The best New Mexico filming locations

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by Hertz - 15 October 2018

There’s no American state quite like New Mexico. The landscape, atmosphere and history all combine to create a sense of otherworldliness. And it’s that peculiar feeling, mixed with its barren yet beautiful ruggedness, that makes it such a popular place to film movies and TV shows.

Explore the desert, towns and plains which you’ve seen on the big screen and – if you’re lucky – maybe even see them filming the next classic.

In Walter White’s footsteps

Breaking Bad kept millions riveted for five dramatic, darkly comic seasons. In Albuquerque you can follow in the footsteps of Walter White, from the family home to the car wash where he laundered his ill-gotten gains. Grab a coffee at Java Joe’s, instantly recognisable as Tuco’s gangster HQ, or get lunch at Twister’s, which doubled as the iconic Los Pollos Hermanos restaurant in the show.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the wide boulevards of Albuquerque, you’ll find Jesse Pinkman’s house and the park where Mike idled away time with his granddaughter, as well as dozens of other filming spots.

The White Sands

Found in the south of New Mexico, about 100 miles from the US border, the White Sands are a National Monument. The grains are pure white, like freshly fallen snow, creating a curious and ethereal landscape which has captured the imagination of countless movie location scouts.

Think of King Solomon’s Mines, the first two Transformers movies, and The Man Who Fell to Earth, featuring David Bowie, and you’ll recognise this unique setting.

The tales of Taos

New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment, and Taos may well have been the inspiration behind that nickname. Surrounded by the peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, close to the Rio Grande Gorge, it looks like a place from a thousand Westerns.

Here, the sun bakes the land around adobe-clay buildings, which date back centuries. In cinema, this town has been the setting for major films such as the iconic Easy Rider, No Country for Old Men and Terminator Salvation.

Many of the key scenes from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were also captured here, as well as in nearby Chama. Visit the oft-filmed Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, which was once owned by Dennis Hopper, star of Easy Rider.

New Mexico’s Madrid

More recently, Disney comedy Wild Hogs left its mark on New Mexico. Taos featured once again, as did Madrid in Santa Fe County. Stars including John Travolta and William H Macy descended on the town and set designers built new locations, some of which can still be seen.

These sets and towns are just the beginning of New Mexico’s relationship with the big screen. Replay the opening scenes from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, comedic moments from The Muppet Movie (1979) and many other classics, and you’ll capture glimpses of this unique place.

With car hire in New Mexico you can plan a movie road trip to remember, snapping photos and reliving the action of your favourite films and TV series across this Southern state.