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15 Best Places to visit in New Mexico

15 Best Places to visit in New Mexico

Photo: gmeland/Shutterstock

Want to find the best places to visit in New Mexico in the United States? Here’s an updated guide for 2020 with interesting and beautiful destinations to include on your Itinerary. 

Nicknamed as the “Land of Enchantment”, New Mexico’s majesty is flooding with natural wonders, soaring mountains, crystal-clear pools, large forests, and true Native American aura and history.

Here you can find national and state treasures in each one of the state’s six regions. All of these combined with the rich Old West legacy attract millions of visitors to the state and make tourism New Mexico’s leading industry. 

New Mexico was colonized by Spain in the 16th century and more than four-fifths of the state’s residents are of European and Hispanic origin. One out of three families here speaks Spanish at home.

The state is also known as the chile capital of the world and for its authentic, real Mexican Southwestern culinary pleasures. New Mexico’s capital Santa Fe is also the oldest capital city in the country, which, together with other old towns maintain the state’s historical heritage.

White Sands National Park

White Sands is not just a unique geological place in New Mexico, but one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. The National Park covers 275 square miles of wave-like dune fields of sand gypsum, which is the largest gypsum desert in the world.

The spectacular thing about the place is that gypsum is rarely found in a sand form, as it dissolves in contact with water, like sugar or salt. However, the weather and the isolation of the area provide no outlet of any kind of water, including rains, so the gypsum stays in its solid form.

The vistas of waving white dunes stretching in front of your eyes is an experience unlike any other and can be hardly captured into words. 

white sands national monument

Photo: sunsinger/Shutterstock

Carlsbad Caverns 

Located in the Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns are the primary attraction of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The Caverns hold several vast underground chambers filled with fantastic formations and shapes, which are up to 250 feet high.

The chamber labyrinths hidden beneath the desert include also one the largest ever discovered. A colony of nearly one million Mexican bats inhabits a part of the caverns called Bat Cave. 

Carlsbad Caverns are unique amongst other caves because of the gigantic size chambers, especially the biggest one known as the Big Room. 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Photo: Shutterstock

Albuquerque

The largest city of the state – Albuquerque, is packed with lots of attractions year-round. In the historic part of Old Town Albuquerque Spanish and Indian cultures seem to come alive through old buildings and brick benches.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is perhaps the most famous and exciting experience that you should have in the city. It is the largest Balloon Festival in the world and takes place every year in October.

For more than a week Albuquerque skies are full of hot-air balloons from all over the world that can be seen from almost everywhere in the city. This is one of the best places to visit in New Mexico for festival lovers. 

albuquerque

Photo: Michael E Halstead / Shutterstock.com

Shiprock 

Shiprock Pinnacle is one of New Mexico’s distinguishing landmarks. This dramatically towering giant rock formation is 1800 feet high above the ground and can be seen from up to 100 miles in all directions.

It is located at the center of three volcanic ridges and is assumed to age back to 12 million years ago. Shiprock is sacred to the Navajo people, that’s why climbing or hiking its peak is forbidden. 

Shiprock 

Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is known as one of the world’s greatest art and historic destinations. Contoured by the blue mountains of Northern New Mexico, It is indeed a unique city with sun shining 325 days a year on average and stunning night skies protected from air pollution and light.

The city was founded in 1610 and is the oldest capital of the country. Centuries of mixed Native American and Spanish cultures, the pueblo-style buildings, curled streets, dried chile ristras hanging from the wooden doors make you feel like in a completely different time period. 

Santa Fe in New Mexico

Photo: Jimack/Shutterstock

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Located 44 miles away from Silver City, Gila Cliff Dwellings are hidden deep in the Gila National Forest mountains. This 553-acres size monument contains the ruins of cave dwellings that were built in five cliff compartments by the Mogollon people over 700 years ago.

This unique area is reached by a one-mile trail along a narrow canyon and offers a glimpse of the lives and homes of the old Indians. Before the Mogollon people made their homes here, the caves were used by nomadic people as a temporary shelter for thousands of years. 

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Photo: Zack Frank/Shutterstock

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks 

The National Monument of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks is one of New Mexico’s must-see destinations. Created by a volcanic explosion 6-7 million years ago, the area is home to the marvelous cone-shaped and nearly 1000 feet thick rock formations.

The monument is an exceptional outdoor experience providing an opportunity to observe and study the interesting processes shaping natural landscapes.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks

Photo: Martina Birnbaum/Shutterstock

Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache is a national wildlife refuge established to provide a breeding ground for migratory birds, some of which were classified as endangered. It is a nearly 57000 acre-large area located in the northern part of the Chihuahuan desert and is known as one of North America’s most spectacular refuges.

