Route 66 in New Mexico now travels directly through the center of the state whereas between 1926 and 1937 the original alignment took in the beautiful city of Santa Fe.
There is much to be enjoyed as you drive through New Mexico and these ten attractions are just the tip of the iceberg. This isn't a concise list so please consider it a flavor of what Route 66 in New Mexico has to offer. You can find a more extensive list of things to see along the whole length of Route 66 by clicking here.
Listed in no particular order, here are my 10 things to see on Route 66 in New Mexico…
Also known as Sky City, this Native American pueblo sits atop a 367 foot sandstone mesa. There are some breathtaking views to be had from the top of the mesa and the pueblo itself is fascinating. There are less than 50 tribal members currently living at the pueblo but there are plenty of opportunities to observe traditional artwork and culture. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and will give you a thorough tour of this amazing site.
History & Ghost Tours of Old Town, Albuquerque, are an incredibly popular attraction for anyone spending the night in the area. This is a story-telling 90 minute walk around the main square of Old Town after dark. This is a story-telling 90 minute walk around the main square of Old Town after dark. Old Town is the birthplace of Albuquerque, founded in 1706, and for more than three centuries people have lived and died around the Old Town Plaza. The historic buildings and dark alleys conceal the long-forgotten secrets of battles, murders, hangings, and hidden cemeteries.
This 10,000 square foot exhibit hall displays dinosaur skeletons, bronze representations of dinosaurs and fossils, and replicas of prehistoric creatures. There is also plenty of original artwork on display throughout the exhibit hall. The great thing about the bronze exhibits is the fact that you can get right in there and touch the exhibits. Kids will also love the sandpit area which encourages you to “excavate” your own dino remains.
For some real retro-road-trip icons you have to stop here. There are over 30 classic/vintage cars on display, all of which are in pristine condition. The cars are incredibly well maintained with colourful bodywork and glistening chrome – they certainly put my hire car in it’s place! They also sell a small selection of their vehicles – imagine driving Route 66 in one of these... Motoring fans will be in their element here – you don’t see vehicles / works of art like this every day.
Built in the early 1940’s this old Gulf gas station eventually succumbed to the widening of Route 66, losing it’s pumps but gaining new business selling curios to Route 66 travelers. The large concrete teepee certainly makes it stand out as you cruise through Tucumcari.
Although a motel and not a tourist attraction, the Blue Swallow Motel is such an icon of Route 66 that it would be remiss to not include it. The neon sign itself is in excellent condition and really is beautiful and eye-catching at night – it must be one of the most photographed signs along the whole route. The motel is very photogenic – even if you’re not lucky enough to be able to get a room it’s certainly worth a stop in Tucumcari to stretch your legs and take a few pics.
The New Mexico Route 66 Museum offers visitors a glimpse of New Mexico's Route 66 history and heritage, with a good collection of antique cars with many images of scenes along the old road. There is no admission fee but a donation is recommended. The museum is open between 9am and 1pm, every Monday to Saturday.
The Blue Hole of Santa Rosa is a circular, bell-shaped pool that is one of the most popular dive destinations in the US. The lake is unsurpassed for its clear, pure water and visibility is an astonishing 100’, due to the fact that the water completely renews itself every six hours. The temperature is a constant 62 degrees, and ideal for a hot summer’s day. A beautiful natural wonder that is worth seeing.
San Miguel Chapel is a Spanish colonial mission church in Santa Fe, built between approximately 1610 and 1626. It is the oldest known church in the United States and remains a beautiful building both inside and out. It's home to the oldest sweet bell in the USA which can still be rung by visitors. The chapel still holds regular services and is a cool and calm destination on a hot summer's day.
The Route 66 monument is a tribute to the glory days of Route 66 located in front of the Tucumcari Convention Center. The chrome, Cadillac fin and tail lights sitting atop the monument point westwards - it's an ideal photo-op if nothing else while you stretch your legs in Tucumcari.