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Albuquerque

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Albuquerque's Route 66: What to see and do

Albuquerque has many Route 66 attractions: Nob Hill district with the Nob Hill Business Center and the Valentine Diner Police Substation.
Classic Route 66 motels such as the El Vado Auto Court Motel, De Anza Motor Lodge, Tewa Lodge and Luna Lodge.
The Historic Old Town of Albuquerque with its XVIII Century San Felipe de Neri Church Church. Downtown with the historic Kimo Theater, the vintage 66 Diner and Maisel's Indian Trading Post. And west of town on the Nine Mile Hill: the Grandview Motel, and Americana Motel among others... Get your kicks in Albuquerque's Route 66!

Albuquerque NM

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About Albuquerque, New Mexico

List of all Route 66 Attractions in Albuquerque East to West:

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 5,312 ft (1.619 m). Population: 558,000 (2014).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).

Albuquerque is the most populated and the fastest growing city in New Mexico, and it ranks 32 among the largest cities in the U.S.; its Metro area has 903,000 inhabitants. It is the seat of Bernalillo County, NM. straddles the Rio Grande, between West Mesa and the western slope of the Sandia Mountains.

Tewa Lodge a Route 66 motel

Tewa Lodge in Albuquerque, Route 66, New Mexico
Route 66 motel Tewa Lodge, Albuquerque NM.
Perla Eichenblat

It is nicknamed ABQ, The Duke City and Burque. Its inhabitants are "Albuquerqueans" (or Burqueños).

People have lived in this area for over 10,000 years (the site at Sandia Cave is proof of this). Later the Pueblo people settled in the valleys of the rivers that flowed into the Rio Grande.

Seeking the "Cities of Gold", the Spanish explored the area, and in 1540 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado named the native people "Pueblo", after the Spanish word for "village".

The Spanish settlied in Santa Fe in the early 1600s and converted the natives to Catholicism but opression led to a rebellion in 1680 which destroyed the colonial towns. The Spanish returned in 1692 and resettled the area, founding Albuquerque in 1706 as a key stopover on the Camino Real (Royal Road).

Origin of the name Albuquerque

The name Albuquerque comes from Extremadura, Spain. The first part of the word "Al-bury" is arabic for "the tower", remember that the Arabs occupied spain between 711 and 1492 A.D. The second part is pre-Roman, "Karkar" a local hill. Both form: Al-bury-Karkar or "Alburquerque", with an "R".

Another version says the name derives from the latin words for "white oak" (Albus quercus).

The local nobles were the Dukes of Alburquerque and one of them, Francisco was viceroy of New Spain (which comprised Mexico and all of the Southwestern USA) from 1653 to 1660.

The governor of Nueva Mejico named the town after the Duke of Alburquerque. Common usage led to the dropping of the first "R" and the town became known under its present name of Albuquerque.

After its independence from Spain, Nueva Mexico passed on to Mexico but it was ceded to the U.S. who won the Mexican - American War (1846-48). Confederate troops occupied the town during the Civil War and the Battle of albuquerque took place there on April 8, 1862.

Trivia: Altitude

Albuquerque is one of the highest major cities in the United States, ranging from 4,900 feet (1.490 m) in the Valley to over 6,700 feet (1.950 m) in the Sandia Mountain foothills.

In 1880 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reached the town and built its depot and station 2 miles east of the Old Town Center, creating the New Town or downtown area, which incorporated in 1891 and in 1920 absorbed the Old Town.

Route 66 was aligned through the town along the old Santa Fe - Las Vegas loop. It soon brought new business to the central part of town. In 1937 it was realigned when the Santa Fe cut-off shortened the road which took an east-west course to Santa Rosa through Moriarty and to the west, the "Laguna cut-off" shortened the road towards Gallup.

The atomic age became part of Albuquerque with the Sandia National Laboratories (1949). But Route 66 and its chain of motels, diner and filling stations would be bypassed by I-40 when the Interstate looped around the north part of town in the 1960s.

Where to Stay

There is lodging along Route 66 in Albuquerque:

>> Book your Hotels in Albuquerque

Lodging Near Albuquerque along Route 66

Heading West...

Albuquerque and Sandia Mountains

Albuquerque and Sandia Mountains at sunset, by Daniel Schwen

Heading East....

The Santa Fe Route 66 segment
Book your Route 66 hotel now
Book your Hotel along Route 66

>> There are RV campgrounds in Albuquerque.

