New Mexico

10 Incredible Day Trips From Albuquerque, New Mexico

Top 10 day trips from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The week I visited Albuquerque, I knew the city was a vortex. It could suck my time and I’d be none the wiser (not that I minded). There was so much to see and do in ABQ that on the third (or fourth) day, I forced myself to visit the surrounding area.

The area around Albuquerque’s city center, dots of cacti-stubbed towns and long roads that trace past sharp cliffs and rough mountains, is intense. It’s a palette of contrasting colors and mediums.

You don’t have to go far to see a change of scene. In fact, most of these day trips from Albuquerque are less than a few hours from the city center (and some can be done in under a tank of gas).

So without further ado, here are ten incredible day trips from Albuquerque!

The Railyard

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 1 Hour

The Railyard in Santa Fe

One of the most popular day trips from Albuquerque is Santa Fe, a city bursting with history and culture. In a lot of ways, Santa Fe feels like a small town.

But it’s also New Mexico’s capital so it takes more than a few days to see.

For a sip of Santa Fe proper, head to The Railyard, a walkable district stretched wide. Bookending the main path are shops and boutiques. Walk further along and you’ll see splatters of art and murals.

Mural In Santa Fe New Mexico

The Railyard District is also home to some of the best coffee shops in Santa Fe (not just Ohori’s but also, we love Ohori’s). It’s the site of a weekly Saturday Farmer’s market and the location of Hotel Santa Fe Hacienda & Spa.

General Info

Address: 1607 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Cost: FREE

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 1.5 Hours

Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

In between Albuquerque and Elephant Butte State Park is Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

You’ll want to bring a pair of binoculars when you visit. Bosque Del Apache is a bird-watching spot.

In the wintertime, you’ll see sandhill cranes and snow geese. The landscape is dry and marshy and caught in a figure-eight between a 12-mile self-drive auto loop. Along the route are snips of trails that pull past wetlands and brush.

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Side note: This is my favorite beginner camera lens for wildlife photography. It’s a little heavy but I still love it.

General Info

Address: 1001 NM-1, San Antonio, NM 87832

Cost: $5

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 4.5 Hours

entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park

On the southernmost edge of New Mexico is Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The mouth of Carlsbad Caverns is big and the area inside is smooth and well-paved. It takes around 2 hours to walk through the cool of the caverns (especially if you’re stopping to snap photos).

The trail is perfect for beginners. It’s already lit up (so you don’t need to bring a flashlight) and for the most part, it’s wheelchair accessible.

As you walk through, you’ll see stalagmites and stalactites shape into all sorts of strange and wonderful formations. It’s one of the most unique experiences you can step into in New Mexico.

Side Note: There’s also a gift shop inside the caverns, which is oddly commercial but also really interesting. The gift shop used to be an underground lunchroom in the 20th century but after the scent of fresh food attracted new animals, the ecological habitat of Carlsbad Caverns started to shift. So today, it’s less of a food court and more of a gift shop.

P.S. There aren’t many gas stations nearby so you’ll want to make sure you fill up around half-way between Albuquerque and Carlsbad.

General Info

Address: 727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220

Cost: $15

White Sands National Monument

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 3.5 Hours

Visiting White Sands - faux vogue photoshoot LOL

White Sands National Monument Lookbook

White Sands National Monument is alluring. It’s a thick sheet of gypsum that looks deceptively like snow. The sand, closest to Dunes Drive, a scenic 16-mile loop, is packed hard. But once you step out of the car and walk a few steps into the park, you get caught in the rhythm of the faded skies and paled-out grounds.

There are a few trails in-and-around White Sands. My favorite is the interdune boardwalk. It’s an easy ramp walk but you can still see wildlife, like bleached earless lizards (who’ve evolved to be the color of the sands) and jackrabbits.

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P.S. I have a full guide to White Sands National Monument (filled with tips and advice I wish I knew before visiting) right here.

General Info

Address: White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Cost: $25 per vehicle

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 4 Hours

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area at sunrise

While Roswell is known for its alien kitsch, there is a place far more unreal on the other side of New Mexico. Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness Study Area, a not-so-easy day trip from Albuquerque, is a slice of badlands and hoodoos piped with fossils.

This is one of the most remote areas of New Mexico that’s still publicly accessible (I recommend a 4 wheel drive for this day trip). It’s unlikely you’ll encounter many people here (so you’ll want to download an offline map as well and bring a compass and GPS). Bring a spare tank of gas too.

The trail is unmarked. And it’s very easy to get lost (trust me, your emotions will sit somewhere in between frightened and awestruck). I’ll link some more information about the hike here, here, and here.

Photo of badlands and hoodoos

This Albuquerque day trip definitely needs a bit of preparation and planning beforehand. I would not suggest going into it blind because there are zero facilities in the area (and you won’t have reception).

