This wonderful southwestern state, known as the "Land of Enchantment" possesses an atmosphere all its own. From great national parks and monuments to exciting cities and historic ruins, there are an incredible numbers of diverse opportunities for the traveler. Here is my version of New Mexico’s best attractions. Look for my photo album to follow shortly.
1, Carlsbad Caverns National Park – Imagine an underground cavern which is 1800 feet long, 1100 feet wide, and over 250 feet high — this is the "Big Room" in Carlsbad Caverns. There is even a post office and snack bar in one section of the room. This most awesome underground attraction in the US also has another draw. Each evening from May to October, thousands of bats depart the cave to feast on insects. An amphitheater and Ranger talk are provided to inform visitors and answer questions.
2. Santa Fe – This 400-year-old city strictly enforces building codes which enhance and accentuate its native architecture and style. Stroll the Plaza and shop for native crafts under the awning of the Palace of the Governors.
3. Taos – This artist colony high on a plateau in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range is home to Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America. The two multi-storied dwellings house descendants who continue to preserve the culture of their ancient civilization.
4. Chaco Culture National Historical Park – The Pueblo ruins here are extensive. Pueblo Bonito once had 600 rooms and stood four stories high. The community preserved here thrived from 850 to about 1150 AD.
5. Albuquerque – New Mexico’s largest city provides a wonderful base of operations for the exploration of the western part of the state, including many of the sights and locations listed here. In addition, Albuquerque’s Old Town preserves examples of the way the village used to look before it evolved into a big city.
6. Route 66 Historic Highway – The classic American road which linked Chicago and Los Angeles has become a symbol of the American spirit and the urge to travel. Made even more famous by a popular television show of the early 1960’s, the "mother road" has attained cult status. Even though much of the original route has been replaced by interstate highways, there are a few places where fans can still see some of its landmarks. Albuquerque is perhaps the best place for this nostalgia.
7. Roswell – Roswell is the world capital of alien sightings. Everything in town revolves around strange creatures from outer space and UFO’s. When a spacecraft allegedly crashed in 1947, the town residents never recovered and are still obsessed with the event. Believers flock here and hope to see their own UFO.
8. White Sands National Monument – Certainly one of the United States’ strangest landscapes is found near the city of Alamagordo. Imagine acres and acres of pure white sand fashioned into dunes by the winds. Visitors can walk into the dunes but are cautioned to bring water and not travel far from park roads.
9. Bandelier National Monument – Here visitors find ruins of an ancient Pueblo community, including cave dwellings and a circular village. You can take a self-guided walking tour and even return at night for a bat walk.
10. Capulin Volcano National Monument – This is perhaps the nation’s best example of a cinder cone volcano, rising 1000 feet above the landscape. Drive up the side of the volcano and take one of several trails into the crater.