Home to one of the most incredibly scenic and diverse landscapes in North America, New Mexico provides many opportunities for sightseeing, exploration, and adventure.
With strong influences of both Native American and Hispanic culture, the state offers a multitude of unique attractions both in large cities like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, as well as the smaller hubs of UFO-focused Roswell and the artists’ colony of Taos.
The center of the American Southwest didn’t gain statehood until 1912. Here is our selection of the best sites and experiences in the “Land of Enchantment”.
Known as the City Different, the state’s capital city, is also an international favorite hosting visitors from all over the world each year. One of the world’s leading city for the arts, Santa Fe’s Indian Markets and galleries contribute to its unique shopping experience.
Santa Fe’s central location makes it the perfect jumping-off point for day trips visiting nearby points of interest such as Los Alamos (famous for the Los Alamos National Laboratories), The Eight Northern Pueblos, the Enchanted Circle (Taos, Red River, Angel Fire), and The Santa Fe National Forest and Ski Area to name a few.
The city’s largest appeal though is possibly its architecture and historical atmosphere set against an amazing backdrop of the Santa Fe Mountains. Its rich heritage dates back to the 1600s and is one of few remaining cities that enable the visitor to step back into time. Its eclectic square boasts a unique blend of visitors, artisans, musicians, natives, and locals, all immersed in the culture that is the City Different.
Small ,yet bustling, while quaint and all its own. If you are looking for a cookie-cutter experience, Taos is probably not the place for you, but if you are looking for the real New Mexico, you needn’t look any further than Taos. It is original, indigenous, artistic, rustic and soothing to the soul. Its colorful plaza holds court to a blend of characters as different as the town itself, full of shops, galleries and eateries.
Home to many celebrities , Taos has somehow managed to retain its small-town feel and earthy comfort. Quiet casitas, cozy kiva fireplaces, and scrumptious enchilada dinners await you in this magical little town.
Its historic background is quite impressive with the Taos Pueblo, the oldest continually inhabited community in the United States, the local architecture, and infamous historical characters such as Kit Carson.
Centrally located in Northern New Mexico, set against the Taos Mountains, day trips from Taos are abundant. Driving the Enchanted Circle is a must while there. The Rio Grande Gorge is just outside of town and well worth a visit. And just on up the road there is the Taos Ski Valley, a European-style village hosting Bavarian-type accommodations and The Taos Ski Area, high in the mountains.
Los Alamos Nuclear Test Site
This is the site of the world ‘s first nuclear bomb test and explosion Nearly all the park’s historic properties at Los Alamos are located “behind the fence” on a secure federal US Department of Energy reservation. Visitors must be on a guided tour offered by Los Alamos National Laboratory to visit these historic buildings. These tours are only offered three times a year. Reservations are required. The tours take visitors to three historic buildings including Pond Cabin, a building that Nobel Laureate Emilio Segrè and his team used. Visitors will also see Battleship Bunker, a building used for implosion diagnostic testing, and the Slotin Building where physicist Louis Slotin succumbed to a deadly criticality accident.
On July 16, 1945, at 5:29 am Mountain War Time, scientists and military officials detonated the world’s first atomic device, known as the “Gadget.” The location of this test, known as the Trinity Site, is located on White Sands Missile Range and is closed to the public. Twice a year, the US Army hosts a Trinity Site Open House when the public may visit Trinity Site.
White Sands National Park
The otherworldly ivory dunes of White Sands National Park are among the world’s greatest natural wonders and certainly one of the top sights to see in New Mexico.
Here in the heart of the Tularosa Basin, gypsum sands have taken over 275 square miles of desert, creating an enormous, wave-like dune field.
Tackle a strenuous trek or opt instead for cruising along the scenic, 8-mile Dunes Drive, which leads from the visitor center into the heart of the dune field.
For the hikers, there are five established trails scattered through the park’s unique landscape. Savor the silence and solitude – and the stunning views of surrounding mountains.
The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a narrow gauge heritage railroad that runs between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. Constructed in 1880-81, this cozy train ride traverses the 10,015-foot Cumbres Pass and heads through the dramatic Toltec Gorge. The ride offers stunning views of the surrounding land, from grassy, deer-filled, hillside meadows to stream-laced mountains.
This is the highest steam-powered railroad in the nation, and the ride has thrilling moments as it crosses the Cascade Creek trestle 137 feet in the air, climbs the face of a cliff, and doubles back dramatically on the Tanglefoot Curve.
Passengers will see many of the Railroad’s original structures along the journey and have the chance to stop in the rustic Osier, Colorado halfway through the trip for a lunch break and some exploring.
Whatever your view on UFOs, the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell is worth a stop.
The museum provides the general public with information on all aspects of the UFO phenomena.
Study exhibits include the Roswell Incident, crop circles, UFO sightings, Area 51, ancient astronauts and abductions.
Examine dirt collected from the rumoured UFO crash site in Roswell and visit the museum’s famous prop alien corpse dummy from the 1994 Showtime movie Roswell: The UFO Coverup.
Take a good look around the low-tech, homespun museum, which is both whimsical and serious in its investigations of reported UFOs. The staff is eager to answer any questions you may have
If you are into space, the remote rolling hills west of Socorro, about two hours from Albuquerque, is where you find the Very Large Array (VLA) – a radio astronomy observatory located on the Plains of San Agustin. The array is used to observe black holes and other astronomical phenomena.
A number of self-guided walking routes run through the site, and the VLA also hosts free, guided tours on the first Saturday of each month. Though reservations aren’t required, it is worth checking ahead for times. Tours begin from the VLA Visitor Center.
Link Destination – New Mexico