New Mexico’s diverse heritage of Anglo, Hispanic, and Indian cultures makes a vacation spent in the “Land of Enchantment” both exciting and interesting. From captivating natural wonders to tiny yet intriguing towns, New Mexico is a great place to visit.
North east New Mexico is home to the city of Las Vegas—but it’s definitely very different from the Las Vegas that you’ll find in Nevada! Las Vegas, New Mexico is a charmingly refreshing small town, with clean fresh air, and a wide variety of outdoor activities on offer in the surrounding area. The Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge and nearby McAllister Lake offers fishing, hunting and wildlife observation among other activities. In the winter months, it’s even possible to see eagles at the lake—definitely a sight not to be missed if you’re in the area.
With skiing and snowboarding, rafting and climbing available in the central north region of the state, the outdoors theme is predominant in this area—all set against the stunning backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There is much more to do here than outdoors activities, however, with the capital city of Santa Fe located here. With more than 300 museums and art galleries showcasing both local and international art, this is a paradisiacal city for art lovers. There are plenty of entertaining evening activities on offer in this multi-cultural city, with gallery openings, Pueblo dances, and concerts featuring both classical and contemporary music, as well as open air markets during the weekend days. The Santa Fe nightlife is just as culturally diverse as the city itself, with dancing indoors and out, live jazz and blues, as well as mariachi players and flamenco dancers in some of the city’s hottest spots.
North of Santa Fe, the city of Taos is a fascinating and entertaining place to visit, that really exemplifies the multi-cultural nature of New Mexico. Where else can you find an Indian pueblo, a Spanish village, an artist’s colony, and an alpine resort, all in the same area? Taos Pueblo is an enthralling place to visit—now home to around 150 Pueblo Indians, the buildings here were constructed between six hundred and one thousand years ago, with ancestors of the current residents having lived in the valley long before America was discovered. The customs and rituals of the tribe are preserved in the modern day, and visitors can purchase striking examples of jewelry, pottery and curios made by local artisans.
There are annual celebrations and festivals aplenty in Taos throughout the year, including a Spring Arts Celebration, a Fall Arts Festival, County Fairs and Yuletide celebrations. There is great skiing to be had in the winter months at Taos Valley Ski Resort, and the Red River Ski Area, and in the summer, mountain biking, golfing, horseback riding, and a very unusual past-time—llama trekking! Ride the rapids of the Rio Grande or go fly-fishing for Cutthroat and Rainbow trout, go golfing or hiking—there are plenty of outdoor activities in the area, and everywhere you go, there is the stunning natural scenery of the area to enhance your experience.
The north west of New Mexico is a gateway to Navajo Nation, the most extensive Indian reservation in the country, which extends through several states. Located near the Canyon de Chelly, Navajo Nation offers visitors the chance to visit trading posts in the area and visit a variety of attractions, such as the Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. There is a whole host of fascinating landmarks to visit in the area, many with close ties to Native American legend. Visit Chaco Canyon to see ancient Pueblo landmarks, including mysterious stone structures that were once used to mark the astrological paths of the sun, moon and stars, or see the city of Aztec to learn about the fascinating history of the area at the Aztec Ruins National Monument and the Aztec Museum & Pioneer Village. For UFO enthusiasts, there’s the Aztec Alien Trail, a mountain bike tour that passes by an area that is thought by many UFO buffs to be a UFO crash site.
UFO buffs will definitely want to visit the south east region of New Mexico and add a stop in Roswell to their itinerary—this is the site of one of the most famous UFO sightings of the twentieth century. The Roswell International UFO Museum & Research Center is located here, as well as the Area 51 Museum, where visitors can pose for photographs with life-size alien dummies. As well as museums and galleries, there’s the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Reserve, where visitors can get up close and view birds, deer, badgers and other wildlife.
In south east New Mexico, you’ll also find the legendary Carlsbad Caverns, one of the most extensive natural underground chambers in the known world. A tour through these amazing caves, full of stunning natural rock formations, is an unforgettable experience. The Three Rivers Petroglyph National Recreation Site is another experience not to be missed, with literally thousands of rock carvings and paintings viewable here, as well as a buried ancient village that has been partially excavated to reveal Pueblo Indian ruins.
South west New Mexico continues this theme, with the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument—a historic site that provides visitors with a look at the homes of the Mongollon people who lived in these cliff-side caves in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The site is located near Silver City, which is in itself a wonderful place to visit. Once home to legendary figures such as Geronimo and Billy the Kid, Silver City may not be as flashy as cities like Taos and Santa Fe, but it still offers plenty to do, with historic sites, museums and art galleries showcasing Southwestern art.
A vacation in New Mexico is the ideal way to kick back and relax in cities such as Santa Fe, or get out and experience the excitement of the outdoors—no matter what you prefer to do on your vacation, you’re sure to enjoy doing it more in New Mexico, where the stunning scenery of the Land of Enchantment will make all of your vacation experiences that much better.