US 54 in New Mexico


US 54
Get started El Paso
End Nara Visa
Length 357 mi
Length 575 km




Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa – Tucumcari:



US 54 is a US Highway in the US state of New Mexico. The road forms a north-south and east-west route through the eastern half of the state. The road begins and ends at the Texas border , passing through Alamogordo, Santa Rosa, and Tucumcari along the way. Although an east-west track, US 54 runs mainly north-south in New Mexico. The road is 575 kilometers long.

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Travel directions

US 54 north of El Paso.

US 54 south of Vaughn.

Just north of the city of El Paso, US 54 in Texas enters the state of New Mexico in arid desert. The road has 2×2 lanes with emergency lanes, and because there is only one village on the route over more than 100 kilometers, the road looks a lot like a highway. Nor does one cross any other roads until Alamogordo. There are large military areas to the left and right of the road. You pass the Jarilla Mountains, which are a welcome change in the otherwise fairly flat desert landscape. One then reaches Alamogordo, with 36,000 inhabitants one of the larger places in New Mexico, and certainly in this area. Here the US 70 from Las Cruces inserts for a shortdouble numbering of 20 kilometers. Both roads take a western bypass past Alamogordo, then US 82 begins on the north side of the town, leading to Artesia and Hobbs in the east. The 2×2 road then continues to the village of Tularosa, where US 70 exits to Roswell in the northeast, and US 54 continues as a single-lane trunk road.

You will then pass the White Sands Missile Range, a test site of the US military. The road runs here at an altitude of about 1400 meters, and to the east are mountains up to about 3500 meters. The road then after 70 kilometers reaches the village of Carrizozo, where it crosses US 380, the east-west route from Socorro to Roswell. Here and there are very extensive old lava fields in this area, through which some roads run right through. US 54 then ascends to about 2,000 feet and begins a 80-mile route to Vaughn, a regional hub in central New Mexico. This part of the route only passes by a few villages, and Vaughn itself isn’t exactly big either. The US 60 and US 285 are crossed here. US 60 is an east-west route from Socorro to Clovis, and US 285 runs south from Santa Fe to Roswell.

US 54 then continues as a lonely single-lane road to Santa Rosa, about 60 kilometers to the northeast. Meanwhile, the road also bends a bit to the east, and is no longer a north-south route after Vaughn. Striking about this area is that almost no rivers are crossed. It is a large plateau with some mountain ridges. Santa Rosa is a small town on Interstate 40, where US 54 merges for a 100-kilometer double number. I-40 comes from the city of Albuquerque. Also in Santa Rosa the US 84 crosses, which comes from Las Vegas and runs to Clovis.

The double numbering with the I-40 leads to Tucumcari, over a barren desolate high plateau. This is old Route 66, and at Tucumcari the road turns off I-40, then heads northeast. I-40 continues to Amarillo and Oklahoma City. At the village of Logan one crosses the Canadian River, which is still quite small here, but is one of the larger tributaries of the Mississippi. The road then runs for about 80 kilometers largely straight to the Texas border. The Texas border is also the boundary between the Mountain Time Zone and the Central Time Zone. US 54 in Texas then continues to Dalhart and Liberal in Kansas.

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US 54 was created in 1926. The route then began in Vaughn, but was extended to El Paso, Texas in 1935. US 54 is a fairly important road for through traffic and is partly developed as a divided highway in southern New Mexico. The route of US 54 has not changed in New Mexico since 1935. However, a part has been canceled because Interstate 40 was built over it between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari.

In the early 1930s, not a single part of US 54 was asphalted, around the mid 1930s the first part was asphalted between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari, which was also part of US 66. A short section northeast of Logan was also paved. When US 54 was extended to El Paso in 1935, only short stretches near Alamogordo and southern New Mexico were paved. At the time, the focus on surfacing was mainly on the southern part, by 1937 the entire route south of Alamogordo had been asphalted, as well as the entire section that coincided with US 66 between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari. By 1940, the northern part of Tucumcari to the Texas border was also completely paved.

Until the Second World War, the middle part was still an unpaved road, this was not even a gravel road. In 1941, US 54 was the only long stretch of a US Highway in New Mexico that was still unpaved. It wasn’t until 1955 that all of US 54 was paved between Alamogordo and Santa Rosa.

In the early 1970s, the first part of US 54 was widened to a 2×2 divided highway, initially only a short section between Alamogordo and Tularosa, which coincides with US 70. In the second half of the 1990s, the 60-mile stretch between the Texas border and Alamogordo was widened to 2×2 lanes.

In 2003 the Governor Richardson’s Investment Partnership (GRIP) was launched. The largest project of this was to completely widen 250 kilometers of US 54 between Alamogordo and I-40 near Santa Rosa to a 2×2 divided highway. However, little came of these plans.

Traffic intensities

The road is not too busy, but still somewhat traveled, due to the lack of alternatives or highways in the area. The 2×2 lane section from El Paso to Alamogordo has 5,000 to 8,000 vehicles per day, with a maximum of 19,000 vehicles at Alamogordo. North of Alamogordo the intensities drop to 2000, after Vaughn even to 1500 vehicles. The double numbering with the I-40 has about 15,000 vehicles, and 2,000 vehicles continue to Texas.

US 54 in New Mexico