Route 66 in New Mexico – TOP 5 MUST-SEE Places in NM – What to visit along Mother Road in NM?

New Mexico - Route 66. Best places to visit. This is the best stops along Mother Road.

What to visit on Route 66 in New Mexico? You may be wondering, “What are the best stops along Mother Road in New Mexico?”, “What are the best places to see in New Mexico, NM on Route 66?”.

Today I will show you my list of best stops on Route 66 in New Mexico. This is my top 5 spots in the order they appear on Mother Road in New Mexico, NW, each with name, mileage, detailed description, helpful tidbits, address, and GPS coordinates. Remember that more of them, you can find in my travel guide about Route 66: “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places”. Are you ready to see my top five choices?

Route 66 attractions in New Mexico.

In New Mexico, Route 66 runs east to west across the state, passing through several towns and cities including Albuquerque, Santa Rosa, and Gallup.

The section of Route 66 in New Mexico is known for its distinctive landscapes and cultural heritage. Along the highway, you will find deserts, mountains, and small towns with rich history and unique architecture. There are several notable landmarks and attractions along the route, such as the famous Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, and the historic town of Santa Rosa. However, it should be noted that much of Route 66 in New Mexico has been bypassed by modern highways and some sections of the original road have been decommissioned, but it is still possible to drive the entire route in New Mexico.

1. Tee Pee Curios

GPS: 35.171717, -103.714766
ADDRESS: 924 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

What to see in New Mexico on Route 66 journey? Where to stop and what to visit in Tucumcari?

Your first must-see place in New Mexico Route 66 should be this famous stop!

If you’re driving through Tucumcari, New Mexico, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the Tee Pee Curios shop. This iconic landmark is one of the last remaining teepee curio shops in the state, and it’s a must-see attraction for anyone traveling along Route 66.

The shop got its start in the 1940s as a gas and grocery store, but it has since evolved into a souvenir shop that offers a wide range of Route 66 and New Mexico-themed items. Visitors can browse a selection of pottery, t-shirts, jewelry, postcards, and much more, making it the perfect place to pick up a unique and authentic souvenir of your travels.

But the real draw of Tee Pee Curios is its iconic teepee-shaped building. The teepee is a beloved fixture in the Tucumcari community, and it’s a popular spot for photos and selfies. Whether you’re looking for a fun and quirky shopping experience or simply want to soak up some local history and culture, Tee Pee Curios is a must-see destination on your Route 66 journey.

2. Blue Swallow Motel

GPS: 35.172016, -103.716409
ADDRESS: 815 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401

What to see on Route 66 in New Mexico? Best stops along Mother Road in NW state.

This is your next stop in New Mexico! Must-see place: “What to see in New Mexico on Route 66 journey”?

As you drive through Tucumcari, be sure to keep an eye out for the iconic Blue Swallow Motel. This historic motel is one of the most popular destinations on Route 66, and it’s easy to see why.

Built in 1939 by carpenter W.A. Huggins, the Blue Swallow Motel has been a fixture of the Tucumcari community for over 80 years. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s a beloved destination for Route 66 enthusiasts from all over the world.

In addition to offering comfortable and affordable accommodations, the Blue Swallow Motel is also known for its stunning neon sign and iconic neon blue swallows. These features were restored with the help of a Cost-Share Grant from the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program in 2007, ensuring that they continue to shine bright for generations to come.

This place is very instagrammable! Please check out my other post for more recommendations on similar places: Route 66 – TOP 14 BEST Instagram-Worthy Photo Spots Along Mother Road

3. El Vado Motel

ROUTE 66 : 1385 MI / 2229 KM Albuquerque, NEW MEXICO
GPS: 35.094353, -106.677066
ADDRESS: 2500 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104

Get ready to visit New Mexico! This part of Route 66 is amazing!

Another very good stop and must-see place in New Mexico on your Route 66 journey.

