Embarking on the journey between Amarillo, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, is an invitation to traverse a stretch of America that is steeped in history and adorned with captivating landscapes. This unforgettable drive reveals a tapestry of vivid colors, geological wonders, and iconic landmarks that echo the spirit of the Old West. As you traverse the open road, you’ll be captivated by the stark beauty of the high desert and the timeless allure of Route 66 – now Interstate 40.
Along this route, gone are the big cities of other routes in the Great Plains. Instead, you’ll see the seemingly endless sprawl of the southern plains which seem devoid of life if not for the modern structures like oil pumpjacks punctuating the horizon.
Whether you’re planning to make the long drive between Amarillo and Albuquerque for business or pleasure, below you’ll find all the info you need to safely make the journey as a road trip across the southern stretches of the Great Plains.
How long is the drive between Albuquerque & Amarillo? The drive from Amarillo and Albuquerque (or vice versa) is 288 miles (463km) and should have a drive time of 5 hours.
In this post, I promote travel along a route that crosses the traditional lands of the Gáuigú (Kiowa), Jicarilla Apache, Mescalero Apache, Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), Nʉmʉnʉʉ Sookobitʉ (Comanche), Piro, Pueblos, and Tigua (Tiwa) peoples, among others. 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.
Amarillo to Albuquerque Distance
As the crow flies, the distance between Amarillo and Albuquerque is 273 miles. Luckily for us drivers, the driving distance is quite similar as the route between these two cities is pretty straight.
The drive between Amarillo and Albuquerque is about 288 miles – just 15 miles more. As I always say, the drive distance will obviously vary depending on where your trip begins in Amarillo and ends in Albuquerque.
Moreover, always remember that the final distance you’ll cover is subject to the detours you make to access and see interesting points along the journey – which I’ll be sharing more about below!
Amarillo to Albuquerque Drive Time
So, how long can you expect to be on the road? At almost 290 miles, the Amarillo to Albuquerque drive takes around 4 to 5 hours to complete.
It’s not a super long drive, so you can easily do it in a single day. However, you’ll want to make a few stops along the way to stretch your legs. That’s unless you’re driving with someone else and can take turns.
Stops to Make on Your Drive from Between Amarillo and Albuquerque
The Albuquerque to Amarillo drive is a scenic one, taking you through the New Mexican desert. Along the way, you’ll find tons of interesting sights that’ll make your journey more fun and memorable. Here are the best of them!
The Ozymandias Legs
If you appreciate quirky art installations, you’ll love The Ozymandias Legs – or the “Giant Legs of Amarillo”.
These giant legs are located on I-27, just outside of Amarillo. And they’re a sight to behold! The sculpture was created by the famous Panhandle artist Lightnin’ McDuff. Originally, it was supposed to be a full man, but McDuff decided that the sculpture was perfect with just the legs halfway through its construction.
One of the most iconic stops on Route 66, Cadillac Ranch is a must-see for anyone doing the Albuquerque to Amarillo drive. It’s a public art installation featuring ten Cadillac cars buried nose-first in the ground. The art installation was created in 1974 by a group of artists called the Ant Farm, who was inspired by the Stonehenge monument in England. Today, it’s one of the most emblematic road trip attractions and a symbol of the American West.
Ute Lake State Park
Ute Lake State Park is a stunning place. If I had to define it, I’d say it’s a bit of an oasis in the middle of a dry land. The property is a great place to stop to stretch your legs in nature. The park is popular for its fishing opportunities, but there’s pretty much everything for the people who enjoy the outdoors. There are hiking trails, a marina with boat ramps and rentals, as well as camping facilities.
Another fun find for Route 66 enthusiasts, Richardson Store is a historic general store located in Montoya. The store was a popular venue among the tourists and other travelers that drove along Route 66 during the 20s, 30s, and 40s. Today, not much is left of the original sandstone building but a few pillars and walls. Nonetheless, it still retains that Old West vibe we all love to experience.
Park Lake is a beautiful park in Santa Rosa City. The park is pretty centrally located – right in the middle of a residential neighborhood – so you don’t have to make a big detour to find it. I should warn you that the park gets pretty crowded. Especially during the summer, you’ll see many families and kids having a good time swimming and picnicking. Still, it’s a great spot to stretch your legs and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
Photos courtesy of Tinkertown Museum on Facebook
If you’re traveling with kids, the Tinkertown Museum is a must-stop along the Amarillo to Albuquerque drive. This quirky museum is located in Sandia Park, and it’s a treasure trove for anyone who loves folk art and Americana. It is the creation of artist Ross Ward, who spent over 40 years collecting and handcrafting miniature figurines, antique machinery, and other oddities to create a whimsical and fascinating world. The property features over 50,000 pieces that will delight anybody’s imagination regardless of their age.
Wildlife West Nature Park
Wildlife West Nature Park is another great alternative if you have kids. Located in Edgewood, this nature park is home to over 20 species of animals native to the region. Visitors can take a guided tour and learn about the wildlife and ecosystem of the area. There are also informational signs with lots of information about the species and background of the specific animal. Should you want to stay longer, there’s a picnic area with tables and shade.
Sandia Peak Tramway
Even if you aren’t a fan of heights, you should buy tickets for the Sandia Peak Tramway – it’s a safe and smooth ride, though.
This aerial tramway takes visitors from Albuquerque to the top of Sandia Peak, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. You pass over a few canyons and valleys, so the views are constantly changing. There’s also a tour guide who’ll tell you all about the geography and history of the area.
Cruising San Mateo – Chevy On a Stick
You can’t drive through Albuquerque and not make a stop to see Cruising San Mateo. This quirky art installation was created by artist Barbara Grygutis in 1991. It features a 1954 Chevy Bel Air salvaged from an Arizona junkyard atop a 26-foot-high triumphal arch. To make things even more eye-catching, the whole sculpture is covered in turquoise tiles. If you ask for it, make sure you mention the Chevy On a Stick as everybody in Albuquerque knows it by that name.
Other Tips for Your Drive Between Albuquerque and Amarillo
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 Amarillo and Albuquerque is in two states: Texas and New Mexico
- There are no major cities along the route – Amarillo and Albuquerque are the biggest cities along this stretch.
- You don’t really need to make an overnight stop, but if you do choose to make one, I recommend stopping in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, which is two hours from Albuquerque and 2.5 hours from Amarillo.
- There are plenty of rest stops, gas stations, and truck stops along the route, which follows Interstate 40 (formerly Route 66) the entire way.
Should You Fly Between Amarillo and Albuquerque Instead?
When deciding whether to fly between Amarillo and Albuquerque, you might want to consider factors such as the cost, time, travel schedule, and any time constraints.
Time-wise, the drive between Amarillo and Albuquerque is almost 290 miles and takes 4 to 5 hours to complete. Since it’s not a long drive, you can easily cover that distance in a day. When flying, the distance between Amarillo and Albuquerque is 273 miles. It would take you at least 4 hours, considering the time you spend getting to and from the airport, the check-in, and the actual flying time. As you can see, there’s not that much difference with driving.
Cost-wise, you can spend $71.09 on a round trip between Albuquerque and Amarillo. Flight tickets between these two cities start at $211 for a round trip.
As you can see, driving between Amarillo and Albuquerque seems to be the best option from a time and cost perspective. Also, it will give you the chance to explore areas you wouldn’t otherwise.
Have any other questions about the drive between Albuquerque and Amarillo, or the reverse route? Let me know in the comments below!