Best New Mexico Backroads

Whether you live in New Mexico, are just passing through, or spending a vacation in the area, you should take time to explore the Land of Enchantment via any of the beautiful back roads the state has to offer. New Mexico is known for its rugged western landscape and sprawling desert vistas, so see it up close by getting off those main highways and out of the cities for a road trip. Here’s a handy list of just a few to explore, listed by area.

Northern New Mexico Backroads

The High Road

If you’re near Santa Fe and plan on traveling north towards Taos, the High Road is a great choice for a nice day trip. This road offers views of the Sangre De Cristo mountains and plenty of hiking opportunities if that’s your thing.

If you’re more into attractions, The High Road is also dotted with small villages with plenty of shops and old churches. Artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams famously depicted one of these churches, the San Francisco De Asis. Just jump on Highway 68 North and be on your way to adventure.

Southern New Mexico Backroad

Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway or Sunspot Scenic Byway

If you find yourself in the southern part of the state near Las Cruces, there are a ton of state parks to visit. If you enjoy fishing, camping or birding these areas are great stops. But this is about the trip, not the destination.

Named for the Apache warrior, the Geronimo Scenic Byway bends its way northeast through the Gila Wilderness passing rugged canyons and forested mountains connecting to the Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway. If you’re only up for short but sweet, try the Sunspot Scenic Byway. This fifteen-mile road climbs through the forests of the Sacramento Mountains, ending with a stunning vista.

East to West New Mexico Backroads

Route 66

This one may seem too obvious, but if you’re traveling across New Mexico you have to take this iconic route through the state. Famous in songs, stories, and film, Route 66 is something everyone should experience.

Consider it a trip through the past, down a sort of ghost town highway filled with abandoned motels and still standing signage from businesses gone by. There are still places to stop and shop for good old Americana, and you can have lunch in Albuquerque for more variety. So cross the Continental Divide in style on our country’s most famous back road. If anything, do it just so you can say you got your kicks on Route 66.

These are just a few of the 25 back roads to explore in New Mexico. In a state with miles of road and endless rugged natural beauty, there are more than enough options for your road trip dreams. So gas up the car, roll down the windows and get out and drive. Start with this list and who knows what adventures may pop up along your way.

Check out out our favorite scenic drives here!