Historic 66, New Mexico Style
Mileage/Average Drive Time
143 miles, 2 hours, 14 minutes
For a historic jaunt through the Land of Enchantment, take Interstate-40 along what was once Route 66, one of our great American highways. Explore what the New Mexico desert has to offer with its trading posts, pueblos, mid-century architecture, neon signage and scenic stops.
1. Gallup - Starting Point
Not only does Historic Route 66 run through this town; Gallup is mentioned in songs about the Mother Road. Vintage neon signs, retro businesses and authentic trading posts line Route 66 through town, offering Navajo rugs, turquoise jewelry and other items crafted by Navajo and Zuni artisans for sale. Have a drink at the 49er Lounge and taste classic Mexican cuisine at the historic restaurant in the El Rancho Hotel, a haven for more than 70 movie stars during the 1940s and 1950s, whose photos still grace the walls. Hollywood glamour mixes with desert charm.
2. Thoreau - 32 miles, 32 minutes
Located a few miles past the Continental Divide, Thoreau is home to a genuine Navajo Trading Post offering rug weavings, sand paintings, pottery, silver and turquoise jewelry for sale to travelers. This desert town is also the gateway to the Chaco Canyon National Historical Park, which is comprised of 13 major pre-Columbian ruins maintained in a state of “arrested decay." Plan a pit stop at one of the oldest remaining service stations along Route 66, Roy T. Herman’s Garage, with its 1940s gas pumps and 1950’s franchise signage for the Standard Oil Company.
3. Laguna - 63 miles, 56 minutes
Route 66 cuts through the heart of pueblo land providing a closer look at Native America, including the historic Pueblo of Laguna, the largest of the Keresan pueblos. The Laguna Indians are believed to have lived in these buildings made of stone and adobe since the 1300s. St Joseph Mission Church is the prominent landmark with its whitewashed exterior, and trading posts are located throughout the vibrant community. Villa de Cubero, built in 1936, is one of the best examples of Historic Route 66 roadside architecture.
4. Albuquerque - 48 miles, 46 minutes
The automobile and Route 66 have played major roles in shaping Albuquerque’s cultural history and landscape, and a prime example is Nob Hill Shopping Center, New Mexico’s first modern shopping center that placed an emphasis on the automobile. After some shopping, cruise down Central Avenue for nostalgic views of motor courts, motels and lodges that once featured flashy neon signs and swanky amenities, before motoring over to Kellys Brew Pub, located in what was formerly Jones Motor Company, which included a gas station, car dealership and service station catering to Route 66 travelers. Today, the restaurant features historic signs, gas pumps and relics from the Mother Road’s past. Step back in time and experience the road that helped shape modern America.