New Mexico to Grand Canyon Road Trip

Stunning landscapes, culture and adobe villages await on this 1,789-mile adventure.
By Tori Peglar ,

Taos Pueblo, a living Native American community

Deposit Photos

If you follow a lonely road through the rolling hills of northern New Mexico, you’ll catch sight of the Pedernal. Stretching 9,862 feet into the blue sky, it’s the mountain that captured artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s attention, repeatedly making cameos in her paintings.

“It’s my private mountain,” O’Keeffe said. “God told me if I painted it often enough I could have it.”

Her words provide a window into the New Mexican ethos where people share a deep relationship with the earth—a connection some call sacred—that stretches back more than 1,000 years.

At Acoma, one of the nation’s oldest continuously occupied settlements, you’ll find a sun-baked Native American adobe village built 1,000 years ago. In El Sanctuario de Chimayo church, people have collected dirt believed to have healing powers for more than 200 years.

In Santa Fe, soft adobe buildings and homes climb hillsides and line streets like spectators at a parade. In Las Cruces, green chiles harvested nearby transform classic dishes into sensory experiences.

To the east, the earth turns blinding white as it sprawls across 275 square miles to form White Sands National Monument. Next to this stark beauty lies White Sands Missile Range where the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. Herein lies the magic of New Mexico—for every breathtaking turn in the road, there’s a story. It’s your turn to uncover them in this intriguing land.

Map

Start: El Paso

San Elizario Presidio Chapel

Visit El Paso

Bordering Food and Fun in El Paso, Texas
El Paso offers outdoor adventures and a fascinating glimpse of life here hundreds of years before Texas became a state. 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Park visitors at Rock of Ages viewing area on the Big Room Trail

NPS Public Domain

Once part of a reef in an inland sea, Carlsbad Caverns has more than 119 limestone caves, including the Big Room, which is as large as six football fields. The Big Room Trail is the most popular ranger-guided tour in the caves. From the trail's Rock of Ages viewing area, enjoy views of famous cave formations such as the Hall of Giants, the Temple of the Sun, the Chandelier and Crystal Spring Dome.

Sitting Bull Falls

Photo courtesy of Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce

Swim and Spelunk near Carlsbad, N.M.
See world-class caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and dip in a natural swimming hole under a waterfall. Read more.

White Sands National Monument

Hiking on white sand dunes

Deposit Photos

The sparkling white sands of the world’s largest gypsum field are mesmerizing at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Hike or sled down them to experience them.

Take a selfie in front of the giant pistachio

Photo courtesy of city of Alamogordo

Go Nuts in Alamogordo
Just minutes from White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, N.M., has some must-see attractions.

Do the Walk of Flame on the Green Chile Trail

Courtesy Las Cruces CVB

7 Hot Spots in Las Cruces, N.M.
Once part of Mexico, the Las Cruces, N.M., area offers an incredibly rich culture woven together with strong strands of traditional Mexican influences. Here are the top seven things to do while visiting this university town.

Sante Fe or Albuquerque?

Albuquerque hot air balloons, Santa Fe sculpture

Adobe Stock composite

Albuquerque vs. Santa Fe Personality Quiz
Driving through New Mexico en route to the Grand Canyon, do you spend more time in Albuquerque or Santa Fe? Take this quiz to find out.

Tip for Traveling from N.M. to Arizona
Every year Texas and New Mexico go to daylight saving time, but Arizona does not. Remember this one-hour difference as you travel between the states.

Flagstaff

The Museum Club in Flagstaff

Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau

6 Stops in Phenomenal Flagstaff
Located two hours from six national monuments and Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff is a thriving university town with a charming historic downtown. Here are six things to do.

The Clark Telescope Dome under the night skies

Lowell Observatory via Flickr

Star Treks at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff
This observatory helped create maps of the moon and is home to the telescope that helped an observatory assistant discover Pluto. Read more.

Harrison "Jack" Schmitt on the moon

NASA photo AS17-134-2038

One Giant Leap
Fifty years ago, Americans landed on the moon. Few know the important role the Grand Canyon area helped achieve this seemingly impossible goal.

On the ropes

Photo courtesy Flagstaff Extreme

Fly Through the Trees at Flagstaff Extreme
The adventure course is Arizona's only tree-top self-guided obstacle course with five adult courses and one kids course ranging from easy to challenging.

Grand Canyon South Rim

Grand Canyon Shuttle in front of the National Geographic Visitors Center in Tusayan

NPS/Michael Quinn

Totally Tusayan
Four best-kept secrets to experiencing the Grand Canyon and finding a parking space, a pool and nightlife.

IMAX movie. 

Photo by Joel Kramer courtesy of National Geographic

National Geographic Visitor Center and IMAX
Soar past towering cliffs and raft through huge rapids when you watch the IMAX movie Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets.

Sunset at Desert View Point

Deposit Photos

48 Hours in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Get ready for adventure. Here are some of our favorite things to do while at the South Rim from biking in solitude to exploring some of the rim’s most historic treasures.