Plan the Road Trip of your Life

Home | Blog

Route 66


New Mexico Flag

History: Route 66 meets the Turquoise Trail

Last Updated:

Tijeras on the crossroads of Route 66, the The Turquoise Trail. Visit the 14th century Tijeras Pueblo (a Historic site) and the Prehistoric Sandia Cave archaeological site. Drive along the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway and the ancient trails of the Salt Missions Scenic Byway.

Tijeras NM

< Head West
Suwanee ¦ Albuquerque ¦ Carnuel

Head East >
Edgewood ¦ Moriarty ¦ Clines Corners



Rent your car advertisement

About Tijeras, New Mexico

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 6,322 ft (1,927 m). Population: 541 (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).

Tijeras Village is located in Bernalillo County, NM, at the crossroads of Route 66's 1937 alignment and the Turquoise Trail. Map of Tijeras

View along US 66 in Tijeras

US 66 in Tijeras
The 1937 Route 66 in Tijeras P. Eichenblat

The Pueblo people lived in the area, and built what we have named Tijeras Pueblo ("pueblo" is the Spanish word for "village") close to where the modern town is located.

The location is strategic, it is emplaced on a a geologic fault, the narrow and deep Tijeras Canyon that cuts across this section of the Southern Rocky Mountains from east to west, separating it into two ranges: the Sandia Mountains to the north and the Manzano Mountains to the south.

The canyon continues as Tablazon Canyon eastwards until it reaches the highest part of the range, and then heads down the eastern slope as Sedillo Canyon, towards Edgewood.

This has been a natural pass through the mountains and used since prehistoric times to link the high desert in the east with the Rio Grande in the west.

The remains found at the Sandia Cave and at Clovis indicate that the region has been inhabited for over 10,000 years.

In more recent times the area was home of the Pueblo people, who were farmers and lived in villages. The Tijeras Pueblo (a Historic site) was established around 1300 A.D., near the current village of Tijeras.

The Spanish arrived and explored the region (1540s) and settled in Santa Fe. Missionaries converted many natives to Catholicism. But the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 ended with the destruction of the missions and towns and a brief period of independence from Spain. The Spanish returned in 1692 and rebuilt their control over Nueva Mejico.

The name: Tijeras

The word "Tijeras" is Spanish, and it means scissors. The origin of the name are the two canyons that meet there, Tijeras (originally known as Carnué) and Cedro Canyons and the ancient Native trails that met there, coming together like scissors.

After 1819 settlers arrived but had to face the raids of the Comanche and Apache. After the Mexican - American War (1846-48), the U.S. incorporated the area as the Territory of New Mexico and settlers began arriving from the East. The old wagon trail from Santa Rosa passed by here. At the time of the American Civil War (1860s) there was a homestead here.

By 1880 there were 15 families in the area. The catholic church was built in 1912.

The old native trail became a road which by 1926 was a modern highway: US 470, that linked Albuquerque with Moriarty and Willard. Later in 1937, Route 66 was shortened and the "Santa Fe cut-off" was aligned along former US 470. When Route 66 became too crowded, it was upgraded to a four lane highway in the 1950s. Later I-40 was built alongside it, crossing the mountains through the Canyon. The village was incorporated in 1973.

Sandia Crest Aerial Tramway

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

Detail of a 1927 Map of Route 66 showing Santa Rosa, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the "loop through Santa Fe" and the shorter NM state Highway 6 to Moriarty.
Note that "Tijeras" was on US 470 in those days and NM-14 was NM-10.

A 1927 map of Route 66, New Mexico
Detail of a 1927 Map of Route 66 in NM, note the location of Tijeras, NM.

The map is from the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, under Fair usage and its BY-NC-SA 3.0, License. Metadata: Author and Publisher: Rand McNally and Company, Chicago. Date: 1927. Full Title: Rand McNally junior auto road map Arizona, New Mexico. Copyright by Rand McNally & Co., Chicago, Ill. (1927). List No: 5755.032 Page No: 66-67 Series No: 36.