The scenery of tens of thousands of birds of different species erupting in flight is something worth experiencing. Planning the visit during the annual Festival of the Cranes, which includes special tours, speakers and wildlife displays, will make the visit even more memorable. 

Bosque Del Apache

Photo: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

Bandelier National Monument

Here is where you can find some of the most interesting antique ruins in the American Southwest that are protected in over 33,000 acres-large area. Several thousand Pueblo dwellings going back over 11,000 years await your exploration in Bandelier National Monument.

These dwellings are sculpted into rock cliffs and represent the living habits of the Ancestral Pueblo people. The area of the monument also includes beautiful narrow canyons, mountains, diverse wildlife and a colorful part of the Rio Grande valley.

Bandelier National Monument

Photo: Traveller70/Shutterstock

Bisti Badlands

Bisti Badlands, also known as De-Na-Zin, is continuously being ranked as one of the must-see places in the state because of the unearthly experience it offers.

Visitors often describe it as a place where you feel out of Earth’s atmosphere as it could be on the moon or another planet. It’s hidden in the San Juan Basin desert of New Mexico and covers 45,000 acres of land.

What makes it special is the bizarre landscape of surreally unusual formations, rocks, small slot canyons, mounds – and all that in varying colorations. Many million years ago, this area was a tropical forest filled with dinosaurs that were unique to this region only.

Before taking a trip to Bisti Wilderness, it should be considered that there are no any kind of amenities in the area, like signs, trails, water – nothing, so visitors should prepare for that in advance and be careful not to get lost.

Bisti Badlands

Photo: Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

Taos Gorge

Located nearly 12 miles away from Taos town, Taos Gorge welcomes to admire the beautiful geological feature of the impressive deep gorge and the Rio Grande river running its way through it, which is amongst the longest 25 rivers in the world.

Gorge Bridge across the beautiful Taos Gorge, is the second-highest bridge in the US highway system, which is also sometimes called “High Bridge”. 

Taos Gorge

Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Ghost Ranch

If you’re looking for an affordable way to enrich and cultivate your mind, visiting Ghost Ranch can be an ideal solution. It’s an education and retreat center where you can feel the hypnotic power of towering rock walls, explore its rich history and see thousands of well-preserved dinosaur skeletons.

Furthermore, visitors can also learn more about the history of the mythical huge Vivaron rattlesnake and take in the views that inspired the famous painter Georgia O’Keeffe.

The place is known worldwide as an important paleontological site, but also for being home to different cultures like Paleo Indians, Navajo, Apache as well as Spanish settlers and many others, making it a 21,000 acres-large place to get the feeling of the old times under the beautiful vast skies.

Ghost Ranch

Photo: Adam Springer/Shutterstock

Taos Town

Nestled beautifully in the mountains of Sangre de Cristo, Taos is a town with a unique spiritual aura. With great museums, groovy galleries, ceremonial dance fiestas, rich culture and traditions, Taos Town is one of the best places to visit in New Mexico for travelers who love spirituality and rituals.

The town is home to a world heritage site Taos Pueblo, also one of the famous and most photographed churches St. Francisco de Asis. One more attractive fact about the town is its eco-architecture.

Many off-the-grid houses here are built from recycled materials and are mostly solar-powered, making it one of the most unique places to visit in New Mexico. 

Taos Pueblo

Photo: Traveller70/Shutterstock

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

This site is perhaps one of the most important historical places in the American Southwest. Chaco is an ancient and remarkable destination where you can find fundamental pieces of pre-Columbian historical preservation and one of the biggest collections of ancestral Pueblo people dwellings, which occupied the area for nearly 2000 years.

The place is exceptional for its ceremonial buildings, distinct architecture, personal objects and materials of the ancient people that are in their original state. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a world-famous archaeological place and is also officially designated as an International Dark Sky Park.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Photo: kojihirano/Shutterstock

El Morro National Monument

Despite the fact that El Morro is one of the smaller national monuments in the state, it’s still remarkable and invites to admire an interesting mixture of nature and human history.

Hidden away in high elevation, El Morro is a massive sandstone rising 200 feet above the ground with the waterhole hidden at its base, which made it a popular campsite.

This rock formation and archeological site contain nearly 2000 drawings and messages in its cliffs from Ancestral Puebloans, Spanish conquistador and later on – American settlers. 

El Morro National Monument

Photo: Angela Dukich/Shutterstock


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