1. Santa Fe
2. Carlsbad Caverns
3. Bandelier National Monument
4. White Sands National Park / Las Cruces
5. Chaco Cultural National Historic Park
Aztec Ruins National Monument
This World Heritage Site is home to ancient Aztec ruins and hosts a 400 room Pueblo structure. It’s not huge, but it’s not tiny either and there is a kiva (kind of like a celebration hall) that’s pretty cool. A neat stop to learn more about the culture and see something a bit off-the-beaten-path. There’s a 15-minute video and 0.5-mile flat trail through the ruins. You’ll likely have the place all to yourself. Suggest staying for about 1-2 hours. Stay around Farmington or Aztec.
The land of aliens according to conspiracy theorists. This town is SO touristy. You can walk around it in under an hour. I was curious so I stopped. There are a couple UFO related museums and attractions, but otherwise not much going on. It’s on the way to Carlsbad Caverns. If you’re heading south into Texas, I would save yourself some time and just head down I-25. You’ll pass through Elephant Butte State Park and Hatch which sounded nice when I researched them.
Capitol city of New Mexico. The city itself isn't very interesting in my opinion, but it does host the annual hot air balloon festival in October which looks pretty spectacular. There is Old Town and Downtown. If you are driving from Santa Fe, consider Route 14 for a more scenic, though longer, drive.
A large rock formation that can be see off in the distance from the road. Near the town of Shiprock and close to a stopover in Farmington depending on where you’re heading. Beautiful drive in from Colorado along Route 491.