A less boring route (than I-40) from Tucumcari to Santa Fe, New Mexico
For those of you who prefer smaller side roads getting from place to place, here is a slightly more scenic route than Interstate 40 from Tucumcari to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is a much more interesting route taking you by Conchas Lake, across some open plains areas and some more rugged terrain with fairly steep hills and lot of curves as you progress into the southern end of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain Range in northern NM. Coming in from Texas on I-40 you will turn north on NM104/1st Street in Tucumcari and follow that (104) all the way to Las Vegas. The road is two-lane and could have some rough patches depending on how well NMDOT has kept up with repairs. The only gas stop between Tucumcari and Las Vegas is at the lake approximately 35 miles from I-40, otherwise the next gas available is in LV about 110 miles from Tucumcari. Once in LV, 104 feeds onto I-25 at East University Avenue for the final 60 miles into Santa Fe. This portion of the interstate is considerably more enjoyable than taking I-40 west then turning north on one of five choices of paved roads along 40. The first of those side roads to the north is NM129 that takes you almost due north with some twists, turns and rolling hills from I-40 to NM104 near the lake and bypasses the most boring part of 104 to that point. The next place to head north off of 40 is at US84 which intersects with I-25 a few miles south of Las Vegas. Both of those northern treks are decent rides but not nearly as much to see as staying on 104. The next road north is US285 at Clines Corners and provides some fun curves getting to a spot on I-25 a few miles out of Santa Fe on mostly very wide, smooth roadway. Approximately 22 miles west of Clines Corners is Moriarty and NM41 that will take you north to join up with 285, 33 miles later. The last north turn before reaching Albuquerque is at Tijeras on NM14 which will take you through Madrid, where parts of the movie Wild Hogs was filmed. 14 reaches Santa Fe on the SW side some 46 miles after leaving I-40. So, there you have multiple options for getting from Tucumcari to Santa Fe or vice-versa. The 104 route to Las Vegas is my favorite but I have yet to travel on 41 or 14. Others may have more recent knowledge of some or all of those roads & pavement conditions. I have included some views of the ride on 104 between Tucumcari and Las Vegas. I’m hoping to have time to zig-zag around on those north-south roads this summer in order to have some updated information on all of these roads and more pictures.
Just a quick update (02/23/15): I’ve been studying the maps on Google and on MS Streets & Trips and discovered there is a sixth north-south road that appears to be paved from I-40 to I-25. As part of my plan to ride those roads next summer I will have to include the 32 miles of NM State Road 3 now.