Table of Conent

New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. Whether exploring ancient ruins, shopping for silver and turquoise jewelry or just enjoying the ever-changing colors of the sky at sunset, New Mexico casts its charm on every visitor.

From sweeping deserts, incredible mountain ranges, aliens and stunning national parks, it really is a place that should be on your travel.

Boasting one of most incredibly scenic and diverse landscapes in North America, New Mexico offers endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. With strong influences of both Native American and Hispanic culture, the state offers the visitor a multitude of unique attractions both in large cities like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, as well as the smaller hubs of UFO-focused Roswell and the artists' colony of Taos.

Claimed by Native Americans, Spaniards and Mexicans before becoming a state in 1912, few places have a history that is so rich in cultural diversity too.

Here are the best places in New Mexico you should explore right now.

Related: ONLY in NEW MEXICO: 7 Unique Things You Should Know Before Visiting

What Are The Best Places to Travel in New Mexico

1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Photo: National Park

Comprised of nearly 120 known caves, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is hidden mostly underground. Carved from limestone deposited in an ancient sea, the alien underground landscape is one of the most famous New Mexico tourist attractions.

The Park Service offers self-guided audio tours and ranger-led tours. Visitors can also experience bat tours, trips to specific caves, and walks through the outlandish geological formations. Up above, visitors will find a wide range of opportunities for back-country hikes and backpacking. Be sure to bring ample water, according to Planetware.

2. Santa Fe

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Santa Fe. Photo: The Vale Magazine

Prior to 1610, when the city of Santa Fe was established by Spanish colonists, the area was occupied by a succession of local tribes, which explains the rich cultural and historical heritage that you can discover in the city today. You can visit literally dozens of museums, historical sites, and Indian pueblos before even touching on the extravagant list of cultural attractions, which is why the city has been voted the number one destination for culturephiles by USA Today, as said by VacationIdea.

A stroll through the historical districts will showcase over 6,000 structures, and dozens of art museums, galleries, and markets (including the Georgia O’Keefe Museum) will vie for your attention. Foodies can hit the Margarita Trail, explore local breweries, and excite their taste buds at dozens of authentic New Mexican eateries.

3. White Rock

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Welcome to White Rock. Photo: Wikipedia

The beauty of New Mexico can be truly appreciated in small towns like White Rock. With only 6,000 people who call this humble suburb home, White Rock is a safe and happy place to life. In this day and age it is a privilege to be able to describe a place as happy!

With happiness in mind, White Rock is considered to be the best place to raise a family in New Mexico. Living here does come at a cost however; being such a wonderful place to live comes with a less than wonderful price tag.

Median home value is $268,000. In reality, investors seldom get change from $350,000 but there is room for negotiation if you haggle hard enough, The Crazy Tourist said.

4. White Sands National Monument

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Camping in White Sands National Monument. Photo: No Man Before

White Sands National Monument is one of the most stunning landscapes in the state, located a half an hour's drive southwest of Alamogordo in the south of New Mexico. It lies in the Tularosa Basin, a northern offshoot of the Chihuahua Desert, and is surrounded by rugged mountains. Here, gleaming white gypsum sand has built up into an extraordinary landscape of dunes up to 60 feet high, which are constantly displaced by the wind.

5. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Photo: Youtube

Each autumn, Albuquerque hosts the world's largest hot air balloon festival, drawing crowds of more than 80,000 people. The tradition, which started in a parking lot in 1973 with only 13 balloons, has grown to occupy a 365-acre park with more than 500 balloons participating.

This nine-day festival is kicked off by the breathtaking "Mass Ascension" and continues with unique displays of coordinated ballooning and nighttime presentations. In addition to the brightly colored skies, the festival offers plenty of things to do, from kids' activities and live musicians to a juried craft show and dozens of street performers among the numerous vendors. While in Albuquerque, tourists will enjoy sightseeing in the city's old town, where the Spanish first settled, also home to the Albuquerque Museum, which contains historical artifacts and exhibits about the area.

6. Roswell

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Roswell. Photo: Wikipedia

Legend has it that a manned alien spacecraft crashed at Roswell in 1947, but whether or not you believe in aliens you will find plenty to do in this interesting New Mexico town. There is a long list of historical and cultural attractions you can explore, including the Roswell Museum and Art Center, the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, the Roswell Symphony Orchestra, and the General Douglas L. McBride Military Museum.

To make up your mind about the alien visitation, you can visit the International UFO Museum and Research Center or go on a Roswell UFO Tour. Families can visit the Spring River Park and Zoo or go fishing, hiking, camping, and boating at Bottomless Lake State Park

7. Taos Pueblo

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The city of Taos. Photo: EI Pueblo Lodge

Just outside the city of Taos, the Taos Pueblo has the oldest continuously inhabited dwellings in the United States. These adobe structures have stood for more than 1,000 years, constructed of straw-reinforced mud bricks and timber-supported roofs. These apartment-style homes are up to five stories high, and around 150 people live within the old town full-time.

An additional 2,000 reside on the 95,000-acre property in a variety of traditional and modern homes. Residents welcome visitors to take a tour of the community, which has been designated both a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are fantastic photo opportunities, as well as regular markets.