Weather in Albuquerque

Latest Albuquerque, New Mexico, weather
Route 66 and Albuquerque, NM
Location of Albuquerque, Route 66

Albuquerque is located in the Rio Grande Valley on the western slope of the Sandia Mountains. The climate is dry, sunny (278 sunny days per year) and the relative humidity is low. Altitude and dryness causes large swings between day and night temperatures, even in summer.

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in summer (Jul.) are: 92 ⁄ and 65 °F (33 ⁄ 18 °C) respectively. The average in winter (Jan), are: 47 ⁄ and 24 °F (8 ⁄ -4 °C)

Summers are hot and winters are cold. Rainfall tends to fall during the summer monsoon season (July through September), and adds up to about 11 in. per year (279 mm). Shielded by mountains, snowfall is quite low: around 10 inches (25 cm) per year.

Tornado risk

The tornado risk in Albuquerque is nil: Bernalillo County has no Tornado watches.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
 

Getting to Albuquerque

The Arizona State Line is 161 mi. west of Albuquerque, and to the west of the city is the town of Gallup (139 mi.)

To the north of Albuquerque, on the Santa Fe loop of Route 66 are: Bernalillo, Algodones, Santo Domingo Pueblo and Santa Fe (65 mi.)

To the east is Tijeras (16 mi.), Edgewood (26 mi.), Moriarty (39 mi), Santa Rosa (116 mi.), and Tucumcari (176 mi). Glenrio (218 mi.) is located on the Texas ⁄ New Mexico state line.

Map of Route 66 through Albuquerque

Static Map showing Route 66 alignment through Albuquerque, NM

Map of US66 in Albuquerque Nm
Map showing Route 66 in Albuquerque, NM, by

.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment.
Red line: I-40 & where it overlaps the old alignment.
Green: The 1926 - 1937 alignment through Santa Fe (click button to see it).

Display Albuquerque Route 66 Map

  Click for Map to appear below
 
 Click for US66 "Santa Fe alignment map"
 

Google Maps. Terms. Nicolas Mollet, CC BY SA 3.0 License

Route 66 itinerary through Albuquerque

Route 66 logo

Route 66 in New Mexico

Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across New Mexico.

The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)

Visit our Santa Fe Loop page which describes the complete 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque through Pecos, Santa Fe and Bernalillo.

Below is full information on Route 66's 1926 alignment in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Attractions & Sights

Things to Do and See

Albuquerque its Attractions

Where Route 66 crosses itself

Albuquerque has many attractions and sights: from volcanos to Native American pueblos and a historic Colonial Old Town to Classic Route 66 motels (Tewa, el Vado, De Anza) and diners, theaters, trading posts. Awesome outdoor activities and a feeling of the Southwest.

Route 66 attractions in Albuquerque

Driving Tour along Central Avenue

Separately we describe the classic Route 66 sights from east to west, starting at the point where Central Avenue splits off from I-44 at Exit 167 and ending in Western Albuquerque on the Nine Mile Hill.

We have four separate pages covering the US 66 sights and attractions in Albuquerque:

Route 66 sign on lamp post in Central Ave Albuquerque

Other things to do in Albuquerque

Railway Station

Railroad station in downtown Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque Station, A. Whittall

The Downtown Albuquerque Rail Runner station is located on 100 1st Street SW, Albuquerque

The first station was built here in the 1880s. In 1902 the Alvarado Hotel was added, built in Mission Revival style. It was named after Hernando de Alarado, a member of the 1540 Coronado Expedition. The new station was built next to it. The hotel was demolished in 1970 and the station burned down in 1993. The current complex was rebuilt in the same style as the original buildings between 2002 and 2006.

Take the Rail Runner To Santa Fe

Buy your ticket online or onboard. Fares, ticketing at the Train's website

A high-speed rail link that gets you to Santa Fe in 80 minutes. Named after the "Roadrunner", the state bird, it gives you some views of the Sandia, San Felipe, Santo Domingo and Cochiti pueblos.

Day Tour to Santa Fe

The train station in Santa Fe is the historic Santa Fe Depot close to the 400-year-old Plaza. There are plenty of sights and attractions for a full day walking tour in Santa Fe.

A choice of Museums

Albuquerque has many museums, below is just a small sample of them, both are right beside the Old City:

Albuquerque Museum

2000 Mountain NW, Albuquerque NM.

Experience Albuquerque's art and history. Performances, tours and the historic Casa San Ysidro an 1870s ranch in the village of Corrales, north of Albuquerque.

