New Mexico destinations, parks and attractions
Are you going on a road trip to New Mexico, looking for tips about the destinations so you and your party can enjoy it, be comfortable and not spend a fortune?
Here are some of the top destinations in New Mexico and tips about visiting them
National parks and monuments in New Mexico
- Aztec Ruins National Monument,
Pueblo people describe this site as part of their migration journey. Today you can follow their ancient passageways to a distant time. Explore a 900-year old ancestral Pueblo Great House of over 400 masonry rooms. Look up and see original timbers holding up the roof. Search for the fingerprints of ancient workers in the mortar. Listen for an echo of ritual drums in the reconstructed Great Kiva.
- Bandelier National Monument,
Los Alamos, NM.
Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back over 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities.
- Capulin Volcano National Monument,
Part of the 8,000 square mile Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field, Capulin Volcano showcases the volcanic geology of northeastern New Mexico. The views are spectacular day or night, with views of 4 different states from the volcanic rim and one of the darkest night skies in the country. Whether it's a quick stop or a day's trip, enjoy exploring the landscape of this unique volcano!
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park,
High ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cactus, and desert wildlife-treasures above the ground in the Chihuahuan Desert. Hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 caves-formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes.
- Chaco Culture National Historic Park,
Today the massive buildings of the Ancestral Puebloan people still testify to the organizational and engineering abilities not seen anywhere else in the American Southwest. For a deeper contact with the canyon that was central to thousands of people between 850 and 1250 A.D., come and explore Chaco through guided tours, hiking and biking trails, evening campfire talks, and night sky programs.
- El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail,
Travel along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail to experience and learn from a complicated legacy of 300 years of conflict, cooperation, and cultural exchange between a variety of empires-European and non-European alike.
- El Malpais National Monument,
The richly diverse volcanic landscape of El Malpais (el-mal-pie-EES) offers solitude, recreation, and adventure. Explore diverse geologic features such as lava flows, cinder cones, lava tube caves, and sandstone bluffs. While some may see a desolate environment, people have been adapting to and living in this extraordinary terrain for generations. Come discover the land of fire and ice!
- El Morro National Monument,
Imagine the refreshment of finding water after days of dusty travel. A reliable waterhole hidden at the base of a sandstone bluff made El Morro (the headland) a popular campsite for hundreds of years. Here, Ancestral Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers carved over 2,000 signatures, dates, messages, and petroglyphs. Make El Morro National Monument a stopping point on your travels.
- Fort Union National Monument,
Exposed to the wind, within a sweeping valley of short grass prairie, amid the swales of the Santa Fe Trail, lie the territorial-style adobe remnants of the largest 19th century military fort in the region. For forty years, 1851-1891, Fort Union functioned as an agent of political and cultural change, whether desired or not, in New Mexico and throughout the Southwest.
- Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument,
Silver City, NM.
For thousands of years, groups of nomadic people used the caves of the Gila River as temporary shelter. In the late 1200's, people of the Mogollon Culture decided it would be a good place to call home. They built rooms, crafted pottery and raised children in the cliff dwellings for about twenty years. Then the Mogollon moved on, leaving the walls for us as a glimpse into the past.
- Manhattan Project National Historic Park,
Manhattan Project National Historical Park, NM,WA,TN.
This site tells the story about the people, events, science, and engineering that led to the creation of the atomic bomb, which helped end World War II.
- Old Spanish National Historic Trail,
Follow the routes of mule pack trains across the Southwest on the Old Spanish National Historic Trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California. New Mexican traders moved locally produced merchandise across what are now six states to exchange for mules and horses.
- Pecos National Historic Park,
In the midst of piñon, juniper, and ponderosa pine woodlands of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains not far from Santa Fe, the remains of Indian pueblos stand as meaningful reminders of people who once prevailed. Pecos National Historical Park helps visitors explore the cultural exchange and geographic features that played such crucial roles in the rich history of the Pecos Valley.
- Petroglyph National Monument,
Petroglyph National Monument protects one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. These images are a valuable record of cultural expression and hold profound spiritual significance for contemporary Native Americans and for the descendants of the early Spanish settlers.
- Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument,
Tucked away in the middle of New Mexico you’ll find Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. Its three distinct sites offer a glimpse into a unique time in history-a time entrenched with cultural borrowing, conflict and struggles. These sites continue to stand as reminders of the Spanish and Pueblo peoples’ early encounters and prompt exploration of today’s interactions among different people.
- Santa Fe National Historic Trail,
You can almost hear the whoops and cries of "All's set!" as trail hands hitched their oxen to freight wagons carrying cargo between western Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Follow the Santa Fe National Historic Trail through five states and you'll find adventure and evidence of past travelers who made this remarkable trip before you!
- Valles Caldera National Preserve,
Jemez Springs, NM.
About 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created the 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera. The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history.
- White Sands National Park,
Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here.
New Mexico State parks and historic sites
New Mexico Seasons, bugs, topography and climate
New Mexico has a mild, arid or semiarid, continental climate characterized by light precipitation totals, abundant sunshine, low relative humidity, and a relatively large annual and diurnal temperature range. The highest mountains have climate characteristics common to the Rocky Mountains.
New Mexico Camping tips
Reservation for New Mexico state Parks campgrounds are made online.