Explore a lightly visited section of the American Southwest on an Albuquerque to Denver road trip. Get ready for wide-open spaces and views for days as each section of the trip brings stunning views of the high desert and sun-soaked plains. As you leave northern New Mexico, watch as the modest mountains and foothills give way to the majesty of the Rockies. This trip can easily be done in one day, but there’s so much to do along the way that you’ll want to extend the journey.
Are you a national parks buff? The Albuquerque to Denver RV road trip offers a variety of opportunities to explore some of the most diverse and beautiful parts of the system.
Petrified Forest National Park
Up for a bit of a detour? From your starting city of Albuquerque, take a three-hour drive west to Petrified Forest National Park. If you’re interested in geology, this is a can’t-miss destination. Here, you can walk through a series of fallen logs that have turned to brilliantly colored stone over the centuries. Hike past buttes and see the different layers of mineral deposits, and enjoy the stunning views of the Painted Desert.
White Sands National Park
Another three-hour trip from Albuquerque takes you to White Sands National Park. The view is like something out of a movie—snow-white gypsum sand dunes stretch as far as the eye can see, creating an otherworldly vibe. These dunes cover 275 square miles, which means there’s plenty of room to explore. Bike or take your vehicle down the 8-mile Dunes Drive to enjoy the views, or get up close and personal with the sand on the park’s five excellent trails. Be sure to charge your camera battery, particularly if you’re in the park for sunset.
Mesa Verde National Park
Adjust your road trip itinerary from Albuquerque to Denver by adding on Mesa Verde National Park. Located in southwestern Colorado, this park sits about four hours from Santa Fe. The remote location hides a thrilling secret—an enormous cliff dwelling built directly into the rock walls. This captivating spot provides a rare glimpse at the way the Ancestral Pueblo people lived until 1300 A.D. With 600 cliff dwellings and thousands of archaeological sites, this is a history buff’s dream.
Arches National Park
Beautiful red-rock arches rise from the desert in Arches National Park, which offers some of the most unusual scenery in the Southwestern United States. This is a hiker’s dream with trails that wind through steep canyon walls and directly under massive arches. Everywhere you look, a new rock formation is waiting to capture your imagination. Keep in mind that this park requires a bit of a drive from your ending city of Denver.
Rocky Mountain National Park
End your road trip by driving north to Rocky Mountain National Park. Pull into your campsite, and you’ll be surrounded by rugged peaks. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Colorado, and with a large network of hiking trails and scenic drives, you can enjoy it to the fullest.
If you’re looking for spots closer to the road-trip route, why not look into state parks? Many are easy to reach in an RV, and each one boasts a friendly campground and plenty of activities for your evenings.
Sugarite Canyon State Park
Experience the surprisingly lush environment of northern New Mexico at Sugarite Canyon State Park. Located a short drive off I-25, this park is the perfect spot to camp on your first or second night. Park your RV by the lake and wake up to views of tree-covered hills and beautiful meadows. If you have the time, do some boating and fishing in the lake or explore the canyon on the park’s lovely hiking trails.
Trinidad Lake State Park
Trinidad Lake State Park is located in southern Colorado; you’ll find it shortly after you cross the border from New Mexico. With its enormous lake, this park offers boating opportunities and exceptional trout and bass fishing. Alternatively, walk the trails and check out the nearby mining town of Trinidad. Crowd levels are often low, so it’s usually a breeze to get a last-minute spot in the campground.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Get your camera ready as you approach Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs because the mountain views are breathtaking. With 28 miles of trails, this is the perfect spot to get some exercise after a day on the road. There’s even an archery range if you want to work on your aim. We love the campground, which offers full hookups, hot showers, and laundry facilities.
Mueller State Park
If you’re thinking of visiting Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods during your road trip from Albuquerque to Denver, Mueller State Park is an ideal base camp. It lies west of Colorado Springs in a forested area with views of the Rockies. For the best photos, hike up to one of the rocky ridges. With activities ranging from fishing to cross-country skiing, this park is a great stop any time of the year. Keep an eye out for the animals that live in the hills, even when you’re relaxing in camp.
As you’re driving from Albuquerque to Denver, there are times when you need to take a break from driving. These spots are a perfect motivation to pull over, take a few hours to relax, and get back on the road.
Check out an ancient Native American pueblo at the Taos Pueblo in Taos, NM. This beautiful site offers a glimpse into historic building methods. It’s also one of the communities that have been inhabited continuously for the longest period of time. Book a tour or attend one of the pueblo’s events throughout the year.
Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Learn about the legendary artist Georgia O'Keeffe at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. Allow at least an hour to view all of the exhibits, which cover the artist’s life and work. Of particular interest are the exhibits about American modernism. Be sure to end your visit with a trip to the excellent gift shop.
Capulin Volcano National Monument
An extinct cinder cone volcano rises from the plains at the Capulin Volcano National Monument in northern New Mexico. This site has been a part of the local inhabitants’ lives for centuries; in fact, archaeologists have discovered evidence of man that dates back at least 10,000 years ago.
Head to the top of one of Colorado’s most accessible mountains at Pikes Peak. Standing more than 14,000 feet above sea level, the summit of the mountain offers incredible views. Take the Pikes Peak Highway to the top, taking time to stop along the way to enjoy the scenery. If you’re not comfortable driving an RV to the top, take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.
Garden of the Gods
Hike among brilliant red sandstone rock formations in the Garden of the Gods, which is located in Colorado Springs. With miles of trails, there’s a path for every skill level.
The road from Albuquerque to Denver is relatively remote; most of the time, you can relax and enjoy the view. When you need a dump station or a meal out, check out these cities along the way.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Known for its thriving arts scene and stunning natural setting, Santa Fe is one of the most enchanting towns in New Mexico. With its world-class dining, excellent galleries, and fascinating history, you might be reluctant to leave. Pull in at one of the local campgrounds and enjoy the town for a day or two. You can also find some dump stations in the area.
Spend an evening strolling down the Arkansas Riverwalk in Pueblo, a small city in southern Colorado. Learn about the local trading tradition at El Pueblo History Museum or just relax in one of the city’s campgrounds.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs is an unparalleled adventure destination. After you check in to a Colorado Springs campground, try hiking and mountain biking, visit the United States Air Force Academy or check out the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.