It might not have the clout of places like California or New York but there are some pretty amazing and some of the best places in New Mexico that you really should visit whilst visiting this area of the USA.
Now, New Mexico is one of those states that I personally feel is undervalued by some, often in favour of the sexy states that capture our attention far too quickly…but don’t let that put you off.
There are literally hundreds of amazing little haunts, parks and geological sites to explore, with some of the best places in New Mexico in each corner of the state.
From sweeping deserts, incredible mountain ranges, aliens and stunning national parks, it really is a place that should be on your travel radar. Especially, if you’re looking for something a little different and totally unique.
Take a look at some of the very best places in New Mexico you should explore.
1.) Discover the ancient Petroglyphs
If you’re wanting to discover a little slice of history, head over to the Petroglyph National Monument. Created from volcanic activity a good few millennia ago, the cliffside ridges, petroglyphs and volcanic features have all come to shape this arid region.
Gear up with some good shoes and explore the preserved petroglyphs, as well as the trails along with one of four canyons in the area. Most of the petroglyphs are situated within the Boca Negra Canyon area, with some being more than 3,000 years old.
Now, if you’re looking to go on the hike, it’ll take you around 2 hours to wander around with a designated trail map (see here) provided by the National Parks Service. It really is one of the best places in New Mexico to explore.
2.) Find the beautiful Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah
Perched in San Juan County, Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah and the Wilderness Study Area is an area that not only excites geologists but us travellers too! Make sure to visit the iconic Hoodoo formations that are lovingly called fairy chimneys, with Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah being the most iconic and best places in New Mexico to see.
Though, if rock formations aren’t your thing, pop around the wilderness study area and take a gander at the dinosaur bones, petrified wood and the vast landscapes that make up this beautiful area.
3.) Find aliens in Roswell
So, possibly one of the most famous towns for supposed alien encounters, Roswell has become known the world over for its extraterrestrial links.
Yeah, it’s quite kitsch and some things are a little cheesy but you know what, it’s pretty fun.
Pop into the International UFO Museum and Research Center, explore the downtown district and gorge at Classic’s Frozen Custard – it’s the best dessert place in all the town.
Embrace the alien memorabilia, museums and hysteria and just join in. I loved our visit. I mean, where else can you pretend to sit next to aliens.
Keep your eyes peeled for the alien street lights too. It’s a kitsch little reminder that you’re in one of the best places in New Mexico. after all, even aliens agree!
4.) Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Within the Chihuahuan Desert in the south of New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns has a whopping 100 caves (give or take a few) for us travellers to explore.
The park’s namesake, Carlsbad Cavern, offers some stunning views of stalactites, especially within Big Room which are great to visit.
Also, If you are interested in exploring the desert, take a drive along Canyon Desert Loop to see it firsthand.
5.) Pecos National Historical Park
Okay, archaeology fiends, this site is for you!
Just east of the city of Santa Fe is the epicness that is Pecos National Historical Park, a collection of culturally significant areas that is becoming increasingly popular to visit when in New Mexico.
The park has ruins of Pecos Pueblos, dating back almost 1,000 years. It’s a great place to explore the region’s culture and history of the Pecos people and witness a little slice of the history of this region.
6.) Head into the clouds on a hot air balloon & museum
So, possibly a little more niche (you might want to skip this if you’re not into hot-air balloon museums), the Balloon Museum in Albuquerque walks you through the history of hot air balloons, starting from the first-ever flight.
Now, if you’re like me, you’d much prefer an actual flight on the hot air balloon and this can be arranged too! The museum works with a number of partners that can whisk you away into the clouds.
It’s an incredible experience and one of the best places in New Mexico to see a bird’s eye view of the region. flights can be booked online, here.
7.) See Capulin Volcano
Travel to the northeast of the state to visit the home of an extinct cinder cone volcano called the Capulin Volcano. The area offers a great example of recent volcanic activity and provides stunning scenery as the volcano dominates the plains.
Hike up the volcano and keep your eyes open for local wildlife- elk, coyotes and black bears are just a few of the local residents.
8.) Visit four states in a few seconds
Are you trying to visit all 50 states? You can scratch four off of your list by visiting the Four Corners Monument, located in, literally, the northwest corner of New Mexico.
The “quadripoint” marks the intersection of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
9.) Explore White Sands
The name of this monument, located in the northern part of the Chihuahuan Deserts, sums it up! Completely pristine and beautiful white sands.
The unique landscape, dominated by white sand dunes, can be explored by walking on the Interdune Boardwalk or the Dune Life Nature Trail. This rare ecosystem is a must-see.
It really is one of the best places in New Mexico to explore.
10.) Find the beautiful Tsé Bitʼaʼí (Shiprock)
Rising well about 1,500 ft (around 500 metres), Shiprock is one beautiful natural and cultural site to see.
Perched within the Navajo Nation, it holds a great deal of significance to the Navajo Nation. It’s a beautiful place to explore and learn much more about the importance of this site.
11.) Bandelier National Monument
This 33,000-acre monument is located near Los Alamos. The area preserves homes, petroglyphs and ancient species of the Ancestral Pueblo people dating back 11,000 years.
Take in the history and explore the area via one of the hiking trails. Keep your eye out for the little Albert’s Squirrels… their unique tufts are easily up there as one of the best places in New Mexico to see.
12.) Sandia Peak Tramway
Just outside of Albuquerque is an aerial Sandia Peak tramway in the Sandia Foothills.
The tramway takes you up 2.7 miles to Sandia Peak, offering a panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley (which is amazing to see, just choose your viewpoints and hike in advance).
The area is used for skiing in the winter and draws avid mountain bikers, hikers and people who love views in the summer.
13.) Taos Pueblo
The Taos Pueblo has well over 1,000 years of history in one place. Belonging to the Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people and a protected UNESCO site.
Make sure to visit the adobe buildings and learn so much more about this incredible place and the Puebloan people.
14.) Fajada Butte
Situated within Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Fajada Butte rises almost 400ft into the air. This alone makes it one of the best places in New Mexico to experience.
Once you’re here, make sure to see the Sun Dagger too, it’s so incredible and totally unique.