Take Your Pick
Alamogordo, NM
White Sands and Pistachios
White Sands National Monument - Large dunes of stunning white gypsum cover 275 square miles of the Chihuahuan Desert near Alamogordo. The ever shifting sands make this National Monument a work of art in progress. There are nightly organized "sunset dune walks" or you can venture out on your own to take in the beauty. Remember your sunglasses during the day, the reflection from the sand can cause "snow" blindness. Another attraction of Alamogordo are the pistachios. Stop in at one of the pistachio farms, take a tour of the farm and pick up a pound or two of locally grown nuts.
Albuquerque, NM
Mass Ascension
Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta - This is the granddaddy of all balloon fests. Waves of balloons in every color, shape, size, and theme leap from the ground towards the deep blue New Mexican sky. Albuquerque's unique wind current "box" allows balloon pilots to fly different directions at different altitudes and even land in the same location as they took off from. Dubbed the "world's most photographed event", you will easily see why. Get up early for the mass ascension and don't miss the night glow. Balloon rides are available and though a little pricey, certainly worth it. You will be snapping pictures by the hundreds, so bring plenty of film and digital cards.
Albuquerque, NM
World's Longest Tramway
Sandia Peak - Albuquerque is home to the world's longest aerial tramway, traveling a distance of 2.7 miles to an elevation of 17, 378 feet. It is a breath-taking journey up (and down) the Sandia Mountain side. If you have a good eye you may be able to spot a bobcat, muledeer, or black bear. Once at the top you'll enjoy dinner at the High Finance Restaurant. The restaurant faces west where you can catch a spectacular sunset while eating a tasty burger. The tramway is also used to transport skiiers in winter to the slopes. There are 30 groomed trails for skiing and snowboarding.
Albuquerque, NM
Ancient Art
Petroglyph National Monument - The Petroglyph National Monument sets aside over 7,000 acre and contains roughly 17,000 ancient carvings for the public to view. The oldest carvings are up to 5000 years old and were created by early hunter gatherers. The later petroglyphs were carved by Anasazi Indians and Spanish sheep herders. The rock art is etched into basalt boulders from ancient volcanoes, five of which can still be seen today. There are plenty of hiking trails to stretch your legs, so get out and explore ancient civilization's art gallery.
Carlsbad, NM
Cave Formations
Carlsbad Caverns National Park - There are caverns and caves throughout the USA, but Carlsbad is the grandest and most beautiful of them all. You can enter the cave by foot though the Natural Entrance, a one mile trail that descends 750 feet to the Big Room. Or you can take the elevator from the visitor center straight down to the lunch room near the Big Room. No matter how you get there, you are in for an extraordinary visual treat of subterranean cave formations and chambers. The formations in the cave include the Giant Dome, Rock of Ages, and Bottomless Pit. Signs throughout describe the formations, but you can also pick up a hand-held listening device that describes everything for you. That's much more chimple. There are other caves, including the Kings Palace (guided tour only), and in May through October you can enjoy the evening bat flight from the Natural Entrance.
Clayton, NM
Dinosaur Footprints
Clayton Lake State Park - Clayton Lake State Park contains some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. Over 500 well defined foot prints created by at least 8 different dinosaurs are stamped in the rock-hardened mud. The tracks were exposed after the nearby dam opened a spillway during a flood in 1982. The rushing water removed layers of silt and exposed these 100 million year old fossilized tracks. This area was once a large sea where dinosaurs roamed and now you can roam there too. A boardwalk and shelter area are set up so you can get very close to the tracks.
Fort Sumner, NM
Socko and TJ - Pals
William "Billy The Kid" Bonney's Grave - After being captured, tried and convicted of shooting and killing a sheriff and his deputy, Billy escaped jail and headed down to old Fort Sumner. On the night of July 14, 1881 Sheriff Pat Garrett was interrogating Billy's friend Pete Maxwell while Pat's two deputies were asking questions outside. As fate would have it, Billy saw the deputies and went to Pete's house to find out what was going on. The last words the Kid spoke were "Quien es? Quien es?" or "Who's there? Who's there?" Pete Maxwell let Pat Garrett know this was Billy the Kid in the room and Pat fired twice, killing Billy on the spot.
