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Top 10 Places to Visit in New Mexico

White Sands National Park
Photograph by Talshiar, via Wikimedia Commons

#1 White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park in the Tularosa Basin is a 275 square miles of desert. It is one of the most visited national park. The park is field of white sand dunes of gypsum sand that look like snow. The 8 mile Dunes Drive that leads from visitor center to dunefield offers scenic view of the park. Sledding down the dunes is a popular activity at White Sands National Park. Visitors use waxed, plastic snow-saucers that is available for purchase at the gift shop. Park also offers picnic area with canopied picnic tables and grills. Park activities include hiking, camping, picnicking, and sledding.

Photograph by Eric Ward, via Wikimedia Commons

#2 Albuquerque

Albuquerque is the largest city of New Mexico. The city is known for many resort casinos, including Sandia Resort, Santa Ana Star, Isleta Resort, and Laguna Pueblo's Route 66 Resort. Albuquerque is famous for the International Balloon Fiesta, the world's largest gathering of hot-air balloons that takes place in October at Balloon Fiesta Park. Places to visit and things to see include Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque Biological Park, Albuquerque Museum, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and Old Town Albuquerque.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Photograph by Stephen Friedt, via Wikimedia Commons

#3 Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a popular cavern located in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Visitors can take an elevator from the visitor center or hike 1.25 mile natural entrance trail to reach 750 feet down. The cavern includes a large limestone chamber, named Big Room, is the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America. 1.25 mile Big Room Trail is a popular flat trail to travel through the cavern and see spectacular views, cave formations of all shapes and sizes.

Santa Fe
Photograph by Pretzelpaws, via Wikimedia Commons

#4 Santa Fe

Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico state located at high elevation of 7,199 feet. Known as art city, the city has many historic landmarks including Santa Fe Plaza and the Palace of the Governors. Fiestas de Santa Fe festival held during second week of September attract many visitors. Santa Fe is famous for winter activities such as skiing in snow-capped mountain. Ski Santa Fe is the highest ski areas in the United States. Places to visit and things to do include Santa Fe Plaza, Canyon Road, Museum of International Folk Art, San Miguel Chapel, and Meow Wolf.

Bandelier National Monument
Photograph by John Mackenzie Burke, via Wikimedia Commons

#5 Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument preserves homes of Ancestral Pueblo people lived between 1150 CE to 1550 CE. The 33,000 acres monument is known for Ancestral Pueblo archaeological sites and rugged canyon. 1.4 mile Main (Pueblo) Loop Trail is a popular trail that leads through archaeological sites: the Big Kiva, Tyuonyi, Talus House, and Long House. Park activities include hiking, camping, and bird watching.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Photograph by Rociomcoss, via Wikimedia Commons

#6 Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument protects cliff dwellings used by people of the Mogollon Culture as shelter in the late late 1200's. Cliff Dweller Trail offers visitors access to the cliff dwellings. Visitors are allowed to enter caves and dwelling rooms. The monument is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and Gila Wilderness. Park activities include hiking, nature walks, bird watching, and wildlife viewing.

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
Photograph Flickr by Drew Jacksich, via Wikimedia Commons

#7 Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad is a scenic narrow-gauge heritage railroad that runs between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico. The railroad operates in summer and fall with day trips departing from Antonito and Chama. The railroad trip includes lunch as Osier Station in Colorado. Soon after leaving Chama, the scenic journey begins up the mountain with spectacular views of Chama Valley, alpine meadows, and Toltec Gorge.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Photograph by National Park Service, via Wikimedia Commons

#8 Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Culture National Historical Park was a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture between 850 and 1250 A.D. Today, the park preserves buildings of the Ancestral Puebloan people, cultural sites, and historical areas. Six major sites including Una Vida, Hungo Pavi, Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo del Arroyo, and Casa Rinconada are located along the 9-mile long Canyon Loop Drive. There are four hiking trails in the park: Wijiji Trail, South Mesa Trail, Pueblo Alto Trail, and Penasco Blanco Trail. Park activities include hiking & biking trails, camping, and night sky programs.

Petroglyph National Monument
Photograph by Steven C. Price, via Wikimedia Commons

#9 Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument is a 17 miles park protecting 5 volcanic cones and over 25,000 petroglyph images carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. The monument offers four major sites to see petroglyph: Volcanoes Day Use Area, Rinconada Canyon, Boca Negra Canyon, and Piedras Marcadas Canyon. Boca Negra Canyon offers view of about 100 petroglyphs along three paved trails. Rinconada Canyon is 2.2 miles round trip that has about 300 petroglyphs. Piedras Marcadas Canyon is 1.5 miles round trip with about 500 petroglyphs. Volcanoes Day Use Area does not have any petroglyphs.

Photograph by Bobak Ha'Eri, via Wikimedia Commons

#10 Taos

Taos is a popular vacation destination known for its historic sites, Taos Pueblo, Rio Grande Gorge, and Taos Ski Valley. The Town of Taos is home to number of historic homes and artist studios. Places to visit include Taos Pueblo , Taos Downtown Historic District, Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and San Francisco de Asis Mission Church. Rio Grande, Taos Valley, and Taos mountains known for recreation activities such as rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hot air ballooning. Taos area also includes four ski areas - Taos Ski Valley, Red River ski area, Sipapu and Angel Fire ski area. Winter activities include snow-shoeing, skiing, ski skating, ice skating, ice fishing and snowmobiling.

New Mexico Places to Visit by Interest

  1. New Mexico Aquariums