Where to Stay

There is lodging along Route 66 close to Tijeras:

> > Book your Hotels in Moriarty or in Albuquerque

Lodging Near Tijeras along Route 66

Heading West...

Heading East....

The Santa Fe Route 66 segment

Find your room in neighboring Albuquerque:

>> There are RV campgrounds in Tijeras and also nearby.

The weather in Tijeras

Latest weather in Tijeras, NM
Tijeras, New Mexico its location map on Route 66
Location of Tijeras on Route 66

Tijeras is located in the Sandia Mountains. Although dry, the area is cooler than the lower regions to the east.

Roughly 15 in. of rain (381 mm) of rain fall every year with 55 days of precipitation. The snowfall is on average 16 inches (40.6 cm).

The summer average high temperature (Jul) is 88°F (31.1°C) with a low of around 54.5°F (12.5°C).

The winter average low (Jan) is around 15°F (-9.4°C), the high averages 44°F (6.7°C)

Tornado risk

Tijeras is located in an area with virtually no tornado risk: Bernalillo County has no Tornado watches.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.

Getting to Tijeras

The Arizona State Line is 177 mi. west of Tijeras. Just west of Tijeras along route 66 is the town of Carnuel followed byAlbuquerque (16 miles). Close to the Arizona state line is Gallup (155 mi.)

To the north of Tijeras, on the Santa Fe loop of Route 66 is Santa Fe (52 mi.)

To the east is Edgewood (13 mi.), Moriarty (23 mi)., Clines Corners (44 mi.), Santa Rosa (100 mi.), and further east, Tucumcari (160 mi), San Jon (184 mi.) and Glenrio (202 mi.) on the Texas - New Mexico state line.

Map U.S. 66 in Tijeras New Mexico

See the alignment of US 66 in Tijeras, on our New Mexico Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.

This map shows the alignment of Route 66 in Tijeras. The color key for this town is:

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).

Route 66's alignment in New Mexico: the Historic Route 66 through Tijeras

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across New Mexico

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

The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)

Our Santa Fe Loop page 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 this town.

Tijeras: its Attractions

Landmarks, Route 66 sights

Tijeras its Attractions

Ancient Crossroads: Salt Missions Trail & Turquoise Trail

Tijeras is the southern gateway to the Turquoise Trail and the north access to the Salt MissionsTrail. It is set in the Cibola National Forest, between the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, plenty of historic sights and outdoor activities.

The Village

The village itself is tiny, nestled between NM-14, I-40 and Route 66 (NM-333). Stop at the Visitors Center on Route 66, and see the marker next to the post office that has some information about Tijeras Canyon, visit the old "Holy Child Parish Church"

Holy Child Parish Church

Built in 1912, in adobe it was originally the Immaculate Conception Church. After reverting to the Keleher family, ownership passed to Tijeras ca. 1935, who renamed it Santo Niño (Holy Child).

A new church was completed in 1971 and the old one is no longer in use.

Tijeras Pueblo archeological site

11776 Highway 337, Tijeras, NM.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The remains of a 14th century Pueblo

Head south along NM-337 and after 1⁄2 mile is the Ranger Station on the left side of the highway. The Site is behind the Station.

There is an interpretative Center and a self-guided trail (1⁄3 of a mile - 500 m) which has signs and models of the pueblo, inhabited by the Pueblo Natives.

The pueblo had adobe homes and had around 400 residents. It was built in the 1300s and was located on the crossroads of two trade routes: one east to west linking the Great Plains with California (now Route 66 - I-40) and another north to south from Santa Fe to Mexico The Turquoise Trail and the Salt Mission Trail.

