A number of Route 66 travelers take a nearly 200-mile side trip south of Santa Rosa to White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico to see the wondrous sand dunes there.
Sand dunes also exist barely a mile south of Route 66 on the west side of Albuquerque, though they’re the usual beige color and not white.
Still, based on recent Facebook discussions by Albuquerque and New Mexico residents, few were aware of the dunes’ existence.
Norio Hayakawa wrote about the so-called West Mesa Sand Dunes in a blog post:
I have visited this amazing area at least 5 times in the last couple of years. Whenever I went there I did not see a single soul anywhere there, nor have I seen any off-road bikers there. Of course, it’s probably because I go there only on weekdays, not on weekends. So, I recommend everyone to go there on weekdays.
How to get there:
From Albuquerque, drive west on Central Ave., passing Unser Blvd.
Keep driving west on Central Ave. for several miles.
Make a left at the sign that says Metropolitan Detention Center.
Keep on driving towards the Metropolitan Detention Center. This is a paved road.
When you get to the entrance of the Center, do not go into the Center, but take the gravel road which is parallel to the Center. This gravel road appears to be a public, county road, not a private road.
Then make a right at the next dirt road and drive alongside the fence of the Center. You will soon see the sand dunes.
I’ve looked into Hayakawa’s directions via Google Maps and satellite maps, and his instructions appear to check out. The site is less than 1 1/2 miles from Route 66.
Hayakawa in a follow-up comment explained how he happened upon the sand dunes:
I discovered this place because a few years ago I saw a beautiful picture of this place taken by Albuquerque photographer by the name Jake Werth. I was so impressed and he gave me the directions on how to get to this amazing location.
He also shot two short videos of the dunes:
A Reddit thread also was posted two years ago about the dunes.
(Screen-capture image from Norio Hayakawa video of the West Mesa Sand Dunes in Albuquerque)