New Mexico is packed with things to see and do, but some attractions are better promoted than others. If you want to explore the state’s less obvious sites, consider visiting the 10 spots on this list.
1. The galleries in Santa Fe’s Railyard
Art lovers always flock to Santa Fe’s Canyon Road—and so they should—but many overlook the excellent contemporary galleries in the Railyard. The adjacent Railyard Park, which is only a few years old, is a kid-friendly, urban oasis.
2. Santa Fe Botanic Garden
Admittedly, this garden is small, and still in the process of expanding, but it’s a beautiful meld of sculpture and plants, with a particular emphasis on drought-tolerant species.
3. Earthships, Near Taos
Whether you choose to stay overnight or just want to visit, the collection of earthships near Taos may appear out-of-this-world, but they provide valuable and intriguing insights into preserving our planet through sustainable practices. Do you know how to use the same water three or four times?
4. Pecos National Historical Park
This one site encompasses a lot of New Mexican history, from the remains of the Pecos Pueblo, to a 17th century Spanish mission. Signing up for a ranger-led tour grants you access to additional treats, such as viewing wagon ruts left over from the days of the Santa Fe Trail.
5. Eagle Nest Lake
Eagle Nest Lake, not too far from Taos, is as tranquil as it is pretty. Eagle Nest Lake State Park is known for fishing (salmon and rainbow trout), but it’s also a relaxing spot for a picnic and a little wildlife watching (eagles, turkeys, elk).
6. Ojito Wilderness
To really get away from it all, head to the Ojito Wilderness, an overlooked expanse of wild land, filled with trails, box canyons, and variegated rocks. Although it’s only 21 miles from Bernalillo, these 11,200 acres of land have minimal amenities, so bring any supplies you might need!
7. The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array
See Jodie Foster! Well, hear her at least. She’s the narrator for the film about the VLAs, a collection of 27 radio telescopes that stretch for one hundred square miles, in the desert west of Socorro. Astronomers use this equipment to learn all about space, including black holes and galaxy growth. A few years ago, the site was little more than a parking lot, but it’s since been developed into a tourist attraction—one well worth seeing.
8. Poeh Museum, Pojoaque
About a twenty-minute drive from Santa Fe, this museum about the Tewa-speaking Pueblos draws you in, so that you experience rather than just observe exhibits. You enter through the Emergence Room, which is representative of the earth when it was untouched by man. From there, you travel through the winter, spring, summer and autumn rooms. Scenes are illustrated by clay figures, living their daily lives.
9. Bosque Redondo Memorial, Near Fort Sumner
It’s important to remember the years of persecution that the Navajo and Mescalero Apache suffered at the hands of the U.S. Army. After “The Long Walk,” 10,000 people were incarcerated at the Bosque Redondo Reservation, where the memorial now stands.
10. Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum, Albuquerque
Thousands of people attend Albuquerque’s annual Balloon Fiesta, but far fewer explore this museum. Ballooning was humankind’s first serious attempt at flying, a point emphasized by the displays devoted to the history of ballooning. The museum contains plenty of interactive components, which allow you to practice crashing—ahem landing—balloons!
Which of these places have you been to? What spots in New Mexico do you think are underrated? Share your thoughts in the comments.