Going to New Mexico feels like going to another world. It doesn’t even feel like you’re still in the USA as the state has a mixture of three cultures: Spanish (tracing their roots back to Spain), Native American, and Anglo (non-Latin). The way New Mexicans speak Spanish is a mixture of the old Spanish and Native American. The food is even unique, treating red and green chilies as food gods the locals can’t live without. The state is packed with all faces of nature as it is home to numerous high plains, mountains, and deserts. Furthermore, it is one of the largest states in the country but it is also the least densely populated states.
And why should you visit New Mexico? There’s just so much to see and here are some of the places you shouldn’t miss:
White Sand National Monument
If you’re the type who goes to the beach not because of the sea but because of its white sand, White Sand national monument is going to give you a love at first sight moment. The 275-square-mile white desert is considered as the world’s largest gypsum dune field inhabited by over 800 species of animals and different kinds of plants. If you feel like making your blood rush, you can buy or borrow a sled to slide down the dunes.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
People from all ages who are looking for a doable hike just a short drive from Albuquerque can visit the amazing cone-shaped tent rock formations of Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks national Monument. These cones have been the creations of the volcanic eruptions occurred 6 to 7 million years ago. Besides hiking, visitors can also do some birdwatching and geologic observations around the area.
Bandelier National Monument
The “Big Room” in Carlsbad Caverns National Park was once known as USA’s largest natural underground chamber. Even though it doesn’t hold the record as the largest anymore, going inside is still quite worth the experience. The Carlsbad Caverns stands on a field of natural gas and oil which contributed to the creation of the caves’ unique limestone formations.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
See more cave dwellings at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The unique cave dwellings offer more space for visitors to explore and learn about the home of the people of the Mogollon Culture for about 20 years. Around the monument, you can also do some hiking, bird watching, and more.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Learn more about the history of the prehistoric American Indian communities and their villages known as “ancestral pueblos” by visiting Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The dwellings built and occupied from 850 to 1250 AD stand on a high canyon that calls for a bit of a tough hike before you can reach it. Don’t forget to see the canyon’s largest pueblo and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pueblo Bonito.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
If ever the previous dwelling sites left you wanting for more, there’s the Aztec Ruins which will serve as a great follow-up to answer your curiosities about the life of the Pueblo people. The monumental great house, with a size longer than a football field, is filled with around 500 rooms, original plaster walls, and almost 900-year-old roofs. You’ll also find a ceremonial Great Kiva (a room for religious rituals) at the Aztec Ruins which impresses visitors with its vastness.
The 21,000-acre Ghost Ranch is a current retreat and education center run by the Presbyterian Church of the USA. The main stars, however, that make the ranch’s scenery spectacular are the surrounding red and yellow cliffs that match the blue cloudy sky.
Valles Caldera is an 89,000-acre national preserve located in the heart of one of the three super volcanoes in the United States. The caldera which appeared after the eruption of a super volcano is a local favorite for skiing and hiking depending on the season. If you’re the type who just wants to wander around, don’t miss the wildlife especially the Rocky Mountain elks.
The Blue Hole is a true oasis in the middle of the desert, attracting those who want to go for a nice cool swim and scuba diving. The bell-shaped pool is 80 feet deep, which makes it a bit scary and thrilling at the same time to swim in.
When On Earth Magazine is for people who love travel. We provide informative travel guides, tips, ideas and advice regarding places to see, things to do, what to taste, and much more for world travelers seeking their next dream vacation destination.