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New Mexico

New-Mexico

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3.5

Total Stars:

8.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Definitely strongest in appeal to Venturesome personality types with its many challenging outdoor activities

Did You Know…?

  • The first atomic bomb was built and detonated in New Mexico in 1945.
  • Truth or Consequences, named for a game show, was previously named Hot Springs.
  • The capital, Santa Fe, is the oldest seat of government in the U.S.
  • The Cumbres and Toltec is America’s longest and highest narrow-gauge railroad.
  • The Acoma Pueblo site has been continuously inhabited since 1150.

From pueblos to nuclear science

There’s no question New Mexico is in the West, as evidenced by the climate and scenery; the ranches and grazing livestock; the evidence of colonial Spanish culture — and most of all, the pueblos and living Native American culture.

In addition, artists are drawn to Santa Fe by the area’s qualities of light. Tourists and retirees come for the climate as well as beautiful surroundings. The same weather, clear skies and open spaces have made New Mexico a center for nuclear and space-age development.

This state’s unique qualities range from the mountains in the north to rocky deserts and a natural wonder known as Carlsbad Caverns. As for the latter, visitors can follow lighted trails to explore this series of monster caves in the southeastern part of the state. New Mexico also has ice caves, dormant volcanoes and fossil sites.

Then there is the cultural landscape. Native Americans have occupied the area and sometimes the same pueblos, or villages, for hundreds of years. Tourists can visit active pueblos — as well as abandoned ruins in locations such as the Bonito Pueblo, an apartment building with several hundred rooms. Spain ruled the area for 220 years, leaving behind another cultural layer.

In addition, legacies of America’s Old West abound. They include mining, railroading and ranching towns. The Santa Fe Trail ends in the state, and Billy the Kid began his infamous career in southern New Mexico. Colorful characters like Kit Carson and Geronimo also played major roles in the area’s history.

For 21st century urban destinations — Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Taos — visitors have plenty to do besides just savoring the charming surroundings. The state is famed for its arts community, and not just in Santa Fe.

New Mexico also is a noted center for research into rocketry and nuclear energy. Looking to the future, New Mexico is home to Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport, to accommodate commercial travel into space.

Northern New Mexico gets cold in the winter, but visitors have said it’s worth it to participate in holiday activities. The state’s popular areas can become uncomfortably crowded in summer.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Join a horse packing trip, or make that a goat or a llama pack trip. Or, if you are up for it, join the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race Endurance Ride, a late-summer event lasting two weeks.
  • Learn outdoor skills, including archery, boating, fly-fishing, goat or horse packing and hunting. Then, jump into one of New Mexico’s numerous natural hot springs. Some are clothing optional.
  • Take a one-day or multiday safari by 4WD vehicle off road for a closer look at what New Mexico has to offer.
  • Learn about the Pueblo people; hire a Native American-owned travel service provider for an in-depth learning and activity-rich trip into Pueblo country (i.e., northern New Mexico).
  • At Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, hike the rim of the volcanic cone, then cave inside an icy 17-mile lava tube. The temperature is a consistent 31 F, just cold enough to keep the ice in place for hundreds of years.
  • Dive in Santa Rosa’s Blue Hole, an 81-foot-deep artesian well used for dive training and recreation. Available year-round, its water maintains a stable temperature of 61 F. The dive center is open on weekends to rent gear and provide air fills; it is open on weekdays by appointment.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Sleep in a cave — in Kokopelli’s Cave Bed and Breakfast, north of Farmington. You reach your one-bedroom cave home by descending a ladder to the flagstone porch. The cave has TV, VCR and Jacuzzi, but you bring your own food.
  • Sample the 19th century steam train, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, as it chugs up and down mountain slopes and travels along the top of the steep Toltec Canyon heading toward Colorado.
  • Go fly-fishing, or hiking, or horseback riding. Take that horseback trip through old homesteads and ghost towns.
  • Retreat from ordinary routines by staying at the guesthouse maintained at the Christ in the Desert Monastery in northwestern New Mexico. The monastery sits in a canyon surrounded by government-protected wilderness.
  • Camp in Carlsbad Caverns National Park; spend your days exploring its caves. There are more than 100.
  • Drive the Billy the Kid Scenic Highway. Besides tracing the doings of the local outlaw, you have options to ride a stagecoach (near Lincoln) and pan for gold (at Ruidoso, and you keep what you find), among other things.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Drive the state’s scenic highways, but do it to the tune of audio CD narrations that dovetail with your selected itinerary and fill in with information on culture, geology, history and legends.
  • Attend the red-hot Whole Enchilada Festival in Las Cruces, set for October.
  • If this piques your interest, visit the UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell. Attend the UFO Festival there in July. Take a side trip to Los Alamos, site of the Manhattan Project during World War II.
  • Go bird-watching in the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It is a winter habitat for migrating waterfowl.
  • Visit the San Ildefonso Pueblo on its Jan. 23 feast day; dances are performed from dawn to dusk.
  • Attend the daily music and Western show, as well as chuckwagon dinner, at the Fort Stanton museum.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the New Mexico Tourism Department at www.newmexico.org