U.S. Route 66 in New Mexico

This article is about the section of U.S. Route 66 in New Mexico. For the entire route, see U.S. Route 66.

U.S. Route 66 marker

U.S. Route 66
Will Rogers Highway
Route information
Maintained by NMDOT
Existed: November 11, 1926 (1926-11-11) – June 26, 1985 (1985-06-26)[1]
Major junctions
West end: US 66 at Arizona state line
East end: BL I-40 / US 66 at Texas state line
Highway system
  • State Roads in New Mexico
US 64US 66US 70
NM 117NM 118NM 119
NM 121NM 122
NM 124
NM 125
NM 330NM 333NM 337
Old Route 66 westbound near I-40 exit 104.

The historic U.S. Route 66 (US 66, Route 66) ran eastwest across the central part of the state of New Mexico, along the path now taken by Interstate 40 (I-40). However, until 1937, it took a longer route via Los Lunas, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, now roughly New Mexico State Road 6 (NM 6), I-25, and US 84. Large portions of the old road parallel to I-40 have been designated NM 118, NM 122, NM 124, NM 333, three separate loops of I-40 Business, and state-maintained frontage roads.

It is one of the roads on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, one of the designated New Mexico Scenic Byways.[2]


Historical US 66 route markers
US 66 route marker
1926 design
US 66 route marker
1948 design
US 66 route marker
1961 design
US 66 route marker
1971 design

Route 66 in New Mexico was marked over portions of two auto trails — the National Old Trails Road from Arizona via Albuquerque and Santa Fe to just shy of Las Vegas, and one of the main routes of the Ozark Trails network from that point into Texas.[3] The state had taken over maintenance of these roads under several numbers: NM 6 from Arizona to Los Lunas, part of NM 1 through Albuquerque and Santa Fe to near Las Vegas, NM 56 to Santa Rosa, the short NM 104 to Cuervo, and part of NM 3 to Texas. While NM 56 and NM 104 were completely absorbed by US 66, NM 6 was reassigned to a route splitting from US 66 (old NM 6) at Laguna and heading straight east through Albuquerque, Moriarty, and Palma to US 66 at Santa Rosa. Except between Albuquerque and Moriarty, where it formed part of US 470, this was an unimproved road.[4][5][6]

New Mexico had long been controlled politically by the Santa Fe Ring, a group of businesspeople and officials with close ties to the Republican Party. In 1924, Democrat Arthur Thomas Hannett was unexpectedly elected for a single term (1925–1927) as governor, only to be defeated with various dirty tricks in the next election. Blaming the Republican establishment in Santa Fe for his defeat, Hannett used the lame duck remainder of his term to force through a sixty-nine mile cutoff from Santa Rosa directly to Albuquerque, bypassing Santa Fe entirely. The hastily constructed new road opened January 3, 1927, while incoming governor Richard Dillon was still trying to get construction stopped.[7] Dillon was replaced by Arthur Seligman, a Democrat, in 1931.

This new NM 6 was approved as a future realignment of Route 66 by 1932, and in 1933, a new bridge over the Rio Puerco opened. Once paving was completed in 1937, with AASHO approval given on September 26, 1937,[8] Route 66 was moved to this shorter route, known as the Laguna Cut-off west of Albuquerque and the Santa Rosa Cut-off east of Albuquerque.[9] The bypassed roads became NM 6 once again to the west and part of US 84 to the east.

Route description

From the Arizona state line to the Grants area the landscape is mountainous, and US 66 meanders around I-40. It also passes through some Indian reservations. At Laguna, New Mexico is the Laguna Indian Pueblo.[10]

At Mesita, the highway originally followed what is now NM 6 to east of I-25 at Los Lunas. It passed through Albuquerque from south to north along Fourth Street, part of the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (El Camino Real). The highway is now replaced with I-25 through Santa Fe to, almost, Las Vegas (Historic 66 turns south before reaching Las Vegas), though several old sections exist which are barely (if at all) driveable. From south of Las Vegas back to I-40, the road has been replaced with US 84.[11]

The later, and more popular, alignment, continued straight west to Albuquerque, becoming Central Avenue through the city. While the former US 66 through Albuquerque is now owned and maintained by the city of Albuquerque, a few US-66/BUSINESS I-40 signs remain along Central Avenue in the downtown area. East of Albuquerque, US 66 is now NM 333 all the way to Moriarty. I-40 east of Moriarty to Santa Rosa was built by adding a second set of lanes to US 66. East of Santa Rosa, US 66 is now largely frontage roads for I-40 or business loops for Santa Rosa and Tucumcari. At San Jon, the original alignment (now gravel) continues to the Texas state line at the historic ghost town of Glenrio. A later alignment is the north frontage road for I-40.[12]

Major intersections

This route is based on the later alignment via Central Avenue in Albuquerque, bypassing both Santa Fe and Los Lunas. Much of this road was upgraded in place as I-40 or used as frontage road or business loops.

