The Best Scenic Drives in New Mexico

There’s hardly a bad stretch of road in the state of New Mexico, but these recommended scenic drives through the Land of Enchantment are outstanding.

two lane highway in new mexico
The Turquoise Trail Between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo © ID 164884034 © Tristan Brynildsen/Dreamstime.

Turquoise Trail

55 miles, 1.5 hours
From Albuquerque to Santa Fe, Highway 14 offers great vistas around every curve and ghost towns to break up the drive.

U.S. 84

93 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes
North of Santa Fe, ascend through the red rocks of Abiquiu, then past the Brazos Cliffs near Tierra Amarilla.

La Frontera del Llano Scenic Byway

26 miles, 30 minutes
Highway 39 zigzags across the northeastern plains, from Roy to Abbott, with pronghorns and ruined homesteads along the way.

Jemez Mountain Trail

32 miles, 1 hour
Highway 4 through Jemez Springs to the Valles Caldera is especially good in fall, with yellow aspens highlighted against red rock.

Jemez Mountain Trail Scenic Byway near Valles Caldera, New Mexico. © Tristan Brynildsen, Dreamstime.

Highway 72

37 miles, 1 hour
This tiny road between Raton and Folsom soars over the bucolic Johnson Mesa.

U.S. 180

98 miles, 2 hours
From Silver City to Reserve, this highway passes largely through the Gila National Forest.

Sunspot Highway

17 miles, 30 minutes
Highway 6563 winds south from Cloudcroft to Sunspot National Solar Observatory, with White Sands visible below.

Historic Route 66

350 miles, 7 hours
Pieces of I-40 frontage road and more remote detours make up the decommissioned Mother Road, passing vintage Americana motels, diners, and more along the way.

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New Mexico

Steven Horak

About the Author

When Steven Horak uprooted his life in New York City to move to Santa Fe, he wasn’t quite sure what to expect, beyond a new home that would be very different from his old one. Even after a few years in New Mexico, his life is still an adventure. Each day begins and ends with views of the awe-inspiring Sangre de Cristo mountains, which serve as a constant reminder of what makes high desert living so special.

Steven’s wanderlust began during a year studying abroad at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Since then he has traveled extensively, contributing to travel guidebooks on Canada, Costa Rica, and the Czech Republic, among others. He also works as a journalist, communications specialist, and photographer.

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