The De Anza Motor Lodge – Albuquerque, New Mexico - Atlas Obscura

The De Anza Motor Lodge

A burnt-out motel with priceless Native American artwork in the basement, redeveloped into apartments.  


The De Anza Motor Lodge was a burnt-out, run-down motel on Route 66 that would have been torn down long ago if it weren’t for the priceless Native American artifacts in its basement.

Though the De Anza is named for a Spanish Conquistador, its primary objective was as an Indian Trading post. It was famous for it’s diner, the “Turquoise Room,” which had thousands of pieces of turquoise embedded in the linoleum floor.

The De Anza was built in 1939 by Charles Wallace, who had previously operated a trading post in Zuni pueblo in the 20’s, but moved to Albuquerque to capitalize on the automobile boom. His main goal was to bring Zuni jewelry to the world.

In its heyday, the De Anza was a thriving motor lodge, restaurant and Indian Trading Post. Today it is a dilapidated old building that was nearly razed to make way for a grocery store. If it were not for the priceless, one of a kind Native American artwork in the basement conference room, the De Anza would be a memory. Instead, it is now protected by 24 hour security.

The basement contains seven, 20 x 4 foot murals depicting the Zuni’s sacred Shalako ceremony. The Shalako ceremony is a series of ceremonies and dances unique to the Zuni people. It is performed at Winter Solstice, and is the most important ceremony of the year.

The murals were painted by famed Zuni artist Tony Edaakie. Edaakie is considered a major figure in 20th century Zuni painting, making the murals in the basement of the De Anza not just sacred, but priceless, one of a kind treasures. There is nothing like them anywhere else in the world.

The De Anza is also noted for being the site of one of the scenes from Breaking Bad. While Skylar is in the hospital giving birth, Walt pulls into an abandoned motel after a major cash transaction, and throws out his spare tire to hide the money.  

Update June 2020: The property has been redeveloped as a luxury apartment complex, but the murals and floor are intact and available for view. 

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