New Mexico Road Trips

The Most Scenic Drives in New Mexico

This large expansive Southern state has so many interesting things to do and see and these New Mexico road trips are the ideal way to cover as much ground as possible. If you are coming for a vacation one of the longer routes with sleepovers along the way will give you a true flavour of the state.

There are mountains, valleys, monuments and history around every corner along these routes. You’ll also want to bring your camera as the scenery is so stunning that you will be popping out for regular stops along the way. There are a good mixture of short drives that you can tackle in a day thrown in as well if you just want to hop in the car and get some fresh air at scenic spots. All in all your are in for a serious treat with these New Mexico road trips.

The Best New Mexico Road Trips

1. Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway

This byway ties together Sierra County’s many charming rural villages (including many old mining towns), winding its way through rugged, carved canyons, thickly wooded mountain passes, and ghost towns to the nation’s first declared wilderness.

Distance: 149 miles

Route highlights: Black Range Mountains, Caballo Lake State Park, The Hot Springs in the town of Truth or Consequences.

When to do it: Year-round

Photo Cred: nater._.skater


2. Trail of the Mountain Spirits

Long known locally as The Inner Loop, especially among bicycle race fans, this byway serves as the route for the annual Tour of the Gila race. It’s just as fun for travel by car! The route winds around the southwest corner of New Mexico, back and forth across the forested Continental Divide, through the country’s first national wilderness area, the Gila, and past ancient cliff dwellings.

Distance: 80 miles

Route highlights: Anderson Scenic Overlook, Gila Cliff Dwellings Historic Monument, Lake Roberts

When to do it: Spring

Photo Cred: rbailsjeffreyphoto


3. Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway

This pretty loop offers a convenient and rewarding way to experience the best of Northern New Mexico—in just one day! The road goes past Jemez Pueblo, cutting through Jemez Springs. Along the way, visit Soda Dam – a unique formation of colorful “petrified” water shaped like a domed falls; or Spence Hot Springs, with a choice of hot and warm pools and sweeping views of the canyon below.

Distance: 149 miles

Route highlights:  Bandelier National Monument, Valles Caldera, Jemez Falls, Fenton Lake

When to do it: Summer and Fall

Photo Cred: enchanted_wx


4. High Road to Taos

The High Road travels through awe-inspiring scenery and remote mountain villages that cling to their Spanish colonial roots. Start in Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 and is the oldest capital city in the U.S, then take your time to stop off in tiny villages along the way. End the trip at the Saint Francis Plaza in Ranchos de Taos at the famous San Francisco de Asis Church.

Distance: 76 miles

Route highlights: Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Chimayó, Truchas Overlook

When to do it: Year-round

Photo Cred: leighannagildner


5. White Sands National Monument

This round-trip drive through the largest gypsum dune field in the world takes approximately 45 minutes. However, you should allow additional time for taking walks in the white sand, photography, or learning about the natural and cultural history.

Distance: 17 miles

Route highlights: Interdune Boardwalk, Alkali Flat Trail

When to do it: Year-round

Photo Cred: chambsbohn


6. Turquoise Trail

Named for the rich turquoise deposits found throughout the area,  this byway is perfect for a one-way jaunt between the two cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Enjoy a breathtaking view from atop Sandia Crest, then drive back into history through the mining towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos.

Madrid is a recovered ghost town that now exists as a creative community alive with small galleries, cafes, and shops. Chain businesses are forbidden by the landowners’ covenants and everything here is a true original!

Distance: 72 miles

Route highlights: Museum of Archaeology and Material Culture, Tinkertown Museum, Cerrillos Hills State Park

When to do it: Year-round

Photo Cred: jakejudd15


7. El Malpais National Monument

About an hour from Albuquerque, this fantastic drive heads through the lava fields within El Malpais National Monument. Spanish for “the badlands”, the terrain you’ll see on this route is a unique geologic mix of lava flows, cinder cones, pressure ridges and lava tubes. Highlights include dramatic sandstone cliffs, canyons, La Ventana Natural Arch and The Narrows road, which divides the lava field on the west from the sandstone cliff on the east.

Distance: 86 miles

Route highlights: La Ventana Natural Arch, The Narrows

When to do it: Year-round

Photo Cred: iwpfw


If you are spending time in the state check out The 25 Best Burgers In New Mexico.