Glenwood, NM
Mysteriously Abandoned Cliff Dwellings
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument - The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument stores the housing remnants of the Tularosa Mogollon Indians. Built and inhabited between the late 1200s and the early 1300s, then mysteriously abandoned in less than a generation. To date, no one knows why they left or where they went to. The dwellings themselves were built in naturally formed caves and were constructed of mud, stone and timbers. What you will find there today are some remarkably preserved structures you can tour at your leisure. There are about 7 caves with nearly 40 rooms, and you can still see the smoke blackened cave ceiling and a few petroglyphs.
Grants, NM
Down by the Ice Cave
Bandera Volcano and Ice Caves - The Bandera Volcano and Ice Caves are really cool, literally and figuratively. Upon arrival you will have to decide to first head up to see the volcano or down to see the ice cave. I took my sock covered body down to the ice cave. It's weird to find an ice covered pond in the middle of the New Mexican desert during summertime, but it's there. The cave temperature never rises above 31 degrees Fahrenheit and the 20 feet of ice is kept cool by a well insulated cave, the frigid winters, and the high altitude. After enjoying the cave, head up the Bandera Volcano cinder cone where this mighty volcano erupted about 10,000 years ago.
Llano Quemado, NM
One Beautiful Bridge
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge - The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge may not be the longest bridge in the USA, it may not be the highest bridge in the USA, and it may not even go anywhere, but it was declared the "Most Beautiful Steel Bridge". in the long span category in 1966 by the American Institute of Steel Construction. And sure enough it is a beautiful bridge. The best part is you can park your vehicle and walk across it while you fight off vertigo. It does get mighty windy on the walk though, so remember to hang on.
Madrid, NM
Just One of Madrid's Attractions
Maggie's Diner - Did you see the 2007 movie "Wild Hogs"? Maggie's Diner is where the Del Fuegos and the loveable biker wannabees faced off at the Madrid Chili Festival. There is much more to the town than the movie site though. Madrid is an artist's Mecca, with galleries and shops lining the old Turquoise Trail. The town nearly dried up in the 70s and was even listed for sale in the Wall Street Journal for $250,000, but nobody was interested. Now it is a fun place for all of us biker wannabees to ride to, buy some art and beat up some Del Fuegos.
Pueblo of Acoma, NM
Oldest Continuously Inhabited Community
Acoma Pueblo and Mission - There are two attractions at Sky City, the Sky City Cultural Center-Haaku Museum and the Acoma Pueblo. The 40,000 square foot Sky City Cultural Center-Haaku Museum highlights the history and culture of the Acoma Pueblo Indians. The Acoma Pueblo, located just behind the museum is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. People have been living atop of this 367 foot high sandstone mesa for nearly 1,000 years. Tours of the mesa include the Mission San Esteban Rey - a remarkably well preserved 1641 Catholic Church. Along the 3/4 mile tour visitors are able to buy the world famous Acoma pottery.
Roswell, NM
Outside the UFO Museum
Roswell UFO Incident - In late June or early July 1947 "something" crashed in the desert near Roswell. Wreckage was recovered by the US government and on July 8, 1947 the Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release stating they had recovered a "flying disc". Subsequently, the story was changed, stating instead that a weather balloon had crashed. Photos, later released of the debris, seemed to confirm that it was truly a weather balloon. Almost forgotten until the late 70's when stories of a government cover-up were detailed by Jessie Marcel, a man involved in the recovery of the debris in 1947. If it was an alien craft or a weather balloon that crashed, we may never know. What we do know is that the "Roswell Incident" is the most widely recognized UFO incident in the world.
