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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’re taking the northern route from Phoenix through Flagstaff, here are some fantastic stops to make along the way.
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:
Heading south to take in more of the spectacular Arizona desert before heading to Albuquerque? Here are some fantastic stops along the route:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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