The Ultimate 5-Day New Mexico Itinerary
New Mexico truly lives up to its nickname, The Land of Enchantment!
New Mexico is a sprawling state in the US and home to several National Monuments, National Parks, historical sites, breathtaking desert landscapes, otherworldly rock formations, natural springs, caves, and so much more.
The endless sightseeing opportunities and the massive size of New Mexico are the two major challenges while planning a trip to New Mexico. The major attractions are remotely located and spread throughout the state, and getting from one attraction to the other involves a fair amount of driving or flying within New Mexico.
New Mexico is vast, and the major attractions are scattered all over the state!
To help you plan your perfect trip to New Mexico, I have compiled a sample five day New Mexico road trip itinerary. I have covered all the major attractions in New Mexico and have accounted for overnight stays and travel time while compiling the itinerary.
However, even five days are just enough to see only the major attractions in New Mexico, and the itinerary may appear pretty rushed to some of you. On the other hand, if you have more time to spend and have already been to the major attractions in New Mexico, you can still find several other neat attractions and things to do in New Mexico in my Ultimate List Of Things To Do In New Mexico.
My five day New Mexico road trip itinerary covers all major attractions but involves a fair amount of driving!
Here is my ultimate 5-day New Mexico road trip itinerary, featuring all major New Mexico attractions, an attractions map, detailed guides for every attraction, including recommendations on hotels and restaurants.
New Mexico Itinerary Overview
In my opinion, visiting the amazing National Parks and the National Monuments in New Mexico is the best way to get to know “The Land of Enchantment!” So, my 5-Day New Mexico Itinerary covers the awe-inspiring National Parks and Monuments in New Mexico, along with a few attractions in the nearby area that you can visit while driving to one of the National Parks and Monuments in New Mexico.
My New Mexico itinerary starts in Albuquerque but can end in El Paso, Texas, or Albuquerque.
The best way to explore New Mexico is by flying into the closest possible airport near an attraction and then renting a car and driving to other places within New Mexico. You can find general information about New Mexico, including weather, airports, transportation options, and more, in my New Mexico Travel Guide.
Arrival: Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Day 1: Petroglyph National Monument, Sandia Peak Tramway, Overnight stay at Santa Fe
- Day 2: Bandelier National Monument, Overnight stay at Santa Rosa
- Day 3: The Blue Hole, Overnight stay at Carlsbad
- Day 4: Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Overnight stay at Alamogordo
- Day 5: White Sands National Park, drive to departing airport
Departure: Albuquerque, New Mexico Or El Paso, Texas
You could also follow the itinerary in reverse order, start your trip in El Paso, Texas and end it in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Day One - Petroglyph National Monument & Sandia Peak
See petroglyphs in Petroglyph National Monument & ride the Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque!
Home to the Albuquerque International Airport and several hotels and restaurants, the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a great base when visiting Petroglyph National Monument and Sandia Peak. Though both attractions are located within Albuquerque’s city limits and easily accessible, I recommend getting an early start.
Petroglyph National Monument: Petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings created by removing the upper layer of the rock using chisels, hammers, or stone. The Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is one of the largest petroglyph sites in the US. The Petroglyph National Monument protects a vast area and preserves more than 20,000 petroglyphs created several years ago by the Native Americans and Spanish settlers in the area. Petroglyph National Monument Address: GPS Lat: 35.139 Long: -106.711.
The petroglyphs can be viewed only by hiking one of the four hiking trails in Petroglyph National Monument. I recommend skipping the visitor center and head directly towards a hiking trail of your choice. However, I recommend hiking the Boca Negra Canyon trail, which is the shortest of all hiking trails in Petroglyph National Monument.
Sandia Peak Tramway: Ride the aerial tramway at Sandia Peak to catch some breathtaking views from the observation deck located at 10,378 feet above the ground. The observation deck offers panoramic views of the Rio Grande Valley and an option to grab a bite at the summit. The aerial tramway is operated only when weather conditions are suitable, so please consider calling ahead. Sandia Peak Tramway Address: 30 Tramway Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122.
Overnight Stay: From Sandia Peak, drive to Santa Fe and stay there overnight.
Day Two - Bandelier National Monument
Visit Bandelier National Monument and drive to Santa Rosa.
Bandelier National Monument: Bandelier National Monument located in Los Alamos preserves a beautiful canyon with evidence of human presence going back over several thousand years. The canyons and mesas at Bandelier National Monument were formed by volcanic eruptions and lava flow in the area millions of years ago. However, the remnants of ancestral Pueblo settlement in the area make Bandelier National Monument more interesting and archaeologically significant.
The only way to explore the canyon and see the remnants of ancestral Pueblo settlement in the area is by hiking one of the trails in Bandelier National Monument. However, as you would need to drive to Santa Rosa, I recommend hiking the Main Loop Trail / Pueblo Loop Trail, the shortest and most popular hiking trail in Bandelier National Monument.
Overnight Stay: Once done visiting Bandelier National Monument, drive to Santa Rosa and stay overnight, 120 miles and 2 hours 30 minutes drive.
Day Three - The Blue Hole
Make a quick stop at the Blue Hole and head to Carlsbad!
The Blue Hole: The Blue Hole is a natural wonder you must see while you’re in New Mexico! Indeed, a deep blue pool of water appears amid the desert like a blue gem emerging from the earth’s surface. Blue Hole Address: 1085 Blue Hole Rd, Santa Rosa, NM 88435.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To The Blue Hole
Overnight Stay: Once done exploring the Blue Hole, head to Carlsbad and stay overnight. It’s a long three and a half hours drive from Santa Rosa.
Day Four - Carlsbad Caverns National Park
See some of the most unique cave formations in the world and head to Alamogordo!
Carlsbad Caverns National Park: The Carlsbad Caverns National Park is home to one of the oldest, largest, and very complex cave systems in the world! Carlsbad Caverns is known for its several unique cave formations naturally decorating the caves. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Address: 727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220.
Carlsbad Caverns can be explored by hiking one of the many hiking trails in the park. However, to stick to this itinerary timeline, I would recommend the Big Room Trail, which is also the most popular hiking trail in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Overnight Stay: After exploring Carlsbad Caverns, head to Alamogordo, and stay overnight. It’s a two-hour 45 minutes drive to Alamogordo from Carlsbad.
Day Five - White Sands National Park
End your five-day New Mexico road trip after visiting the largest gypsum dune field in the world!
White Sands National Park: White Sands National Park, home to mystical white sand dunes! With glistening white sand dunes and wave-like structures, White Sands National Park is an otherworldly experience and very picturesque.
Drive through the Dunes Drive, 16 miles roundtrip, starting and ending at the visitor center, is one of the most spectacular scenic drives in the US. The Dunes Drive is the gateway to all hiking trails, vista points, sledding, and picnic areas within White Sands National Park. White Sands National Park Address: 19955 Highway 70, Alamogordo, NM 88310.
This is the last stop on the five day New Mexico road trip itinerary, and from here, you can head back to Albuquerque, New Mexico, 224 miles from White Sands, 3 hours 30 minutes drive. Or you can end your trip in El Paso, Texas, 96 miles, 1 hour 30 minutes drive. White Sands National Park is located close to New Mexico – Texas border and close to El Paso Internation Airport, El Paso, Texas.
You can end your New Mexico road trip at Albuquerque or El Paso, Texas.
Other New Mexico Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate 5-Day New Mexico Itinerary, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to New Mexico.
Happy feeding your soul!
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