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New Mexico is a state filled with vast landscapes including mountains, deserts, steppes, and major rivers like the Rio Grande and the Pecos. Cities and towns are few and far between, but the ones you'll run across on Route 66 are awash in history and beauty. The first significantly sized city along Route 66 in northern New Mexico is Tucumcari. In fact, it's the largest city between Amarillo and Albuquerque.
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You’ve probably seen Tucumcari on Route 66 memorabilia, on old postcards, or if you watched the TV show "Rawhide" – many scenes from the show were filmed here. The next town along Route 66 is Santa Rosa, which calls itself the "City of Natural Lakes" - an impressive feat in the New Mexico desert. Santa Rosa lies on the famous Pecos River, has 12 spring-fed lakes in the region, and offers scuba diving in the famous Blue Hole. It's remarkable enough to see a body of blue water in this part of New Mexico. In fact, views of open water haven't been common along Route 66 since Missouri.
After you visit the Pecos National Historical Park, continue along Route 66 and you’ll hop back on I-25 from Pecos NHP and you’ll quickly find yourself in Santa Fe, noted as one of the most vibrant arts and culture cities in the southwest. Check out the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market - it's the largest of its kind in the world with over 300 galleries in the city. Moreover, the Historic Plaza downtown hosts over 85 free concerts every summer and markets all year round.
Far and away the largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque is also the largest city along Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles. Albuquerque straddles the Rio Grande and sits up against the beautiful Sandia Mountains, which offer terrific skiing and one of the world's longest single-section tramway lines. The Sandia Peak Tramway runs 2.7 miles from the eastern edge of Albuquerque to Sandia Peak, which has an elevation of 10,378 feet. The Sandia Mountains frame the city's east side, while the Petroglyph National Monument dominates the western horizon. Stretching 17 miles, this volcanic basalt escarpment protects five volcanic cones and a bevy of archeological sites, including over 24,000 carved images.
Prominently mentioned in the famous Route 66 song, Gallup is the biggest city along Route 66 between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, and is just about 25 minutes from the New Mexico-Arizona border. Given the city's deep Native American heritage, every year Gallup hosts the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial. Over 110 trading posts and other stores with various tribal crafts and creations are available in the Gallup area for shopping and trading.
Read more about this historic road as it passes through the following states