Guide to the New Mexico Border

While Arizona, Texas and California garner most of the border attention, the New Mexico Border is also worth considering for a trip. It’s a shorter length at roughly 180 miles with only three border crossing locations. Although less trafficked than other states, it’s a beautiful border region with plenty to do on either side. 

Driving to the New Mexico Border with Mexico

The other border states connect to major thoroughfares within Mexico but not here (except Santa Teresa). The New Mexico border is unique because it doesn’t link to any big highway systems or toll roads. It’s largely rural with smaller highways and roads entering Chihuahua. Both Texas and Arizona have bigger crossings within an easy distance however. 

For east/west travel along the border, you will drive Highway 9 which also connects to the Arizona and Texas borders. Highway 81 South is also an off-shoot that leads to the border where you see that southernmost rectangle on the state map (the boot heel). As you drive through this region, expect to encounter a few New Mexico border control checkpoints. These are normal in all border states and are typically quick to pass through!

New Mexico Border Crossings 

These are the least used border crossings and they have very little commercial traffic. Texas absorbs a large amount of the commercial trucks as does San Luis in Arizona. Expect quiet border crossings in New Mexico and always check the hours to ensure they are open. While you won’t have long wait times, the connections don’t lead to major cities or routes into central Mexico or either coastline.  

Antelope Wells Border Crossing

The previously mentioned southern highway 81 that reaches the boot heel will lead you to Antelope Wells. Cross this border and you enter El Berrendo, Mexico which is a very tiny town. Antelope Wells is actually the least used and quietest of all border crossings between the United States and Mexico. 

Visitors won’t find much here in terms of services so fill the gas tank before making the trek. Neither side has a real town and it’s more of a passthrough situation at Antelope Wells.

Santa Teresa Border Crossing

The largest and busiest port of entry in New Mexico is Santa Teresa. It’s located immediately west of the Texas state line and the route offers entry into Mexico just west of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Many of our Mexican car insurance customers prefer this route because it skirts the big city traffic and navigation requirements.

After crossing the Santa Teresa border, you can drive the 45D that connects to Mex Highway 45 just south of Ciudad Juarez. It’s a direct shot south to Chihuahua from here. If you want to drive deep into Central Mexico, it’s a great route.

Columbus Border Crossing

Another rural border crossing, Columbus, NM leads into Puerto Palomas, Mexico. It’s pretty mellow on both sides of the border here and both towns offer services, food and a welcoming culture. This port of entry actually runs 24/7 and it does see a fair amount of commercial traffic passing through. 

Puerto Palomas is a clean town.

If you’re looking to experience a border area that is generally safe and easy to navigate, we love this option. Puerto Palomas is a charming town and a great place to do some casual shopping and dining.

New Mexico Border Towns

In terms of towns, there are few to visit right on the New Mexico border. Most are associated with one of the latter crossing points. You will find plenty of open space, public lands and unique landmarks on the border roads however. It’s also not far to reach towns like Deming and Las Cruces for entertainment and more services. 

Border Towns in New Mexico:

  • Columbus – This is a charming town to visit and stay a few days.
  • Santa Teresa – Not much going on here but Las Cruces isn’t far to the north.

Border Towns on the Mexico Side:

  • Puerto Palomas – They have a few good dental clinics here fyi.
  • Ciudad Juárez (the city district extends to the Santa Teresa border although it’s way outside the city population). 

Will You Visit the New Mexico – Mexico Border Region?

It’s not a high travel priority for most folks but anyone who wants something truly unique should take a trip through this area! It’s unlike any other border state and you just might fall in love with the landscape. Remote, open country with long drives and a low density population base make for a wonderful experience in my opinion.

Make sure you follow the rules and still keep Mexican car insurance and get and FMM and a temporary important permit to travel into Mexico. Otherwise, enjoy the unique landscape and great towns along the border!