U.S. Route 66 in New Mexico

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U.S. Highway 66

Will Rogers Highway
Route information
Maintained by NMDOT
ExistedNovember 11, 1926 (1926-11-11)–June 26, 1985 (1985-06-26)[1]
Major junctions
West end US 66 at the Arizona state line
Major intersections
East end US 66 at the Texas state line
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
Highway system
  • New Mexico State Highway System
US 64US 66 US 70
NM 117NM 118 NM 119
NM 121NM 122
NM 124
NM 125
NM 330NM 333 NM 337
Old Route 66 westbound near I-40 exit 104.

The historic U.S. Route 66 (US 66, Route 66) ran east–west 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 117, 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. 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] When I-40 was established, it bypassed the main parts of towns.[12]

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. A stretch of NM 333 in Tijeras is a musical road, with rumble strips that play "America the Beautiful". 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.[13]

Major intersections

This table represents US 66's junctions in 1950. 


US 66 west / US 666 west – Flagstaff
Continuation into Arizona
US 666 north (Third Street) – Shiprock
Eastern 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)
Thoreau5284 NM 56 – Crownpoint, Chaco CanyonWestern end of NM 56 overlap; now NM 371
CibolaBluewater Village69111 NM 56 north – Bluewater VillageNow NM 606
Milan77124 NM 53 east – San Mateo, Ambrosia LakeWestern end of NM 53 overlap; now NM 605
Grants79127 NM 53 west – San RafaelEastern end of NM 53 overlap
Paraje104167 NM 23 south – AcomaNow Casa Blanca Road
Correo123198 NM 6 east – Los LunasUS 66 prior to 1937
BernalilloAlbuquerque152245 NM 45 south (Coors Boulevard)
155249 US 85 (4th Street)Pre-1937 US 66; later NM 313
NM 47
Tijeras171275 NM 10Now NM 337
Santa FeNo major intersections
TorranceMoriarty194312 NM 41 – Stanley, Galisteo, Santa Fe, EstanciaFormer US 366 east
Clines Corners216348 US 285 – Santa Fe, Vaughn
229369 NM 3 – Villanueva, Encino
US 84 west – Las Vegas
Western end of US 84 overlap
Santa Rosa273439
US 54 west – Vaughn
Western end of US 54 overlap
US 84 east – Clovis, Fort Sumner
Eastern end of US 84 overlap
284457 NM 156 east
Newkirk300480 NM 129 – Conchas Dam
US 54 east – Logan
Eastern end of US 54 overlap
NM 18 (1st Street)Now NM 104/NM 209
339546 NM 88Now NM 278
San Jon356573 NM 39 – Logan, GradyNow NM 469
Endee369594 NM 93 south
US 66 east – Amarillo
Continuation into Texas
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.[15] Albuquerque is also home to the 1927 Art Deco themed KiMo Theater[16] and the first modern suburban shopping mall in New Mexico, Nob Hill.[17]

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 defense against the Apache. Closed in 1912, it reopened briefly to house prisoners during both world wars.[18]

The Barelas-South Fourth Street Historic District is a collection of commercial buildings from various eras in a formerly Hispanic residential neighborhood in Albuquerque. Eras represented include the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and the later construction of US 66.[19]

The Park Lake Historic District is a 25-acre municipal park on a lake in Santa Rosa in addition to the natural Blue hole lake coming from the vast underground water system. Constructed under the Works Progress Administration between 1934 and 1940, the park was a make-work project during the Great Depression.[20]


The historic Jones Motor Company building in Albuquerque, originally a motorcar dealership,[21] 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.[22] 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.[23]

Trading posts

New Mexico is home to the Native American Pueblo of Santo Domingo (Kewa Pueblo) in Santo Domingo[24] and the Pueblo of Laguna in Laguna.[25] Roadside merchants on Route 66 often based their stores on the design of the early trading posts which originally served the native community. The De Anza Motor Lodge and the surrounding Nob Hill neighborhood served as a trading post for the Zuni Pueblo in Albuquerque.[26]

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 centers.[27] 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.[28]

Camps, motor courts, and motels

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

Tucumcari had long advertised "2000 motel rooms" (later "1200 motel rooms" due to the construction of I-40, diminishing visitor population) 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.[29] 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 along with other building to accommodate for modern needs.[30] Historic Albuquerque lodgings from Route 66's heyday include the Luna Lodge,[31] Tewa Motor Lodge,[32] De Anza Motor Lodge[33] and El Vado Auto Court.[34] Some of these motels are currently closed but are the target of local efforts to ensure their historic preservation. In hopes to keep the this era alive, some hotels including De Anza Motor Lodge and El Vado Motel have been rejuvenated along the historic route 66 in Albuquerque.[35]

The El Rancho Hotel in Gallup has been the temporary home of many movie stars.[36]

Bridges and road segments

The Rio Puerco Bridge, a Parker Through truss bridge crossing the Rio Puerco, was built in 1933.[37] 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.[38]

Related routes

These routes were designated along former alignments of US 66 throughout the state.