McKinley00.0 US 66 west FlagstaffArizona state line
Gallup US 666 north (Third Street) Shiprockeast end of US 666 overlap; now southbound NM 610 (locally) and US 491 (long-distance)
NM 32 south (Second Street) Zuninow northbound NM 610 (locally) and NM 602 (long-distance)
Wingate NM 400 – McGaffey
Thoreau NM 56 north – Crown Point, Chaco Canyonwest end of NM 56 overlap; now NM 371
NM 412 Bluewater Lake State Park
Valencia NM 334now abandoned
NM 56 south Bluewater Villageeast end of NM 56 overlap; now NM 606
Milan NM 53 north to NM 509 San Mateo, Ambrosia Lakewest end of NM 53 overlap; now NM 605
NM 53 south San Rafaeleast end of NM 53 overlap
NM 117 south Quemado
Budville NM 279 Cuberopre-1937 US 66 west; now CR 7
Paraje NM 23 south Acomanow Casa Blanca Road
NM 279 Paguate, Bibo, Seboyeta
Correo NM 6 east Los Lunaspre-1937 US 66 east
BernalilloAlbuquerque NM 135 (Bridge Boulevard)
NM 448
NM 45 south (Coors Boulevard)
Old Town Bridge over Rio Grande
NM 194 (Rio Grande Boulevard)
NM 352 (Lomas Boulevard)
US 85 (4th Street)pre-1937 US 66; later NM 313

US 85 Alt. south (3rd Street)

US 85 Alt. north (2nd Street)
NM 361 (Broadway)now NM 47
NM 367 (San Mateo Boulevard)
NM 401 (San Pedro Drive)
NM 510 (Louisiana Boulevard)
NM 297 (Wyoming Boulevard)
Tijeras NM 10 southwest end of NM 10 overlap; now NM 337
NM 10 north Cedar Cresteast end of NM 10 overlap; now NM 14
Santa FeEdgewood NM 222 south / NM 344 north Goldennow NM 344 in both directions
TorranceMoriarty NM 41 Stanley, Galisteo, Santa Fe, Estanciaformer US 366 east
Clines Corners US 285 Santa Fe, Vaughn
NM 3 Villanueva, Encino
GuadalupeVegas Junction US 84 west Las Vegaswest end of US 84 overlap
Santa Rosa US 54 west Vaughnwest end of US 54 overlap
NM 91 (3rd Street)
US 84 east Clovis, Fort Sumnereast end of US 84 overlap
NM 156pre-1952 US 66 east
Cuervo NM 69now CR 1E
Newkirk NM 129 Conchas Dam
QuayTucumcari US 54 east Loganeast end of US 54 overlap
NM 18 (1st Street)now NM 104 / NM 209
NM 88now NM 278
San Jon NM 39 Logan, Gradynow NM 469
NM 93 south / NM 392 north Endee
Glenrio377607 US 66 east AmarilloTexas state line
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


Madonna of the Trail, Albuquerque

The New Mexico Madonna of the Trail is one of a dozen monuments (one in each state on the National Old Trails Road) commemorating the hardships of early pioneer travellers. She stands on US 66 in Albuquerque.[14] Albuquerque is also home to the 1927 Art Deco themed KiMo Theater[15] and the first modern suburban shopping mall in New Mexico, Nob Hill.[16]

Historic districts

Fort Wingate, an abandoned military installation east of Gallup, traces its history to attempts in the 19th century to forcibly displace Navajo to native reservations. It later served as a line of defence against the Apache. Closed in 1912, it reopened briefly to house prisoners during both world wars.[17]

The Barelas-South Fourth Street Historic District is a collection of commercial buildings from various eras in a formerly Hispanic residential neighbourhood in Albuquerque. Eras represented include the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and the later construction of US 66.[18]

The Park Lake Historic District is a 25-acre municipal park on a lake in Santa Rosa. Constructed under the Works Progress Administration between 1934 and 1940, the park was a make-work project during the Great Depression.[19]


The historic Jones Motor Company building in Albuquerque, originally a motorcar dealership,[20] has been re-purposed to house the local Kelly's Brew Pub.

Service and filling stations

Richardson's Store in Montoya, a 1901 railroad town, initially provided provisions for Rock Island Railroad workers and ranchers.[21] When Route 66 came to town, the store carried groceries and auto supplies. It closed after I-40 bypassed the community.