But that being said, this is, hands-down, one of the most unique places in New Mexico. So if you’re a hiking enthusiast and you have the right gear, it’s worth a drive out in spring or fall.

P.S. Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah is technically only a 3-hour day trip from Albuquerque, but it might take an extra hour to find it so allot 4. I’d suggest driving from ABQ to Bloomfield and then following resources for directions from there (side note: try to fill up gas in either Farmington or Bloomfield).

General Info

Address: Unofficial directions here and here

Cost: FREE

Los Poblanos Historic Inn And Organic Farm

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 15 Minutes

Los Poblanos Historic Inn And Organic Farm Shop

Los Poblanos Historic Inn And Organic Farm sits in a little village just north of Albuquerque. It’s a stunning property, dating back to the early 20th century, that’s part boutique hotel, part lavender farm, and part farm shop.

Each room is southwest-styled, softly-lit, and unique (if you’re looking for an Albuquerque staycation, head here). The food served on-site is delicious and well-loved (you’ll want to make reservations in advance, even if you’re staying the night). Everything is made fresh so the flavors come across ten-fold.

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And like all good hotels, it’s the little details that make a stay at Los Poblanos stand out. Housemade lavender products set in the bath area. Field-to-fork dining. A complimentary cocktail upon arrival. Cheers.

General Info

Address: 4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Los Ranchos De Albuquerque, NM 87107

Williams Lake

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 3 Hours

Day Trips From Albuquerque: Williams Lake Taos Ski Valley Top Of Trail Sign

Williams Lake is a gorgeous body of water near Taos Ski Valley. The trail, a little over 2 miles, is, for the most part, shaded.

It’s a heavily-trafficked hike, especially in the summertime. But the views, the whole way, are worth it. You’ll pass alpine sweeps and see the peaks of the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. The lake, up top, is a deep green from the reflection of trees.

General Info

Address: HHH6+Q2 Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico


Drive Time From Albuquerque: 3 Hours

Day Trips From Albuquerque: Cadillac Ranch In Amarillo, Texas

Situated in the panhandle, Amarillo is classic Texas. It’s a vibrant and colorful city.

If you’re looking for things to do in this day trip from Albuquerque, think big.

Big cadillacs half-sunk into the ground. Big RVs at home in a museum. Big slabs of 72 oz steak that you get for free if you can eat it by yourself in under an hour.

Everything is bigger in Texas. No joke.

General Info

Address: 13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124

Santa Rosa

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 2 Hours

Day Trips From Albuquerque: Restaurant in Santa Rosa, New Mexico

When I first visited Santa Rosa, I treated it as a drive-by stop, a place to fill up gas and stretch my legs whilst on-route to ABQ.

But after spending a day in Santa Rosa, I truly believe this is one of the best day trips from Albuquerque. Santa Rosa is situated along the iconic Route 66. And it’s known for its popular deep-visibility diving spot.

New Mexico’s famed Blue Hole is a crisp blue, the kind that feels unreal. You can get into the water but fair warning, it’s chilly, even on the hottest of summer days!

Around town, you’ll also find an auto museum and a few lakes.

General Info

Address: 1085 Blue Hole Rd, Santa Rosa, NM 88435-2535

Cost: $5

The Low Road

Drive Time From Albuquerque: 2 Hours

Day Trips From Albuquerque: Low Road View

The Low Road from Taos to Santa Fe is a window of views so pretty, you’ll never want to close the drapes.

The lonely state highway, which snakes past the Rio Grande River, passes bighorn sheep, stunning wineries, and packed campgrounds.

It’s one of the most stunning day trips from Albuquerque (and takes roughly an hour to complete). On the way back, drive into Santa Fe.

And if you get a chance, walk around The Railyard (*wink*).

sincerely anshula

Did you enjoy this list of day trips from Albuquerque? What are your favorite day trips from Albuquerque? Let me know in the comments below! As always, I love hearing from you.


  • Darryl Swenson
    July 6, 2020 at 12:44 PM

    Excellent ideas! Visiting some family down in Albuquerque this summer and was just thinking about where we could go in the car for a day. Came across the perfect post!

    • Anshula Varma
      July 6, 2020 at 3:23 PM

      Hi Darryl! Thank you so much. If you’re traveling this summer, I recommend either White Sands or The Low Road because they are really stunning in season and naturally socially distant (being drive-by day trips from Albuquerque)! xx – Anshula

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    August 7, 2020 at 2:18 PM

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  • Natalie Redman
    September 15, 2020 at 8:46 AM

    Gorgeous suggestions!

  • Izzy S.
    June 22, 2022 at 2:52 PM

    Loved your suggestions and photos Anshula! Especially the photo of the river and mountains at the very top of your article. Can you please share where it was taken? Would love to go there during our trip this summer! Thanks!


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