highway journey!
Essential Reminder: Because it goes in all the locations we share, please observe good path etiquette and keep in mind to Go away No Hint. This implies packing out your whole rubbish (together with rest room paper), being respectful to others, and following the established guidelines.
New Mexico Street Journey Map
Right here is an summary of the route for this New Mexico Street Journey.
Day-by-Day New Mexico Street Journey Itinerary
Beneath you’ll discover a 6-day itinerary for a New Mexico highway journey with the proper mixture of distinctive cities, outside actvities and exquisite landscapes. On the finish I share some extra stops when you’d like to increase your journey.
Day 1: El Paso, Texas – Las Cruces – White Sands Nationwide Park
- Distance: 105 miles
- Drive time: 2 hours
This New Mexico highway journey itinerary begins in Texas, truly. El Paso Worldwide Airport is the closest airport to southern New Mexico, which suggests it’s the closest main airport to White Sands Nationwide Park. Lease a automobile from the airport terminal, and head north to start out your journey!
Earlier than embarking on my journey, I finished briefly to expertise the El Paso Scenic Drive and Overlook. This overlook offered magnificent sights from atop the town. You possibly can even see the United States-Mexico border. In case you’re brief on time, you may skip this cease.
Relying on the time of day you arrive, you might resolve to spend your first evening in El Paso or Las Cruces, about an hour from the airport. Since I arrived within the morning, I left El Paso and continued my journey after Las Cruces.
Tip: Earlier than you depart in your New Mexico highway journey, refill your fuel tank (and refill usually!). You’ll usually be driving alongside lengthy stretches of roads with no companies.
- Journey distance: 1 hour (52 miles) from El Paso
La Cruces might be your first cease on this New Mexico highway journey itinerary, and is a superb place to stretch your legs, seize a chunk, and recharge earlier than your second leg of the drive.
In Las Cruces, there’s tons of restaurant choices. Andele’s is a full of life, Mexican cantina that serves Mexican Sizzling Canines. For a vegan-friendly spot, hit up Habaneros Contemporary Mex.
In case you’re seeking to sneak a fast hike in proper off the bat, drive 25 minutes east of La Cruces to the Organ Mountains. Right here you’ll discover a wide range of trails anyplace from two to seven miles lengthy.
I like to recommend the Dripping Springs Path (3 miles) for a style of the realm. This gravel path is rated as reasonable, beginning on the Guests Heart and resulting in a small seasonal waterfall.
In case you do resolve to hike within the Organ Mountains, it is likely to be price discovering a resort in La Cruces for the evening so that you aren’t rushed while you get to White Sands Nationwide Monument. Alternatively, in case you are brief on time, I’d counsel passing by Las Cruces shortly so you may spend extra time at White Sands.
White Sands Nationwide Park
- Journey distance: 1 hour (53 miles) from Las Cruces
When you’re completed in La Cruces, proceed onto White Sands Nationwide Monument, which is able to undoubtedly be a spotlight of your New Mexico highway journey. As of August 2023, entry is $25 per personal automobile.
Buying an America the Beautiful Annual Pass($80) will avoid wasting cash when you go to 3 or extra federal websites within the upcoming 12 months. Bandelier Monument, talked about later on this itinerary, can also be a part of the move program.
White Sands is particularly beautiful at dawn and sundown. Cease by the Customer’s Heart for an orientation movie, reveals, and a restroom break. Then, proceed on to see extra of the park. Relying on the time of 12 months, mid-day on this space might be very popular, so remember to have loads of water and solar safety.
I opted to stroll the Interdune Boardwalk, a simple .4 mile, 20-minute stroll. This boardwalk is absolutely accessible for wheelchairs and strollers and presents a shaded space about mid-way by.
White Sands offers many more trails for exploration that can help you expertise the sand stretching so far as the attention can see. The Alkali Flat or the White Sands Backcountry Path are good choices for getting off the crushed path.
White Sands is an incredible place to observe the sundown. To benefit from your time, I extremely advocate climbing as much as the highest of a towering dune in time for golden hour. On a transparent day, you may count on vibrant, colourful sunsets that mild up the sky within the prettiest of pastels. Convey a headlamp and keep for the blue hour after the solar goes down for the total vary of colours.
