Interstate 40 in New Mexico

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Interstate 40 marker

Interstate 40
I-40 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NMDOT
Length 373.530 mi[2] (601.138 km)
Existed 1957[1] – present
Major junctions
West end I-40 at the Arizona state line
East end I-40 at the Texas state line
Counties McKinley, Cibola, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Torrance, Guadalupe, Quay
Highway system
  • State Roads in New Mexico
NM 39 NM 41
I-40 in eastern New Mexico

Interstate 40 (I-40), a major east–west route of the Interstate Highway System, runs east–west through Albuquerque in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the direct replacement for the historic U.S. Highway 66 (US 66).

Route description

Arizona to Albuquerque

As I-40 enters New Mexico in a northeasterly direction it begins following the basin of the intermittent Puerco River, roughly tracing the southern edge of the contiguous part of the Navajo Reservation in the state. The freeway enters Gallup twenty miles (32 km) later paralleling the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway's southern transcontinental mainline. Leaving Gallup the now more easterly I-40 passes to the north of Fort Wingate and part of the fragmented Cibola National Forest before crossing the North American continental divide at an elevation of 7,275 ft (2,217 m), with 11,305 ft (3,446 m) stratavolcano Mt. Taylor towering to the east.

The highway traverses more of the Navajo Reservation and the Cibola Forest before turning southeast and crossing a malpaís. After serving interchanges near Grants, the freeway, coinciding with the northern boundary of El Malpais National Monument, crosses another malpaís, turns east and enters the Acoma Indian Reservation, home of the Acoma Pueblo. The route leaves the Acoma Indian Reservation with Mt. Taylor to the north and enters the Laguna Pueblo. Near the interchange with New Mexico State Road 6 (NM 6) the railway line that accompanies much of the route from the Arizona border diverts to the south while the freeway turns east by northeast towards Albuquerque. The route departs the Laguna Pueblo, briefly transits the Tohajiilee Indian Reservation (a chapter of the Navajo Nation), crosses the Rio Puerco and begins a steep climb to the top of a mesa marked by several small cinder cones overlooking the Rio Grande rift and Albuquerque.

From Laguna to the Route 66 Casino, I-40 has at-grade intersections with a number of ranch access roads in violation of Interstate Highway standards. These intersections are a vestige that remain from the conversion of US 66 to I-40 during the latter part of the 20th century.

Albuquerque Metro Area

Interstate 40 diverges from the former US 66 alignment (Central Avenue) at an interchange with Atrisco Vista Boulevard on the West Mesa that overlooks Albuquerque. I-40 descends Nine Mile Hill as it enters the city of Albuquerque, and intersects 98th Street, Unser Boulevard (NM 345) and Coors Boulevard (NM 45) before crossing the Rio Grande. The freeway then skirts the northern edge of downtown Albuquerque before intersecting Interstate 25 at a 5-level stack interchange (Big I). East of I-25, I-40 continues east, then turns southeast passing through Uptown before intersecting Old US 66 (now signed as NM 333/Central Avenue) at Tramway Boulevard (NM 556) as it leaves Albuquerque and enters Tijeras Canyon. This section of I-40 is also referred to as the Coronado Freeway.

Albuquerque to Texas

Club Cafe sign near Santa Rosa, exit 273 (1987 photo)

East of Albuquerque, Interstate 40 crosses the Sandia-Manzano Mountains by traversing Tijeras Pass, reaching its highest point of 7,200 feet at Sedillo Ridge. Continuing east, I-40 descends out of the mountains and into the Estancia Valley while passing through the town of Edgewood (m.m. 187). The highway continues east across the Estancia Valley, passing through Moriarty (m.m. 194). Before reaching Clines Corners, I-40 ascends into the Pedrenal Hills, a region of hills and low-level ridgelines averaging around 7,000 feet in elevation. East of Clines Corners,( m.m. 217) I-40 gradually descends from the Pedrenal Hills region and into the High Plains of eastern New Mexico. At Santa Rosa (m.m. 273) I-40 crosses the Pecos River, and then continues east-northwastward co-signed with US 54 to Tucumcari. At Tucumcari, I-40 diverges from US 54 and turns eastward and skirts the northern edge of San Jon before reaching the Texas state line at Glenrio.


