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. Santa Rosa: The Blue Hole
Although Santa Rosa's population is only 2848, it is the location of one of the nation's most beloved scuba diving spots. The Blue Hole is fed by a natural spring and it's shaped like a bell. It's not just divers who flock here. The Blue Hole is also popular with swimmers and those who simply want to gaze into these insanely clear waters.
While you're in Santa Rosa, stop by the Route 66 Auto Museum to admire some classic vehicles.
2. Glenwood: The Catwalk Trail
Although Glenwood is only home to 143 people, this is the place to go if you want to hike the Catwalk Trail. This unique route steers visitors through Whitewater Canyon. Highlights include a suspension bridge, a waterfall, and some epic scenery.
3. Chimayó: El Santuario de Chimayó
Only 3177 people live in the town of Chimayó, but many more are drawn here by El Santuario de Chimayó. This spiritual - and many believe healing - place, is known for its sacred soil.
4. Chama: Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad
Chama's gorgeous setting is the reason why its top attraction - the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad - is so successful. This narrow-gauge steam train chugs back and forth between Chama (population 1022) on the New Mexican side of the border, and Antonito, on the Colorado side.
5. Elephant Butte: Elephant Butte Lake State Park
The town of Elephant Butte has 1431 residents and the state's largest reservoir, which attracts visitors interested in swimming, camping, wake boarding, boating, and fishing.
6. Capulin: Capulin Volcano National Monument
A mere 66 people live in Capulin, a town that shares a name with its main attraction: Capulin Volcano. This huge, symmetrical cinder cone offers a one-of-a-kind hiking experience and sweeping views of the surround landscape - and states!
7. Fort Stanton: Fort Stanton Museum
Fort Stanton essentially is the Fort Stanton Museum. The fort has served as an army base, a tuberculosis hospital, an internment camp, a prison, and a rehab facility. It provides an intriguing look into New Mexico's past.
8. Clayton Lake: Clayton Lake State Park
The 2980 residents of Clayton can head to the nearby state park and admire dinosaur footprints whenever they choose. It blows your mind to realize that these footprints date back 100 million years!
9. Watrous: Fort Union
Teeny Watrous has a population of 135. It's the site of Fort Union National Monument. Although few people live in this area now, it was once an important stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Later, during the Civil War, soldiers stationed here fought in the Battle of Glorieta Pass.
10. Carrizozo: Valley of Fires Recreation Area
Sure, most people associate Valley of Fires with Nevada, but the 996 residents of Carrizozo know that New Mexico has its very own Valley of Fire. About 5000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted, sending lava flowing through the Tularosa Basin. Today, you can hike around this lava flow, which is one of the youngest in the U.S.
11. Taos Pueblo
People have inhabited Taos Pueblo for 1000 years and, according to the most recent census, 1135 continue to do so. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of New Mexico's treasures and it belongs on everyone's bucket list.
12. Fort Sumner: Billy the Kid's Grave
Billy the Kid is definitely buried in Fort Sumner... somewhere! Although you can visit the outlaw's gravesite, it is in the approximate spot where he was laid to rest. During a bad flood, the headstones drifted away from their previous locations. Still, if you're a Billy the Kid fan, this small town of 1031 people is a must-see spot in New Mexico.
Which of these have you been to? Can you think of any other awesome attractions that are located in small towns?