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HomeHiking6-Day New Mexico Highway Journey Itinerary for Outside Lovers – Bearfoot Concept

6-Day New Mexico Highway Journey Itinerary for Outside Lovers – Bearfoot Concept

New Mexico, also referred to as the “Land of Enchantment”, is an underrated state for journey. The state has a lot to supply, together with attractive pure sights, wealthy Pueblo heritage, a vibrant arts scene, unimaginable 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 best way are value making it a street journey.

This itinerary is about ten hours of driving time complete and the places 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 via the journey rapidly and spent numerous time within the automotive driving from place to put. I additionally suggest flying into El Paso and out of Albuquerque to avoid wasting your self the effort and time of needing to double again.

You’ll must 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 anticipate site visitors on this street journey! A lot of the journey occurs on quieter roads. So pack up your street journey necessities, get comfy, and let’s go on a New Mexico street journey!

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Obtain Useful Outside Packing Checklists & Journey Planning Guides

Vital Reminder: Because it goes in the entire locations we share, please apply good path etiquette and bear in mind to Go away No Hint. This implies packing out all your rubbish (together with bathroom paper), being respectful to others, and following the established guidelines.

Outdoor Gift Guide - 85 gifts for outdoor adventure
Outdoor Gift Guide - best gifts for outdoor adventurers

New Mexico Highway Journey Map

Right here is an outline of the route for this New Mexico Highway Journey.

Day-by-Day New Mexico Highway Journey Itinerary

Beneath you’ll discover a 6-day itinerary for a New Mexico street journey with the right mixture of distinctive cities, out of doors actvities and exquisite landscapes. On the finish I share some further 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 street 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 automotive from the airport terminal, and head north to begin your journey!

Earlier than embarking on my journey, I ended briefly to expertise the El Paso Scenic Drive and Overlook. This overlook supplied magnificent sights from atop town. You possibly can even see the United States-Mexico border. When you’re quick on time, you may skip this cease.

El Paso Scenic Overlook from the top of the stairs
El Paso Scenic Overlook

Relying on the time of day you arrive, you could determine to spend your first night time 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 street journey, replenish your fuel tank (and replenish typically!). You’ll typically be driving alongside lengthy stretches of roads with no companies.

Las Cruces

  • Journey distance: 1 hour (52 miles) from El Paso

La Cruces will likely be your first cease on this New Mexico street 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 energetic, Mexican cantina that serves Mexican Sizzling Canines. For a vegan-friendly spot, hit up Habaneros Contemporary Mex.

When 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 quite a lot of trails anyplace from two to seven miles lengthy.

I like to recommend the Dripping Springs Path (3 miles) for a style of the world. This gravel path is rated as average, beginning on the Guests Heart and resulting in a small seasonal waterfall.

When you do determine to hike within the Organ Mountains, it could be value discovering a lodge in La Cruces for the night time so that you aren’t rushed if you get to White Sands Nationwide Monument. Alternatively, if you’re quick on time, I’d recommend passing via Las Cruces rapidly so you may spend extra time at White Sands.

Organ Pipe Mountains at sunset
Organ Mountains in New Mexico

White Sands Nationwide Park

  • Journey distance: 1 hour (53 miles) from Las Cruces

When you’re performed in La Cruces, proceed onto White Sands Nationwide Monument, which can undoubtedly be a spotlight of your New Mexico street journey. As of August 2023, entry is $25 per non-public automobile.

Buying an America the Stunning Annual Cross($80) will avoid wasting cash when you go to 3 or extra federal websites within the upcoming yr. Bandelier Monument, talked about later on this itinerary, can also be a part of the cross program.

White Sands is particularly attractive at dawn and sundown. Cease by the Customer’s Heart for an orientation movie, displays, and a restroom break. Then, proceed on to see extra of the park. Relying on the time of yr, mid-day on this space may be extremely 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 gives a shaded space about mid-way via.

White Sands National Monument interdune boardwalk trail
The Interdune boardwalk is a simple accessible path that may be a good introduction to White Sands Nationwide Monument

White Sands gives many extra 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 suggest mountaineering as much as the highest of a towering dune in time for golden hour. On a transparent day, you may anticipate 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.

White Sands National Monument from the top of the dunes at sunset
Be sure that to catch the sundown in White Sands Nationwide Monument for the total expertise

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. When you’re at White Sands for sundown, put together to drive in full darkness (aside from the opposite vehicles additionally headed to city).

In Alamogordo, you’ll discover lower-budget lodging from high chains, in addition to bed-and-breakfast-style lodges, motels, and Airbnbs.

I stayed on the Traditional Desert Aire Resort, a three-star lodging providing probably the most scrumptious selfmade breakfast that was included within the room fee.

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 identified for all issues aliens, after a rumored UFO crash in 1947. The whole city is decked out in all-green alien figures on banners, indicators, and merchandise. Even the McDonald’s is formed like a UFO.

The Worldwide UFO Museum and Analysis Heart is an interesting cease on this New Mexico street journey itinerary. The museum was based to tell the general public about what has turn out to be generally known as the “Roswell Incident.” It showcases a group 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 replenish on fuel for the following stretch of freeway.

