Pie Town: New Mexico’s Small Town with a Big Reputation
How far would you travel for a slice of fresh, home-baked pie? If you’re like me, you’ll spend a day traveling 400 miles to get your hands on some of the most enchanting desserts you can find in New Mexico’s high desert. Pie Town, a small community built on a big reputation of having the best pies you can find in New Mexico, is worthy of a road trip.
“You’ve got to go to Pie Town. It’s literally a couple of buildings in the middle of nowhere, and they have all types of pie,” a friend told me. That was enough for me to plan a road trip.
If you’re looking for a scenic drive to bypass the interstate, a day trip from Albuquerque, or simply an excuse to eat some pie, here are a few things you should know about Pie Town, New Mexico.
“The Town that Pie Built”
Pie Town has been a destination for motorists for 100 years. In the 1920s, a man named Clyde Norman made his way to the area, and eventually opened a general store and began serving dried apple pies. At the time, “Norman’s Place” was the only building in the town, but eventually grew into a small high desert community of ranchers and homesteaders. The town’s reputation for pies grew, and soon people were traveling from all over the country to sample their famous desserts, giving the town its official name.
Today, Pie Town is a small, quiet community that is home to fewer than 150 people according to a 2020 census. Despite its remote location, 100 years later, people are still drawn to Pie Town for their food.
Helpful Tips for Planning A Trip to Pie Town, New Mexico
Pie Town is a remote, small town in western New Mexico on U.S. Highway 60. The nearest “big city” is Albuquerque, at 2.5 hours (160 miles) away.
Gas is available 22 miles west in Quemando, and 22 miles east in Datil.
- Very Large Array: The most powerful radio telescope in the world is 45 minutes east of Pie Town along U.S. Highway 60.
- Arizona’s Coronado Trail Scenic Byway: Better known as “The Devil’s Highway” to locals, this National Scenic Byway twists and turns through Arizona’s White Mountains on the Eastern edge of the state via Highway 191. The Northern terminus of the byway is roughly one hour (70 Miles) West of Pie Town.
- The Continental Divide Trail: Once you arrive to Pie Town, you may notice a few backpackers in the area. The Continental Divide Trail runs nearby, making it a popular trail stop.
Because of its proximity to the Continental Divide, you may have already guessed that Pie Town is in New Mexico’s high desert. Sitting at 7,778 feet in elevation, Pie Town can see snow in the Winter, in addition to colder temperatures in the evenings. Depending on when you choose to visit, you’ll want to keep your eye on the weather.
Where to Eat in Pie Town
As of 2023, there are only three places to eat in Pie Town:
- Pie Town Cafe: Now known as the “Pie Town Ohana Cafe,” this was the only restaurant that was open when I stopped through in 2021. There are plenty of different pies available, depending when you go. The later in the afternoon you arrive, the less options there will be.
- Pie-O-Neer Homestead: This is undoubtedly the most well-known stop in town. For 25 years, a woman named Kathy Knapp, or “the Pie Lady” owned the Pie-O-Neer and put Pie Town back on the map as a destination after years of dwindling tourism. Kathy retired in 2020, but the Pie-O-Neer lives on under new ownership.
- Does & Bucks Coffee & Cafe: Their name doesn’t use the word pie, but their menu is full of it, alongside plenty of other diner-style options.
Unless you plan to travel through Pie Town on a weekend, when travel and tourism are at their busiest, it would be a great idea to call ahead the day prior to make sure the hours of operation listed online reflect reality. Small towns don’t always update their google listings consistently.
Additionally, these small towns are full of friendly charm. When I showed up at the Pie Town Cafe and told them I traveled over 10 hours that day just for a slice of pie, they said, “you should have called us this morning! We would have saved whatever slices of pie you wanted.” They’re also known to be accommodating to thru-hikers on the Continental Divide Trail looking for a sweet treat.
Where to Stay in Pie Town
Lodging in Pie Town is minimal. You’ll find a Hostel in town that’s often occupied by Continental Divide hikers, and an RV Park. Other than that, your best option is dispersed camping. When I stayed in Pie Town, I opted for the dispersed campground area.
Be warned, the dispersed campground’s roads are made of unpredictable sand. One minute, the road is packed. The next, it’s soft. There is a pit toilet on site. However, when I was there, the facilities were completely trashed and unusable. Luckily I had brought my own waste bags and trowel with me to handle restroom needs. Please do your part by picking up after yourself.
Nearby Developed campgrounds that are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, in addition to public lands that may be suitable for dispersed camping, can be viewed on the Dyrt. I use the Dyrt Pro to find free camping!
Overall, Pie Town, New Mexico proved to be a great stop on my road trip through the Land of Enchantment. If you’re looking to take the scenic route and uncover a small town with a big reputation, bring a big appetite and enjoy some pie in Pie Town.