From vast desert landscapes to ancient ruins and national parks, the road trip from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City is full of adventure. Along the way, you'll find plenty of photo opportunities, natural highlights, and fun towns and cities to explore, not to mention a huge chunk of the historic Route 66.
The 570-mile road trip from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City along Route 66 take 9 hours to drive. Along the way, you can see Amarillo, Roswell, Wichita Falls, Lubbock, Ruidoso, Manzano Mountains State Park, Musical Highway and Sandia Peak.
There's so much to experience along the way that you'll be sure to have the time of a lifetime. Read on below to learn more about our recommended routes, where to stay, and what to do and see along the way.
How far is Oklahoma City from Albuquerque, and how long will the road trip take?
|The 66 Mother Road Route
|The Roswell Detour Route
|14 hours 30 minutes
There are two fantastic routes that will get you from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City. Both are filled with fun and adventure, so which one you choose is up to you.
The 66 Mother Road Route takes you 570 miles with 9 hours of driving time. You'll see stunning landmarks, historic towns, and plenty of old Route 66.
The Roswell Detour Route takes you to the town of Roswell and more scenic and historical areas. You'll drive 850 miles for 14 hours and 30 minutes total driving time.
Regardless of which route you take, we recommend taking 3-5 days for your journey. Continue on below to learn more about our recommended routes, where to stay, and top things to see and do along the way.
Best road trip route from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City
The 66 Mother Road Route is your chance to immerse yourself in Route 66. It's as practical as it's direct, but it's also entertaining throughout.
For off-beat tourist attractions and Route 66 history, this route is for you. You'll experience peculiar sites such as singing roads, vehicles embedded in the ground, and toppling water towers.
This route also has plenty of nature too. You can start your journey by climbing up a mountain peak on a tram and during your overnight stay at Amarillo, make a day trip to the US's second-largest canyon.
The Roswell Detour Route takes you to Oklahoma City through many nature spots. There are mountains, sand dunes, waterfalls and great plains.
For a road trip of diverse landscapes, ancient ruins, and extraterrestrial mystery, this route will tick a lot of boxes. Somewhat off the beaten track, you'll find quiet spots throughout where you can hike and picnic amid epic natural landscapes.
The 66 Mother Road Route
Starting in Albuquerque, head to the famous Sandia Peak Tramway. Then, make your way to the Musical Highway, 310 U.S. on the famous Rt. 66.
From here, continue on east towards Santa Rosa. Then, make your way to the lovely community of Tucumcari before getting into Amarillo.
After exploring Amarillo, head east to Elk City, Oklahoma. From here, drive to the famous Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.
After seeing the museum, visit the Stafford Air & Space Museum. From here, make your way into Oklahoma City.
The Roswell Detour Route
From Albuquerque, make your way through the high desert to Manzano Mountains State Park. From here, continue on south to Carrizozo, New Mexico.
Continue on route to Ruidoso before making it into Roswell. After exploring the famous town head east across the desert to Lubbock, Texas.
Drive further into Texas and into the Caprock Canyons State Park & Trailway. Continue on to the city of Wichita Falls, Texas.
From Wichita Falls, head into southern Oklahoma. Drive through Medicine Park and then into beautiful Oklahoma City.
Best places to stop between Albuquerque and Oklahoma City
Because there are so many highlights to see along the way, we recommend making several stops along the way. Below are our top destinations to rest for the night, allowing you to take advantage of this beautiful area and the incredible things to see in it.
Experience the wild west in Amarillo, Texas
Along the 66 Mother Route is the beautiful city of Amarillo. At halfway, the city is an ideal distance to break the road trip into halves and is one of the bigger cities along the route with hotels and landmarks to see.
Amarillo is known as ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas'. It's historically a favorite stop along Route 66 and has become famous for its steak challenge where guests can attempt to eat a huge steak.
The city is one of the closest cities to the second-largest canyon in the USA. Travel South to Palo Duro Canyon State Park where you can hike, hire a tour guide, horseback ride, or go a zip line through the canyons.