The place to Keep Close to White Sands Nationwide Park
As soon as the solar units, proceed into the city of Alamogordo, solely fifteen minutes away. In case you’re at White Sands for sundown, put together to drive in full darkness (aside from the opposite automobiles additionally headed to city).
In Alamogordo, you’ll discover lower-budget lodging from prime chains, in addition to bed-and-breakfast-style resorts, motels, and Airbnbs.
I stayed on the Classic Desert Aire Hotel, a three-star lodging providing essentially the most scrumptious do-it-yourself breakfast that was included within the room price.
Day 2: Roswell – Route 66
- Distance: 253 miles
- Drive time: 4 hours
- Journey distance: 2 hours (119 miles) from Alamogordo
Within the morning, proceed your drive towards Roswell, a kitschy city recognized for all issues aliens, after a rumored UFO crash in 1947. All the city is decked out in all-green alien figures on banners, indicators, and merchandise. Even the McDonald’s is formed like a UFO.
The International UFO Museum and Research Center is an enchanting cease on this New Mexico highway journey itinerary. The museum was based to tell the general public about what has turn out to be often known as the “Roswell Incident.” It showcases a set of written content material across the alleged alien sightings, in addition to replicas of aliens. With admission at solely $7, don’t miss it.
Earlier than you depart Roswell, remember to refill on fuel for the subsequent stretch of freeway.
Route 66 (Santa Rosa)
- Journey distance: 2 hours (134 miles) from Roswell
After your stint in Roswell, drive north to satisfy the well-known Route 66. The Route 66 Auto Museum and the Blue Gap are the primary points of interest in Santa Rosa.
The auto museum showcases over 30 classic automobiles, plus Route 66 memorabilia, like data and Coca-Cola indicators. The museum additionally has a memento store the place you should purchase some neat gadgets for household again house. It’s price a cease for any traveler, automobile fanatic or not. Admission is $5.
If automobiles aren’t your factor, cease by the Blue Gap, an 80-foot deep crystal-blue pure swimming gap that’s excellent for a dip. You possibly can even SCUBA dive right here for a one-of-a-kind expertise.
Days 3-4: Santa Fe
- Journey distance: 1.5 hours (108 miles) from Santa Rosa
Head north once more and arrive in Santa Fe, the cultural heart of New Mexico. This charming metropolis is named a hotbed for inventive arts, with a mixture of high-end and lower-priced artwork galleries, textile outlets, pottery outlets, and rather more positioned on each block. For that cause, it’s worth spending a couple of days in Santa Fe. Most guests keep within the Previous City, the center of the town.
Santa Fe was based as a Spanish colony in 1610 and nonetheless options genuine Pueblo-style structure. The Palace of the Governors, now the New Mexico History Museum, sits on the coronary heart of the downtown space. This space could be very walkable and homes many resorts, shops, galleries, eateries, and absolutely anything else you might want.
Santa Fe additionally has an unbelievable meals scene. Native favorites embrace chili, burritos, and posole, a conventional Mexican consolation stew, normally consisting of simmered pork shoulder (try La Choza for a vegan model). In case you go to on a Saturday, the Farmers Market (which takes place 12 months spherical) shouldn’t be missed. It’s an awesome place to select up some peppers to take house with you.
Santa Fe additionally has nice summer time and shoulder season climbing. The Santa Fe Nationwide Forest presents dozens of trails within the Southern Rockies which are lower than an hour from Sante Fe. The mountains on this area are surprisingly large, with some peaks reaching 13,000 ft in elevation.
Whereas I didn’t have time to discover these mountains, the Nambe Lake is one which’s on my checklist. It’s a 6.3 mile hike that leaves from the bottom of the Santa Fe Ski Space ending at a beaufitul alpine lake, paying homage to one thing you’d see in Colorado.
When you have additional time, Sante Fe is an effective leaping off level to Jemez Sizzling Springs, the place you could find plentiful New Mexico scorching springs to soak in. Alternatively, it’s a simple day journey as much as hike to Taos or Bandelier Nationwide Monument (which I’ll speak about under).