State Road 118

State Road 118

LocationArizona state line to near Fort Wingate
Length36.852 mi[39] (59.308 km)

State Road 118 (NM 118) is a 36.852-mile-long (59.308 km) state highway in the US state of New Mexico. NM 118's western terminus is at the Arizona–New Mexico border where it continues westward as Grant Road, and the eastern terminus is at Interstate 40 (I-40) northeast of Fort Wingate. NM 118 follows the routing of the former Historic U.S. Route 66.

The entire route is in McKinley County.

0.0000.000Grant RoadContinues west at Arizona border as Grant Road
I-40I-40 exit 8
Gallup16.57926.681 I-40I-40 exit 16
Arnold Street to NM 602
Access to NM 602 via Arnold Street and Aztec Avenue east
21.79235.071 NM 610
NM 609 west
Eastern terminus of NM 609
NM 564 west
Eastern terminus of NM 564
Rehoboth25.84141.587 I-40I-40 exit 26
Church Rock29.51747.503
NM 566 north
Southern terminus of NM 566

NM 400 south to I-40 east
Northern terminus of NM 400, to eastbound I-40 exit 33
I-40Eastern terminus, I-40 exit 36
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
Browse numbered routes
NM 117NM 118 NM 119

State Road 122

State Road 122

LocationNear Thoreau to near Grants
Length38.740 mi[41] (62.346 km)

State Road 122 (NM 122) is a 38.740-mile-long (62.346 km) state highway in the US state of New Mexico. NM 122's western terminus is at Interstate 40 (I-40) west of Thoreau, and the eastern terminus is at I-40 in Grants. NM 122 follows the routing of the former Historic U.S. Route 66. At the September 20, 2018 Transportation Commission meeting the bridge carrying NM 122 over I-40 was dedicated as "Sgt. Jackson Gibson Memorial Bridge" to honor Jackson Gibson for his service as a veteran, community leader and state transportation commissioner.[42]

NM 122 westbound near Continental Divide

McKinleyContinental Divide0.0000.000 I-40Western terminus; I-40 exit 47
Thoreau6.1349.872 NM 371

NM 412 south to I-40
Northern terminus of NM 412; to I-40 exit 63

NM 606 south to I-40
Northern terminus of NM 606; to I-40 exit 72
26.95943.386 CR 63Former NM 334
NM 568 south
Northern terminus of NM 568
NM 605 north
Southern terminus of NM 605

NM 615 west (Horizon Boulevard) to I-40
Eastern terminus of NM 615; to I-40 exit 79

NM 53 west to I-40
Eastern terminus of NM 53; to I-40 exit 81
NM 547 north
Southern terminus of NM 547
NM 117 south
Northern terminus of NM 117
I-40Eastern terminus; I-40 exit 85
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
Browse numbered routes
NM 121NM 122 NM 124

State Road 124

State Road 124

LocationNear Grants to near Laguna
Length25.253 mi[41] (40.641 km)

State Road 124 (NM 124) is a 25.523-mile-long (41.075 km) state highway in the US state of New Mexico. NM 124's western terminus is at NM 117 southeast of Grants, and the eastern terminus is at Interstate 40 (I-40) east of Laguna. NM 124 follows the routing of the former Historic U.S. Route 66.

NM 124 westbound near I-40 exit 104

The entire route is in Cibola County.

0.0000.000 NM 117Western terminus
7.39411.899 I-40I-40 exit 96
NM 279 north
Southern terminus of NM 279
25.54341.107 I-40Eastern terminus, I-40 exit 114
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
Browse numbered routes
NM 122NM 124 NM 125

State Road 333

State Road 333

LocationAlbuquerque to Moriarty
Length27.715 mi[45] (44.603 km)

NM 333 begins in eastern Albuquerque at an intersection of Tramway Boulevard (NM 556) and Central Avenue, proceeding east on Central, the route of the former U.S. Route 66 (US 66). After a partial interchange with Interstate 40 (I-40), the highway enters the Sandia Mountains through Tijeras Canyon, where it crosses to the north side of I-40 in a diamond interchange. After traveling through Carnuel, it crosses back to the south side of I-40, though this crossing has no interchange.

Before entering the town of Tijeras, there is a former location of a "musical road" feature where rumble strips were arranged to play America the Beautiful for eastbound travelers.[46][47] Once in Tijeras itself, the highway intersects NM 337, which travels to the southeast, and NM 14, which heads northeast to Santa Fe. Continuing east, NM 333 travels through Sedillo, where it intersects the former NM 306 and NM 217. The highway then leaves Bernalillo County, and enters Santa Fe County and the town of Edgewood, where it intersects NM 344. Shortly thereafter, the highway enters Torrance County and the city of Moriarty, where it ends at an intersection with I-40 Business (I-40 Bus.).[48]

NM 333 follows the routing of the former Historic U.S. Route 66.

