About Albuquerque, New Mexico
List of all Route 66 Attractions in Albuquerque East to West:
1. Eastern Albuquerque
- Pig and Calf
- 66 Diner
- Another Phillips Petroleum Gull Wing
- Crossroads Motel
- Hyatt Chalet Motel
- Whole Hog Cafe
- Imperial 400 Motel
- TraveLodge Downtown
- Hilton Hotel
- El Fidel Hotel
- Kimo Theater
- Lindy's Coffee Shop
- Maisel's Indian Trading Post
- Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico
- El Rey Theater
- Firestone Tires
- Downtowner Motor Inn
- Skinner Grocery
- Capri Motor Hotel
- Horn Oil Co. and Motor Lodge
- Sandia Theatre
- Old Town of Albuquerque
- San Felipe de Neri Church
- Tower Court
- El Don Motel
- Monterey Motel
- Country Club Court
- El Vado Auto Court Motel
- Relict Motel Signs: Cibola and Super 6
- An Old Motel
- Another Old Motel
- El Campo Tourist Court
- La Hacienda Camp
- Siesta Court
- Western View Diner & Steak
- Adobe Manor
- Westward Ho Motel
- French Quarter Motel
- Grandview Motel
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
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.
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
Albuquerque and Sandia Mountains at sunset, Daniel Schwen
The Santa Fe Route 66 segment
>> There are RV campgrounds in Albuquerque.
Weather in Albuquerque
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.
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.)
Map of Route 66 through Albuquerque
Static Map showing Route 66 alignment through Albuquerque, NM
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 MapClick for Map to appear below
Route 66 itinerary through Albuquerque
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:
Other things to do in Albuquerque
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:
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.
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).
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.
Sandia Crest Aerial Tramway
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. 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.
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&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.
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).
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 "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
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.
Parks described further up in the Side Trips...
See the Side Trips described further up.
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.
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.