10 Best Places to Visit in New Mexico

Martina Rosado
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Map of New Mexico

New Mexico is a U.S. state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is the fifth largest and the 16th most populous of the 50 states. Its size is comparable to that of the country of Greece, and is about 2 percent larger than the US's next largest state, Alaska. New Mexico is often abbreviated as “NM.”

It was one of the original Thirteen Colonies when the country was formed in 1776. After it achieved statehood in 1912, the name was shortened to “The State of” NM. The name comes from a Spanish language name for the ancient Nava Mexico, which means “New Mexico.”

New Mexico was part of the Spanish Empire until gaining its independence on February 1, 1821. From 1821 to 1912 the largest city was Santa Fe. That is also when it first became a state (still in Spanish), with the name of Estado de Nuevo Mexico, or New Mexico State. When the United States gained control of the territory at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, it offered eastern New Mexico to the newly independent state of Texas as compensation for the loss of its northern territories to the United States (see Texas annexation).

Source: Wikipedia.

Very Large Array

The Very Large Array (VLA) is the world’s largest fully functioning radio telescope. It’s the largest single dish telescope in the world, and also the most difficult to build. The VLA consists of 27 dishes that have been spread out over 20,000 acres, making it the largest combined dish array in the world.

Established in the late 1990s, the VLA combines radio telescopes that were once separated to improve signal reception and prevent overlapping of their signals. This is in contrast to the single dish known as the Very Long Baseline Array, which was built to improve on receipt and collection of radio signals.

The VLA is well-known for its important role in astronomy research. Although some individual telescopes in the array are sensitive to phases of the moon and emissions from the Sun, the array is best known for its use in radio astronomy and for its radio telescope for which it was always intended.

Because much of the VLA’s signal reception involves time coordination, the array is capable of gathering data on celestial objects without it being affected by the Earth’s rotation or the fact that the Sun, Earth or Moon are blocking a telescope’s view at any given time.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Scientifically known as “Gila House Ruin” and coincidentally located in the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, the site has an obvious backdrop of the steep, red cliffs that rise above the western end of the Rio Grande. The native American people in the Pueblo and Hohokam period both used the site for different kinds of rituals. Over years, the site has gradually developed into a present-day construction of polished rock walls and rooms. The archaeological site is almost exactly like a Pueblo site. The place is also a national monument and also part of the World Heritage Site list.

The Gila Cliff Dwellings are made of rocks excavated from the red cliff walls. The human habitation from prehistoric times is evident when the excavated walls are evident. The particular caves are built in the rock which is almost perfectly carved. The temperatures in the Gila Cliffs are a little higher than the average of the rest of New Mexico state. That is why large sections of the site have collapsed. It is hoped that there will be more chance for the site continued existence if the conditions are improved.

Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway

You can take a train ride and enjoy the views of the Rio Grande as the train winds through the La Cueva area. You can go in November through March for the winter months, and enjoy the spring and autumn scenery in September and November. The train travels underground through a heavily mined area before emerging at the base of the Cumbres Pass. You can spend the night at the end of the line at the La Cueva station.

Other places:

  • Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Park
  • Acomita Historic Site
  • San Juan Historic Site

Bandelier National Monument

White Sands National Monument

The white sands National Monument is located in the US state of New Mexico, in the southeast of the Lower portion of the state. The western slopes of the mountains meet the east slope of the Organ Mountains.

The desert ecosystem of the site is dominated by cedar woodlands and oaks. The most common types of cedar that compose the woodland are Arizona cedar, Texas cedar, desert cedar and juniper.

Another common tree here is the black walnut. The wooded ecosystem of the park is of the newly bare ecosystem type. The site contains the Great Sage Scenic Drive, which extends for about two miles along the crest of the dunes.

This drive is an ideal place for viewing the sight of the sand dunes, which is what the park is known for, its distinctive reddish color will entirely be driven down by the time of the end of the day. The striking yellow of the sand dunes is a bit different from the other sand dunes in the region.

This yellow and reddish combination has set up this forest like sand dunes apart from any other. The place is affixed with a cooler climate. The cool weather is caused specifically by the low-pressure zone created by the nearby Organ Mountains. These mountains act as a natural barrier, creating a microclimate against high humidity and hot summers, making the place quite suitable for the desert ecosystem.

Albuquerque

Albuquerque has nicknames that express its big-city feel, but also remain true to its small-town soul: The Route 66 City, The Duke City, or just plain old ABQ on signs at every corner. The Rio Grande River runs at its center, creating a stunning landscape for hiking and flowing under the bridges for feet-on-the-ground fun.

Chaco Canyon

Chaco Canyon is one of the best places to visit in New Mexico. It’s an area with many ancient ruins built by the ancient Pueblo Indians. It’s located in San Juan County. There are many different places to visit at Chaco; such as the Chaco Wash and sites that are over 2,000 years old. The park is gorgeous with tall cliffs and canyons that are lined with colorful rock formations. It’s a great place to visit and even better if you take a real bike ride.

Visit the ancient Chacoan canals. Archaeologists have identified three major irrigation systems that descended approximately 20 miles from the Chaco-to-Chuska drainage divide to the east across the center of Chaco Canyon. The Chacoan’s divided the canyon area into headworks and footworks.

The Chaco system is the largest hand-dug irrigation system in North America with are estimated to have held between 10 and 12 million cubic feet of water. The sites at Chaco are impressive and you can see the amount of work that went into making this ancient city. It’s very well preserved, it’s a great place to visit.

Carlsbad Caverns

Santa Fe

New Mexico: The World’s Largest Outdoor Gallery

It’s a place where the stories of immigration, the struggle to find your place in the world, and a war between Native Americans and Europeans come together in The Shrine of St. Francis. It’s a place where artists, craftspeople, and tourists come together.

The Santa Fe Plaza is often referred to as the largest outdoor art gallery in the world. Here, you will find an interesting mix of people working in numerous shops and fairs selling and displaying everything from jewelry and art to clothing and to handmade goods.

The Santa Fe Plaza is also home to the largest outdoor live performance stage. The city is often called a hub of culture, which is evident in the variety of shows and events that take place here.

Taos

Pueblo, New Mexico.

Arguably one of the coolest and most mystifying places in New Mexico is Taos Pueblo, which is a worldwide cultural icon steeped in history. You can get a sense of the pueblo’s long, storied history while wandering the pueblo’s “streets” and visiting the Taos Pueblo Museum. The museum, which is run by the Taos Pueblo, traces the people’s history from the beginning of time all the way up to the modern era.

The Taos Pueblo is a traditional theocracy, or religious system in which the people are governed by a religious leader while living under a Spirtual belief system, such as Christianity, Hinduism, or Islamic. This means that the Pueblo’s elders are allowed to govern themselves as a spiritual community under the direction of their Elder Council. This is different from other pueblos, which are governed by a democratically elected council.

Under the guidance of the Elders, who are called Kiai, each pueblo member is given a role within the community in which they rely on and help protect the Great Kiva, or ceremonial center, from intruders. The Pueblo’s customs are considered by outsiders to be very mysterious.