Radiocarbon dating has placed the period that it was inhabited between 1313 and 1425. The site had a "U" shape and comprised 200 rooms built in adobe. The center of the village had a "Kiva" (underground ceremonial room). Around 1360 it was partially abandoned, but it was repopulated again in 1390. Later the climate became drier and the pueblo definitively was abandoned.

The interesting activities are outdoor ones in the Cibola National Forest and experiencing the history of the area along the Salt Missions and Turquoise trails. We detail these activities below.

Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Tijeras offers amazing vistas of the forests on the Rocky Mountains (Sandia and Manzano Mountains) along the edge of New Mexico's high desert.

Apart from the side trips mentioned further down, you can visit, to the east, the towns of Edgewood, Moriarty and Santa Rosa.

To the west are Carnuel with its stretch of Musical Highway and Albuquerque.

The original 1926 alignment of Route 66 lies to the north and you can reach it via Santa Fe.

Some Amazing Side Trips

The Turquoise Trail


Turquoise is a gem and ornamental stone with an opaque blue to green color. It is a hydrous phosphate of aluminium and copper and has been used in jewelery since prehistoric times.

This circuit is a full day trip, almost 100 miles (round trip) to the north of Tijeras. See the Map and Directions

Turquoise Trail road sign Santa Fe, NM

Turquoise Trail scenic byway road sign. Santa Fe, NM. Austin Whittall

Start at Tijeras and head north along New Mexico State Highway 14 (NM-14) which follows a scenic route passing through several towns (Cedar Crest, Sandia Crest, Madrid) and reaching Santa Fe. There are many intersting sights along the way:

Cedar Crest

The town was founded by Carl Webb in 1925, and is just north of Tijeras. It was named after the "cedars" (juniper) in the area.

Visit its Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture spanning 12,000 years of American prehistory. Shops and lodging.

Head north and reach Sandia Park, from where you can take two intesting side trips into the Sandia Mountains

Sandia Crest Scenic Byway

> Breathtaking view from the summit: forest, mountains and Albuquerque to the west.

Follow NM 536W from Sandia Peak on NM14, head west. The road will take you from 6,870 ft to 10,652 ft. at the summit of Sandia Crest (3.249 m). The distance is 17.8 miles one way along a winding road that climbs to the top of Sandia Mountains crossing the Cibola National Forest.

Sandia Park and Sandia Mountains

"Sandía" is the Spanish word for watermelon. Maybe the local sqash or watermelons grown by the natives gave it its name.

See the Map and Directions to Sandia Crest.

View along the Sandia Crest Scenic Byway

Sandia Crest Scenic Byway, Sandia Mountains, near Tijeras and Route 66 in New Mexico
The road that leads to Sandia Crest, Sandia Mountains, New Mexico. Click on image for Street View

There is an observation deck at the top. During winter the Sandia Peak Ski area is ideal for snowboarding or skiing. In summer you can take the chairlift up to the top and then ride a mountain bike down the slopes along scenic trails.

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 mi.

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

Sandia Cave

SR 165, Sandia Park, NM.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Drive west from Sandia Park Center along NM-536W and at the junction that leads to Sandia Crest Scenic Byway, follow SR-165 North along the valley. At 12.8 miles is the parking area and sign. Follow the trail from the parking lot to the cave.

See the Map and Directions to Sandia Cave.

An archaeological site where prehistoric stone tools and extinct animals' bones have been found.

It is a natural clave in a limestone cliff located above the Las Huertas Creek in a forested area of the Sandia Mountains. It is open to the public who can reach it by a trail and a staircase which leads to the cave's entrance.

Eco-system along the Turquoise Trail

The high desert area has pygmy forest species like juniper, Apache plume, wafer ash, pinion and mountain mahogany. Higher up, in the mountains are ponderosa pines and white firs.

There are bears (look out for bears and be careful if you see one), coyote, puma (mountain lion) and birds such as owls, hummingbirds and eagles.

Vandals have painted graffiti on the stairs, cave and its access cage. The ceiling still conserves soot from the prehistoric fires lit by the cave dwellers.