BernalilloAlbuquerque0.0000.000 I-40 / NM 556Western terminus; I-40 exit 167
Carnuel2.0603.315 I-40I-40 exit 170

NM 337 to I-40 west
To I-40 exit 175 westbound on/ off ramps via NM 337 north

NM 14 north to I-40 west
Southern terminus of NM 14; to I-40 exit 175 westbound on/ off ramps only
I-40 east
I-40 exit 175 eastbound on ramp only
10.16416.357Access Road (FR 4058)
To I-40
To I-40 exit 178
I-40 east
I-40 exit 181 eastbound on/ off ramps only
13.95022.450Sedillo Road

To I-40 west
Southern terminus of former NM 306; to I-40 exit 181 westbound on/ off ramps only
NM 217 south
Northern terminus of NM 217
Santa FeEdgewood19.73731.764

NM 344 north to I-40
Southern terminus of NM 344; to I-40 exit 187
TorranceMoriarty27.71544.603 I-40 BLEastern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
Browse numbered routes
NM 330NM 333 NM 337

See also


  1. ^ Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (June 26, 1985). "Route Numbering Committee Agenda" (Report). Washington, DC: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. p. 5 – via Wikisource.
  2. ^ "Trail of the Ancients". New Mexico Tourism Department. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  3. ^ "Map of the Ozark Trails". Drivetheost.com. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  4. ^ Rand McNally and Company (1926). "Arizona and New Mexico" (Map). Rand McNally Auto Road Atlas. Scale not given. Chicago: Rand McNally and Company. p. 69 – via Broer Map Library.
  5. ^ Clason Map Company (1926). "New Mexico" (Map). Touring Atlas of the United States. Clason Map Company.
  6. ^ Rand McNally and Company (1927). "Arizona and New Mexico" (Map). Junior Auto Road Map. Scale not given. Chicago: Rand McNally and Company.
  7. ^ Antonson, Rick (2012). Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America's Main Street. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 195. ISBN 9781459704374 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Powell, James R. "A Brief History of U.S. Highway 66 and the Route 66 Association of Missouri". Route 66 Association of Missouri.
  9. ^ Kammer, David (March 2003). "Route 66 Through New Mexico: Re-Survey Report". National Park Service.
  10. ^ "New Mexico Route 66". theroadwanderer.net. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  11. ^ "Historic Route 66 - New Mexico". historic66.com. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  12. ^ "Route 66". Texas Monthly. May 2002. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  13. ^ "Route 66". americansouthwest.net. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  14. ^ Official Road Map of New Mexico (PDF) (Map). Santa Fe: New Mexico State Highway Department. 1950. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 16, 2017. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  15. ^ National Park Service (September 27, 1998). "Madonna of the Trail". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  16. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "KiMo Theatre". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  17. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Nob Hill Shopping Center". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  18. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Fort Wingate Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  19. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Barelas South 4th Street Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  20. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Park Lake Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  21. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Jones Motor Company". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  22. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Richardson Store". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  23. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Roy Herman's Service Station". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  24. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Pueblo of Santo Domingo". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  25. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Pueblo of Laguna". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  26. ^ ABQ Journal Staff (December 14, 2020). "2020 NAIOP Award". Albuquerque Journal.
  27. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Bowlin's Old Crater Trading Post". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  28. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Maisel's Indian Trading Post". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  29. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Blue Swallow Motel". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  30. ^ Jaquez, Alex (Feb 2012). "The Albuquerque Scene". TransWorld Rode BMX.
  31. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Luna Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  32. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Tewa Motor Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  33. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "De Anza Motor Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  34. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "El Vado Auto Court Motel". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  35. ^ McKay, Dan (July 16, 2016). "New life for old motels - De Anza, El Vado, to undergo complete transformation soon". Albuquerque Journal.
  36. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "El Rancho Hotel". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  37. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Rio Puerco Bridge". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  38. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "New Mexico Road Segments". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  39. ^ "Posted Route: Legal Description" (PDF). New Mexico Department of Transportation. March 16, 2010. p. 29. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  40. ^ "TIMS Road Segments by Posted Route/Point with AADT Info; NM, NMX-Routes" (PDF). New Mexico Department of Transportation. April 3, 2013. pp. 37–38. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  41. ^ a b Posted Routes (2010), p. 30
  42. ^ New Mexico State Transportation Commission Meeting (PDF) (Report). Milan: New Mexico Department of Transportation. September 20, 2018. pp. 61–62. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  43. ^ TIMS (2013), pp. 38–39
  44. ^ TIMS (2013), pp. 39–40
  45. ^ Posted Routes (2010), p. 71
  46. ^ Westphal, D'Val (May 31, 2020). "The day the (Route 66) music died". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  47. ^ "Route 66 ‘singing road’ debuts in New Mexico", KRQE News 13 (TV), October 1, 2014.
  48. ^ Google (January 27, 2019). "Overview map of NM 333" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  49. ^ TIMS (2013), pp. 63–64

External links

U.S. Route 66
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