If you really want a feel for small-town New Mexico, exploring the old Route 66 will give you that thrill and more. This is a task for the more adventurous soul, as there are parts of Old Route 66 outside of Albuquerque that are hard-to-find or that wash-out during heavy rain. But if that doesn’t scare you (and if you have GPS), let’s explore the Mother Road! Here are a few of my favorite attractions along this quiet journey into New Mexico’s past.
Update Jan 2019: I shot these photos a decade ago while exploring Route 66 in New Mexico. In the name of progress, many of these attractions may no longer be there, razed by developers or for other reasons.
Route 66 near Moriarty, New Mexico
The photos above and below were taken along the old Route 66 near Moriarty, New Mexico about 40 minutes outside of Albuquerque. The stretch of Route 66 heading east from Albuquerque to Texas does not have much of its Route 66 iconography left. Much of it has been razed in the name of progress. And, it is quite likely that this setting is gone too, as I took these photos about ten years ago.
Route 66 Albuquerque to Grants, New Mexico
The stretch of Route 66 heading west from Albuquerque to Grants, New Mexico is more rewarding and challenging. You pass Native American Pueblos, sleepy little towns untouched by modernity and the occasional photo-worthy Route 66 relic.
It is also a challenge to follow Route 66 in this stretch because some parts of the route are overgrown and neglected, others may wash out and become muddy and heavily rutted during heavy rain. Plus, you can’t always rely on the street signs to keep you on course. Having GPS to guide you will help. Just be careful on washed-out or badly rutted parts of the Route. Also, be respectful of private property here. Here are a few of the gems you may discover:
Whiting Bros. once had more than 100 gas stations and was one of the most iconic sights along the old Route 66 in the southwest. The chain pretty much died with the exception of one station operating in Moriarty, New Mexico. The relic shown above is on the old Route 66 near Acoma, Sky City, New Mexico. However, I passed by this location in the summer of 2014 and could only see the sign. I think the building has been razed.
Wild horses are a common sight along the Old Route 66 between Albuquerque and Grants, New Mexico. You will tend to see them in small packs grazing on the open land. I shot this photo near Budville, New Mexico along the old Route 66.
The photo above was captured just after a fast-moving rainstorm cleared on the old Route 66 near Acoma (Sky City), about 40 minutes outside of Albuquerque. I was dazzled by that lovely sky. It gave the old motel relic an amazing quality of light. This is another one of those Route 66 relics that may be gone soon.
The photo above shows another old Route 66 relic near Acoma, Sky City, New Mexico languishing in stunning post-storm light. The warm afternoon light and clearing sky transformed this rather mundane scene into something extraordinary.
The golden hour around sunset on the old Route 66 near Budville, New Mexico (about 35 minutes outside of Albuquerque) transforms the ordinary into something truly beautiful. That golden New Mexico light really brings this otherwise common setting to life -All photos by [email protected]