New Mexico July 16, 2017
9 Inexpensive Road Trip Destinations In New Mexico That Won’t Break The Bank
New Mexico is a fun and fairly affordable state to visit.
Hiking and other outdoor activities here are usually free and, at most, involve paying a low admission fee to certain parks. That being said, you don’t have to spend your entire vacation on trails to enjoy a budget-friendly break. Even our towns and cities offer affordable – or even free – entertainment options. Here are 9 road trip destinations where you can create wonderful memories without stressing about high price tags.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Most people equate Roswell with UFOs and never delve further into what this city has to offer. Those folks are missing out on some great attractions like the Spring River Zoo – a small, FREE zoo, with sections devoted to ranching and native animals. You do need to pay to ride the antique carousel and the miniature train but tickets for both are a mere $0.50.
Other budget-friendly activities in Roswell include the Anderson Museum Of Contemporary Art (donations are greatly appreciated), the Roswell Museum and Art Center (also by donation), and Bitterlake National Wildlife Refuge (free).
2. White Sands National Monument (near Alamogordo)
New Mexico’s top attraction belongs on everyone’s bucket list and this vast gypsum field is a surprisingly affordable place to visit. Admission costs just $5 per person, with anyone 15 year-old or under getting in for free. This is a breathtaking and fun spot to spend a day hiking and sledding.
Bringing a picnic saves on cash, but it’s also a practical option since the gift shop at this national monument offers fewer food options than the average gas station! If you’re visiting in summer, avoid going during the middle of the day, when the sand can get really hot.
For more info.
This small city contains some interesting architecture like the Shuler Theater building and Flat Mountain Trading, which you can appreciate just by wandering around. Nearby Sugarite Canyon State Park is a peaceful spot for fishing, wildlife watching, and hiking - admission is $5 per vehicle.
Although the Raton Regional Aquatic Center doesn’t compete with big city waterparks, this indoor pool, with slide, is a family-friendly, affordable destination ($4 per person).
4. Ghost Town Road Trip
Driving between New Mexico’s ghost towns is a novel way to explore our state’s past and view areas of natural beauty, while paying for little more than the cost of gas. We’ve compiled a road trip that connects several of these destinations into a convenient loop. (Bear in mind that one stop - Shakespeare - is only open at limited times and does charge an admission fee of $4 for adults and $3 for anyone 12 and under).
is more information about the drive.
5. Bandelier National Monument (near Los Alamos)
Bandelier is a fascinating place full of cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, hiking trails, and even waterfalls. Don’t overlook Tsankawi, which is a separate section of the monument that many people don’t realize is worth visiting. Staying at the primitive Juniper Family Campground costs $12 per night and you can get supplies in nearby Los Alamos.
For more info.
6. Truth or Consequences
T or C is best known for its hot springs. Sounds expensive, right? Not necessarily. There are several budget-friendly accommodation and soaking options in this adorable small town. The Charles Motel and Hot Springs Spa has been around since 1947 and has a rustic meets historic vibe. You can stay here for between $39-60 per night and that includes an indoor hot springs soak. Indulge in a rooftop Jacuzzi soak for $8-10 per person, per hour. (These rates are accurate at time of publication, but please check
website for changes.)
When it comes to perfectly preserved towns, there is no better example than Lincoln. This historical site features 17 structures from the days when the Lincoln County War waged through this now-tranquil town. Exploring this aspect of New Mexico’s past is totally free. Use our
about the town to get a sense of the dramatic events that played out here.
8. Hit the casino.
I know what you’re thinking: casinos are where people go to lose money. Agreed. You’re only going to save by staying at one if you’re a take it or leave it kind of gambler. When you ignore the actual casino – or stick to penny slots - you can score well-priced hotel rooms while taking advantage of other amenities like the buffet and pool. For instance, rooms at Cities of Gold Casino start at $67 on weeknights this summer.
It doesn’t cost a cent to absorb the retro vibe in this New Mexico town that epitomizes Route 66 culture. Cruise through town, checking out the neon signs and murals. Then stop by Ute Lake State Park ($5 per car) for a lakeside adventure. Although there are plenty of attractions related to the Mother Road in Tucumcari itself, Russell’s Truck and Travel Center is about 40 miles away (exit 369 off I-40) and showcases the classic cars, which other museums charge you to view, for free.
For more info.
What’s your favorite budget getaway in the Land of Enchantment?
If you’re concerned about the cost of accommodations, check out some of New Mexico’s awesome