16 Best Places in New Mexico

16 Best Places in New Mexico
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Before Europeans came to New Mexico, the state was populated by Native Americans, who today make up about 11% of the population. In 1598, the Spanish settled New Mexico. Over the next two centuries, the Pueblo population revolted, but the Spanish settlers resettled the land. In 1789, a peace treaty was signed. New Mexico achieved statehood on January 6, 1912, as the 47th state. Before that, after independence from Spain, it formed an independent New Mexico Empire.

More than one-third of the land in New Mexico is protected by the federal government, which employs people in agencies such as the National Park Service to protect national parks and historic sites. The state’s economic pillars are its natural resources, tourism, retail trade and federal government spending.

With its many stunning national parks, forests, and historic sites that commemorate Native American and Hispanic cultures, New Mexico attracts more than 30 million tourists each year. We present you now the 16 Best Places in New Mexico.

16. Taos

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Taos is located about 110 kilometers northeast of Santa Fe in the Rio Grande Valley. The city has currently a little more than 5700 inhabitants and is located at an altitude of 2124m above zero. Taos was founded by Spanish settlers as early as 1540. Not far from this settlement was the much older Taos Pueblo, which was built and inhabited by the Anasazi Indians.

Today this old settlement can be visited and discovered. Furthermore, in winter you can ski around Taos. The Rio Grande also invites to various water sports. If you like mountain biking, you will feel comfortable on the surrounding trails.

15. Albuquerque

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA Cityscape
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With over 564,000 inhabitants, Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico. It is also one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States, along with its surrounding area. Beginning in 1100, the area was also settled by the Anasazi Indians. The Spanish stayed in the area around the present city from 1500. It was not until 1706 that the Spanish founded what is now the Old Town of Albuquerque. In 1880, the city was connected to the railroad.

The city is diverse and is home to many large companies in the tech industry. If you’re into the gruesome, you can follow in the footsteps of “The West Mesa Murders,” a series of murders that has remained unsolved to this day and has claimed the lives of at least 12 people.

14. Santa Fe

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
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Santa Fe is located in the Rocky Mountains in northern New Mexico. Its mild climate and diverse landscape have always attracted artists, hikers, skiers and writers. The second oldest city in the country is also the oldest and highest capital of any U.S. state, as well as the oldest city in New Mexico, and inspires its own cultured lifestyle.

With a rich heritage ranging from Native American to Spanish and Mexican influences, Wild West cowboys, modern American culture and a vibrant arts scene, Santa Fe holds a special place among American cities. For lovers of American history, especially as it relates to Native Americans, the city has much to offer. Museums and events trace the beginnings of this city.

13. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico
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Around 1900, settlers in the U.S. state of New Mexico noticed large colonies of bats roaming the area. They followed them and found a large amount of bird droppings next to the cave. Most people are happy with this. After all, these deposits can be mined and sold as fertilizer. But a cowboy named Jim White wanted to know more. He was the first to venture further and discovered the first cave.

It took a long time for his story to be believed. That finally happened nearly a decade later, and soon after, the nearly 200-square-foot area was declared Carlsbad Caverns National Park. To date, nearly 90 cave rooms have been discovered and explored. However, there is no end in sight.

12. White Sands National Park

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA
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Large, undulating dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed much of the desert, creating the largest gypsum dune field in the world. White Sands National Monument preserves much of this unique dune field and the plants and animals that live here. This region of bright white dunes is located at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert.

The monument is located at an altitude between 3890 and 4116 meters above sea level. This dune field is very dynamic, with the most active dunes moving northeast at a rate of up to 30 feet per year, while the more stable sand areas move very little. The pure gypsum that forms these unusual dunes originates in the western part of the monument from an ephemeral lake or playa with a very high mineral content.

As the water evaporates, the minerals remain and form gypsum deposits that are eventually transported by the wind to form these white sand dunes. Many species of plants and animals have developed very special ways to survive in this area with cold winters and hot summers, very little surface water and highly mineralized groundwater.

11. Silver City

Silver City
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In 1870, Silver City was founded when silver ore deposits were discovered on a farm. The owner of the farm, John Bullard was killed in an Apache raid in 1871. In fact, it was said that John Bullard was laid in the first grave dug in Silver City. The railroad reached the town in 1886 and spurred mining and smelting development that continues to this day.

In the viewing area, you can look down into the 1,350-foot-deep Santa Rita Mine, where people have mined copper for centuries. The town and museums are all about mining the valuable metals. Definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in this era of America.

10. Roswell

Roswell, New Mexico, USA
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Roswell gained international notoriety in July 1947 when unrecognizable fragments were found on a sheep farm outside the city. Although officials at the local air base confirmed that it was a crashed weather balloon, many believed, and still believe, that the debris was the remains of an alien flying saucer.

In addition to the UFO Museum, the former crash site can also be visited and explored. Of course, there is more to experience in Roswell. In the immediate vicinity is the Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge, a swampland that provides a habitat for many different animals.

9. Los Alamos

Los Alamos Butte
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Los Alamos first gained dubious fame due to the presence of a scientist. The scientist in question was Robert J. Oppenheimer, who was working on an atomic bomb under the code name of the “Manhattan Project” in the Los Alamos region. The Los Alamos Lab is still an institution today and is one of the largest and most advanced research laboratories.