Roy T. Herman's Garage and Service Station in Thoreau was moved in 1937 from Grants, where it had originally been established in 1935. The routing of Route 66 had moved, so the station moved with it to keep its Route 66 clientele.[22]

Trading posts

New Mexico is home to the Native American Pueblo of Santo Domingo (Kewa Pueblo) in Santo Domingo [23] and the Pueblo of Laguna in Laguna.[24] Roadside merchants on Route 66 often based their stores on the design of the early trading posts which originally served the native community.

Bowlin's Old Crater Trading Post, Bluewater has long been closed and vacant. Originally a native trading post, its proprietors established a modern chain of highway service centres.[25] Albuquerque's 1939 Maisel's Indian Trading Post, which once employed hundreds of native craftspeople, was reopened in the 1980s and remains in operation today.[26]

Camps, motor courts, and motels

Various towns and cities quickly established roadside motel strips to accommodate a burgeoning traffic from Route 66 travellers.

Tucumcari had long advertised "2000 motel rooms" (later "1200 motel rooms") on roadside signage for hundreds of miles along US 66 using the slogan "Tucumcari tonite!" At least one historically restored Tucumcari Boulevard motel, the 12-room neon-lit 1939 Blue Swallow Motel, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[27] Another motel recently restored nearby is the Motel Safari. The Motel Safari was built in 1959 by Chester Dohrer and features a mid-century modern retro design with "Doo Wop" or "Googie" styled architecture. Boomerangs, holes in cinder blocks, counter stacked bricks protruding from the façade and whimsical metal cylinders that light up at night, along with its famous camel atop the neon sign, paying tribute to the U.S. Camel Corps that once came through the area in the 1800s on a surveying expedition for a future national road system.

Central Avenue in Albuquerque has many motels from this era, although some (such as the Aztec Motel) have been demolished. Historic Albuquerque lodgings from Route 66's heyday include the Luna Lodge,[28] Tewa Motor Lodge,[29] De Anza Motor Lodge[30] and El Vado Auto Court.[31] Some of these motels are currently closed but are the target of local efforts to ensure their historic preservation.

The El Rancho Hotel in Gallup has been the temporary home of many movie stars.[32]

Bridges and road segments

The Rio Puerco Bridge, a Parker Through truss bridge crossing the Rio Puerco, was built in 1933.[33] Eleven New Mexico road segments on US 66 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places; some originally incorporated wooden bridges to carry the road through flood plains. Listed road segments include: Glenrio to San Jon; San Jon to Tucumcari; Palomas to Montoya; Montoya to Cuervo; Cuervo to NM 156; Albuquerque to Rio Puerco; Laguna to McCartys; McCartys to Grants; Milan to Continental Divide; Iyanbito to Rehobeth; and Manuelito to the Arizona border.[34]

See also


  1. Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (June 26, 1985). "Route Numbering Committee Agenda" (PDF) (Report). Duluth, MN: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. p. 5 via Wikimedia Commons.
  2. Trail of the Ancients. New Mexico Tourism Department. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  3. "Map of the Ozark Trails". Drivetheost.com. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  4. Rand McNally Auto Road Atlas, 1926, accessed via the Broer Map Library
  5. Clason Map Company, Touring Atlas of the United States, 1926, New Mexico
  6. Rand McNally Auto Road Atlas, 1927, Arizona and New Mexico
  7. https://books.google.com/books?id=6Kmizuhifw4C&pg=PA195
  8. James R. Powell, A Brief History of U.S. Highway 66 and The Route 66 Association of Missouri
  9. Dr. David Kammer, Route 66 Through New Mexico: Re-Survey Report, March 2003
  10. "New Mexico Route 66". http://www.theroadwanderer.net. Retrieved 12 November 2014. External link in |website= (help)
  11. "Historic Route 66 - New Mexico". historic66.com. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  12. "Route 66". americansouthwest.net. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  13. "US 66 in New Mexico". Google Maps.
  14. "Madonna of the Trail". National Park Service. 1998-09-27. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  15. "KiMo Theatre". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  16. "Nob Hill Shopping Center". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  17. "Fort Wingate Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  18. "Barelas South 4th Street Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  19. "Park Lake Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  20. "Jones Motor Company". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  21. "Richardson Store". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  22. "Roy Herman's Service Station". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  23. "Pueblo of Santo Domingo". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  24. "Pueblo of Laguna". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  25. "Bowlin's Old Crater Trading Post". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  26. "Maisel's Indian Trading Post". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  27. "Blue Swallow Motel". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  28. "Luna Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  29. "Tewa Motor Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  30. "De Anza Motor Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  31. "El Vado Auto Court Motel". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  32. "El Rancho Hotel". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  33. "Rio Puerco Bridge". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  34. "New Mexico Road Segments". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
U.S. Route 66
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