Dazzling desert landscapes, deep gorges and canyons, ruins, and isolated churches. New Mexico sure is one rugged place. Yet surprisingly enough it’s also known for its great wine. It just goes to show that New Mexico has so much to offer visitors and surely this state will change your views about rugged beauty.
If you’re looking for ghost towns then this state has a whole lot of them at every nook and cranny. Albuquerque itself has a lot to give. Every year in October the city has the world’s biggest hot air balloon festival with over 500 balloons filling the blue sky with their vibrant skins. The same city is also known for its biking trails.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
If you love caves then this is your true calling. At the base of the Guadalupe Mountains lie the Carlsbad Caverns National Park with the Carlsbad Caverns as its main attraction. These caverns are one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites with 83 individual caves. Though settlers had discovered the site back in the 1880s, the pictographs at the cavern’s entrance indicate that Native Americans had found it 1000 years ago. To the south is Slaughter Canyon Cave, with the Monarch, one of the world’s tallest columns at 89ft, along with a delicate rimstone dam. You can head to the park by taking the National Parks Highway from Carlsbad.
White Sands National Park
Ever wondered what it would look and feel like to walk in a completely white field? Ponder no further as the answer to your questions lies at the heart of the Tularosa Basin. The White Sands National Park’s gypsum dunes are a consequence of the basin's isolation and bizarre weather patterns. This provides a truly unique experience as you take a sled and race down the giant dunes or partake in the educational ranger-led programs of the park.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Created as a result of the Rio Grande dam in 1916, the Elephant Butte reservoir was meant for irrigation and flood control. However, it soon became the state’s premier water recreation facility with a park around it. Interestingly enough, millions of years ago when the water had receded, the area became a T-Rex hunting ground. Today, you can have a look at T-Rex and other dinosaur fossils at the park. Located on Elephant Butte Road, New Mexico.
City of Rocks State Park
Situated in the picturesque Chihuahuan desert region of New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet lies the City of Rocks State Park. Formed from volcanic ash 30 million years ago and shaped by the forces of nature into rows of monolithic blocks, the incredible rock formations of the park are sure to leave you awestruck. Furthermore, as a result of being situated under the darkest night skies of the country, you can take a tour of the cosmos at the park's new observatory.
Bottomless Lakes State Park
Located just 14 miles southeast of Roswell, Bottomless Lakes State Park waits for you to dive and discover its depths. The park is created from 7 lakes that act like 17 - 90 meter deep sinkholes painted greenish-blue by the aquatic plants, giving the illusions of bottomless pits. As you’ve already guessed, the park is famous for swimming, scuba diving, fishing, kayaking, and other water activities. Enjoy your day in the lake with red hill bluffs to paint your background.
Cimarron Canyon State Park
As a part of New Mexico’s largest wildlife area, the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area, Cimarron Canyon State Park is a forested canyon, located near Angel Fire with the Cimarron River flowing through its depths. The park is best known for its beautiful hiking trails as it offers picturesque views with fascinating geology and great spots for fly fishing. You can get there through Highway 64.
Hyde Memorial State Park
Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at an elevation of 8,300 - 9,300 ft, the Hyde Memorial State Park is a natural refuge for wildlife like coyotes, foxes, porcupines, deer, and raccoons. Just a short drive away from Santa Fe is your next camping spot. Furthermore, in the winters the park provides snowshoeing, sledding, and cross-country skiing opportunities. Located on Hyde Park Road, Santa Fe.
Rockhound State Park
Now here lies heaven for any rock hound out there. The Rockhound State Park is abundant in agates and quartz crystals. You might want to pack some tools while on your hike just in case you come across a protruding crystal only to pull it out and find a whole geode full of them. The park is pretty much dry land with some great views of the stars at night. You can get there by taking Stirrup Road from Deming.
Oliver Lee Memorial State Park
With the Sacramento Mountains providing a glorious backdrop, the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park challenges your endurance up its Dog Canyon Trail. The park features a historic ranch house, camping in the Chihuahuan Desert, and the unique oasis of pools under cottonwood trees. Head to the park through Dog Canyon Road from Alamogordo.