From early on, we hear fairytales about magical, enchanted lands. These stories feed our imagination, but it’s much harder to find ethereal places in the real world. These 10 locations in New Mexico may persuade you that you’ve stepped inside a storybook.
1. Carlsbad Caverns, Near Carlsbad
Carlsbad Caverns feel like a portal to another world. That’s probably what cowboy, Jim White, thought when he followed a colony of bats into the caves and discovered this limestone wonderland.
2. Children’s Fantasy Garden, Albuquerque
Every fairytale needs a turret and, as a bonus, this one comes complete with dragon! The Children’s Fantasy Garden is part of the Rio Grande Botanic Garden and it's a great place for games of make believe.
3. Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe
Whether or not you believe the story behind the creation of the “miraculous staircase” at the Loretto Chapel, its 360-degree turns and lack of obvious support certainly seem magical.
4. Jemez Falls, Near Jemez Springs
This 70-foot high waterfall tumbles over rocks in a setting spectacular enough to belong in a fairytale.
5. Pecos Wilderness & Santa Fe National Forest, Pecos
With its rushing river, lakes, sweeping mountain views, and log cabins tucked away in the woods, the scenery here is truly enchanting.
6. Lybrook Badlands, Near Nageezi
The rock formations in the San Juan Basin are unearthly, and also a little unnerving. This particular formation has a storybook quality, but it would most likely be the lair of a villain, rather than home to a hero or heroine.
7. Enchanted Circle Drive, Northern New Mexico
This 83-mile scenic loop lives up to its magical name. The route takes drivers through quaint northern towns such as Taos, Questa, Red River, and Eagles Nest, and passes some of New Mexico’s most sublime peaks. If possible, go in fall, when the aspens turn a vibrant gold.
8. Wiford Gallery, Santa Fe
In Santa Fe, there are several places where you can watch kinetic sculptures dance in the wind, but the most mesmerizing grouping is outside the Wiford Gallery (set slightly back from Canyon Road). Interspersed between the copper sculptures are chairs formed from rock and metal, which would be at home in any glen filled with fairies and woodland creatures.
9. View from Sierra Blanca, Near Ruidoso
There’s something transcendent about being so high up in the mountains that it feels like you could touch the clouds.
Whether you see it as a ship or as a bird poised to take flight, it’s easy to imagine this rock formation coming to life.
What spots in New Mexico feel magical to you? Let us know in the comments.