There are many reasons why people flock to the Land of Enchantment, to visit and to live! From its terrain, weather and culture to its unique arts scene, New Mexico is a place that people love. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or are just passing through, you’ve undoubtedly already fallen in love with this state. Here are 12 reasons New Mexico has gained a reputation for being both fun and funky.
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1. TV and movie producers love filming here.
If you’re not a fan of the "Breaking Bad" series, which was filmed in New Mexico, then maybe you prefer films like "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "No Country for Old Men" or the Oscar-nominated "Hell or High Water." All were filmed in New Mexico. Albuquerque Studios is the largest production facility in the country. Albuquerque has been listed in MovieMaker magazine's annual list of "Top 10 Cities to be a Movie Maker" for the past seven years. In the past century, more than 600 films have been shot in New Mexico.
2. We get 278 days of sunshine a year.
On average, there are 278 sunny days per year in New Mexico. But because of the dry climate, even days with less sunshine are more comfortable than they would be in a more humid climate. You won’t have to wait for the warm weather here.
3. We host the world's largest hot air balloon fiesta.
The International Balloon Fiesta, held every October in Albuquerque, is the largest hot air balloon fiesta in the world. Imagine approximately 600 hot air balloons ascending into the pre-dawn New Mexico at the same time. It’s a unique sight, as is the Afterglow event in the evenings during the fiesta, when the balloons light up the dark sky.
4. You can ski at nine different slopes.
From Ski Apache outside Ruidoso in the southern part of the state to Red River up north, you can experience nine different ski areas with slopes of varying levels of difficulty. Pictured above is the chair lift at Ski Santa Fe.
5. New Mexico boasts a vibrant arts scene.
In Santa Fe alone, more than 100 galleries are in the ¾-mile stretch of Canyon Road. And the open-air Santa Fe Opera, active each season since 1957, is internationally known for introducing new operas as well as for its productions of the standard operatic repertoire. The art shown above adorns the entrance to a Santa Fe art gallery.
6. Our terrain is diverse.
One-fourth of New Mexico is forested, and the state has seven National Forests, including the country’s largest, the 3.3 million acre Gila National Forest. If you love the mountains, then you can visit 13,000-foot peaks full of pine and spruce trees. We also have white gypsum sand dunes and vast expanses of prairie. You’ll never be bored with the scenery. The photo above is of the aspens in the Santa Fe National Forest in the fall.
7. You can relax here, with space to roam.
There are only about 17 people per square mile here (compared to 1,185 in New Jersey). So if the city life has you feeling fenced in, visit the Land of Enchantment. Enjoy hiking a mountain trail or fishing on a tranquil lake, with no one else around. The photo above was taken in the 41,170-acre Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.
8. It’s a culturally diverse state.
New Mexico has the fourth-largest population of indigenous tribes. There are 23 Indian tribes located in the state: 19 Pueblos, three Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation. And nearly half (48 percent) of New Mexico’s population is Latino, the highest share among the states. As a result, the state offers richly diverse music, food and traditions you won’t find anywhere else. Pictured above is the Zuni Pueblo Visitor Center.
9. You’re more likely to encounter an extraterrestrial here.
Each year in New Mexico, around 1,000 official reports of UFO sightings are made. And the 1947 Roswell Incident, in which an unidentified object made of an unusual type of metal landed in a field, has resulted in many TV shows, books and even the Roswell UFO Museum.
10. Craft beer is big here — even monks brew it.
In 2016, New Mexico ranked 11th in the number of craft beer breweries per capita in the United States. About an hour northwest of Santa Fe is the Monastery of Christ in the Desert’s tap room, where you can savor a classic Belgian ale made by Benedictine monks. The beer is sold under the name of Abbey Brewing Company. (Beer is not allowed at vespers.)
11. We’ve been making wine longer than California has.
Many people think of Napa Valley when they think of wine. But wine has been produced in what is now the state of New Mexico for more than 400 years. Spanish colonists brought mission grapes from New Spain. Now more than 40 wineries in the state produce more than 700,000 gallons of vino each year. Gruet Winery, founded in 1984, makes what many sommeliers consider the finest sparkling wine in the country.
12. New Mexicans put green chile on everything, including pizza.
When you visit a New Mexico restaurant, the server will probably ask you, "Red, green or Christmas?" That means, "Do you want red chile, green chile or both on your food?" But chile isn’t just reserved for rellenos or enchiladas here. We put it on pizza, eggs, potatoes — you name it.
What other unique features do you think make New Mexico a cool state? Please tell us something about the Land of Enchantment that we didn’t know!