Planning and construction of Interstate 40 through New Mexico began shortly after the Federal Highway Act of 1956 created the Interstate Highway System. First sections of I-40 through the state were completed by 1960 including a short section west of Tucumcari in Quay County, from a point just west of Santa Rosa west past Clines Corners to just east of Moriarty, along with a section on the east side of Albuquerque and another section from near Cubero to Grants, which included a new spur route connecting the Interstate Highway with U.S. 66 on that city's east side. Construction of I-40, generally paralleling the existing U.S. 66 in some sections and replacing the older route in others, was hobbled for a few years during this decade by the New Mexico Legislature's passage of an Anti-Bypassing Law that prohibited the construction of an interstate bypass around a city or town opposed to it. That law was repealed in 1966 following a threat of loss of federal funds and most New Mexico cities along I-40, I-25 and I-10 then worked out agreements with state and federal highway officials in determining where the bypass routes around their municipalities should be located.

By the end of the 1960s, most rural sections of I-40 were completed across the state with the largest exception being a 40-mile (64 km) stretch east of Tucumcari to the Texas border at Glenrio, where traffic was diverted to the old U.S. 66. That section of highway by this time became locally and nationally known as "Slaughter Lane" due to tremendous amounts of traffic for a two-lane highway along with rough and narrow paving which led to numerous injury and fatal traffic accidents that reached epidemic numbers in 1968 and 1969.[3] Construction on this section of I-40 was held up by a dispute at San Jon concerning a proposed routing of I-40 bypassing that city to the north by some five miles (8 km), which was resolved in November 1969 when federal and state officials agreed to bring the bypass closer to the city along its northern limits. However, aside from a few small villages such as Montoya, Newkirk and Cuervo in the eastern portion of the state and Laguna, Budville and Cubero to the west, no major bypasses had been entirely completed in New Mexico so traffic was still diverted over the U.S. 66 routes through each of those cities.

In 1970, I-40 was entirely completed through the city of Albuquerque. Other bypasses were completed around various cities through the state including San Jon (1976)[4] and Tucumcari (1981),[4] Santa Rosa (1972), Moriarty (1973), Grants (1974) and Gallup (1980).[5]

