Tucumcari is a small town in northeastern New Mexico. It is 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 lot of Route 66-era neon and colorful signs.
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).
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. 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 Municipal Airport is a general aviation airport east of the city, conveniently located on the north side of Interstate 40.
- Amarillo International Airport is the closest airport with commercial airline service.
- Albuquerque International Sunport is farther away but has many more flight connections.
- Tucumcari Historical Museum, 416 S. Adams St., ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Memorial Day-Labor Day: M-Sa 8AM-6PM; Labor Day-Memorial Day M-F 8AM-6PM. Includes a Route 66 exhibit. Adults $2, children $0.50.
- Mesalands Community College's Dinosaur Museum, 222 East Laughlin St, ☏ . March 1 - Labor Day: Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM; Labor Day - February 28/29: Tu-Sa noon-5PM. Adults $5.50, seniors $4.50, children 5-11 $3.50, college students $3.00, children under 5 free.
- New Mexico Route 66 Museum, 1500 West Historic Route 66. M-F 9AM-2PM. On convention centre grounds, near back of parking lot. 1930s-1960s memorabilia and classic motorcars.
- Ostrich Ranch, 3705 Quay Road 64.5, ☏ .
- Wall murals. Tucumcari has over 30 wall murals throughout town. Each one celebrates a different facet of the city's culture. Wall mural maps are available at the Chamber of Commerce.
- Historic Downtown Main Street.
- Tucumcari Train Depot.
- Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory, 823 E Main St, ☏ .
- Tucumcari Municipal Golf Course, 4465 Route 66, ☏ .
- Conchas Lake.
- Ute Lake.
- Odeon Movie Theatre, ☏ .
- Mountain View Bowling, ☏ .
- Tucumcari Convention Center, 1500 W Route 66 Blvd, ☏ .
- Annual Iron Pour, Mesalands Community College, 911 South Tenth St., ☏ . Every March, attracts artists from all over the country.
- Desert Rose Crafts, 208 E. Main, ☏ . Hand crafts, fabric, quilts, and consignment gifts.
- Tepee Curios, 924 E Route 66 Blvd, ☏ . Last of the original Route 66 curio shops in New Mexicow with T-shirts, mugs, pottery, jewelry, post cards, Route 66 items, magnets, pins, patches, and books.
- Trade Station, 1201 E. Rt. 66, ☏ .
- Tucumcari Ranch Supply, 502 S Lake Street, ☏ .
- Cornerstone's First Edition, 711 E Route 66 Blvd, ☏ . Pizzas, pasta, salad, sandwiches, and ice cream!
- Del's Restaurant, 1202 E Route 66 Blvd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Lunches & dinners $8-12.
- KIX on 66, 1102 E. Route 66 Blvd., ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Wifi café. Lunches $4-7.
- Loretta's Burrito Hut, 321 E Rte 66 Blvd, ☏ . Tex-Mex food truck
- La Cita, 812 Tucumcari Blvd, ☏ . Mexican, on Route 66 with large neon sombrero.
- Pow Wow Restaurant & Lizard Lounge, 801 W Route 66 Blvd, ☏ .
- Watson's BBQ, 502 S Lake Street, ☏ . Family-run BBQ.
- Lizard Lounge, 801 W Route 66 Blvd, ☏ .
“Tucumcari Tonite!” A town of 2,000 motel rooms!" Billboards on Route 66 in its heyday invited travelers for hundreds of miles to spend the night in this tiny town of 5000 people.
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:
- Blue Swallow Motel, 815 E. Route 66 Blvd., ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3-9PM, check-out: 10AM. Non-smoking, wi-fi, elaborate neon signage. Twelve rooms and two suites restored to 1940s era with rotary-dial phones. On national historic register; this motel's neon '100% Refrigerated Air' slogan appears on the 'Cozy Cone Motel' in Cars (film). $70-130.
- Historic Route 66 Motel, 1620 E Hwy 66, ☏ . Mid-century modern, curtain wall, floor to ceiling windows. Color TV. Cash, credit card, travellers cheques honoured. Some rooms pet-friendly, some rooms with microwave and refrigerator.
- Motel Safari, 722 E Route 66 Blvd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM-10PM, check-out: 11AM. Restored vintage/classic 1959 independent motel, wi-fi, 32-inch LCD HDTV, patio, BBQ, no smoking, no pets. $55-100.
Hotels and chains
- Best Western Discovery Inn, 200 E. Estrella, ☏ .
- Rodeway Inn, 2800 E. Tucumcari Blvd, ☏ .
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Marriot, 1901 S Mountain Road, ☏ , fax: .
- Holiday Inn Express, 2624 S. Adams, ☏ . Free breakfast & Wi-Fi.
- Desert Inn Tucumcari, 2420 S. 1st St, ☏ .
Camping and RV
- Mountain Road RV Park, 1700 Mountain Rd., ☏ , fax: .
- 1 Blaze-In-Saddle RV Park, 2500 E Route 66 Blvd, ☏ . Full hookups, horse facilities available.
|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|