The place to Keep in Santa Fe
With its vibrant arts scene, Santa Fe attracts two million guests annually. There isn’t a scarcity of luxurious, spa-like locations to remain. Take a look at Eldorado, a centrally-located four-star resort with a beautiful rooftop infinity pool. Ebook a balcony room with a hearth to take pleasure in each the sunny days and the chilly evenings.
Day 5: Bandelier Nationwide Monument
- Journey distance: 50 minutes (41 miles) from Santa Fe
For a beautiful day journey exterior of Santa Fe, drive about 50 minutes northwest to Bandelier National Monument. This federal recreation land protects 33,000 acres of canyons and mesas and is the ancestral lands of 23 totally different Native American tribes. Guests can see petroglyphs, caves, and carvings on the rock cliffs, and standing masonry partitions from human civilization relationship again over 11,000 years.
Most guests will discover the Predominant (Pueblo) Loop Path, a 1.4 mile loop path that begins on the Guests Heart and continues by excavated archeological websites on the ground of Frijoles Canyon. You possibly can discover the path by yourself or as a part of a Ranger Guided stroll, provided most days in the summertime.
The three-mile roundtrip Falls Path, which ends up in the breathtaking Higher Falls, is one other in style path. The location additionally presents 70 miles complete of assorted pathways.
Entrance for a personal automobile prices $25, or is roofed by the America the Beautiful annual park pass.
Day 6: Albuquerque
- Journey distance: 1 hour (65 miles) from Santa Fe
Your remaining vacation spot on this highway journey is Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest metropolis. Albuquerque is most recognized for the Worldwide Balloon Fiesta, which happens yearly in October.
Stroll down the Biopark the place you may take pleasure in huge greenspace (observe the Biopark is just not dog-friendly). The Biopark’s Botanical Gardens options 32 acres of reveals, that includes native vegetation and flora from world wide.
The biopark additionally has a zoo, house to over 900 animals. Get a combo ticket to take pleasure in the complete park. It’s $22 for non-residents ($16 New Mexico resident). Seniors and youth get discounted pricing.
Very similar to Santa Fe, there’s a wealthy handcrafted arts scene, with many outlets promoting Native American items. The Previous City space could be very walkable to resorts, eating places, museums, shops, and public parks.
Previous City Albuquerque dates again to 1706 when the town was a Spanish colony. Guests can discover many historic buildings, like San Felipe de Neri Church, quite a few museums, and impressed resorts.
For reasonable, delicious eats, take a break at Sawmill Market. This contemporary meals corridor presents 25+ eateries, and consists of one thing for everybody. Diners can take pleasure in burgers, burritos, pasta, waffles, pizza, sushi, vegan choices and extra. A number of bars (21+) anchor the corridor, making this a preferred after-work spot for locals. Take a look at Cashos for scrumptious empanadas.
The place to Keep in Albuquerque
In case you’re flying out of the Albuquerque Worldwide Airport, keep on the Airport Marriott Courtyard or one other resort in that quick space.
In case you favor to return to El Paso in your remaining day, it’s an extra 250 miles of driving (~4 hours).
When you have extra time…
If 6-days isn’t sufficient and you’ve got additional time to discover, listed here are a few add-ons to this New Mexico itinerary:
- Cease in Taos earlier than going to Sante Fe: a city bordering the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that’s wealthy in indigenous historical past with climbing, snowboarding, and different outside actions
- After leaving Sante Fe, spend a day in Jemez Springs soaking a New Mexico’s pure scorching springs
Greatest Time to Go to New Mexico
Summer time is the most well-liked time to go to New Mexico. Temperatures in Sante Fe usually attain the mid-80s, due to it being 7,000 ft above sea degree. Nonetheless, White Sands Nationwide Monument which is decrease round 4,000 ft is far hotter with the highs within the mid-90s and no shade.
For the most effective all-around climate at all the locations on this New Mexico itinerary, I’d counsel visiting in spring or fall. You’ll have gentle temperatures each in Sante Fe and White Sands, together with fewer crowds. Simply be certain that to pack layers for climbing and be ready for noticeable temperature swings between day and evening.
Hope this put up will get you excited to go to New Mexico! Go away your questions and New Mexico highway journey ideas down within the feedback.
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