Across the Great Plains, on any given day, you’ll see trucks carrying loads of cargo to support the communities, livestock and grain in transit, and plenty of people driving from one city to another. Are you planning such a journey, perhaps between two iconic Southwest cities like Albuquerque and El Paso?
If you’re a fan of green chiles, scenic vistas, and epic dark skies, there’s no better place to explore than the Southwest, and a road trip is a great way to do so.
Whether you’re planning to make the long drive between Albuquerque and El Paso for business or pleasure, below you’ll find all the info you need to safely make the journey as a road trip in this southwest corner of the Great Plains.
In this post, I promote travel along a route that crosses the traditional lands of the Chiricahua Apache, Mescalero Apache, Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), Piro, Piro/Manso/Tiwa Tribe, Pueblos, Sumas, and Tampachoa (Mansos) peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Distance Between El Paso & Albuquerque
For preparing a good itinerary you need two basic pieces of information: the driving time and the distance between the cities. This helps you know how much time you need to allocate and if you need to add an overnight stay to your trip.
As the crow flies, the distance between Albuquerque and El Paso is approximately 229 miles. A nonstop drive between Albuquerque and El Paso is about 266 miles along I-25 and I-10. However, there’s another route via I-25 S and US-54 W which extends to 297 miles.
Keep in mind that the total distance between these two cities varies depending on where you start in El Paso and end in Albuquerque.
Drive Time Between Albuquerque and El Paso
Knowing how long it takes you to get from Albuquerque to El Paso will also help you to prepare an itinerary for your road trip.
A nonstop Albuquerque to El Paso drive takes around 4 hours via Interstates 25 and 10, but, if you choose to drive along I-25 S and US-54 W, the drive time is around 4 hours and 30 minutes.
As with the distance, how long your trip ends up taking depends on where your start and end points are in each city.
Stops to Make on Your Drive Between Albuquerque and El Paso
The shortness of the drive from Albuquerque to El Paso gives you the chance to extend your trip and take a few detours to visit cool spots along the way. Below you’ll find eight places worth visiting in your drive between El Paso and Albuquerque.
National Museum of Nuclear Science & History
The name says it all. The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History is a fun place to learn about the science of nuclear energy.
It features displays covering the history of nuclear science, from how it was developed and the experiments that were done in the early days to the ways we’ve put this source of energy to work for us in the present. The displays also cover the ugly, weaponized side of nuclear energy in detail. Outside, the museum has an excellent collection of planes, missiles, and a full-size recreation of the very first nuclear test site.
Bart Prince Studio & Residence
Bart Prince is considered one of the most creative and innovative minds in the field of architecture. Born in New Mexico, the American architect established his home and studio in Albuquerque. Needless to say, the structure is an example of his originality and creativity.
The house boasts an eclectic blend of materials, odd structures, and dinosaur sculptures, which has earned it nicknames like the “spaceship” or “bug house”. The fact that the house is set right in the middle of a typical residential neighborhood makes it look even more extravagant. Visitors are allowed to take pictures of the house, but tours are offered to see the interior.
Ghost Town of Kelly
There’s something about ghost towns that makes them alluring and eerie at the same time. Not far from Magdalena up the hill, visitors find the remains of Kelly, a ghost town that was once home to 3,000 people, but is now home to just two.
There’s not much left but some foundations, an old church, and some of the mining structures. Apparently, when the miners left the town, they dismantled many things and brought them into nearby Magdalena and reassembled them. The most impressive structure in the ghost town is the Kelly Mine headframe, which still stands in decent condition.
Pioneer Store Museum
Located in Chloride, the Pioneer Store was built in 1880 to serve the people who moved in during Chloride’s silver rush. By 1923, most of the town’s residents had left Chloride and the owners decided to close the store.
The store remained closed for over sixty years until a retired couple bought the building and noticed the former store owners had left a plethora of items inside. The couple restored the building and turned it into a museum. It is filled with historical items original to the store plus a lovely display devoted to the lives of former residents.
