Sunday, March 4, 2012

Route 66 – The State of New Mexico

Route 66 – The State of New Mexico

Home of the Wild West, Carlsbad Caverns, Ancient Pueblos, The San

ta Fe Trail, and the birthplace of the first atomic weapon, the Dawn of the Nuclear Age….you can find it all in scenic New Mexico. You can also find Route 66 cutting across the state for almost 400 miles, with Tucumcari on the east and Gallup on the west. Today’s Interstate 40 has more or less straightened out the path for travelers, making it a much faster and smoother route, but there are still numerous sights to see along the old Mother Road as you travel through this state of breath taking landscape, including mountain peaks, red rock cliffs, and mesas. Ancient Native American Pueblos are still active today because of the spirit of the American Indians who dwell here.

Native to the state are coyotes, road runners, and red-hot peppers. It’s a very common sight to see red and green chili peppers in strings, draping entryways to homes and restaurants. When you don’t know whether to order your chile salsa in green or red, you just say Christmas, and you get some of both. Hot also describes the many festivals across the state, in the form of Hot Air Balloons. Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta occurs for about ten days the early part of October every year. They say it’s an amazing sight to behold as they lift off in their multi-faceted shapes and colors. It’s the predictable wind patterns that make flying possible and popular.

Santa Fe is the capital to the state of New Mexico, but it became a provincial capital in 1610, long before New Mexico became a state. The historic San Miguel Mission Church dates back that far also, and is still in use. In fact, it is considered to be our nation’s oldest active church. The Santa Fe Trail through here was mostly a trade route from 1821-1880 when the railroad came in and took over the transportation business. Route 66 originally went up through Santa Fe and back down through Albuquerque for the first ten years, up until 1937.

New Mexico is just one of those states you have to visit in order to appreciate the history and beauty of the state. Our son and daughter currently live there and have fallen in love with all the state has to offer, from the gorgeous terrain to the friendly people. So if you haven’t made New Mexico a destination, make plans to do so…even if just passing through on America’s Main Street, Route 66!

Places to Visit:

San Jon

  • Several abandoned motels on old route through town


  • Blue Swallow Motel (815 E 66), neon sign arching driveway, still open, made from surplus WWII cabins in 1940s
  • Downtown – depression era theater and large railroad depot, still running
  • Teepee Curios – a gas station in 1940
  • La Cita – sombrero-shaped Mexican restaurant, dazzling to the eye
  • Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory (823 E Main St), hosed in old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant
  • Mesalands Community College Dinosaur Museum (211 E Laughlin St), largest collection of life sized bronze skeletons in the world)
  • Tucumcari Historical Museum (416 S Adams) housed in 1903 schoolhouse
  • Gas stations decorated with murals, Lowe’s grocery
  • Route 66 Sculpture near Convention Center, west side of town

Santa Rosa

  • Route 66 Auto Museum (2866 Will Rogers Dr, east of town), yellow car atop a pole


  • Giant Alert – (4th and Marble, north of Lomas) 18’ tall “Madonna of the Trail” monument, 1928, dedicated to pioneer mothers

Flying C Ranch

  • Ext 234 – food, fuel, lodging, entertainment, called Bowlins Running Indian sign

Clines Corners

  • Biggest gift shop in the area


  • Whiting Bros gas station still open, yellow and red WB sign, began in 1917
  • Pinto Bean Capital – festival every fall

NM Hwy 14

  • Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway (side trip from Tijeras), runs northward to Santa Fe

Santa Fe

  • New Mexico State Capital (Old Santa Fe Trail and Paseo de Peralta), free
  • San Miguel Mission Church (401 Santa Fe Trail), built in 1610, nation’s oldest continuously active church, open daily 9-5, $1; see bell which was cast in Spain in 1356 and brought here in early 1800’s
  • El Rey Inn (1862 Cerrillos) 4.5 acre mini-village with southwestern atmosphere
  • Loretto Chapel “miraculous staircase”


  • stereotypical Old West Town
  • Casa Grande Trading Post houses Turquoise Mining Museum and petting zoo


  • Founded in 1706 as a Spanish colonial outpost and farming community
  • International Balloon Fiesta – first half of October
  • Central Avenue is the historic Route 66ABQ Biopark Aquarium and Botanic Garden (2601 Central Ave NW), 9-5 daily $7/$3 (combine with Zoo $12/$5)
  • ABW Biopark Zoo (903 10th St), 9-5 daily, price as above
  • Old Town (.5 mi s of I-40 exit 157A via Rio Grande Blvd) Villa De Albuquerque, founded in 1706, Spanish plaza with over 130 shops, including American Int’l Rattlesnake Museum
  • Turquoise Museum (2107 Central Ave NW), enter through mock mine
  • New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (1801 Mountain Rd, NW), includes full scale dinosaur models, Ice Age cave, walk-through volcano, saltwater aquarium
  • Giant Alert – “lumberjack” on May Café sign (s of 66 at Louisiana Blvd)
  • State Fair Grounds (Central Ave), sight of Int’l Balloon Fiesta in Oct
  • Aztec Motel (3821 Central) – 1931, funkydelic exterior and neo sign
  • Route 66 Diner (1405 Central NE) – roadside Americana décor
  • KiMo Theatre (423 Central), 1927, ‘Pueblo Deco”
  • Westward Ho Motel (7500 Central) Saguara Cactus neon sign
  • Giant Alert – Giant Roadrunner (between Blake and Ferris Sts south of Valdora St)


  • Pullout from I-40 south of town, excellent view


  • fill up your tank, lots of 66 remnants of old motels, trading posts west side of old 66


  • Continental Divide – divides separating the water drainage to the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico


  • Panorama of colorful rock cliffs and spires
  • Neon mural on Chamber of Commerce Bldg on BL 40

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