It is one of America's oldest sites and stone tools (Folsom and Sandia points) have been recovered as well as remains of extinct animals such as mammoth, camels, horses and sloth.

Click on the link for a View from the entrance to Sandia Cave.

Continuing north from Sandia Peak is the town of Golden


Close to Golden are the remains of two pueblos built in AD 1300. The town owes its name to an 1880s gold rush. Visit the San Francisco Catholic Church, built in adobe in 1830.


Madrid mail boxes

mail boxes in Madrid New Mexico
Madrid mail boxes, P. Eichenblat

Named after the descendants of Francisco de Madrid who settled here in 1603.

Halfway down the Turquoise Trail, it was a coal mining town that even had a Santa Fe railroad spur built to it. The price dropped and by 1950 the town was a ghost town. It has resurged with after the mid 1960s and now boasts artists, craftsmen, gallery owners and Santa Fe commuters as residents. Charming and artsy.


Famous for its "Cerrillos" variety of blue-green turqouise which has been mined here since AD 900, the oldest mining site in the US. The Spaniards mined silver and lead in the area after the 1600s founding El Real de los Cerrillos (Cerrillos means small hills) razed during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. It was rebuilt in the late 1800s.

Visit the Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum, the "hanging tree", Saint Joseph's Church, and the Cerrillos State Park as well as the Ortiz Mountains Educational Preserve; which is a botanical garden protecting the high desert flora nice for hiking.

Approaching the end of the trail are:

Lone Butte & San Marcos

With good vistas of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the black rock formations of the "Garden of the Gods". The byway ends at Route 66 in Santa Fe.

At this point you can turn around and go back towards Tijeras along the same route, of continue north towards Santa Fe and return via Albuquerque along the old 1926-1937 alignment of Route 66, and from there, head eastwards to Tijeras.

Salt Missions Scenic Byway

This is a circuit of 116 miles (roughly 2.5 hours of driving). See the Map of the Circuit.

The Salt Missions Scenic Byway follows ancient native trails and trade routes that run from Tijeras in the mountains, to the plains in the east.

From Tijeras head west along Old Route 66 (NM-333), which is aligned along the trail used by Apaches to raid the Spanish settlements on the Rio Grande. Go by Edgewood and head east until reaching Moriarty where you must take a right and head south along NM-41. Go through the town of McIntosh and reach Estancia, which was an ancient Native American campsite with a spring and abundant water, ideal in a desert setting.

The next town is Mountainair, founded in 1902; visit the Shaffer Hotel or Rancho Bonito. From here you can take some side trips to visit ancient "pueblos" belonging to the Salinas Pueblos Missions National Monument:

The Abo ruins (9 mi. along US-60, west), Quarai (8 mi. north alog NM-55) and Gran Quivira (25 mi. south on NM-55). Full information at the visitors' center in Mountainair.

These pueblos traded salt (from the salt flats of Lake Estancia), squash, cotton and corn. You can also visit the remains of Spanish Mission churches in these pueblos, which were built in the 1600s.

From Mountainair the road heads north (NM-55 and later NM-337) passing through the towns of Manzano (Visit the Manzano Mountains State Park), Tajique, Chilili, Escobosa, and Yrisarri. Make a point of stopping to see their catholic churches.

The road then enters Cibola National Forest south of Tijeras (which is a great spot for hiking, camping or a picnic). Just ahead is Tijeras the end of the circuit.

The Old alignment of Route 66 near Tijeras

route 66 shield New Mexico

Edgewood to Tijeras along Old Route 66

Route 66 from Edgewood to Tijeras, NM.

The historic 1926 alignment of Route 66 is located to the north of Tijeras linking in an ample curve Santa Rosa with Las Vegas, NM and Santa Fe; from this town it then went south, to Albuquerque.

The "Santa Fe cut-off" shortened Route 66 with a direct alignment from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque passing through Tijeras. This section was completed in 1937.