Tue. through Sun. 9 AM - 5 PM. (505) 243-7255 . albuquerquemuseum.org

American International Rattlesnake Museum

202 San Felipe St. N.W. Albuquerque

An exciting and educational experience for kids and adults. It houses the largest collection of different species of live rattlesnakes in the whole world.

www.rattlesnakes.com

Events, Wines and Local Crafts and Art

Some tips and places to visit during your stay in Albuquerque:

Event: New Mexico Arts and Crafts Fair

2501 San Pedro St. NE, Ste. 110 Albuquerque

Held every summer (in June) since 1961. Is a non-profit fair for New Mexican artists (www.nmartsandcraftsfair.org).

wineries

Local Wines & Wineries

 
Spanish tradition of winemaking in New Mexico.

Casa Rodeña Winery. 733 Chavez Rd. N.W. Los Ranchos de Albuquerque (www.casarondena.com)

Anderson Valley Vineyards. 4920 Rio Grande Blvd. N.W., Albuquerque. (505) 344-7266

Corrales Winery. 6275 Corrales Rd., Corrales (www.corraleswinery.com)

Gruet Winery. 8400 Pan American Frwy. N.E., Albuquerque (www.gruetwinery.com)

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

2401 12th St. N.W. Albuquerque. (505) 843-7270 (Map)

Discover the Pueblo Indian culture. See the traditional dances a collection of pottery, buy handicrafts and turquoise jewels; taste local food at the café. Open 9 AM - 5 PM. www.indianpueblo.org.

Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Drive east along Route 66 up the Tijeras Canyon, visiting Tijeras where you can access the forests on the Rocky Mountains (Sandia and Manzano Mountains) along the edge of New Mexico's high desert.

You can drive the original 1926 alignment of Route 66 which lies to the north of Albuquerque, and visit the towns of Bernalillo, Algodones, Santo Domingo Pueblo and the City of Santa Fe

Sandia Crest Aerial Tramway

Aerial Tramway at Sandia Mountain, New Mexico
Aerial Tramway on Sandia Crest, close to Albuquerque NM.
Thomas Kriese.

Some Amazing Side Trips

The Turquoise Trail

This circuit is a full day trip, almost 120 miles (round trip) to the north of Albuquerque through Tijeras.

We describe the trip here: Turquoise Trail, in our Tijeras Village page.

You will be able to drive up the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway to the summit at 10,652 ft. (3.249 m) for spectacular views of Albuquerque and the forested mountains.

Aerial Tramway to Sandia Crest

Don't want to drive there? Take the tramway and reach Sandia Crest easily.... On the western slope of Sandia Crest is the world's third longest single span aerial tramway with a stretch of 2.7 miles.

It links Albuquerque with the crest of Sandia Mountains. More details at: www.sandiapeak.com. The tramway station is at 30 Tramway Rd. NE Albuquerque.

It is an 16 mile drive from Albuquerque (See Map).

Salt Missions Scenic Byway

This is a circuit of 140 miles (roughly 3 hours of driving).

The Salt Missions Scenic Byway follows ancient native trails and trade routes that run from the mountains, to the plains in the east. Read full details here, on our Tijeras Village page.

Jemez Mountain Trail

This is a full day round trip with different variants, below we describe them all.

The route goes through the Jémez Mountains with cliffs, forests and a gushing river take you back to the past.

Pueblo People at Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico

Pueblo people at Ohkay Owingeh. Carptrash

From Albuquerque to San Ysidro

This is the first part of the trip and spans 45 miles (one way); see Map with directions.

It includes two stops at Bernalillo:

Coronado Historic Site

485 Kuaua Rd, Bernalillo, near Exit 242 on I-25 (20 mi. north of Albuquerque); see Map and directions.

State Monument

It includes the partially rebuilt ruins of the Pueblo of Kuaua (it means "evergreen" in the native Tiwa language), which was occupied between 1300 and 1590s.

Visit the Interpretative Center and view the original native murals, walk the interpretative trail and visit the sacred underground ceremonial room (Kiva).

Spanish Conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was the first European to reach the area in 1540, seeking the Cities of Gold. He named the native people "Pueblo", after the Spanish word for "village".

From Wed. through Mon. 8:30 AM - 5 PM. Admission fee charged. More details: www.nmmonuments.org/coronado

J and R Museum, Albuquerque

J&R Vintage Auto Museum

3650-A Hwy. 528 Rio Rancho, NM (Map).

