New Mexico July 28, 2017
The 12 Most Incredible Natural Attractions In New Mexico That Everyone Should Visit
Visit a volcano. T ake a walk. T ake a swim. Have your breath taken away by unparalleled natural beauty. The following are 12 of our favorite natural wonders in New Mexico that we think everyone should visit at least once.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (near Farmington)
The curious landforms at the Bisti Wilderness seem like they could be from Mars. However, these undulating and eroded rocks are tucked away on 60 square miles of earth in the Four Corners area of New Mexico. Often called the Bisti Badlands, the area is part of the larger De-Na-Zin Wilderness. Find the Bisti/ De-Na-Zin Wilderness just south of Farmington, at County Road 7297, Bloomfield, 87413.
Read more about Bisti Wilderness.
2. Capulin Volcano (Capulin)
Want to drive up the side of a volcano? At Capulin Volcano National Monument, a road spirals up the extinct cinder cone volcano. At the top, find hiking trails around the rim and down into the mouth of the volcano. Capulin Volcano National Monument is located at 44 Volcano Road, Capulin, 88414
3. Tent Rocks (Cochiti)
Volcanic explosions have formed the landscape throughout New Mexico. At Tent Rocks, the settling pumice, ash and tuft formed pinkish white cones. Some of the hoodoos also balance stone caps on their tips, making the pinnacles even more remarkable. Find the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument at Cochiti Pueblo, 87025.
Find out why hiking Tent Rocks should be on every New Mexican's bucket list.
4. Shiprock (Shiprock)
This desert Goliath rises from the high desert plain and dominates the landscape. With its peak reaching more than 7,000 feet, the imposing volcanic structure can be seen from up to 50 miles away.
This New Mexico wonder is located 10 miles southwest of the city of Shiprock. You can reach the base of the structure but the drive is long and bumpy. Known as the "winged rock" in Navajo culture, the jagged landform is considered sacred so climbing is prohibited.
5. Valles Caldera (Jemez Springs)
Even driving along its rim, you can glimpse a bit of what the Valle Caldera has to offer – green meadows (snow-covered in winter) and meandering streams. While volcanic action left an upward landform at Shiprock, here a volcano left a 13-mile wide bowl, or "caldera." There are two entrances to the basin.Trails include easy day strolls through meandering meadows and more technical back-country hikes. Reach the entrances to the Valles Caldera National Preserve off State Road 4, in Jemez Springs.
See the Caldera's unforgettable Coyote Call Trail.
6. White Mountain Wilderness (outside Ruidoso)
You could classify most wilderness area in New Mexico as wonders, but consider visiting the White Mountain Wilderness near Ruidoso. This protected area in the Lincoln National Forest has views galore, especially from its higher elevations (topping out at 11,000 feet). There are pack, hike and saddle trails aplenty. Most trail access requires a vehicle with high clearance but a few can be reached with a regular car.
7. Rio Grande Gorge (Taos)
Just northwest of Taos, aside from the mountains in the distance, the landscape seems pretty flat. That is until you walk out on the Gorge Bridge and look down into the Rio Grande Gorge. From road-level, it's 565 feet to the Rio Grande River below. The Gorge stretches for miles, but one of the best views is from the bridge. It's located about 10 miles northwest of Taos, in El Prado, 87529.
Read more about New Mexico's Grand Canyon.
8. Blue Hole (Santa Rosa)
A refreshing waterhole is always welcome in New Mexico, but the Blue Hole, in Santa Rosa, is crystal clear and always at a refreshing 62 degrees. The main pool is about 80 feet deep, but a maze of underwater caves spreads out below the pool. The pool is open to swimmers and certified SCUBA divers, but the caves are blocked off. See the Blue Hole at 1085 Blue Hole Road, Santa Rosa, 88435. Meanwhile, read more about this
pristine New Mexico swimming hole.
9. Organ Mountains (Las Cruces)
The Organ Mountains reach 9,000 feet above the Chihuahuan Desert and dominate the landscape east of Las Cruces. The distinctly rugged mountains are named for their narrow granite peaks that look like organ pipes. Visit the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in Las Cruces, 88005.
10. Carlsbad Caverns (Carlsbad)
Water erosion formed most limestone caves. Carlsbad Caverns, however, was carved by sulfuric acid. The Big Room in this 119-cave system is big enough to hold more than six football fields. Many consider it the most visually interesting, with features like the Bottomless Pit and Painted Grotto. Be prepared to walk a couple sloping miles for this one. Find the caverns at 727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway, Carlsbad, 88220. It's 27 miles from Carlsbad.
Find out 18 Fascinating Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Carlsbad Caverns.
11. Bosque del Apache (Socorro)
The Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge is 57,331 acres of floodplains and wetlands near Socorro. Though impressive on its own, the real natural wonder at the Bosque is watching the thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl that winter here each year. The Bosque del Apache is located at 1001 NM-1, San Antonio, NM 87832.
Read more about the Bosque del Apache,
including the best times to visit.
12. White Sands (Alamogordo)
Have you been to all of these? What are other incredible natural wonders in New Mexico? Share your adventures, photos and recommendations with us!