Extending from deep in the heart of the Southwest (Las Cruces, New Mexico) to the wild open spaces of the northern plains (Buffalo, Wyoming) , Interstate 25 is one of the busy north-south routes that traverses 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.
Along I-25, there are a number of big cities, including popular destinations like Denver, Colorado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. For many people, the chance to wind down the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains sounds like a great road trip opportunity – it’s the perfect blend of the Mountain West and the Great Plains.
Whether you’re planning to make the long drive between Denver and Albuquerque for business or pleasure, below you’ll find all the info you need to safely make the journey as a road trip along the western border of the Great Plains.
In this post, I promote travel along a route that crosses the traditional lands of the hinono’eino’ biito’owu’ (Arapaho), Jicarilla Apache, Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Pueblos, Piro, Taos Pueblo, Tigua (Tiwa), and Tséstho’e (Cheyenne) 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.
Denver to Albuquerque Drive Distance
As the crow flies, it’s roughly 334 miles between Denver and Albuquerque. But, if you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in knowing what the drive distance is, and that’s a little further. On average, the distance to drive from Denver to Albuquerque is 447 miles along I-25 South. This is an estimated number as where you start in Denver and end in Albuquerque will affect the distance you’ll cover on this road trip.
Denver to Albuquerque Drive Time
You can make the drive between Denver and Albuquerque in around seven hours. That’s provided you make no stops and drive at 75 mph (the average speed limit on I-25). However, most people take breaks when driving long distances, at least to fill up the gas tank.
Same as the distance, how long it takes you to drive between Denver and Albuquerque time is subject to your start and endpoints in each city.
9 Stops to Make on Your Drive From Denver to Albuquerque
If you’re sold on the idea of making a road trip out of your drive between Albuquerque and Denver, then you’re in for a treat! Here are the nine best stops on the Denver to Albuquerque drive.
Molly Brown House Museum
Besides being an architectural gem from Victorian Denver, the Molly Brown House Museum is a testament to what communal efforts can achieve.
But first, let me give you a little context. Molly Brown was an American philanthropist, activist, and socialite. She became famous for being a Titanic survivor and was known as the “Heroine of the Titanic” for her service to fellow survivors.
Today, visitors can take a self or guided tour of the house, thanks to a group of Denver citizens who went out of their way to preserve the house in the 1960s. The house’s architecture is still magnificent and shows how the Brown’s decorated their home to reflect not only their fortune but also their travels. There’s also an exhibit explaining Brown’s philanthropy and women’s rights advocacy.
Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is one of those venues you can’t miss on your Albuquerque to Denver drive. With a collection of over 70,000 artworks, the Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast. The museum has a wide variety of art from throughout history and around the world, but it really shines in its excellent collections of Indigenous North American and Western American art.
Adult tickets cost $18 but make sure to check their website as the museum offers free general admission several times a year.
Garden of the Gods
Whether you’re a city or nature person, Garden of the Gods is one of those stops that leaves everyone mesmerized.
This public park is home to unique rock structures and spires that are beautiful to see. If you’re short on time, you can drive through it, but I recommend getting out and doing one of the hikes. The park has devised a fantastic trail system, with paths that circle most of the property. There are hikes for all ages and fitness levels. For a different experience, the park offers horseback riding tours as well.
Now you know where to go when you feel the urge to stretch your legs along the drive between Denver and Albuquerque!
Seven Falls is another of Colorado’s natural wonders. This privately-owned attraction houses seven cascading waterfalls in a 1,000-foot granite canyon. The walk up to the falls is absolutely gorgeous. Beware if you’re not an experienced hiker, though. The climb up the stairs to see the top of the falls is not easy; there are a lot of steps – 224, to be precise – but once you get up there, the views are unreal. And, if it’s a gorgeous day, it’s a win-win!
El Pueblo History Museum
If you’d like to take a quick history lesson, the El Pueblo History Museum is a perfect stop.
This nice little museum explores the history of Pueblo, together with the cultural and ethnic groups of the region. The site also includes an 1840s-style adobe trading post and plaza and the archaeological excavation site of the original 1842 El Pueblo trading post. There are also a couple of interactive exhibits for children.
Tickets cost $5 and it takes 30 minutes to see the entire museum’s collection.
Grave of Solid Muldoon
The Solid Muldoon was a prehistoric “petrified human body” with a tail created by George Hull. The legend has it that the body of Solid Muldoon was found on a hill in 1877 by William Conant, who frequented the area searching for fossils. Conant unearthed the body and took it to Pueblo, where it was exhibited.
Numerous scientists examined the body and concluded that it was “an ancient work of art, sculpted by an unknown primitive race” (source). Solid Muldoon enjoyed wide popularity until the New York Times revealed it was a man-made figure.
No one knows what happened to the original Solid Muldoon, but in 1976 a replica was made as part of the Colorado Centennial and U.S. Bicentennial celebration. After being displayed, the replica was given a proper funeral and buried near where the original body was found.
Photos courtesy of Bishop Castle
Bishop Castle is a must-stop on the drive between Albuquerque and Denver. This three-story castle is the work of Jim Bishop. It took him 1000 tons of rock, 40 years, and numerous battles with Washington authorities to complete the castle’s construction.
The castle’s architecture is overwhelming, with its wrought-iron bridges, spires, stained glass windows, soaring towers, and a fire-breathing dragon. Tourists can visit the grounds and interior for free.
Bandalier National Monument
History and nature often go hand in hand. The Bandelier National Monument is a clear example of that.
The monument preserves the homes and territory of the Ancestral Puebloans. Unlike other historic sites, visitors not only can see the authentic cave dwellings but also climb in and go inside them. It’s a wonderful experience and gives you perspective on how smart Ancestral Puebloans were, their way of life, and how functionality was a crucial aspect of their constructions.
Tips for your Drive Between Albuquerque and Denver
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 Denver and Albuquerque occurs in two states: Colorado and New Mexico.
- There are several larger cities along the route, including Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Santa Fe
- If you’re looking for a good halfway point to stop for a few hours or overnight, consider the small town of Trinidad, Colorado. It’s three hours from Denver and 3.5 hours from Albuquerque.
- 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 if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Should You Fly Between Denver and Albuquerque Instead?
While road trips are always a fun idea, people often wonder if it’s better to fly than drive between Albuquerque and Denver. The truth is that there’s no right answer, and which mode of transportation you choose depends on your budget and time constrictions.
As I explained above, it takes seven hours to make the drive from Albuquerque to Denver and covers 447 miles. When flying, the distance is reduced to 334 miles and it takes around 3 hours and 15 minutes to cover it.
Cost-wise, gas for a round trip costs about $170, whereas flight tickets for a round trip start at $130.
As you can see, flying is more convenient from a time and cost perspective. However, the drive between Denver and Albuquerque should still be an option to consider. This road trip is filled with fantastic places everyone should see at least once in their lives (like the Garden of the Gods).
Have any other questions about the drive between Denver and Albuquerque – whether you’re going north or south? Let me know in the comments below!