Over 60 fully restored antique cars and trucks on display. Books, die-cast toys. Admission fee. www.jrvintageautos.com.

Vintage car at the J&R Museum

To San Ysidro and Jémez

Leave Bernalillo and head west along US-550.

Zia Pueblo

The Zia Sun symbol appears on the New Mexico State flag. The ancient pueblo was occupied by the Spanish in 1583 and razed in 1689. It was rebuilt later. Visit it on the north side of the river (see Map).

San Ysidro

Just ahead is NM-4, there take a right into the Spanish colonial village (Pueblo) of San Ysidro (Map) where the road heads north, next to the Jémez River. The land is arid, but there are farms next to the river. Stop by the refurbished adobe church.

Jémez Pueblo

The road reaches the Jémez Pueblo (Map), where you should stop at the Walatowa Visitor Center (www.jemezpueblo.org) for an overview of the area's history and visit its museum.

See the red clay pottery at Jémez, the village is known for it. And look at the old homes along the road.

Just ahead is the village of Walatowa (which means "The Place").

The Hemish natives (Jémez) lived in this area when the Spanish arrived in 1541. There were over 60 towns with 30,000 residents which the Spanish grouped into two towns with missions. The only one still standing is Walatowa.

Gilman Tunnels: Short Five mile side trip

Just north of Jémez to the left is NM-485, take it and drive along it for 5 miles. The narrow road follows the Guadalupe River passing by small farms until the canyon narrows and granite rocks appear on both sides. A railroad built in the 1920s, to move the logs downhill cut two tunnels through the cliffs.

See Satellite view

Towards Jemez Springs

Head along NM-4 northwards as the road follows the Jémez River through the Cañon de San Diego, and reach Jemez Springs, a State Monument (www.jemezsprings.org).

See Map. The small village was built in the 1860s and has a Bathhouse built in the 1870s and refurbished, where you can get a massage and bathe in the hot water spring. The Indians built a pueblo here and named it Giusewa ("Place of Boiling Waters"), After the Spanish conquest a mission was erected (San Jose de Los Jemez Mission). The pueblo ruins and the church are now part of the State Monument; see the Street View of the ruins at the State Park.

Ahead, one mile north of the village is the "Soda Dam", a natural dam built by layers of mineral deposits that block the narrow canyon almost entirely; the river cuts through it. Street View.

The road heads north passing Battleship Rock, a volcanic ridge and then reaches La Cueva, where the road forks and offers different alternatives for your day trip:

West to Fenton Lake, Cuba and back to Albuquerque

At La Cueva you can buy some snacks and head along the left fork, NM-126, reaching Fenton Lake, a State Park, 8 mi. west.

Lake Fenton State Park, near Albuquerque, NM

Lake Fenton State Park, New Mexico
Lake Fenton State Park, New Mexico.
Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

Turn back to La Cueva or head northwest going through the Santa Fe National Forest reaching Cuba after 30 miles -there are 20 mi. of unpaved road in the central part of NM-126, closed in winter. (Map), where you can take the road back to Albuquerque along NM-550. See the map of this alternative, which is a 105 mile long loop from San Ysidro and back again, through Cuba.

East to Jémez Falls, Bandelier National Monument and Albuquerque.

From Las Cuevas keep along NM-4 and head east into the forest of aspens and pines, at the Jémez Falls Campground is a trail that leads to the 70 ft. cascade of Jémez Falls (0.5 mi trek).

Valles Caldera National Preserve

After 5 mi., the road enters the Valles Caldera National Preserve (www.vallescaldera.gov) a park that covers a collapsed volcano that erupted over 1 million years ago. You can return via NM-4 using the same route you came by or head east towards Santa Fe and from there head back to Albuquerque:

This is the map of the road from La Cueva via Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, and to Albuquerque via I-25: Map via Santa Fe which is 138 miles long.

Bandelier National Monument

See the Steet View of the access to the site.

The monument covers 33,000 acres of mesas, canyons, arid and forested areas and is a place to spot wildlife, hike and visit the petroglyphs and cliff dwellings that date back almost 11,000 years. More information at the website www.nps.gov/band.

From Bandelier, head back to Abuquerque via Santa Fe.

The Old alignment of Route 66 near Albuquerque

route 66 shield New Mexico

Across Albuquerque along Old Route 66

Route 66 through Albuquerque, NM.

See the Map and Directions through Albuquerque (1937 alignment).

Full details on the 1926 - 1937 Alignment of Route 66 through Santa Fe (The Santa Fe Loop).