When in Amarillo, check out the Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery. This Route 66 milestone is home to the big steak challenge where you can try to eat a 72-oz steak.
Next, cruise along a historic stretch of Route 66. Head to Sixth Avenue between Georgia and Western where you can experience the authentic Mother Road and take photos beneath vintage signs. There are also antique shops to browse, independent restaurants and the High Fidelity Record Store.
Finally, discover Amarillo's history at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. As you walk through years of history, you can see genuine firearms by the gunslingers of the Old West.
Once you arrive in Amarillo, we recommend staying at The Barfield, Autograph Collection. This luxurious hotel is full of fantastic amenities, friendly service, and comfortable rooms that are filled with wonderful decor with a touch of Texas.
Once you arrive, you can relax at the Paramount Recreation Club, a trendy speak-easy style bar on-site. Or, if you're hungry, check out the lavish Toscana Italian Steakhouse.
Afterwards, you'll enjoy the comfort of your room. If you want, there's a large fitness center with treadmills to help you prep for the next round of driving.
The Barfield is close to Route 66. You're also just a short drive from the Wonderland Amusement Park (2.6 miles, 8-minute drive), Amarillo Botanical Garden (6 miles, 9-minute drive), The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery (5.5 miles, 12-minute drive) and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (18 miles, 20-minute drive).
Search for the mysteries of Roswell, New Mexico
Around 1/3rd on the Roswell Route is the city of Roswell. Its location makes it the perfect place for an overnight stop.
Roswell is synonymous with UFOs. A rancher discovered debris in 1947, many of whom claim to be from a UFO.
Regardless of its legends, Roswell is full of excitement. First, for all things UFO, go to the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Learn about the 'Roswell Incident' and other worldwide events.
Then, take time out at Bottomless Lakes State Park. There are nine lakes where you can swim or enjoy a picnic. Because of the depth, scuba diving is also popular here.
If you love art, head to the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art to see 12 galleries showcasing local artists' work. There's an eclectic collection of styles to inspire and admire.
Finally, walk around the Historic District. The Chaves County Courthouse first opened in 1911 and is a standout landmark.
Once you get to Roswell, we recommend staying at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Roswell. This popular and luxurious and relaxing hotel is full of amenities and popular sights nearby.
After your long drive, you can enjoy the hotel's outdoor swimming pool and hot-tub open year round. There's outdoor furniture and a patio area equipped with BBQ facilities.
The hotel is also close by most of the area's main sights. You can easily get to the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art (0.5 miles, 10-minute walk), Roswell Visitors Center (0.6 miles, 13-minute walk), the Historic District (0.8 miles, 15-minute walk), International UFO Museum and Research Center Heritage Park (0.9 miles, 18-minute walk), and the Bottomless Lakes State Park. (16 miles, 25-minute drive).
Where to stay when you reach Oklahoma City
Once you reach Oklahoma City, we recommend staying at the luxurious and highly rated Fordson Hotel Oklahoma City.
This is a high-end, luxurious property with loft-style interior decor and design-led nods to the building's automotive heritage.
If you're hungry, downtown has plenty of world-class options. However, on-site, Mary Eddy's Dining Room restaurant serves wonderful American food. Plus, there's the Bar + Lounge with a lavish cocktail menu.
On top of all the amenities and style, the hotel's location cannot be beat. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is 900 yards away and the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum is only 0.6 miles away.
Things to see on a road trip from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City
On this road trip, you'll get the chance to see a lot of America. Below are our top things to see and do along the way to help you plan this ultimate American road trip.
On the 66 Mother Road Route
- Sandia Peak, New Mexico - Reach the summit of Sandia Peak by riding the tramway. At the top, admire the views or dine at a restaurant 10,300 feet above sea level.
- Musical Highway, Tijeras, New Mexico - Highway 333 is a stretch of the old Route 66. As you drive along Music Highway at 45 MPH, the road will sing 'America the Beautiful'.
- Santa Rosa, New Mexico - Scuba dive deep into the Blue Hole. The natural artesian well produces an inflow of 3,000 gallons per minute.