From Edgewood head west along Old Route 66 (NM-333) after 4 miles it will reach Barton, a ghost town.

As the road heads west from Barton, it gains altitude along the eastern slopes of the Southern Rocky Mountains and reaches the "village" of Sedillo:


Elevation 6,955 ft (2.120 m). Population: 802 (2010). See Map of Sedillo.

Sedillo is a small town located in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, it is a census-designated place.

The place got its name from Pedro de Cedillo (with a "C"), who was the first person with that name in New Mexico, and who settled there before the 1680 Pueblo Revolt as a captain. After the uprising, his family moved back (1692).

The hamlet is located on Sedillo Canyon at the foot of Sedillo Hill and near the highest point of Route 66 east of the Continental Divide.

Althogh Route 66 heads west from Sedillo, this is a later alignment. To follow the original 1937 road, cross I-40 at its Exit 181 and immediately take a left along Sedillo Hill Road (NM-306). The road will climb to the highest point of Route 66 east of the Continental Divide:

View along the Sedillo Hill Road near Tijeras

Sedillo Hill Road, near Tijeras the 1937 Route 66 in New Mexico
The 1937 Route 66 in Tijeras: Sedillo Hill Road in the Mountains, New Mexico. Click on image for Street View

Highest Point of Route 66 east of the Continental Divide

Exactly at Kimberly lane and NM-306 (Sedillo Hill Road). Exact Spot (street view).

Altitude: 7,102 feet (2.166 m)

The old 1937 alignment of Route 66 curved around Woodland Hills and reaching the highest altitude east of the Continental Divide.

Later, in the 1950s, a newer alignment was built in Tijeras Canyon, but it demanded a lot of blasting and earth moving. Route 66 was moved to this lower and safer alignment.

The road curves back south, crosses I-40 and meets NM-333 again. Take a right at the Junction and follow the higway west passing by Zamora:


Elevation 6,540 ft (2.120 m).

The post office opened in 1938 and was named after a local family with Hispanic roots: Zamora. One of the Zamoras was the postmaster. The post office was later moved to Tijeras.

It is now part of the Village of Tijeras (see Map of Zamora).

Just ahead is Tijeras, end of the segment.

See the Map of this segment of Route 66.

> > See the previous segment Moriarty to Edgewood (to the east)

> > See the next one Tijeras to Carnuel (to the west).


National and State Parks

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 to Tijeras are the Sandia (described here), and the Mountainair Ranger Districts. Further west, between Albuquerque and Gallup is the Mt. Taylor Ranger District.

Manzano Mountains State Park

Manzano Mountains: Apple Mountains

The range gets its name from the Spanish word "Manzano" or "apple tree", due to the old apple orchards in the town of Manzano.

Though ledgend has them planted by the Spanish missionaries in the 1600s, the trees date back to the 1800s, but nevertheless, they are perhaps the oldest apple trees in the U.S.

The park is 46 miles southwest of Tijeras (Map with directions).

Contact: Website.

A great place for hiking, birding, wildlife viewing and camping in the forests at the foothills of the Manzanos. There is a campground and RV Park.

Municipal Parks

John A. Milne - Gutierrez Canyon Open Space

5 mi. northeast of Tijeras, see the Map with directions

These are a combined surface of 720-acres in two contiguous parks that belong to the City of Albuquerque, and were set aside for preservation of nature.

Great spot for hiking, bike riding and scenic views in the pinion-juniper forests.

Luis Garcia Park

NM 333 (Old Route 66), Tijeras.

Open 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Named after a local resident slain in Sandia Park in 1999.


See the Side Trips described further up.

Accommodation Search box:


Rentalcars advertisement


Banner image: The Dead Man's Curve, Laguna, NM by Perla S. Eichenblat.

Town Website

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, 1946, A guide to Highway 66

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

Turquoise Trail website,