> > See the previous segment Carnuel to Eastern Albuquerque.

> > See the next segment Suwnaee to Laguna.

From Central Ave and Tramway Blvd., next to I-40's Exit 167 in Eastern Albuquerque, follow Central Ave. all the way into Albuquerque, it crosses I-25 and goes through the downtown ABQ. It Becomes Central Ave NW.

Route 66 crosses itself

On the corner of 4th St and Central Ave., Route 66 crosses itself: the 1937 alignment crosses the old 1926 alignment that came from Santa Fe.

Albuquerque to Suwanee - Correo through Isleta and Los Lunas

The 1926 - 1937 alignment

South of Albuquerque, the road 1926 alignment of US 66 followed US 85 and was part of the National Old Trails Road. It passed through Isleta and Los Lunas and then turned west towards Correo. - Suwanee. This longer alignment was replaced in 1937 with the "Laguna Cut-off" (see Map of the 1926 alignment south of Albuquerque).

Albuquerque to Suwanee along the 1937 alignment

This segment up to Rio Puerco is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Map of this Segment. From the downtown of ABQ (4th St. and Central Ave) head west along Central Avenue as it curves and crosses the Rio Grande River. The Avenue approaches I-40, but don't enter it, cross to its north side along Atrisco Vista Blvd. and follow the N. Frontage Road west at Exit 149. This area is a sandy area west of the river with dunes and known as the "Nine Mile Hill", it has Great Views of Albuquerque and the Sandia Range to the east.

You will have to enter I-40 ahead at Exit 140 because Central Ave. ends further ahead and turns north. Remain on I-40 until Exit 126, where you should head along NM-6 towards the south and reach Suwanee and the 1926 alignment of Route 66.

Santa Fe to Albuquerque alignment 1926 - 1937

Get full details of this segment that passes through Santo Domingo (Kewa Pueblo), Algodones and Bernalillo here: Santa Fe to Albuquerque via Old Route 66.

National and State Parks

Petroglyph National Monument

About 8 mi. northwest of Albuquerque. Access from Exit 154 of I-40, head north along Unser Blvd. for 3 mi. to Western Trail, gateway to the Nat. Monument.

This volcanic area with the black volcanic rocks were sacred for the Pueblo people, who engraved their petroglyphs on them.

The National Monument is a day-use park that closes at 5 PM. Take your time (average hiking time through the park is from 1⁄2 to 4 hours). Stop at the visitor center is (at Unser Blvd. NW and Western Trail) for current park information, maps and brochures. Open 8 AM - 5 PM.

Boca Negra Canyon

View around 100 petroglyphs along a paved trail guided with signs. Paid parking, drinking fountain and restrooms.

Rinconada Canyon

A 2.2 mile round trip trail (no water) with 300 petroglyphs; 1.5 to 2 hour trek.

Piedras Marcadas Canyon

A 1.5 mile rount trip trail (no water) with 500 petroglyphs; 1.5 hours.

The Volcanoes

The "Three Sisters" or Albuquerque volcanoes, and the West Mesa area formed simultaneously 150,000 years ago when the Earth's crust cracked and allowed magma to rise through it along a 5 mi. (8 km) fissure like a curtain of fire.

The Rio Grande Valley is actually a "rift", where the Earth's crust is thinner allowing lava to flow upwards, the valley to sink and the lateral areas to rise, like the Sandia Mountains to the east.

There are several trails from 0.8 to 2 miles long, from easy to moderately strenuous, which allow you to view the volcanoes by hiking around the cinder cones. Great views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains. Take water with you. Parking lot is located at Atrisco Vista Blvd. NW (former Paseo del Volcan), about 4.8 miles north of I-40. (see Street View.

More information National Parks website

View of one of Albuquerque's volcanoes

Volcano in Albuquerque, Route 66, New Mexico
Volcano in Albuquerque NM.
Jeremy Taylor

Cibola National Forest

11776 Highway 337, Tijeras NM. (505) 281-3304. Official Website

The Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands spans several locations covering 1.6 million acres in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma.

The areas nearest Albuquerque are the Sandia and the Mountainair Ranger Districts. Further west, between Albuquerque and Gallup is the Mt. Taylor Ranger District.

Full details.

Outdoors

See the Side Trips described further up.

Sources

Original artwork by A. Whittall based on Google Street View Imagery.

Albuquerque Basin Volcanic Field, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science

Robert Julyan. 1996, The Place Names of New Mexico, UNM Press.

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api

Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.