Three alien statues inside the UFO Museum in Roswell, NM
Worldwide UFO Museum and Analysis Heart | Photograph: Eleanor Antonacci

Route 66 (Santa Rosa)

  • Journey distance: 2 hours (134 miles) from Roswell

After your stint in Roswell, drive north to fulfill the well-known Route 66. The Route 66 Auto Museum and the Blue Gap are the primary sights in Santa Rosa.

The auto museum showcases over 30 classic autos, 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 residence. It’s value a cease for any traveler, automotive fanatic or not. Admission is $5.

If vehicles 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.

Blue Hole swimming hole in New Mexico on Route 66
Blue Gap on Route 66

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 far more positioned on each block. For that cause, it’s value spending a few days in Santa Fe. Most guests keep within the Previous City, the center of 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 Historical past Museum, sits on the coronary heart of the downtown space. This space could be very walkable and homes many lodges, shops, galleries, eateries, and absolutely anything else you could want.

Storefronts in Old Town Santa Fe
Previous City Santa Fe

When you’re into artwork or need a distinctive Santa Fe expertise, try the immersive artwork museum, Meow Wolf. The Georgia O’Keefe Museum can also be an awesome place to go to for artwork lovers.

Santa Fe additionally has an unimaginable 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). When you go to on a Saturday, the Farmers Market (which takes place yr spherical) shouldn’t be missed. It’s an awesome place to select up some peppers to take residence with you.

Santa Fe additionally has nice summer time and shoulder season mountaineering. The Santa Fe Nationwide Forest gives dozens of trails within the Southern Rockies which can be lower than an hour from Sante Fe. The mountains on this area are surprisingly massive, with some peaks reaching 13,000 ft in elevation.

Sante Fe’s mountainous backdrop

Whereas I didn’t have time to discover these mountains, the Nambe Lake is one which’s on my listing. 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’ll 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 discuss under).

A brief drive from Sante Fe results in these stunning mountains

The place to Keep in Santa Fe

With its vibrant arts scene, Santa Fe attracts two million guests annually. There is no such thing as a scarcity of luxurious, spa-like locations to remain. Try Eldorado, a centrally-located four-star lodge with a beautiful rooftop infinity pool. E book a balcony room with a hearth to get pleasure from 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 outdoors of Santa Fe, drive about 50 minutes northwest to Bandelier Nationwide Monument. This federal recreation land protects 33,000 acres of canyons and mesas and is the ancestral lands of 23 completely 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 Essential (Pueblo) Loop Path, a 1.4 mile loop path that begins on the Guests Heart and continues via 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 results in the breathtaking Higher Falls, is one other fashionable path. The location additionally gives 70 miles complete of assorted pathways.

Entrance for a non-public automobile prices $25, or is roofed by the America the Stunning annual park cross.

landscape shot of Bandelier National Monument
one of many caves in Bandelier Nationwide Monument

Day 6: Albuquerque

  • Journey distance: 1 hour (65 miles) from Santa Fe

Your remaining vacation spot on this street journey is Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest metropolis. Albuquerque is most identified for the Worldwide Balloon Fiesta, which happens yearly in October.

Dozens of hot air balloons in the sky during Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta at sunrise
Don’t miss the Albuquerque Worldwide Balloon Fiesta in October

Stroll down the Biopark the place you may get pleasure from huge greenspace (notice the Biopark shouldn’t be dog-friendly). The Biopark’s Botanical Gardens options 32 acres of displays, that includes native crops and flora from around the globe.

The biopark additionally has a zoo, residence to over 900 animals. Get a combo ticket to get pleasure from your 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 lodges, eating places, museums, shops, and public parks.

Previous City Albuquerque dates again to 1706 when town was a Spanish colony. Guests can discover many historic buildings, like San Felipe de Neri Church, quite a few museums, and impressed lodges.

San Felipe de Neri Church
San Felipe de Neri Church

For affordable, delicious eats, take a break at Sawmill Market. This contemporary meals corridor gives 25+ eateries, and contains one thing for everybody. Diners can get pleasure from burgers, burritos, pasta, waffles, pizza, sushi, vegan choices and extra. A number of bars (21+) anchor the corridor, making this a well-liked after-work spot for locals. Try Cashos for scrumptious empanadas.

The place to Keep in Albuquerque

When you’re flying out of the Albuquerque Worldwide Airport, keep on the Airport Marriott Courtyard or one other lodge in that instant space.

When you desire to return to El Paso in your remaining day, it’s a further 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 mountaineering, snowboarding, and different out of doors 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 preferred time to go to New Mexico. Temperatures in Sante Fe usually attain the mid-80s, due to it being 7,000 ft above sea stage. Nonetheless, White Sands Nationwide Monument which is decrease round 4,000 ft is way hotter with the highs within the mid-90s and no shade.

For the very best all-around climate at the entire locations on this New Mexico itinerary, I’d recommend visiting in spring or fall. You’ll have delicate temperatures each in Sante Fe and White Sands, together with fewer crowds. Simply be certain to pack layers for mountaineering and be ready for noticeable temperature swings between day and night time.

Hope this publish will get you excited to go to New Mexico! Go away your questions and New Mexico street journey ideas down within the feedback.

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