Some roads in New Mexico seem to go forever without much change. The four-lane highway from Clines Corners to Roswell definitely comes to mind. Also, those that you do over and over again, for me that is Gallup to Albuquerque on I-40 where many times I exit off the freeway to drive old Route 66, for a little nostalgia. I won’t mention the stretches of highway I dread, but will say they always lead somewhere very amazing in the “Land of Enchantment”. One of my favorite drives lies in the southern part of New Mexico, an almost magical drive.
Coming from the west is the preferable way to approach this route because it means you will have the opportunity to stop at a New Mexico landmark. When you say San Antonio most think of the big state of Texas, but we have one too, just a lot smaller. This is where you will find the best green chili cheeseburger known to mankind. The all-beef patty melts in your mouth and of course the heavenly green chili comes from Hatch, NM just down the highway. I always called the burger in and ate in the car, excited to get to Carrizozo.
Carrizozo is not the highlight of the trip, but the start of something magical. You begin your climb out of Carrizozo to Capitan. This town is famous for Smokey the Bear. This National Forest mascot has taught much of the public about how to be safe in the forest. Plus, the town is absolutely gorgeous being set in a valley with mountains surrounding you, and many take the back road to Ruidoso from here, especially motorcyclists. Capitan leads to Lincoln, where everyone knows the name of it’s most famous resident, Billy the Kid.
Lincoln has a magnificent backdrop, just like Capitan it sits in valley, but this time the mountains are right up against the old gun-slinging town. You will find the town sits on basically one road, the highway through town. This sitting lets you get a real feel for the town, and you will fall in love with the old adobe buildings. Make sure you get out of the car here, either to walk the streets where Billy made havoc, or to walk inside one of the galleries for some fabulous New Mexico art. Not far after leaving Lincoln you will be back into long straight highways, but the memory of the Carrizozo to Lincoln will last forever.