Summer is road trip season. But we all know that gas can get expensive, especially when you’re traveling around the fifth largest state in the country. Luckily, you can see a lot of unforgettable attractions in New Mexico, even if you only shell out for one tank of gas.
On that amount of fuel, the average vehicle can go anywhere from 300-325 miles. During this road trip, you’ll travel from Albuquerque to Roswell (or vice versa). The drive time is 5 hours 13 minutes, and the journey is 307 miles in length. We’ve plotted out the trip on
Google Maps so you can replicate it, or tweak it if you want.
1. Historic Old Town, Albuquerque
The area around the Plaza (including the San Felipe de Neri church pictured) is at the heart of Duke City. It's a great place to go shopping or try real New Mexican food at restaurants like Church Street Cafe. Whether you want to stroll or people watch, there's always something happening in Old Town.
2. The Musical Highway, Tijeras
If you look at the map for this road trip, you'll notice that there are only nine stops listed. That's because the next attraction on your journey is actually part of the drive. As you approach Tijeras, you'll leave the interstate in order to travel along part of old Route 66. When you see the signs for this musical road, stick to the 45 mph speed limit. As your vehicle moves over the rumble strips, the road plays "America the Beautiful!"
3. Wildlife West Nature Park, Edgewood
The birds and animals at this nature park are all rescues that are no longer able to live in the wild. Residents include a black bear called Koshari, young mountain lions, and numerous birds. The park is just big enough to keep you entertained without being overwhelming.
4. Sierra Blanca Brewing Company, Moriarty
Take a free tour of Sierra Blanca Brewing Company. Locals are sure to have spotted the "Alien" line of microbrews in stores or restaurants. Sierra Blanca also produces Pancho Verde Chile Cerveza, which combines beer and green chile to create a distinctly New Mexican beverage. If you have a designated driver in tow, stop to savor a pint in the beer garden (they also brew soda).
Cuervo is one of New Mexico's most accessible ghost towns. Technically, 58 people still live here but, since the town's post office closed in 2011, it became unincorporated. Cuervo sprang to life as a railroad town. Sadly, when I-40 was built it divided the town clean in two. Wandering around Cuervo and its abandoned buildings and cars is an eerie yet fascinating experience.
6. The Blue Hole, Santa Rosa
Take a dip in the Blue Hole. On a hot day the temperature, which hovers around 62 degrees Fahrenheit, is refreshing. This spring-fed swimming hole is a unique and special place.
7. Billy the Kid's Grave, Fort Sumner
Whether you consider Billy the Kid an outlaw or a folk hero, his legend has become larger than life. It's somewhat fitting that his gravesite is secured behind bars - people kept stealing the headstone. In life, the Kid was known for escaping from jail. In death... well, not much has changed. During a flood at the cemetery the grave markers floated away so this headstone sits over the rough spot where the outlaw was buried.
If you're hungry while in Fort Sumner, stop in at the Rodeo Grill or Fred's Restaurant and Lounge (both are located on Sumner Avenue).
8. Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, Roswell
The work displayed at this museum is all crafted by artists from the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program. As a result, the 400 pieces of art exhibited at AMOCA are varied and often representative of our world at the time of their creation.
In Roswell, you won't regret eating at Big D’s Downtown Dive or Classic’s Frozen Custard (both on Main Street).
9. International UFO Museum And Research Center, Roswell
As you drive down Main Street toward this one-of-a-kind museum, your attention will continually be seized by alien light fixtures, alien murals, alien memorabilia... You get the drift. The epicenter of this extra terrestrial frenzy is the UFO Museum. Although it provides detailed information about the Roswell incident, you're left to draw your own conclusions about what really happened back in 1947.
10. Bottomless Lakes State Park, just outside Roswell
Your final stop is at Bottomless Lakes State Park. Take a short hike along The Wetlands Trail (0.54 miles) or The Bluff Trail (0.86 miles). After that, choose between fishing, renting a paddle board or pedal boat, or just relaxing with a picnic.
If you intend to stay in the Roswell area, Lea Lake Campground, which is part of the state park, has 32 campsites.
Are you up for this particular drive? Which New Mexico road trip has made the strongest impression on you?