The Pueblo is closed to the public during several of its annual traditional events. Tourists visiting Taos can easily see the area's top attractions on the Taos Highlights Small-Group Driving Tour, which visits the Pueblo as well as historic Taos Plaza, the St. Francis de Assisi Roman Catholic Church, and Gorge Bridge.

8.The Ancient Petroglyphs National Monument

7 top-rated tourist destinations in New Mexico
Petroglyph National Monument

It really is one of the best places in New Mexico to explore.

Created from volcanic activity a good few millennia ago, the cliffside ridges, petroglyphs and volcanic features have all come to shape this arid region - the Petroglyph National Monument.

Gear up with some good shoes and explore the preserved petroglyphs, as well as the trails along with one of four canyons in the area. Most of the petroglyphs are situated within the Boca Negra Canyon area, with some being more than 3,000 years old.

Petroglyph National Monument is one of the best places to explore in New Mexico, especially if you’re interested in history and archeology.


7 top-rated tourist destinations in New Mexico
Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah in New Mexico

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah is located in San Juan County, New Mexico, between Chaco Canyon and the De-Na-Zin Wilderness.

Perched in San Juan County, Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah and the Wilderness Study Area is an area that not only excites geologists but us travellers too! Make sure to visit the iconic Hoodoo formations that are lovingly called fairy chimneys, with Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah being the most iconic and best places in New Mexico to see.

The animal and plant life there is vibrant, mainly due to its geologic age and climate.

Though, if rock formations aren’t your thing, pop around the wilderness study area and take a gander at the dinosaur bones, petrified wood and the vast landscapes that make up this beautiful area.

10.Silver City

7 top-rated tourist destinations in New Mexico
Silver City

As New Mexico’s gateway to the Gila National Forest, Silver City receives its fair share of hikers and campers eager to hit the trails.

In many American towns, it makes sense to first check out what’s happening on Main Street. In 1895, Silver City’s Main Street became a 55-foot-deep gulch following a catastrophic flood. Today, Big Ditch Park runs through the center of town, providing a shaded place to walk and rest on a bench beside Silva Creek.

In a restored classic home built in 1881, Silver City Museum features exhibits that connect you to local culture and events such as: The first criminal indictment of Billy the Kid, initial copper strikes by Spanish settlers, and the Apache encampment that is now Silver City. Artifacts and displays about the ancient Mimbres Mogollon culture inform you about the first Indigenous people in the area. It also prepares you for the 45-mile drive north through the historic hamlet of Pinos Altos to visit Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

Thirty-three miles south of Silver City is another city that isn’t. City of Rocks State Park appears like an apparition on a grassy knoll of Chihuahuan Desert. Artfully sculpted and positioned by volcanic activity millions of years ago, boulders and pinnacles as high as 40 feet create natural corridors that are the streets and boulevards of this surreal “city.”

11.Chaco Culture National Historic Park

7 top-rated tourist destinations in New Mexico
Chaco Culture National Historic Park

The “road less traveled” applies to Chaco Canyon in the modern era of travel and leisure, but it wasn’t always this way. From 850 to 1150 AD, the valley that is now the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chaco Culture National Historic Park was a primary trading center in the Four Corners.

Archeological discoveries indicate that Chaco was also connected to a vast Pan-American trading network. Thousands of Indigenous people who called Chaco Canyon home were Ancient Puebloans. Many people in the southwest today claim ancestral roots to Chacoan culture, and its ceremonial rites and traditions.

You will appreciate Chaco Canyon day and night. As an International Dark Sky Park, pursue your interest in the cosmos and capture starlight with your camera while camping beside a sandstone cliff. During the day, designated trails and overlooks allow you to walk in the footsteps of the Ancient Puebloans. A paved nine-mile scenic driving loop begins at the visitor center. With bike racks conveniently located at trailheads for each of the village sites, this loop is a favorite ride for cyclists, as well as motorists.

Get ready to feel awe-struck when standing in the middle of Pueblo Bonito — one of the largest complexes of ceremonial kivas, courtyards, and pithouses made of carved and layered sandstone of many colors. Take your time to soak in the peace that surrounds you while exploring this and the other five “great houses” of Chaco Canyon. Surrounded by these monuments of civilization, imagine how ingenuity mixed with manual labor created such a vast complex of villages.

12.The Blue Hole

Located in Santa Rosa, the natural, bell-shaped pool is 80 feet deep and is famous for its incredible clarity and constant water temperature of 61 degrees. It’s considered an artesian aquifer, where rainwater trapped beneath the ground is forced up under natural pressure.

The spheres you see bobbing on its surface are attached to underwater diving platforms. It appears in the midst of the arid high mesas like a grand, brilliant blue gem, and is not just for divers, it’s also considered to be one of the top 10 natural swimming holes in the nation.

13.Tse Bitai (Shiprock)

7 top-rated tourist destinations in New Mexico
Tse Bitai

Having a height of 1500 feet, Tse Bitai, also named Shiprock, is one of the most beautiful and purely natural sites of New Mexico. It maintains great significance for the Navajo nation, and it is thought of as a sacred mountain.

This spot has kept the attention of famous photographers, film producers, hikers, and just tourists, all thanks in part to its stunning views.

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