U.S. Route 66 in New Mexico

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U.S. Highway 66 marker Historic U.S. Highway 66 marker

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
East end US 66 at the Texas state line
Highway system
  • State Roads in New Mexico
US 64.svg US 64US 66US 70.svg US 70
New Mexico 117.svg NM 117NM 118New Mexico 119.svg NM 119
New Mexico 121.svg NM 121NM 122
NM 124
New Mexico 125.svg NM 125
New Mexico 330.svg NM 330NM 333New Mexico 337.svg 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.[citation needed]

Route description[edit]

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. 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.[12]

Major intersections[edit]

This table represents US 66's junctions in 1950. 

McKinley00.0 US 66 west / US 666 west – FlagstaffContinuation into Arizona
Gallup2134 US 666 north (Third Street) – ShiprockEastern 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 Fe
No major junctions
TorranceMoriarty194312 NM 41 – Stanley, Galisteo, Santa Fe, EstanciaFormer US 366 east
Clines Corners216348 US 285 – Santa Fe, Vaughn
229369 NM 3 – Villanueva, Encino
Guadalupe255410 US 84 west – Las VegasWestern end of US 84 overlap
Santa Rosa273439 US 54 west – VaughnWestern end of US 54 overlap
275443 US 84 east – Clovis, Fort SumnerEastern end of US 84 overlap
284457 NM 156 east
Newkirk300480 NM 129 – Conchas Dam
QuayTucumcari333536 US 54 east – LoganEastern 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
Glenrio374602 US 66 east – AmarilloContinuation 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.[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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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]

Related routes[edit]

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

State Road 118[edit]

State Road 118
LocationArizona state line to near Fort Wingate
Length36.852 mi[35] (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
20.80933.489 Arnold Street to NM 602Access to NM 602 via Arnold Street and Aztec Avenue east
21.79235.071 NM 610
22.71036.548 NM 609 westEastern terminus of NM 609
23.74038.206 NM 564 westEastern terminus of NM 564
Rehoboth25.84141.587 I-40I-40 exit 26
Church Rock29.51747.503 NM 566 northSouthern terminus of NM 566
Wingate33.44653.826 NM 400 south to I-40 eastNorthern 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

State Road 122[edit]

State Road 122
LocationNear Thoreau to near Grants
Length38.740 mi[37] (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.[38]

NM 122 westbound near Continental Divide

McKinleyContinental Divide0.0000.000 I-40Western terminus; I-40 exit 47
Thoreau6.1349.872 NM 371
Prewitt16.09025.894 NM 412 south to I-40Northern terminus of NM 412; to I-40 exit 63
Cibola24.98940.216 NM 606 south to I-40Northern terminus of NM 606; to I-40 exit 72
26.95943.386 CR 63Former NM 334
29.79947.957 NM 568 southNorthern terminus of NM 568
Milan32.02251.534 NM 605 northSouthern terminus of NM 605
32.21151.839 NM 615 west (Horizon Boulevard) to I-40Eastern terminus of NM 615; to I-40 exit 79
Grants34.65255.767 NM 53 west to I-40Eastern terminus of NM 53; to I-40 exit 81
36.00357.941 NM 547 northSouthern terminus of NM 547
37.38060.157 NM 117 southNorthern terminus of NM 117
I-40Eastern terminus; I-40 exit 85
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

State Road 124[edit]

State Road 124
LocationNear Grants to near Laguna
Length25.253 mi[37] (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
Laguna23.75038.222 NM 279 northSouthern 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

State Road 333[edit]

State Road 333
LocationAlbuquerque to Moriarty
Length27.715 mi[41] (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 "musical road" feature where rumble strips are arranged to play America the Beautiful for eastbound travelers.[42] 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.).[43]

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
Tijeras6.81010.960 NM 337 to I-40 westTo I-40 exit 175 westbound on/ off ramps via NM 337 north
7.40411.916 NM 14 north to I-40 westSouthern terminus of NM 14; to I-40 exit 175 westbound on/ off ramps only
7.56412.173 I-40 eastI-40 exit 175 eastbound on ramp only
10.16416.357Access Road (FR 4058) To I-40To I-40 exit 178
13.76422.151 I-40 eastI-40 exit 181 eastbound on/ off ramps only
13.95022.450Sedillo Road To I-40 westSouthern terminus of former NM 306; to I-40 exit 181 westbound on/ off ramps only
15.34224.691 NM 217 southNorthern terminus of NM 217
Santa FeEdgewood19.73731.764 NM 344 north to I-40Southern 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

See also[edit]


  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 – 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". americansouthwest.net. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ National Park Service (September 27, 1998). "Madonna of the Trail". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  15. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "KiMo Theatre". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  16. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Nob Hill Shopping Center". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  17. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Fort Wingate Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  18. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Barelas South 4th Street Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  19. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Park Lake Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  20. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Jones Motor Company". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  21. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Richardson Store". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  22. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Roy Herman's Service Station". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  23. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Pueblo of Santo Domingo". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  24. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Pueblo of Laguna". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  25. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Bowlin's Old Crater Trading Post". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  26. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Maisel's Indian Trading Post". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  27. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Blue Swallow Motel". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  28. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Luna Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  29. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Tewa Motor Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  30. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "De Anza Motor Lodge". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  31. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "El Vado Auto Court Motel". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  32. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "El Rancho Hotel". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  33. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "Rio Puerco Bridge". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  34. ^ National Park Service (n.d.). "New Mexico Road Segments". National Park Service. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  35. ^ "Posted Route: Legal Description" (PDF). New Mexico Department of Transportation. March 16, 2010. p. 29. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  36. ^ "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.
  37. ^ a b Posted Routes (2010), p. 30
  38. ^ New Mexico State Transportation Commission Meeting (PDF) (Report). Milan: New Mexico Department of Transportation. September 20, 2018. pp. 61–62. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  39. ^ TIMS (2013), pp. 38–39
  40. ^ TIMS (2013), pp. 39–40
  41. ^ Posted Routes (2010), p. 71
  42. ^ "Route 66 ‘singing road’ debuts in New Mexico", KRQE News 13 (TV), October 1, 2014.
  43. ^ Google (January 27, 2019). "Overview map of NM 333" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  44. ^ TIMS (2013), pp. 63–64

External links[edit]

U.S. Route 66
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