Phoenix to Albuquerque Road Trip Ultimate Guide + 13 Incredible Stops

Another great family road trip from Phoenix, AZ, is to Albuquerque, AZ. The diverse drive will take you on a rollercoaster of sceneries, from deserts and forests to plainlands and mountains. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or making the journey on a longer trip, here’s what you need to know in planning your Phoenix to Albuquerque road trip. 

What is the Best Time to take a road trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque?

The BEST time to take a road trip in Phoenix is from late Fall through Spring. The weather isn’t scorching hot, and it’s not all AC all the time! That being said, if you do take this road trip during the winter months, be prepared for snow. Yes, it does snow in Arizona! We took our road trip at the very end of December, and we hit snow in both northern Arizona and New Mexico. So if a winter trip is planned, make sure to check the weather and for road closures. 

Road trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque

What is the Best Route from Phoenix to Albuquerque?

There are a few routes to choose from when driving from Phoenix to Albuquerque. It just depends on what you want to see along the way and how long you want the road trip to take. 

The fastest route (400 miles) is via US 60-E, taking you up to Payson and through the Tonto Forest From. You will continue on past Show Low, hitting 117 until you reach 1-40E into Albuquerque. This route will take you about 7 hours without stops. 

The second version of this route (also 400 miles) is also via US 60-E, but continuing north on the 377/77 to Holbrook and the Petrified Forest and then heading east via the 53 until you merge onto 1-40E. It’s about the same amount of time but with a much different scenery. This is the route we chose, and I’m glad we did! It was a stunning route!

If you have more time and are looking for a different northern path, you can take 1-17N through Sedona and Flagstaff and then head east on the 1-40E. This route is almost 100 miles more and takes 7 ½ hours without stopping. Of course, many people plan a stop overnight either in Sedona or Flagstaff to soak in all those wonderful cities have to offer.

There is a southern route if you want to visit Tucson along the way. This road trip covers 575 miles and takes 8 ½ hours without stops. Again, many travelers who take this route plan overnight stops.  

How long does it take to drive from Phoenix to Albuquerque? 

Again, depending on which route you take, the drive from Phoenix to Albuquerque, NM, takes anywhere between 7-10 hours (without stops). But be prepared to add extra time for stops along the way – gas or charging, food, bathroom, and coffee breaks. 

Best Stops on a Phoenix to Albuquerque Road Trip

Beyond a doubt, one of the best parts of family road trips is the stops (if you’re like me). The first thing I do when planning a road trip is to look for cool and interesting places to stop. So if you’re also looking for road trip gems, you’ll want to save these stops for your next Phoenix to Albuquerque road trip. 

Stops on a Phoenix to Albuquerque road trip

Phoenix to Albuquerque Northern Route via Flagstaff

If you’re taking the northern route from Phoenix through Flagstaff, here are some fantastic stops to make along the way. 

  1. Montezuma’s Castle – If you love history and national parks, this is a fantastic stop to make along the Phoenix to Albuquerque drive. It’s a smaller sight, so you don’t have to take a lot of time and still see it all. You can also plan an eating stop here because there’s a picnic area as well. And don’t forget to get that Jr. Ranger badge for your kids!
  2. Sedona – There’s so much I can say about Sedona that its worth it’s own stop! If you have a chance to spend an entire day in Sedona, I highly recommend it. Incredible hikes, a really cool Main Street experience, and art vibes – make sure you add a stop here! 
  3. Flagstaff – Flagstaff will be your last stop before heading east to Albuquerque. And there’s so much to do in this ski-resort town. If you’re taking this trip during winter, you’re in luck. Flagstaff gets more snow than any other Arizona city! You can also walk around the downtown area, eat at one of the many cool restaurants, and just take in this stunning city. 
  4. Williams – Although Williams is not right on the road trip route, it’s just a few miles from Flagstaff, so it’s worth the stop. Williams hosts the Polar Express experience during the Christmas holidays and the Grand Canyon Railway the rest of the year. Bearizona can also be found in Williams, which is one of our favorite places to see wildlife in Arizona.  
Bearizona in Williams, AZ

