Northwestern New Mexico Itineraries
If You Have 2 or 3 Days
The only way to tour this region adequately in two days is if you're incorporating your trip into a journey west into Arizona (via Gallup or Farmington), northwest into Utah (via Farmington), or north into Colorado (via Farmington). In three days, however, you can make a nice loop of the region's top sites: drive west from Albuquerque on Interstate 40, stopping in Acoma Pueblo before continuing west to Gallup. Spend the late afternoon shopping the old trading posts there, have dinner at Earl's, and stay overnight at the atmospheric El Rancho —or, if it's not too late, head south to spend the night in Zuni Pueblo at the special Inn at Halona. On Day 2, if you stayed in Gallup, head south on NM 602 to Zuni, take a tour of the Middle Village, then head east on NM 53 to El Morro National Monument and then El Malpais. If you've got a third day, spend the night at a refreshing forest hideaway, Cimarron Rose Bed & Breakfast, or at a chain property in Grants, then get up early and head north to spend as much time as you can manage in Chaco Culture National Historical Park before heading back (exiting via the north entrance) to Albuquerque.
If You Have 5 to 7 Days
In five to seven days you can get a real sense for the past and present of northwestern New Mexico. On Day 1, drive west on Interstate 40, pause at Laguna Pueblo, then continue on to Acoma Pueblo, then loop down along NM 53 for short hikes at El Malpais or the Ice Cave and Bandera Crater, or head to El Morro National Monument. Camp there or stay at a nearby B&B. On Day 2, dawdle on the Ancient Way Trail, detour to the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, then go on to explore Zuni Pueblo. Enjoy the afternoon of Day 3 in Gallup by strolling past the murals in historic Downtown, watching Indian dances, and staying at El Rancho. On Day 4, follow U.S. 491 (via Shiprock) to Farmington and visit some of New Mexico's oldest trading posts en route, or backtrack to NM 371, visiting the Bisti Wilderness Area along the way. Day 5 can take you to Aztec Ruins National Monument, Salmon Ruins, or Navajo Lake. Then plan to spend at least a day exploring Chaco Culture National Historical Park from your base in Farmington, and plan a stop at El Bruno's in Cuba on your way home.