Everyone knows the famous Route 66; it’s an iconic piece of Americana that attracts tourists from around the globe. It was lovingly referred to with names like the “Mother Road” and the “Main Street of America”, but starting in the 1950s with the advent of the modern interstate highway system, much of the original Route 66 had been bypassed or circumvented as a primary road through the United States. In fact, most of the iconic signs were officially removed from highways in 1985. Of course, that isn’t to say that the road no longer exists; drivers can still use about 85 percent of the original Route 66 and there are plenty of locations where you can still see historic road markers and signs featuring the famous Route 66 image. The highway remains a popular American road trip destination and it’s still one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States.
One thing many tourists may not know about Route 66 is that it has a stretch in New Mexico that plays the song “America the Beautiful” when you drive over the rumble strips. This part of Route 66 is known as the Singing Road or the Musical Road, and it’s a must-see for road trip enthusiasts!
The Musical Highway in New Mexico
In 2014, National Geographic funded the installation of custom metal plates over a small eastbound stretch of Interstate 40 (the modern-day replacement for Route 66) between Albuquerque and Tijeras. The patriotic anthem can be heard when drivers maintain a speed of 45 miles per hour over the plates embedded into the rumble strips.
New Mexico state officials hoped the road would help drivers maintain their focus and cut down on distractions. If the driver goes too fast (or too slow) the music will stop; so total focus is required to hear the tune. Of course, driving over rumble strips for an extended period of time probably isn’t the best idea for maintaining the tread on your tires- but you should be okay in this instance. And if nothing else, at least it will entertain you as you drive through the desert!
This video from National Geographic shows how the musical highway was constructed. Watch the clip below to hear the singing road!
Musical roads can be found in six countries around the world; Denmark, Japan, South Korea, the United States of America, Mexico and San Marino.
Where is the Singing Road in New Mexico?
Want to find the exact location of this road to try it yourself? The musical highway is located just outside of Albuquerque and you can check out TheSingingRoad.com for directions and additional information.
Are you planning to visit Albuquerque for more than a day? If you’re looking for a hotel, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Here are a few deals to consider:
Visit the Singing Road in New Mexico!
We visited the singing highway during our visit to Albuquerque in 2018. It was kind of tricky to keep the wheels lined up along the grooves—and you really do have to watch your speed to hear the song—but we finally made it work with a little help from cruise control. Our first pass over the grooves wasn’t ideal, so we made a u-turn and drove back for another attempt. We eventually did three passes over the singing highway grooves before we successfully played the full song. We saw at least one other car doing the same thing as us, so if you don’t hear it on the first try you can always turn around and try again. Check out our video below to see one of our attempts and be sure to try the singing road on your next visit to Albuquerque!
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