Phoenix to Albuquerque Northern Route via Holbrook 

Driving north inside the Tonto Forest and up through Holbrook is also a gorgeous route! This is the way we traveled, and saw a wide range of scenery and some pretty cool stops too! Add these stops to your trip: 

  1. Tonto National Forest – Tonto is such a huge area with many great stops inside, but since you’ll be driving through it, it’s a great opportunity to take in nature at its best! Check out some of our favorite things to do inside Tonto National Forest
  2. Payson – Payson has some fantastic hiking trails in Arizona, so if you want to get out and stretch your legs, this is the place to do it! Check out the Mogollon Rim, Horton Creek Trail, Highline Trail, and Pine-Strawberry Trail. 
  3. Holbrook – Holbrook is the final stop before you reach the Petrified Forest. Plus, it’s a great place to stop and get your Starbucks fix (which is what we did). 
  4. Petrified Forest – The Petrified Forest has some of the most stunning and unique views in the Southwest. Learn about petrified wood, ancient ruins, and the glorious colors of this landscape. Be prepared – a drive through the entire Forest can take at least a couple of hours.
  5. Petroglyph National Monument – Another fun national park to add to your drive to Albuquerque road trip is Petroglyph National Monument. Our daughter loved finding all the petroglyphs found on the rock carvings throughout the hills and adding another badge to her collection. 
Petrified National Monument

Phoenix to Albuquerque Southern Route via Tucson 

Heading south to take in more of the spectacular Arizona desert before heading to Albuquerque? Here are some fantastic stops along the route: 

  1. Saguaro National Park – One of the most popular national parks in Arizona, Saguaro is located just outside Tucson and is home to literally thousands of stunning saguaro cacti! Take in the views, hike a trail, and you just might get lucky and see wildlife. 
  2. Kartchner Caverns State Park – Also located in the greater Tucson area, this state park is filled with underground caves with stalactites, stalagmites, and awesome underground features. 
  3. White Sands National Park – Once you cross into New Mexico, White Sands is a MUST-STOP. It houses the largest gypsum dune field in the world, and if you’ve never seen white sand dunes, here’s your chance! And if you want to make this an overnight stop, you can camp inside the national park. 
  4. Alamogordo – After you hit up White Sands, add Alamogordo (if you can pronounce it – LOL) to your stop list. It’s famous for its New Mexico Museum of Space History – for all of you space enthusiasts! 
Saguaros in Arizona

Phoenix to Albuquerque Road Trip Tips

  1. Research your route – If you’re reading this, then you’re already doing it. Figure out what route is best for you and a general idea of where you want to stop. We always like to find random stops along the way, so you can be prepared and still be flexible at the same time. 
  2. Check for weather and road closures: This is crucial, especially during winter. Snow and rain often account for road closures, so it’s important to be prepared for any changes that need to occur. 
  3. Stay hydrated – Keep in mind you’ll be driving through two desert states, so make sure you stock up on plenty of water for your journey.

Two Days in Albuquerque, New Mexico

What did our mini-trip to Albuquerque, NM look like? After our adventurous drive, we arrived in Albuquerque around 6:00 pm. We stayed at the Comfort Inn, Downtown Albuquerque for three nights. We ended up ordering pizza and taking it back to our room after the long drive. 

Snow Day in Santa Fe

Our first day in Albuquerque was actually our first day in Santa Fe. We brought our new snow gear with us so our daughter could play in the snow for the first time, so we headed north to Santa Fe where they had recently gotten a lot of snow. The drive was about an hour to the city and another 15 minutes to Hyde Memorial State Park. The freshly fallen snow was GORGEOUS  and looked like we were in the middle of a Hallmark movie. We spent most of the day hiking, sledding, building snowmen, and just playing in the snow. A perfect snow day!

We then headed to Old Town Santa Fe to walk around and check out the area. It is a really cute area with specialty shops and that old-town vibe. We really liked it. Then we headed back to Albuquerque for the night.

