New MexicoThe first things you will notice when you head into New Mexico are that you can see forever, and that the orange and black Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad is everywhere. There are trains all over Route 66, but they just seem more numerous in the West. In many New Mexico towns you'll hear and feel the trains roll by all night long.
Many of New Mexico's Route 66 towns were totally bypassed by I-40. There are many ghost towns. Still, much remains, and there is some great riding.
Tucumcari is just 50 miles from the Eastern border of New Mexico. It has one of the best remaining collections of Route 66 motel neon signs, including the fameous Blue Swallow sign advertising its "100% Refrigerated Air." Be sure to tour Tucumcari at night to see these signs in their full glory.
Down the road from Tucumcari is Santa Rosa. There you can see the Blue Hole, which is a 60' wide 80' deep pond with crystal clear water in the middle of the New Mexico Desert. There also is the famous Fat Man Sign that used to adorn the now closed Club Cafe'.
Santa Fe is one of the oldest towns in the United States. The Plaza is home of the Palace of the Governors, which is the oldest government building in the United States. Santa Fe also has the oldest house in the United States, which dates from about the year 1200. Santa Fe is full of old Spanish missions. It also has some of the most prosperous vintage Route 66 motels anywhere.
Albuquerque is the biggest town in New Mexico. Route 66 follows Central Avenue, which at 18 miles, is the longest Main St in the country. Central Avenue in Downtown has lots of bars, restaurants and biker friendly destinations.
Grants may not be very big, but it's home to the Fire and Ice Motorcycle Rally each July.
Gallup is another Route 66 town with lots of well preserved vintage motels. The best of these is the El Rancho, where dozens of Hollywood stars stayed when filming in New Mexico. The El Rancho has one of the most unique lobbies of all Route 66 motels, and is a must see place even if you are staying somewhere else.
In between all of these towns you will pass through many ghost towns. Still, following the old road is worth it. There are many twists and turns and some beautiful vistas that you will miss if you just follow I-40.
A word of caution: The old road floods and becomes muddy in rainy weather. So, in bad weather, stick to I-40.
Click here, to see the first town in New Mexico, San Jon.