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Join us as we explore the northern regions of the Land of Enchantment, as found along the famed Historic Route 66. We're talking over 700 hot air balloons, local BBQ joints, a stunning diving pool, and dinosaurs galore.
Before we hit New Mexico’s largest city, several scenic parks are set along Historic Route 66 and I-40 in western New Mexico. Look forward to Red Rock State Park and Bluewater Lake State Park – plus National Parks sites like El Morro National Monument and El Malpais National Monument.
The largest city in the Land of Enchantment, Albuquerque is a scenic city neighboring the Sandia Mountains featuring more than enough to see and do.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is an annual staple on ABQ’s event calendar. Held in early October, this nine-day event at Balloon Fiesta Park features over 750 balloons – making it the world’s largest hot air balloon festival.
And if you missed the big day, check out the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum for the next best thing.
Albuquerque provides its visitors and residents with a multitude of attractions. Check out Duke City sites like Old Town Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Biological Park, the Albuquerque Aquarium, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, and the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico.
Check out Albuquerque’s pristine surroundings from on high with a seat on the Sandia Peak Tramway. Now that you’re in the Sandia Mountains, enjoy hiking, biking, rock climbing, nature viewing, and more.
Get back on Route 66 and head for Moriarty – just 40 miles east of ABQ. Set in the Estancia Valley, Moriarty is known as the Crossroads of Opportunity.
Each September or October, this small and charming New Mexico town hosts the Pinto Bean Fiesta in Moriarty City Park. Enjoy games, food, music, shopping, and see who’s crowned the Pinto Bean Queen. Be sure to catch the Running Dead 5K Zombie Run, the Moriarty Horseshoe Tournament, and the Pinto Bean Parade.
This is Route 66, so you're going to definitely stop for fun foods at quirky, roadside eateries. Moriarty’s answer to this is Shorty's Bar-B-Q – a local, family-owned, old-fashioned restaurant open Tuesday through Saturday at 11 a.m.
Head in for (of course) barbecue, fries, soda, pizza, and the “Best Broaster Fried Chicken on Route 66.”
Moriarty is surrounded by New Mexico’s Rocky Mountains. Get out there for more hiking, wildlife viewing, biking, climbing, or even just a picnic.
The city of Santa Rosa lies 80 miles east of Moriarty on Historic Route 66. Set on the Pecos River, Santa Rosa is known as the "Oasis on Route 66."
The Blue Hole is a small, artesian body of water used primarily as a diving and swimming pool. Bell in shape, the Blue Hole spans 80 feet at the surface, and 130 feet at the bottom – all while maintaining 64 degrees in temperature, and taking on an inflow of 3,000 gallons of water each minute.
Be sure to stop at the Route 66 Auto Museum – an intimate museum housing vintage automobiles, motorcycles, bikes, and of course, Route 66 memorabilia. Only asking $5 admission, the museum also offers Bozo's Garage next door, plus a gift shop and snack bar.
Stretching over 500 acres, Santa Rosa Lake State Park is set just north of town on State Route 91.
Operated by the New Mexico State Parks Division, the Santa Rosa Reservoir offers fishing, swimming, water skiing, and boating – including motorized boat, canoe, and kayak. Dry land activities include over five miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, picnic spots, and bird watching.
Still on Route 66, Tucumcari is found 60 miles east of Santa Rosa. A historic eastern New Mexico city, Tucumcari features a plethora of Route 66 attractions like the Route 66 Photo Museum, the Route 66 Auto Yard, and the Route 66 Monument – a real photo op there.
Found at Mesalands Community College, the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum features a 10,000-square-foot exhibit floor and houses the Natural Science Laboratory. Drawing 14,000 annual visitors, MDM also yields a museum shop for those looking to bring home minerals, books, souvenirs, and even fossils.
During your time here, make certain to explore Tucumcari’s Historic Downtown Main Street District. The area boasts stops like Odeon Theater, Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory, Desert Rose Crafts, Le Deane’s Photo Studio, and many more quaint shops and eateries.
Tucumcari is smack-dab in the middle of some dense New Mexico state park country. Parks within short distance of T-town include Ute Lake State Park, Conchas Lake State Park, and Sumner Lake State Park.