Santa Fe Tip with Kids: I was hoping to explore Meow Wolf in Santa Fe while we were there because I heard that it was so awesome, but it was sold out the day we were there. So if Meow Wolf is on your list, make sure you claim your spot in advance. 

Snow day in Santa Fe, NM

Old Town Albuquerque & Petroglyph National Monument

On our second day, we spent the first half of the day at Petroglyph National Monument, hiking and exploring this national monument. It was only about a 10-minute drive from our hotel. We then head to Albuquerque’s Old Town to check it out. To be honest, it’s pretty much the same experience as Santa Fe’s Old Town (which we actually preferred). It’s pretty small, so we had pretty much seen and gone in every store after about an hour and a half. 

At night, we checked out Albuqeurque’s Downtown scene, which is pretty cool! There are lots of cool restaurants and bars in the area. And lots of really unique coffee shops, too! Highly recommended.

We then set out for home on the third day, so it was a really quick trip. Short but sweet. 

Old Town Albuquerque

Phoenix to Albuquerque Road Trip with an Electric Car

If you’ve followed our journeys for a while now, you know that we take the majority of our road trips with an electric car. We get asked A LOT what taking a long road trip looks like with an EV, so if you’re looking to take this drive here are our thoughts for your journey. Not only is an EV road trip cheaper than gas (especially now with AZ gas prices), but it also changes up your trip a little. Here are some tips for your Phoenix to Albuquerque road trip with an electric car. 

EV Charging Stops from Phoenix to Albuquerque

One added element to taking a road trip with an electric car is planning charging stops. Because EVs have a limited range, it’s something that you can’t just go on a whim. 

If you happen to have a Tesla like we do, the trip mode will automatically take care of this for you. It’s such a fantastic feature of the Tesla. And if you don’t have this feature in your electric car (I’m not sure what all the other EVs come equipped with), make sure you download the PlugShare app. It’s the best resource for finding charging stations on your road trip and provides real-time updates on their availability. 

For our Phoenix to Albuquerque road trip, we made two charging stops along the way – both there and back. It will depend on the range of your car, but for us, we made stops in Holbrook and Gallup on the way to Albuquerque and the return trip. 

PRO TIP:  Many hotels now offer charging facilities, which is a great way to save time on charging. There are also charging options at a lot of national parks – Petrified Forest is one of them. 

Electric Car Road Trip Tips

As we mentioned above, we’ve been taking EV road trips for a while now, including Phoenix to Las Vegas, Phoenix to San Diego and Los Angeles. Outside of long trips, we also love to take short, day trips too! Here are some EV tips to make your road trip smoother: 

  • Start out full – Before hitting the road, make sure you leave with a full battery. We always fully charge the night before we leave.  
  • Monitor your battery levels – Keep an eye on your car’s battery levels throughout the trip. With electric cars, you never get as many miles as you think you will, and during a road trip, you need to be on top of it. Better safe than sorry!  
  • Weather plays a part – Battery levels always depend on outside circumstances. In the heat, blaring the AC will soak your battery, as well as the opposite. Extreme cold affects the levels, too. 
  • Take it easy on the pedal –  If you’re looking to get the most mileage out of your road trip, don’t go too extreme with the speed. Also, avoid sudden acceleration and braking.
  • Be flexible – If you’re one of those road trippers who plan everything out to a tee, you might be a little disappointed with EV road trips. You need to remain flexible, not only for charging options but waiting for open stations. If you pull up to a busy charging area, you might need to wait for one to open up. 
  • Enjoy the ride! Don’t forget – half the fun is the journey. Road trips are all about adventure and discovery, so stop at that quirky stop along the way! Sometimes they make for the best stories of the entire trip.  

Phoenix to Albuquerque Road Trip – Pin It

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2 Comments on “Phoenix to Albuquerque Road Trip Ultimate Guide + 13 Incredible Stops

  1. Looking forward to exploring this info prior exploring NM

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