The route north from Mexico City along the El Camino Real, or the
Royal Highway, first brought travelers to “Nuevo Espana” in the
16th century, but tourism officials have launched a new program to
bring travelers back to the historic roadway.
Don Juan de Onate is the first reported to have traveled along
El Camino Real in 1598 into what is now New Mexico. Now the trail
is the basis for a cooperative effort between New Mexico and the
state of Chihuahua, Mexico, to draw in tourists.
The two states have launched the Two-Nation Vacation, a road map
that takes travelers along El Camino Real. The map also promotes
lots of day trips off the route, including Mexico’s Copper Canyon,
Parque Nacional Barranca del Cobre and Nuevos Casas Grandes, as
well as New Mexico’s Taos, Los Alamos, Santa Fe and the Turquoise
“El Camino Real is the perfect link combining the two cultures,”
said Fred Peralta, former New Mexico Tourism Department secretary.
“The Two-Nation Vacation will give visitors to both countries the
opportunity to see what we have in common state fairs and fiestas,
eco-tourism, adventure travel and scenic byways as well as our
The agreement includes plans for a Web site to promote each
destination, and the two states will exchange billboards
encouraging Mexican tourists to visit New Mexico and visa
Educational seminars are also planned for travel agents on both
sides, though Chihuahua officials have not yet set dates for
training U.S. agents. New Mexico officials have held one training
session for Mexico agents, and a second is planned in the fall to
promote the state’s winter sport activities, said Mark Trujillo,
North American tour trade director for the New Mexico Tourism
Department. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has also initiated
discussions to establish air service between Albuquerque, Chihuahua
and Mexico City.
Trujillo said the Two-Nation Vacation has been successful, and
has drawn the attention of other border states. Officials have
called New Mexico to ask how they might set up similar two-nation
tourism efforts, and governors of all border states are meeting in
Santa Fe this month to discuss improving cross-border
Konstantino Panagiotou T., Chihuahua’s director of tourism, said
the brochure and Web site would “help us create a package offering
the ultimate travel experience. We have so many things to share.
Not only will it help introduce our market to New Mexico and visa
versa, it will help open up both markets to the world.”
The Two-Nation Vacation map is available at visitor information
centers and hotels throughout New Mexico. To order a brochure, call
the New Mexico State Department of Tourism.