HUMANS HAVE BEEN TRAVELING through the area known today as Tucumcari for at least 10,000 years. With the establishment of Route 66, Tucumcari’s motels have offered visitors a warm, welcoming place to rest for nearly a century.

Roadrunner Lodge. If you’re traveling with dogs, this 1960s-focused motel (whose historic sign reads “Give the Interstate the Bird”) provides a secured dog run and a variety of treats for purchase in the lobby from Baxter’s Whine and Licker Store, including dog biscuits and CharDOGnay dog wine, a fish-based beverage “for sophisticated dogs.” Dogs and humans alike can enjoy the lodge’s very own on-site radio station, found at 102.3 FM (the lodge’s address). Owner David Brenner, who bought the property in 2014, created the station using licensed songs and authentic commercials from the era. “It’s all about the 1960s experience here,” he says. “It’s authenticity with a touch of modern.”

Motel Safari's Rockabilly Suite honors Wanda Jackson. Photograph by Gabriella Marks.

The Motel Safari. “People come here to avoid the cookie-cutter, corporate experience,” says owner Larry Smith, whose love for Route 66 and fond experiences traveling through Tucumcari led him to move here from Tennessee in 2017. Formerly director of international operations at Scripps Networks, he renovated the 1959 motel and infused the lobby and other shared spaces with rockabilly nostalgia while keeping the rooms relatively simple. “I keep it classic and streamlined, more like what a real motel experience would have felt like back then,” Smith says. Guests can gather on the restored patio, which features a firepit and murals of vintage ads, and enjoy rooms that offer midcentury decor and modern technology. 

Read more: Albuquerque’s El Vado Motel brings Route 66 lodging into the 21st century with a hyper local food court and shops that draw visitors and New Mexicans alike.