Exit list

County Location mi[6] km Exit Destinations Notes
McKinley 0.00 0.00 I-40 west – Flagstaff Continuation into Arizona
8.5 13.7 8 NM 118 – Defiance, Manuelito
Gallup 16.13 25.96 16 I-40 Bus. east / NM 118 – Gallup
20 US 491 north / NM 602 south (Muñoz Boulevard) – Shiprock, Zuni US 491 / NM 602 not signed westbound; westbound entrance includes direct entrance ramp from Maloney Avenue
22 Miyamura Drive / Montoya Boulevard
26.24 42.23 26 I-40 Bus. west / NM 118 – Gallup
McGaffey 33.41 53.77 33 NM 400 south – McGaffey
Iyanbito 36.89 59.37 36 NM 118 west – Iyanbito
39.69 63.87 39 Refinery
Coolidge 44.62 71.81 44 Coolidge
47.73 76.81 47 Continental Divide
Thoreau 53.56 86.20 53 NM 371 / NM 612 – Thoreau
Prewitt 63.17 101.66 63 NM 412 – Prewitt
Cibola Bluewater Village 72.08 116.00 72 Bluewater Village
Milan 79.126 127.341 79 I-40 Bus. east / NM 122 / NM 605 – Milan, San Mateo
Grants 81.64 131.39 81 NM 53 south / I-40 Bus. / NM 122 – San Rafael, Grants Signed as exits 81A (south) and 81B (north) eastbound
85 I-40 Bus. west / NM 122 / NM 547 – Grants, Mount Taylor
Quemado 89.78 144.49 89 NM 117 – Quemado
96.3 155.0 96 McCartys, Acoma, Sky City NM 124 not signed; former US 66
San Fidel 100.313 161.438 100 San Fidel
102.235 164.531 102 Acomita, Acoma, Sky City
104.73 168.55 104 Cubero, Budville, Seama
107.8 173.5 108 Casa Blanca, Paraje
Laguna 114.66 184.53 114 NM 124 west – Laguna Former US 66
117.55 189.18 117 Mesita
126.57 203.69 126 NM 6 east – Los Lunas
Cañoncito 131.027 210.868 131 To'hajiilee
Bernalillo 140.03 225.36 140 Rio Puerco
149.11 239.97 149 Atrisco Vista Boulevard Former NM 500
Albuquerque 152.262 245.042 153 98th Street / Arroyo Vista Blvd
154 NM 345 (Unser Boulevard)
155 NM 448 (Coors Boulevard)
157A Rio Grande Boulevard
157B 12th Street Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; westbound access via exit 158
158 8th Street / 6th Street No westbound entrance
159A 4th Street / 2nd Street / University Boulevard Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
159.397 256.525 159B-C I-25 / US 85 (Pan American Freeway) – Las Cruces, Santa Fe Signed as exits 159B (south) and 159C (north); I-25 exits 226A-B
159D University Boulevard / 2nd Street / 4th Street Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; serves University of New Mexico Hospital
160 Carlisle Boulevard
161 San Mateo Boulevard
162 Louisiana Boulevard
164 Wyoming Boulevard
Lomas Boulevard Former westbound exit and eastbound entrance from eastbound Lomas Boulevard; replaced by completion of Wyoming Boulevard interchange
165 Eubank Boulevard
166 Juan Tabo Boulevard
167.937 270.268 167 NM 556 (Tramway Boulevard) / Historic US 66 (Central Avenue)
170 NM 333 – Carnuel
173.91 279.88 175 NM 14 / NM 337 – Tijeras, Cedar Crest
Zuzax 177.84 286.21 178 NM 333 – Zuzax
Sedillo 181.05 291.37 181 To NM 217 – Sedillo
Santa Fe Edgewood 187.32 301.46 187 NM 344 – Edgewood
Torrance Moriarty 194.82 313.53 194 I-40 Bus. east / Historic US 66 – Moriarty
196.115 315.616 196 NM 41 (Howard Cavasos Boulevard)
198.03 318.70 197 I-40 Bus. west / Historic US 66 – Moriarty No westbound entrance
203.69 327.81 203 Longhorn Ranch Exit does not sign this destination
Wagon Wheel 208.645 335.782 208 Wagon Wheel
Clines Corners 217.855 350.604 218A Clines Corners Former westbound exit only (closed and removed 2015)
218B US 285 – Vaughn, Santa Fe, Roswell Signed as exit 218 eastbound
226.175 363.993 226 Palma Exit does not sign this destination
230.535 371.010 230 NM 3 – Encino, Villanueva
234.07 376.70 234 Flying C Exit does not sign this destination; westbound has two separate exits with the same number and destination
239.53 385.49 239 McKenzie Exit does not sign this destination
Guadalupe 243.7 392.2 243 Milagro Exit does not sign this destination; signed as exits 243B and 243A westbound
252.09 405.70 Eastbound Rest Stop
Vaughn Route 66 Rest Stop; exit 252
256 US 84 north (NM 219 south) – Las Vegas Western end of US 84 overlap
San Ignacio 263.42 423.93 263 San Ignacio
Colonias 267.75 430.90 267 Colonias
Santa Rosa 272.94 439.25 273 I-40 Bus. east (US 84) – Santa Rosa, Vaughn Eastern end of US 84 overlap
275 Santa Rosa (I-40 Bus. / US 54 / US 84)
277.163 446.051 277 I-40 Bus. west / US 54 west / US 84 – Santa Rosa, Fort Sumner Western end of US 54 overlap
284.104 457.221 284 Frontier Museum
Cuervo 291.21 468.66 291 Cuervo
Newkirk 300.02 482.84 300 NM 129 – Newkirk
Quay Montoya 311.495 501.303 311 Montoya
Palomas 321.85 517.97 321 Palomas
Tucumcari 328.95 529.39 329 I-40 Bus. / Historic US 66 east / US 54 east Eastern end of US 54 overlap
331 Camino del Coronado
332.397 534.941 332 NM 209 / NM 104 (1st Street)
333.94 537.42 333 US 54 east (Mountain Road)
335.8 540.4 335 I-40 Bus. / Historic US 66 west
338.98 545.54 339 NM 278 Airport
344.34 554.16 343 Quay Road AD Exit does not sign this road
San Jon 355.975 572.886 356 NM 469 / Historic US 66 – San Jon
Bard 361 Bard
Endee 369 NM 93 south / NM 392 north – Endee
Glenrio 373.53 601.14 I-40 east Continuation into Texas
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ Public Roads Administration (August 14, 1957). Official Route Numbering for the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, As Adopted by the American Association of State Highway Officials (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Public Roads Administration. Retrieved June 16, 2011 – via Wikimedia Commons.
  2. ^ "Interstate Routes" (PDF). New Mexico Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  3. ^ "Historic Route 66: The Mother Road" (PDF). County Star-News. Shamrock, TX. March 15, 2012. pp. E2–E8.
  4. ^ a b "Route 66 History Page".
  5. ^ Sonderman, Joe (2016). Route 66 Roadside Signs and Advertisements. Voyageur Press. p. 89.
  6. ^ New Mexico Department of Transportation (2007). Statewide Milepost/Point Map (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Santa Fe: New Mexico Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 22, 2013.

External links

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata
  • Media related to Interstate 40 in New Mexico at Wikimedia Commons
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