- Tucumcari, New Mexico - Download the map and spot the 100 murals before a visit to the Dinosaur Museum. At night, watch the city light up with neon lights.
- Midway Point of Route 66, Adrian, Texas - Stop at the exact halfway point of Route 66. A picture next to the signpost is a must as you stand 1139 miles from both Chicago to the East and Los Angeles to the West.
- Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas - Before entering Amarillo, stop at the Cadillac Ranch. The vibrant art installation has vehicles buried halfway into the ground.
- VW Slug Bug Ranch, Panhandle, Texas - With a similar concept to the Cadillac Ranch, see the VW Slug Bug Ranch.
- Leaning Tower of Texas, Groom, Texas - It'll be hard not to notice this landmark along Route 66. Stop to take pictures of the eye-catching tower.
- Clinton, Oklahoma - Visit the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. Learn about the Mother Road and sit in a 1950s diner to transport yourself back to the heyday of the iconic road.
- Weatherford, Oklahoma - At the Stafford Air & Space Museum, you can explore artifacts and interactive exhibits such as rocket engines and flight suits.
On the Roswell Detour Route
- Manzano Mountains State Park, Mountainair, New Mexico - Hike and camp in the foothills of the Manzano Mountains. A quiet stop to take in nature.
- Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, Mountainair, New Mexico - See three Spanish Missions. They completed the buildings in 1635 and offer an insightful look into the past.
- Carrizozo, New Mexico - Look over the Carrizozo Volcanic Field. Lava from volcanic activity created the distinct landscape of dark streaks.
- Ruidoso, New Mexico - Visit the southernmost ski resort in the USA. The Sierra Blanca Mountains offer great hiking year-round while there's a vibrant nightlife.
- Mescalero Sands North Dune OHV Area, Roswell, New Mexico - There's a recreation area with picnic tables so you can picnic next to the Mescalero Sand Dunes. . It's also a popular spot for OHV (Off-Highway Vehicles) users.
- Lubbock, Texas - Home of Buddy Holly, you can visit the sites connected to the singer and musician and see the West Texas Walk of Fame.
- Caprock Canyons State Park, Quitaque, Texas - The third largest state park in Texas, you can camp and hike all while you marvel at native bison.
- Wichita Falls, Texas - Head to Lucy Park where you'll see Wichita Falls. Downtown is fun with 'The World's Littlest Skyscraper and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.
- Lawton, Oklahoma - Learn of the human history of the Great Plains. The Museum of the Great Plains has an impressive collection of Old West artifacts.
- Medicine Park, Oklahoma - Oklahoma's first resort town, you can hike mountain trails and swim in Bath Lake underneath waterfalls.
Best time to go on a road trip from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City
As a major city, the attractions are open year-round in Oklahoma City. However, you can get bargain deals if you plan your visit during the right season and some seasons offer better weather than others.
Oklahoma City is very hot and muggy in summer. June, July and August have average temperatures of 78, 83, and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with highs in the 90s.
July is the most heat-intense month and walking can be too much for some people. On top of that, June to August is the peak season, so you can expect to pay premium prices.
Summer sees festivals like the OKM Music Festival and the OKC Pride Parade in June. Then later in August is the Annual Ranch Rodeo followed by the Oklahoma State Fair in September.
Winter, however, has fewer festivals other than New Years and is much colder. Average temperatures in January, February, November and December are 38, 43, 50 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.
While much cooler than summer, it isn't unbearable in winter. Oklahoma City has plenty of museums and other indoor attractions, so if the temperature drops below freezing there's plenty to do. Plus, you can get good hotel deals in winter.
March, April, and May have average temperatures of 52, 61, and 69 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Average highs range from 52 degrees Fahrenheit in March to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in May. Spring is a great time to visit with fewer crowds and the weather allowing for outdoor activities.
There are a lot of festivals in spring too. The Oklahoma Marathon happens in April, the Chuck Wagon Festival at the end of May, and the Paseo Arts Festival also in late May.
September and October average at 74 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit. September has average highs of 84 degrees Fahrenheit, so is a good time to visit for sunshine but without the crowds.