The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is the only train that offers quick, easy service from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. The train, which also makes stops throughout Albuquerque’s metro, zips through ancient Pueblo lands with stunning scenic views on its way to historic Santa Fe. Tickets are available onboard or online.
Whether you have a car or not, getting from Albuquerque to Santa Fe is an easy trip. The Rail Runner Express train connects the two cities with high-speed, no-hassle transportation for visitors and commuters alike. The Rail Runner jaunt has been wildly popular since its inaugural run for reasons beyond the obvious economic savings to regular travelers.
The Rail Runner, painted to mimic the state bird, the roadrunner, speeds through time as well as landscape. The scenery between Albuquerque and Santa Fe hasn’t changed much since Don Pedro de Peralta marched his army north along the Rio Grande and founded Santa Fe 400 years ago. The imposing peaks and buttes of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountains offer stunning quintessential New Mexico scenery.
The tracks cut through some of North America’s oldest settlements, the Sandia, San Felipe, Santa Domingo, Isleta and Cochiti Pueblos, with glimpses of the villages and mission churches. Native Americans living there ask train passengers to refrain from taking photos while passing through.
The one-way ride from Albuquerque to Santa Fe on the Rail Runner Express takes approximately 1.5 hours. The total distance between the two cities is just under 65 miles, and the train travels at about 80 miles per hour.
The cost of Rail Runner tickets depends on the distance traveled, and can range from $2 to $11 for a one-day trip. One-way, day, monthly and annual passes are all available at varying prices. Details on ticket prices can be found at riometro.org.
The Rail Runner express runs seven days a week, except for certain holidays, and runs from Downtown Albuquerque to Santa Fe Depot between three and eight times per day, depending on the day. With 15 stations total along the Rail Runner’s 100-mile corridor and more than 60 bus connections at those stations, the train offers a convenient schedule year-round and any day of the week. Find the full train schedule at riometro.org.
While October, during which the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place, is the busiest month for the Rail Runner Express, tickets are typically available any time during the year. February has proven to be the train’s quietest month.
The Rail Runner makes four stops in the Albuquerque metro area including Los Ranchos/Journal Center, Montaño, Downtown Albuquerque, and Bernalillo County. The Bernalillo County stop is located on Rio Bravo SE and allows for a quick bus connection to the Albuquerque International Sunport.
A day trip from Albuquerque to Santa Fe offers a culturally rich, fun and unique experience. A few ideas for a day trip from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, from the Santa Fe Depot Rail Runner stop include:
The Rail Runner stops at the Santa Fe Depot in the historic Railyard District. Across the tracks, you can browse the shops and specialty boutiques at the Sanbusco Market Center and grab a meal at a restaurant. One block away, galleries, boutiques, antique and craft stores, and restaurants line South Guadalupe.
Reaching the 400-year-old plaza, the heart and soul of Santa Fe, is as easy as an eight-block walk. Or you can grab the free Santa Fe Pick-Up shuttle at the depot. The bus circles the plaza, with stops at the Main Library and 19th-century Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, both one block from the plaza, and at Canyon Road. A museum shuttle takes you to Museum Hill.
At the plaza, Native American vendors line the sidewalk in front of the one-story Palace of the Governors, built in 1610. Stores along the blocks surrounding the plaza range from souvenir shops to high-end galleries and Southwestern fashion boutiques. The Museum of Fine Arts, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, New Mexico History Museum and Institute of American Indian Arts are all within a few blocks of the plaza.
Art galleries line winding Canyon Road. If contemporary art is your interest, the galleries will thrill your spirit and challenge your credit limit. Once a trail along the river, the narrow lane has one of the highest concentrations of fine art in the Southwest.
Dramatic outdoor sculptures from renowned Native American artists are highlights of the courtyard at Museum Hill. You can easily spend a day touring the four world-class museums. The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture exhibits more than 70,000 objects from native cultures of the Southwest, ranging from ancestral artifacts to cutting-edge contemporary art. The Museum of International Folk Art contains an incredible collection of toys, textiles and religious art from cultures around the world. Dioramas with hundreds of hand-carved figures depict important aspects of indigenous village life. The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, in an eight-sided building inspired by a traditional Navajo hogan, displays contemporary and historic Native American art. The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art features objects from throughout the Spanish colonial world. Each museum contains a tempting gift shop, and a central café provides delectable lunch offerings.
After a full day of exploring “The City Different,” you'll enjoy relaxing in the comfort of the stylish Rail Runner coaches on your return trip. Kick back in the upper level, and soak in the panoramic views as the train chauffeurs you back to Albuquerque.