If you’re looking for a true slice of Route 66 history, look no further than El Vado Motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This iconic motel was one of the first to welcome travelers to New Mexico when it opened in 1937, and it continues to be a popular destination for Route 66 enthusiasts to this day.

El Vado Motel was built by Daniel Murphy, an Irishman who had worked in New York City before making his way west to New Mexico. When Route 66 was realigned through Albuquerque in 1937, Murphy saw an opportunity to open a motel that would cater to travelers on the Mother Road. He named the motel “El Vado,” which means “ford” in Spanish, to reflect its location near the old Rio Grande crossing.

Over the years, El Vado Motel has hosted countless travelers on their journey down Route 66. It’s been featured in movies and TV shows, and it’s a beloved part of New Mexico’s Route 66 heritage. Today, the motel has been completely restored and features an outdoor swimming pool for guests to enjoy. Whether you’re a Route 66 veteran or a first-time traveler, El Vado Motel is a must-see stop on your journey through New Mexico.

4. Owl Rock

GPS: 35.034121, -107.338109
ADDRESS: Old Rte 66 Rd, New Laguna, NM 87038

This is another example of a place that is a must-see during your Rote 66 trip in New Mexico, NW.

As you continue your journey through New Mexico, be sure to make a stop at one of the most remarkable sections of Route 66. This stretch of the old highway winds through breathtaking rock formations that were too beautiful to bulldoze when the four-lane 66 and Interstate 40 were built. Among these formations is Owl Rock, a geological wonder that draws visitors from all over. Located between Mesita and Laguna on Old Route 66, Owl Rock earned its name from its distinctive owl-like shape, which is particularly striking at dusk.

But as you enjoy the scenery, don’t forget to stay alert. Just after Owl Rock, you’ll encounter a treacherous 180-degree bend known as Dead Man’s Curve. This part of the road requires your full attention, so take it slow and be extra cautious. With its stunning landscapes and challenging curves, this stretch of Route 66 is sure to be a highlight of your trip through New Mexico.

5. El Rancho Hotel

GPS: 35.529567, -108.728143
ADDRESS: 1000 E Hwy 66, Gallup, NM 87301

Best stops to see in New Mexico. These places will make your Route 66 trip amazing. Get your kicks on Route 66! El Vado in Gallup is a great stop.

If you’re a fan of Western movies or classic Hollywood, a visit to the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup is a must. This historic hotel served as a home base for over 100 Westerns filmed in the area during the 1930s and 1940s, with many of the era’s biggest stars staying on its premises.

As you step through the hotel’s grand entrance, you’ll be transported back in time to the golden age of Hollywood. The El Rancho’s rich history is palpable in every detail, from the intricate woodwork to the vintage furnishings. It’s no wonder that the hotel quickly became the Southwest’s premier lodging destination after opening in 1937.

Over the years, the El Rancho welcomed some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman, John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Kirk Douglas, and Jackie Cooper. Even if you’re not a film buff, a stay at the El Rancho Hotel is an experience you won’t soon forget. Its unique blend of Old West charm and Hollywood glamour make it one of the most unforgettable stops on Route 66 in New Mexico.

👍 Find out more:

Discover the best stops along the Mother Road in my travel guide, “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places”, which is available on Amazon. This is the ultimate travel guide and pocket reference for anyone wishing to experience the nostalgia and wonder of America’s Route 66! MUST-HAVE for all Route 66 travelers. Visit 202 places on Route 66 with “Scan QR and go” for easy navigation.


Traveling on Route 66

Mark Watson is a California-based member of a Los Angeles Motorcycle Club and a keen traveler. He’s traveled the entirety of U. S. Route 66 seven times on his Harley-Davidson. He strives to interest others in the historic drive to keep the legendary Route 66 alive. He also traveled through the Alaska Highway. He is an author of bestseller books on Amazon: “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places” and “Alaska Highway – 202 Best Stops”.

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