Local wares in Tucumcari

Tucumcari is a small town in northeastern New Mexico, United States of America. It is located along Interstate 40 and is the first town of significance in New Mexico if driving west from Texas along that route. The town is a highlight for those following the former Route 66 (Tucumcari Boulevard) as it contains a large amount of Route 66-era neon and colorful signs.


Tucumcari Mountain

Tucumcari, a city of 5300 people, is the county seat of Quay County, New Mexico and home to Mesalands Community College. Founded in 1901 as Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad construction camp Six Shooter Siding, it was renamed for Tucumcari Mountain in 1908. The USS Tucumcari (PGH-2), one of two prototype US Navy hydrofoil patrol vessel boats (1968-1972), was named for the town. Many scenes in Rawhide (1959–1966 Clint Eastwood TV series) were shot in the town; a modified version of Tucumcari Mountain (with the hand-painted 'T' changed to 'RS') appears in Radiator Springs in Pixar's 2006 Cars (film).

Get in

By car

Tucumcari is one of the historic wide-spots-in-the-road along Route 66 across the United States, which is followed by Interstate 40 in this region. It is about 1 hour and 40 minutes west of Amarillo, and 2 hours and 40 minutes east of Albuquerque by way of I-40. This section of I-40 was one of the last Interstate highway sections to become 4-lane, limited-access, but it's now good road and should be open in all but the worst winter conditions.

By plane

Get around

Tucumcari is accessed via any one of four exits off Interstate 40. Exits 329 and 335 both connect to Tucumcari Boulevard (Route 66), which runs east-west. Exit 332 and 333 connect to First Street and Mountain Street (respectively), which both run north-south.








“Tucumcari Tonite!” A town of 2,000 motel rooms! Billboards on US 66 for hundreds of miles inviting travellers to spend the night in this tiny town of 5000 people. This was Route 66 in its heyday.

As US 66 (Tucumcari Boulevard) was bypassed by Interstate 40, prime spots for billboards on the new road were few and far between due to highway beautification acts, independent family-owned motels were forced to compete with huge chains who built hotels on the new freeway's offramps and the number of rooms is now closer to 1200, but Tucumcari's position along Interstate 40 and Route 66 still means that it has far more motels and motor lodges than most towns its size. A small sampling:

Independent motels

Hotel chains

Camping and RV

Go next

Routes through Tucumcari

Albuquerque Santa Rosa  W  E  San Jon Amarillo
Santa Rosa Merges with  W  E  Dalhart Stratford
Albuquerque Santa Rosa  W  E  San Jon Amarillo

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