Around the city there are several national parks where you can marvel at the landscape and nature. For those interested in the history of the region, including the Manhattan Project, a visit to the Los Alamos Museum is recommended.

8. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
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Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is surrounded by the Gila National Forest and is located on the Gila Wilderness. It is the first designated wilderness area in the nation. Wilderness means that the character of the area is not altered by human activity. This unique area in southwestern New Mexico offers a glimpse into the way of life and homes of the Native Americans who lived here more than 700 years ago.

In the early 1870s, European settlers entered the wilderness in search of fertile land to settle. They were surprised to find traces of earlier human habitation. Long before the arrival of European settlers, these Native Americans had lived in the canyons and made them their home. Ceramic fragments were a reminder of a sophisticated culture that lived in this landscape for over a thousand years.

7. Petroglyph National Monument

Petroglyph National Monument
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Rock Art National Monument is a nature preserve located on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. It preserves some 20,000 petroglyphs, most of them prehistoric Native American, as well as Spanish settlers and early white Americans. The area was designated a national monument in 1990 and is managed by the National Park Service in cooperation with the Albuquerque City Council.

The preserve includes a portion of the plateau, several canyons dominated by rock carvings, and three small volcanoes in the far west.
About 90% of the petroglyphs are from the prehistoric Indians who gave rise to the Pueblo culture. They were made between 1300 and about 1600. In addition to figures and body parts, especially hands and feet, animals are primarily depicted. There are also geometric figures such as spirals and stars.

6. Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument
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Bandelier National Monument is a monument-type national monument and wildlife refuge located in northern New Mexico, USA, covering an area of approximately 136 square kilometers. More than two-thirds of it is protected as Bandelier Wilderness. The main attraction of the national monument is Frijoles Canyon. The precursors of the Pueblo culture were settled between 1100 and 1550. There are more than 1,000 settlements in the area.
The area has been a national monument since 1916 and is named after anthropologist Adolph Bandelier. It was closed to the public for several years during World War II when some Manhattan Project scientists from nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory lived here.

5. Las Cruces

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
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Las Cruces, New Mexico, is a vibrant frontier town with plenty to do! Whether you’re here for just a day, a week, or longer, there’s plenty to do during your visit. If you’re interested in the outdoors, you’ll find events at places like White Sands National Park or Organ Mountains- Desert Peaks National Monument.

If you’re more into live performances, you’ll find events at Amador and other restaurants, local theaters, and New Mexico State University. Since Las Cruces is a college town, it also hosts football and basketball games, as well as activities and exhibits at the university’s museums and galleries. Don’t miss the award-winning Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces and other events in the newly revitalized downtown area, which also features many art galleries and museums.

4. Gallup

Historic El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico
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Gallup is a city in McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico. The city is located on the Puerco River. When Spanish conquistadors arrived in what later became Gallup in 1540, Indians of the Navajo and Hopi tribes, among others, lived here.

In 1880, David L. Gallup, secretary of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, established an office along the Transcontinental Railroad, which was under construction, where construction workers could receive their wages. The following year, Gallup became Town.

During the heyday of the American Western, many movies were filmed in the Gallup area. The El Rancho Hotel on historic Route 66 hosted many stars at the time. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan also stayed at El Rancho. Each room is named after a famous hotel guest.

3. Farmington

Shiprock, New Mexico, USA
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Farmington, city in San Juan County, northwestern New Mexico, USA. It lies at the confluence of the San Juan, Animas and La Plata rivers. Settled in 1876, when Indian lands were opened to settlers, the town developed into a small agricultural community and a distribution center for the nearby Ute Mountain and Navaho Indian reservations.

Farmington’s growth was spurred by the discovery of coal, oil, and natural gas in the 1950s, and the construction of Navajo Dam and petroleum processing plants influenced light industrial development. Aztec Ruins National Monument is 23 km northeast and Salmon Ruins is 19 km east. Absolutely worth seeing is also Shiprock Mountain. A spectacular monolith in the desert a few kilometers from Farmington.

2. Very Large Array

Very Large Array in Socorro, NM
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Very Large Array is a radio telescope system located on the plains near Socorro, New Mexico, USA. The VLA was commissioned in 1980 and is the most powerful radio telescope in the world. It is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The VLA consists of 27 parabolic dishes, each 25 meters in diameter. Each dish can be moved independently by a transporter on tracks arranged in a giant Y pattern. The resolution of the VLA is changed by changing the position of the dishes. The radio signals recorded by each dish are integrated by computer to achieve a resolution equivalent to that of a single dish up to 36 km in diameter.

The maximum angular resolution is comparable to that of the Hubble Space Telescope at optical wavelengths. For all friends of technology this attraction is a must-see.

1. Chaco Canyon

Ruins of Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon
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Part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Chaco Canyon is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world and is visited by tens of thousands of visitors each year. Chaco is more than just a tourist attraction, however; it is also sacred land. Pueblo peoples such as the Navajo consider it the home of their ancestors.

The canyon is vast and is home to an impressive number of structures, large and small, that testify to the incredible creativity of the people who lived in the Four Corners region between the 9th and 12th centuries. Chaco was the urban center of a larger world, and the Pueblo ancestors who lived here created impressive buildings, waterways and more.

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Map of New Mexico