The Pioneer Store Museum is a bit out of the way, but it’s definitely worth including the detour in your drive between Albuquerque and El Paso.
Truth or Consequences
No, it’s not a quirky souvenir store or drinking game (inappropriate for driving anyway!), Truth or Consequences is actually a town in New Mexico.
Formerly called “Hot Spring,” the town changed its name after NBC’s radio program host Ralph Edwards announced that he would make a special broadcast from any town willing to change its name to Truth or Consequences. And the town did. Today, “T or C,” as the locals call it, is known for being a resort town with hot springs and spas, and hotels that offer wellness treatments.
If you’re looking to shake away the miles from the drive from El Paso to Albuquerque, you know where to go!
Geronimo Springs Museum
Truth and Consequences is home to Geronimo Springs Museum. It houses a small collection, but the curation of each exhibition is impeccable.
Most of the exhibits are devoted to T or C’s history, from how it came to be named after a TV show and how it impacted the town. There are other exhibits displaying fossils and Old West artifacts. However, the biggest surprise is their immense collection of pre- and post-Columbian native North American pottery, displayed in a 40-foot-long 10-foot-deep glassed-in diorama.
White Sands Missile Range Museum
If you have an interest in military history or aero science, White Sands Missile Range Museum is a cool stop to make on the drive between El Paso and Albuquerque.
The museum has lots of information and a good variety of displays. Visitors will not only learn about America’s missile and space activity or how the Atomic Age began but also see a wide range of missile and rocket displays at the park.
Please note: This is an active Department of Defense facility and you will need proper identification to enter the range. The security clearance procedure can take some time, so be patient. Also, on days when missile testing is being conducted, you likely won’t be allowed to visit.
Casa de Azucar
Casa de Azucar is a beautiful work of art, but above that, it is a symbol of love. Rufino Loya, a retired Levi Strauss employee, and his wife didn’t have enough money to buy a nice house and had to purchase a modest house close to busy Highway 54.
But Loya wasn’t going to resign himself to living in what he described as a “horrible home” and promised his wife he’d build something beautiful for her. Despite knowing nothing about art or architecture, Loya created an incredibly detailed set of cement decorations around his house in 1973.
It took him 25 years to finish what’s today known as the Casa de Azucar. The amount of detail is astounding and the house features beautiful religious themes as Loya drew inspiration from the Catholic churches of his native Mexico.
If it fits your plans, it’s a wonderful stop to make in the drive from El Paso to Albuquerque.
Other Tips for Your Drive Between Albuquerque and El Paso
Now that you know the basics of the drive and are inspired to make a few stops, here are some final tips to help you finish planning your road trip:
- The route between Albuquerque and El Paso occurs in two states: New Mexico and Texas.
- There are is one main city along the route: Las Cruces, New Mexico
- Given the brevity of the drive between El Paso and Albuquerque, you don’t really need to make an overnight stop.
- There are also plenty of rest stops and commercial truck stops to choose from along the way, and plenty of gas stations and truck stops along I-25 and I-10 if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Should You Fly Between El Paso and Albuquerque Instead?
Whenever you have to plan a trip to another city, you can’t help asking whether you’re better off flying than driving. The truth is that there’s no easy answer. Both modes of transport have their benefits and drawbacks.
Time-wise, the drive between El Paso and Albuquerque takes four hours provided you take the I-25. A flight from Albuquerque to El Paso takes four to six hours. The main drawback of flying is that there aren’t many direct flights from Albuquerque to El Paso. They include one stop in Dallas or Phoenix.
Cost-wise, you can spend $100 to make the drive between El Paso and Albuquerque, whereas flight tickets have an average price of $607 for a round-trip.
As you can see, we have a clear winner: driving. So, grab your car keys, put your bags in the trunk, and let the adventure begin!
Have any other questions about making the drive between Albuquerque and El Paso in either direction? Let me know in the comments!