Traveling Route 66 Through New Mexico

Route 66 is easily the most famous and romantic route in the United States. This route, which connects Chicago to Los Angeles, stretches out for 2,400 miles, making it one of the nation’s longest highways. While Route 66 was decommissioned as an official highway in 1985, the mythology of the route has not diminished at all. Fortunately, many of the attractions that made Route 66 famous remain. If you are visiting the section of this route that passes through New Mexico, there is a great deal to see. It is recommended that you have a sturdy vehicle, preferably an SUV, if you want to take this scenic route.


The section of Route 66 that passes through Albuquerque is now officially called Central Avenue. However, you can still see vintage signs throughout the city that pay homage to the route’s history. Here you will find many attractions, such as the Albuquerque Aquarium, the Rio Grande Botanical Garden, and the city’s popular Nob Hill district that is great for shopping and fine dining. Driving through Albuquerque on the old Route 66, you can also catch site of dormant volcanoes on the west side of the city.

La Bajada Hill

This is one of the most scenic, and sometimes terrifying, potions of Route 66 in New Mexico that connected Santa Fe and Albuquerque. This is now primarily a hiking trail that is not suitable for most vehicles. If the weather is suitable, it’s possible to drive up and down this steep grade in a 4x4 vehicle, but even then, it’s not recommended. Still, La Bajada Hill is a fun place to hike or mountain bike if you leave your car at the bottom.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is probably New Mexico’s most popular city for visitors, and the old Route 66 passes right through the middle of the city. Santa Fe Plaza is a favorite place for visitors to explore, with its adobe buildings and markets with genuine American Indian crafts. This is also a place where you can find some of the state’s most charming accommodations. For example, the La Fonda Hotel, which dates back to the 17th century, is one of the oldest hotels in the U.S.

Accommodations Along Route 66

Because it remains such a well-traveled route, you will not find any shortage of places to stay along the old Route 66. While you can find luxurious and upscale hotels, you can just as easily find bargain hotels and motels. If you’re looking to stay somewhere with a bit of history, you can check out the aforementioned La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. Another option is the famous Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, which was opened in 1942. This motel, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, remains open for business. Its architecture and neon signs are reminiscent of the days when the motel first opened for business more than 70 years ago.

Explore an Essential Part of American History

From the time it was constructed in 1926 to its official demise in 1985, Route 66 helped to facilitate the growth and popularity of many cities and regions. You can still retrace many portions of this route and find out for yourself why the legend of Route 66 remains intact.