RoadTrip America Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips

by Rick Quinn

Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips

This outstanding new guidebook adds extraordinary two-lane adventure to straight-line Interstate road trips.

Add fun, history, and jaw-dropping natural wonders to your southwestern road trip with RoadTrip America’s Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips each one beginning and ending at an Interstate highway and drivable within a day. Full-color maps and photographs illustrate easy-to-follow scenic routes through breathtaking landscapes and iconic towns in Arizona and New Mexico. Discover the surreal beauty of White Sands, watch the sun set over Monument Valley, or explore the subterranean marvels of Carlsbad Caverns. Find out why Jerome was “the Wickedest Town in the West” or walk in the footsteps of Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. Pamper yourself at a spa in Taos or soak up the vibes at an “energy vortex” in the red rocks of Sedona. With this brand-new, up-to-date guide as your companion, all this and much, much more will be yours to discover and enjoy—one extra day at a time!

* Stunning color imagery and photography throughout
* Easy-to read, full-color route maps with points of interest, mileage, and more
* Color-coded pages for easy identification of routes by geographic region
* Up-to-date insider tips for getting the most out of each route and staying safe
* Phone numbers, websites and visitor info for parks, attractions, and out-of-the-ordinary lodging and dining

The author of RoadTrip America Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips, Rick Quinn posts monthly articles covering insider tips about taking road trips in Arizona, New Mexico and throughout North America on the 15th of each month. Read his dispatches here.

RoadTrip America Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips is available for at these fine retailers.

Purchase RoadTrip America Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips

Author picture

Rick Quinn was born and raised in Arizona, earned a degree in anthropology, then hit the road, indulging an admittedly peculiar whim by hitch-hiking to Tierra del Fuego. In one way or another, he’s been on the road ever since, living in a dozen diverse locales, from Paris to Peru, San Francisco to Washington D.C., working as a photographer, a coffee farmer, a magazine writer, a postman, a novelist, and, until his recent retirement, a corporate-level financial systems expert with the Postal Service. Rick is a veteran road tripper who has driven both the Alaska Highway and the Pan American. Currently, he’s a travel blogger, a landscape photographer, and a contributing writer for

On April 3, 2018,  Rick Quinn will launch his new book at the Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. The party will be from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Wine and gourmet hors d’oeuvres will be served.  Rick will present some slides from his road trips. All are welcome.

Las Cruces to Lordsburg via Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and Silver City
251 miles, 7 hours 11 minutes
From the ancient past to outer space and back, on the Trail of the Mountain Spirits

This scenic detour will add 130 miles and most of a day to your journey between Las Cruces and Lordsburg. What would have been a rather monotonous 2 hours on a flat, straight freeway becomes an expedition over magnificent mountain highways and a fascinating journey through time?with some very hot chiles thrown in.


Leave Interstate 10 at Exit 140 in Las Cruces, on the Avenida de Mesilla. While you’re in town, check out Las Cruces’ Museum of Nature and Science. Among other exhibits, it has fossilized footprints of animals that predate the dinosaurs taken from nearby Prehistoric Trackways National Monument, which is possibly the world’s richest source for this type of Permian Age fossil. Contact the BLM in Las Cruces if you’d like to tag along on a guided hike to the fossil beds, which contain tracks left by lizard-like critters, giant bugs, and sea creatures anywhere from 250 to 300 million years ago.

Otherwise, head north on Valley Drive, NM 185, which will lead you through the agricultural area north of town. The highway runs through the valley of the Rio Grande, the same Rio Grande that marks the 1,200-mile border between Texas and Mexico. At Radium Springs, pull off the road for the Fort Selden State Historic Site, the crumbling adobe remains of a 19th-century Army outpost, a relic of the days when marauding bands of Apaches preyed on pretty much everyone who came near their territory. After the last of the renegade Apache warriors were disarmed and herded onto reservations, small garrisons like Fort Selden were no longer needed; this post was decommissioned and abandoned in 1891.

Chile pepper lovers will have something to celebrate when they reach the little town of Hatch, the official Chile Capital of New Mexico and site of the annual Hatch Chile Festival. The spicy food and music extravaganza is held each year over Labor Day weekend, and draws as many as 30,000 visitors. There’s no question that the farms in this area produce some of the finest, hottest peppers you would ever dare to eat, and local shops do a brisk business. You can get the chiles fresh when they’re in season, from August through mid-September; the rest of the year they’re available dried, frozen, and pickled, along with every conceivable chile-related food product and curio. Favorite souvenirs include beautiful decorative wreaths made entirely of dried chile peppers, and traditional ristras: strings of dried chiles, as much a staple of Southwestern decor as they are of Southwestern cooking.

From Hatch, drive 30 miles north on NM 187 to the intersection of NM 152, near Caballo Lake, a large reservoir on the Rio Grande that offers all the usual boating, fishing, camping, and picnicking opportunities. The route heads west from here, but you might consider an optional side trip: 15 miles north is the town of Truth or Consequences, the official gateway to Spaceport America, the world’s first “purpose-built, FAA-certified commercial spaceport.” It’s not an amusement park, and it’s not a movie set. It’s an actual spaceport, owned and operated by the State of New Mexico, with a 12,000-foot runway, launch pads for rockets, hangars for spacecraft, and a passenger terminal that boosters compare to the Sydney Opera House. When trips into outer space become available to paying passengers, this is where they’ll fly from.

There’s not a lot going on out at the Spaceport just yet, but if you’d like to take a look at the staging area for what could well become the Next Big Thing, you can take a tour, the Spaceport America Experience; it lasts about 4 hours, counting travel time. All tours leave from, and return to, the Spaceport America Visitors Center in downtown Truth or Consequences, and advance reservations are required. If you stay overnight in the area, take advantage of the natural hot springs for which Truth or Consequences has long been famous. Several of the local hotels, including Riverbend Hot Springs and La Paloma Hot Springs, have private thermal pools right on their properties.

Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science
411 N. Main St., Las Cruces, NM 88001
(575) 522-3120

Prehistoric Trackways National Monument
BLM Las Cruces District Office
1800 Marquess St., Las Cruces, NM 88005
(575) 525-4300

Paperback:  $24.95 US / $32.99 CDN ISBN:  9781945501050
E-book: $12.95 US / $16.50 CDN  ISBN: 9781945501111

384 pages.

Twenty-six detailed custom maps created by Chris Erichsen

302 color photos by Rick Quinn

Book and E-book design by Suzanne Campbell

On-Sale:  April 3, 2018

One thought to “RoadTrip America Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips”

  1. Pingback: Mother Road Brewing at Starrlight Books - May 4th - Imbrifex Books