It’s impossible to spend time in New Mexico without being impressed with the state’s beauty. Although there are dazzling views throughout the Land of Enchantment, some of our natural wonders shine more brightly than others. Explore these 10 diverse yet magnificent places in New Mexico.
1. Valles Caldera, in the Jemez Mountains
Valles Caldera is the crater of a supervolcano that erupted 1,250,000 years ago. The debris spewed during this event landed as far away as Kansas. The crater's diameter is 13 miles across. In fact, it's so big that it's hard to grasp the the crater's scale when you're actually in it. (This is also a great place for spotting elk.)
2. Carlsbad Caverns, near Carlsbad
Carlsbad Caverns are thought to be one of the most extensive cave systems on the planet. The aptly named Big Room is 1800 feet in length and 255 feet high.
Aside from wondrous stalactites, Carlsbad Cavern hosts 300,000 or so bats between the months of May and October. At nightfall, they swarm from the caves - it's an unforgettable sight.
3. White Sands, near Alamogordo
At approximately 300 square miles, White Sands National Monument is the world's biggest gypsum dune system. The dunes extend throughout the Tularosa Basin, as far as the eye can see. Plus, you can go sand sledding!
4. Rio Grande Gorge, near Taos
The Rio Grande Gorge is approximately 800 feet deep and about 50 miles long. Views from the top are stunning, if vertigo-inducing. The gorge provides a diverse environment for wildlife and plants.
5. Sangre de Cristo Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are the most impressive range in the nation and the Sangre de Cristos belong to the Southern Rockies. The peaks in this range are the tallest in New Mexico.
6. El Malpais lava flow, near Grants
It's hard to appreciate the force and intensity of a volcanic eruption without seeing the aftermath. El Malpais is one of the few places where you can walk across a lava field. This national monument also contains a 17-mile long lava tube system.
7. La Ventana Arch, near Grants
La Ventana Arch is also inside El Malpais National Monument. This sandstone arch is one of the largest in the state and is gorgeous when the light hits it just right.
8. Rio Grande River
The Rio Grande River is a less showy natural wonder than some of the others on this list but it's the lifeblood of New Mexico. This river is 1885 miles long and it's an American Heritage River.
9. Bisti Badlands, near Farmington
It's impossible to see the hoodoos and balancing rocks in the Bisti Badlands without experiencing a sense of awe.
10. Shiprock, in Shiprock
Although this formation does indeed look like a ship floating across a calm sea, it's actually a volcanic plug.
Once upon a time, it served as a stopper, blocking a volcano vent.