There was absolutely no joking involved when New Mexico was nicknamed the Land of Enchantment. Having visited the chile pepper state multiple times, I have grown to love and cherish this unique place. New Mexico has many interesting sites that are bound to amaze you. Yet, most of them are often overlooked and could even be considered hidden gems.
This promises a more intimate experience, wherever you may find yourself visiting. The diverse nature of this region creates a melting pot for many different types of people. Whether you are planning a multi-stop tour or you are just road-trippin’ through, New Mexico has something for every kind of traveler.
ALIEN ADVENTURES IN ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO
Infamous for the 1947 UFO crash, Roswell thrives in its alien weirdness. This is the perfect place to visit for breaking the monotony of road trip travel. You only need a few hours to immerse yourself in some iconic alien culture. Both the historic and the kitschy live in perfect harmony in this small east New Mexican town. Fully embracing their moment in the spotlight, the city has adopted the alien life and helped travelers gain insight into the otherworldly occurrences.
Start your trip off by popping into the historic Roswell Visitor Center. They have amazing maps of the city that help you plan your route and maximize your time. As you head down the street, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the hilariously relevant alien street lamps.
Park your craft and head into the Alien Zone to pay just $3 for access into their fascinating Area 51. Inside, you’ll find different alien experiments going on. An amazing mix of vintage and gaudy, there is no short supply of picture-worthy moments.
Just down the block, you’ll find the International UFO Museum And Research Center. It’s full of interactive and immersive alien studies. You can roam around the museum, read in the research library, or enjoy on-theme documentaries (some of which can’t be watched anywhere else)!
WHERE TO EAT AND STAY IN ROSWELL
With many good lunch options at hand, I chose to try the Cowboy Cafe. If you are looking for a fulfilling, rustic meal, this is the place for you. They offer both affordable and delicious choices. Before you leave, make sure and try a slice of pie à la mode.
If you decide you need some rest after your dessert, stay the night at Bottomless Lakes State Park in Roswell. It’s a pretty area with nice campsites as well as camper and RV spaces. Learn the legend of these interesting waters and catch a colorful, relaxing sunset.
TOES IN THE WHITE SANDS
In southern New Mexico, the sheer vastness of the White Sands National Monument impresses and excites its visitors. As you turn into the park you will be greeted by a lovely visitor’s center that can provide you with maps of the dunes and other pertinent information related to when you are visiting.
As you drive deeper into this National Monument, a seemingly endless horizon of sand dunes stretches around you. These mystical dunes make you feel like a kid in a gigantic sandbox. I ran around with my traveling companions and laughed till my face hurt. This truly felt like some far away planet. It’s like you might see a Jedi landing in the dunes at any given moment. However, this isn’t a faraway planet, it’s right here in New Mexico.
TIPS FOR WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT
The peaceful and remote nature of the park makes for a perfect place to take some deep breaths. Beauty and tranquillity surround you. After you crest one of the sand mountains, you may not see anyone dotting your view for some distance.
Right around sunset is a beautiful time to take in the White Sands. You will get to witness the sun sinking behind the distant mountains and feel the heat slowly retreat while you sit in the warm sand. Be sure to wear sunglasses if you want to spend mid-day hours there! The sand reflects the sun and can be quite bright.
The White Sands National Monument is great for those making a road trip to or from Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. Being only about 3 hours apart, travelers can check off two parks along the way.
LOSE YOURSELF IN MEOW WOLF
Find yourself heading to Santa Fe, New Mexico? If the answer is yes, you have an extremely fascinating and mind-stimulating experience ahead of you. For just $29, you can spend an entire day roaming the halls of the House of Eternal Return. Meow Wolf is the home to this amazing art installation. This exhibit began through the hard work of a multitude of artists, volunteers, and the support of Game of Thrones author, George R. R. Martin.
Travel through endless secret entries and crisscrossed dimensions in this interactive, immersive art experience. From vintage homely vibes to intergalactic oddities, every couple of feet introduces you to the dream world right in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Crawl into mystical treehouses, dimly lit spacecraft, and through household appliances to solve the mystery of the House of Eternal Return.
Our Top Places To Stay in Santa Fe, New Mexico:
As my curiosity guided me, I found myself climbing spiral stairs and roaming the endless portals. Most intriguing to me was the dark dome full of giant blinking eyeballs. You could lie on the artificial grass and hear the soft chirps and buzzing.
Fully submerged in the phenomenon of the infinitely artistic Meow Wolf, I spent hours inspecting and exploring the different rooms and themes throughout. Each zone is crafted to fit a mood using sound, visuals, lighting, and some magical vibe that accompanies you the entire time you are visiting.
I strongly suggest getting the trippy cardboard goggles they offer. If you wear them while you adventure, you really get a more dreamy view of the exhibits. Having gone three times myself, I love giving this New Mexico site the ultimate praise and mention that it deserves.
HIKE TO THE TENT ROCKS
If you’ve never been to the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico, get yourself about halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe off of Highway 25. Once you get to the monument, you’ll find a small parking area equipped with a few picnic tables and a bathroom. The trailhead shows two routes: Slot Canyon Trail and the Cave Loop.
Both of them are fairly short and accessible, so I highly suggest doing both. However, the Slot Canyon takes you to the best viewpoints of the Tent Rocks. As you wind your way in between the massive rocks, you find a few clearings that give you small glimpses of the peculiar formations.
Watch out for falling debris! As you head through the Slot Canyon it can get windy and sometimes sling rocks, sticks, and even sand into the air around you. Once you start the uphill portion of the trail you will be able to view the glorious Tent Rocks completely unhindered. The sight is interesting and if you read the posted signs, you can learn a little more about these rocks and how they came about.
SOAK IN THE SAN ANTONIO HOT SPRINGS
This particular spring is a personal favorite New Mexican site and I hold it dear to my heart. It is a gorgeous hot spring nestled away in the Santa Fe National Forest. The best part is: if you make an early morning hike in Tent Rocks, you can make it here for an evening soak. It is not only breathtaking at the San Antonio Hot Springs, but you will also be short of breath on the 2.5-mile hike in.
A forest road leads back to the site and unless you have 4-wheel drive, I suggest hiking as it is typically closed anyways due to soil erosion. If you do have to walk, it’s an enjoyable hike and you will get a closer look at the ecosystem of the area. The air is so crisp and the trees provide the perfect amount of shade when needed.
Once you get to the end of the trail you’ll find a small wooden bridge crossing the creek. On the other side of that bridge is a visible mountainside with small meadows and tall trees. A short distance upwards you will start to hear the trickling water and see the steam rising up from an unseen rocky bath.
Once you are among the five spectacular natural pools, you will understand why this place is so special. When I sat in the warm water of the San Antonio Hot Springs that chilly April day, a blizzard started covering the mountainside. I felt like I was inside a snow globe. Sitting in nature’s hot tub while the world became glistening and white all around me. Moments like these are what inspire me to journey on.
Needless to say, New Mexico is full of rich culture, interesting terrain, and enchanting moments. The location of the state makes it great for travelers coming from all directions. No matter what you are hoping to find, the Land of Enchantment will exceed your expectations. Remember, being a sustainable traveler means contributing to the local economy and creating minimal waste while visiting. These admired sites can only be kept up with if we all do our part.
We hope that this article has helped inspire you to visit New Mexico. If you have any questions about the destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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Our Top Places To Stay in Santa Fe, New Mexico:
- Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
- Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe
- La Posada De Santa Fe
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