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The largest community on old Route 66 between Albuquerque and Gallup, little Grants has an intriguing museum and enough chain hotels and inexpensive restaurants to make it a fair base for exploring the eastern half of this region. The night skies here are said to be some of the clearest in the world, making it a worthwhile stop for stargazers. The seat of Cibola County, Grants started out as a farming
and ranching center, grew into a rail transport hub, and boomed during the 1950s when uranium was discovered in the nearby mountains. The city has struggled since then to find its economic niche.
The many Victorian brick buildings and quaint outlying residential blocks give charming Aztec, the seat of San Juan County, the feeling of a...