New Mexico, the 5th largest and 36th largest state by population, is a unique and incredible territory. After all, its nickname is the Land of Enchantment for a good reason. There are tons of motivation why you should visit this state, so here are 5 of the most beautiful places in New Mexico that should be on your bucket list.
White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park, in the Chihuahuan Desert of New Mexico, is located about 50 miles from Las Cruces, and 15 miles from Alamogordo. It's is unique place you will never forget, I guarantee you that. Even if the national park its quite small, make sure to don't miss out the best sights - it's wiser to know few information before you plan your visit. As the name indicate it, the white sand is real signature of this place and that is what it make this place so famous.
What can you do in the park ?
- dune driving
- horses riding
It's definitely a place to stay a couple of day to! There are no hotels next to the national park, but you can easily find some nearby the town of Alamogordo. There are also 10 back country campsites at White Sands for tent camping available on a first-come first-served basis. However, RV camping is allowed at White Sands. The good news is, if you plan to camp in the national park, the cost for it is ridiculous – only $3 per person and $1.50 per person aged 15 and younger. Please note that the camp sites do not have showers and the only facility is a toilet located 1 mile away – definitely an adventure!
If you do plan to hike at White Sands, please be ready for harsh weather conditions, as the weather is unpredictable. You need to bring plenty of water and some food - you don’t want to get dehydrated.
There are 6 main trails in the national park :
Organ Needle Trail, level : very difficult 3.3km
Back country Camping Trail, level : intermediate 2.8km
Dune Life Nature Trail, level : easy, intermediate 1.5km
Sierra Vista Trail, level : intermediate 49,4km
Inter-dune Boardwalk, level : easy 0.3km
Playa Trail, level : easy 0.3km
In winter season expect rigid temperatures. From January to April, it's the windy season and storms are quite common. Expect dry and hot days in summer. Probably the best time to visit is late October / early November. It seems every year someone goes missing or dies at White Sands because they did not anticipate the hiking conditions. Getting lost in this type of environments is easier than you can think, especially when you are surrounded by white sand dunes only. The park is often closed for a few hours while missile testing, because of it's proximity with the White Sands missile testing.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is an incredible monument located about 45 miles North of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kasha-Katuwe means "white cliffs" in the native language of the Keres Pueblo People. These cliffs were created by volcanic explosions 6 to 7 million years ago, which left materials like ashes and deposits. In the long process, the erosion formed these particular rock formations that we can admire today!
This outdoor attraction includes a national recreation trail and ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level, where you can hike and bird-watch. The trail its easy-to moderate, but once again make sure to bring a hat and plenty of water for your hike. It's the desert, and there is not shade and little respite from the sun, so be prepared.
The opening hours into the Monument is between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m, but the last entry is allowed at 4p.m. The entry cost is only $5 per vehicle.
Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah, one of the most iconic places that you can visit in northern New Mexico, is a bad-land area of clay hills carved out of water. The place is filled in with fossils and there is not much vegetation to hide the stunning geological formations. These geological formations are also called fairy chimneys.
If rock formations aren't your favorite thing, you can check out the wilderness study area and take a peek at the dinosaur bones, petrified wood, and landscapes that make up this interesting area.
The place isn't easy to find and is little known which make the place even more fantastic. There is no marked hiking trail in this area, although you can walk around for hours.
Roswell has taken on legendary and unbelievable status as site of a possible 1947 crash landing of alien spacecraft, for the last 60 years. Also named as the "Roswell Incident," the town has continued to draw alien enthusiasts from everywhere in the world. It has been seen in multiple movies and TV shows like the X- files,Star Trek, and The Rock. It has its own TV show in 1999 called Roswell. When alien enthusiasts think of UFOs, the word "Roswell" often comes up in their minds.
The town is quite small and particular, and it seems like barely nothing has changed since 1947. The buildings are classically designed reminiscent of a time when people knew their owner and local hardware grocer. Hair salons, coffee shops and souvenir shops line the street. Somehow, Roswell has managed to succeed as a tourist draw without losing the charm that makes this kind of towns so special.
The highlight of the Main Street in Roswell is the International UFO, of course and Research Center. There is no question that this is the most exciting spot in town. So go into the International UFO Museum and Research Center, explore the downtown district and gorge at Classic’s Frozen Custard – it’s the best dessert place in all the town.
Tickets for the International UFO Museum costs $10, very affordable.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park stretches over 46,750 acres and is home to 119 caves. Only few of these caves are accessible to the public, including 3 that you can visit and explore by your own.
Carlsbad Caverns : the most famous and fully developed, with electric lights, paved trails, and elevators.
Slaughter Canyon Cave : no electricity, paved walkways, or modern conveniences. The cave trails are narrow, uneven, and very slippery. The tour last 5 hours, tickets are $15.00 for adults and $7.50 for children. Minimum age is 8 years old. Anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Good hiking shoes are required
Spider Cave : no electricity, paved walkways, or modern conveniences. You will be crawling and sliding through narrow passages - definitely not for the claustrophobic!
The caverns are a great and smart escape during the summer heat. The Visitor Center opens at 8 AM, and entry into the caverns beginning at 8:30 in the morning. The park closes at 5 PM or 7 PM depending on the period of the year and the last tickets are sold 1 hour before closing time. The ticket cost is $15 per person to visit the caverns, but it is free if you have the America the Beautiful Pass, which costs $80 a year and allows you the access to all National Monuments and Parks. It’s totally worth the cost!
Carlsbad Caverns is located about only 30 minutes away from the town of Carlsbad, which is the closest town nearby the site. You will find plenty of stores and restaurants. It is therefore advisable to find accommodation in this city. Also remember that there are no traditional campgrounds at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Photo by : Raychel Sanner @raychelsnr
Lots of love, Valerie & Alex xx