Sandia Park, NM
Blending in at the Tinkertown Museum
Tinkertown Museum - The Tinkertown Museum is the result of over 40 years of collecting, carving, and building by artist Ross Ward. Inside you will find an eclectic blend of wood statues, old carnival traveling exhibits, thousands of bottles and dozens of funny signs. You probably won't spend an entire day here, but drop in on your way to or from your skiing at Sandia Peak.
Santa Fe, NM
Art of Frank Howell
Santa Fe Art and Shopping - Santa Fe has some of the best art galleries, shops, and open air markets in the USA. Jewelry, paintings, metal work, water colors, glass work, photography, wood carvings, and things you didn't even know you'd want. You can spend days window shopping. Places not to miss are; the Georgia O'Keefe museum containing over half of her artwork; the Palace of the Governors where inside is a museum and outside is the land of shiny baubles; and the Museum of Fine Arts containing works of dozens of Southwestern artists.
Santa Fe, NM
Miracle Staircase
Loretto Chapel's Immaculate Staircase - The Lorretto Chapel was completed in 1878, but there was one small problem. There were no stairs to access the choir loft 22 feet above. A ladder was unacceptable and stairs would remove the already limited seating space. So the nuns prayed to St. Joseph the patron saint of carpentry. On the 9th day of prayer a man arrived and proclaimed he would build the stairs, but required 3 months and complete privacy. The end result was a magnificent spiral staircase making two complete revolutions and constructed without nails or a center support. The man then disappeared without being paid and without even knowing his name.
Santa Fe, NM
The Enchanted New Mexico Capitol
State Capitol Building - Santa Fe is the oldest state capital in North America (est. 1610), but the capitol building is one of the newest in the US (est. 1966). Often called the "Roundhouse" because of course it's round. This capitol doesn't look like any other, there is no dome, large pillars, and it isn't even white. This capitol is in the shape of the Zia Sun Symbol, the symbol which represents the earth and its four directions. Inside, the first floor holds the House and Senate Chambers; the second floor is the most ornate with Travertine marble reflecting light from the 60 foot skylight; the third floor contains the Capitol Art Collection; and the fourth floor houses the Governor's Gallery.
Socorro, NM
Looking for ET
National Radio Astronomy VLA Telescope - The "VLA" in the National Radio Astronomy VLA Telescope stands for "Very Large Array", and a very large array it is. There are 27 dishes measuring 82 feet in diameter that are spread out up to 13 miles. Scientists scan the heavens using these dishes looking for the radio waves emitted by celestial objects such as planets, suns, galaxies, and quasars. The data from the objects are then processed by large computers and converted into some remarkably beautiful images. The VLA also starred in the movie "Contact" with Jodie Foster. In the film, the telescopes were used in a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) experiment with great success.
Taos, NM
Kit's Kiva
Kit Carson Home and Museum - The Kit Carson Home and Museum is dedicated to the man who helped settle the northwest wilderness. Christopher "Kit" Carson (1809-1868) was born in Kentucky and at the age of 16 headed west on the Santa Fe Trail to hunt and trap. Not only fluent in Spanish and six Indian languages, he also knew their customs, habits, mannerisms and some say, how the peoples thought. This remarkable gift help Kit become a Federal Indian Agent of New Mexico and aid during his service in the Civil War. Kit Carson, with his almost larger than life experiences, inspired books in his own time and movies in ours.
White Sands, NM
The Dawn of the Nuclear Age
Trinity Site - At 5:29:45 AM on July 16, 1945 the first atomic bomb exploded in the New Mexican Desert called the Trinity Site. The explosion was equivalent in energy to a 20 kiloton TNT blast and could be seen and heard up to 200 miles away. The bomb was the product of the Manhattan Project that started in 1941 in an effort to defend against the growing threat of Fascism in Europe. You can visit the site two times a year, the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October. At ground zero you will find the ground zero monument, photos from the historic event, the original shelter used during the test, and a "fatman" bomb casing.