It is the unique goal of travel adventurers to visit all fifty states in America. To boost this objective, each week we shall explore one state. Alphabetically, the 31st to visit is none other than New Mexico, abbreviated NM. Regardless of the order in which you explore them, NM, the Land of Enchantment, is fascinating.
Visit state # 31 – NM
|State Motto||Crescit eundo (It grows as it goes)|
|State Flower||Yucca flower|
|State Bird||Greater roadrunner|
|State Capital||Santa Fe|
|Famous Foods||Beef and chicken enchiladas, tamales, carne adovada, burritos, huevos rancheros, chiles rellenos, biscochitos, tacos al pastor, pozole, mole, breakfast burritos, red and green chili dishes, and more.|
Part desert and mesas, part flatland and plains, part grasslands and meadows, part rugged mountain and snow-capped peaks, part pine forest and rich mountain streams, New Mexico possesses one of the most diverse landscapes in America. The state is generally known for its mild and arid climates with low precipitation and abundant sunshine. However, the climate of the highest mountains is like that of the Rocky Mountains. Much of the land sits in the Upper Chihuahuan Desert, making it colder than Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.
The landlocked state is in the Mountain Division of the southwestern United States. It borders Colorado to the north, Oklahoma and Texas to the east, the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora in the south, and Arizona in the west. It is the fifth largest U.S. state and boasts over 80 named mountain ranges. Wheeler Peak is the highest at an elevation of 13,167 ft. Principal rivers include the Rio Grande, New Mexico’s longest river, and the Pecos River with its source near the state’s capital of Santa Fe.
The state was first settled by the Pueblo Indians who built cities with sophisticated irrigation systems. In fact, visitors can observe Pueblo ruins throughout the state. Other native tribes also inhabited the territory, including Clovis, Folsom, Cochise, and Anasazi. Spanish explorers arrived in New Mexico in 1540, led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado. The Spanish began to settle the area in the 1590s with the to mine silver and convert Native Americans to Christianity. Santa Fe was also the capital of Spanish New Mexico and was the first permanent European settlement west of the Mississippi. For over two centuries, Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of New Spain and became a territory of Mexico that gained independence from Spain in 1821. In 1846, U.S. forces invaded and occupied the land. The treaty of Guadalupe would ultimately end the war between the U.S. and Mexico and expand U.S. territory. In 1912, New Mexico became our 47th state.
New Mexico is proud of its role in tourism, welcoming over 35 million visitors annually. A few highlights of the state include Carlsbad Caverns National Park, best known for its winding passages of underground caves; International UFO Museum and Research Center, ground zero for the infamous Roswell UFO incident; White Sands National Monument, a gypsum sand-rich landscape covering 275 miles; Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, stretching from New Mexico to Colorado and featuring one of the oldest steam locomotives of the world; New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, with interactive experiences for all; Bandelier National Monument, rich in historical relics of Pueblo tribes; and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where hot air balloon enthusiasts gather each October – just a mini-sampling of the fun things to experience.
Of course, a trip to NM is incomplete without a visit to Santa Fe, an enthralling city which lies on a tributary of the Rio Grande and along the snowcapped Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The city is a refreshing mix of cultures, including Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American. The streets of America’s second oldest city are quaint and showcase beautiful adobe architecture that seamlessly blends with the surrounding high desert landscape. The city is known for its art and culinary experiences, featuring some of the finest accommodations, shopping, and restaurants in America.
Another of NM’s exciting attractions includes Sandia Peak Tramway in Bernalillo County. This famed aerial tramway is located adjacent to Albuquerque and stretches from the northeast edge of the city to Sandia Peak along the ridgeline of the Sandia Mountains. The 2.7-mile-long ride up is well worth the time, for atop the mountain there are stunning views of the surrounding terrain and city below, providing a unique way to observe nature and the land. For an unforgettable memory, ride up and breathe in the fresh mountain air while witnessing over 11,000 square miles of the Land of Enchantment. Chances are you’ll want to return time and time again.
Up next: The Big Apple