As you probably know by now, I love my adopted home state of New Mexico. There are so many amazing things to do and see that it will be a long time before I’m ready to leave permanently.
Here are my favorite things I have done in NM so far, although not in any particular order.

White Sands Panorama Blog Post

White Sands National Monument. If you look closely the oddly shaped dark lump towards the right of the photo is our tent.

1. White Sands National Monument– Imagine driving through the high desert landscape that is New Mexico and suddenly coming upon glistening white sand dunes! Found in the Tularosa Basin of New Mexico, these sand dunes are 98% gypsum. The gypsum is dissolved from the surrounding mountains by rain and brought down to the basin where the water evaporates and the gypsum is left behind. These dunes are easier to walk on than most sand dunes because the lower layers form a sort of plaster of Paris and become solid. My husband and I visited last August and I was surprised by how cool the sand was. This is because the gypsum reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them. One of the most important things to watch for here is sun burn. White Sands is about 4,000 feet above sea level so be careful because there is less atmosphere than at sea level which increases the risk of sun burn. Also remember the rays are bouncing off of the gypsum rather than being absorbed, so the threat of sun burn doesn’t just come from directly above.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks from the canyon rim.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks from the canyon rim.

2. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument– A magnificent place to hike. Along the 1.5 miles to the top of the rim you pass through three different sections. The first is the slot canyon section of scurrying through narrow canyons and, hopefully for you, dry arroyos. The next section to explore is the tent rocks themselves. These tall spires of rock, called hoodoos (or Fairy Chimneys) are created by a soft layer of pumice covered by boulders. The boulders protect the softer layer directly underneath from being washed away by the rain which creates the tent peak shape (as seen in the photo above). After the hoodoos comes the steep climb section which rapidly ascends up the side of the canyon to the rim to reveal stunning views. The entire trail is fairly short, but well worth exploring.

View from the Sandia Peak Tramway

View from inside the Sandia Peak Tramway

3. Sandia Peak Tramway– A trip up the Sandia Peak Tramway whisks visitors up out of the hot city in about 15 minutes. It takes you to the top of Sandia Mountain and into the middle of the Cibola National Forest where the temperature is as much as 30°F cooler than the city. Once on top of the mountain, treat yourself and your special someone to a spectacular sunset dinner at the High Finance Restaurant with the view of the city below.

Canyon Road Sign

Canyon Road Sign in Santa Fe, NM

4. Canyon Road, Santa Fe– If strolling through art galleries is more your speed, then Canyon Road in Santa Fe is your “Place to Be”. Canyon Road is considered a “magical half-mile” and is home to galleries, boutiques, and restaurants galore. Here you can find everything an art collector could want including, but not limited to, Native American pottery, contemporary furniture, handicrafts, and antiques.

Mass Ascension at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Mass Ascension at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

5. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta– The largest balloon festival in the world and the biggest event in New Mexico; The Balloon Fiesta is a sight to behold. Watch the balloons rise with the sun during the Mass Ascension, or watch them flicker as one during twilight at the Balloon Glow. Balloon Fiesta is the first two weeks in October when the weather in the early mornings and evenings necessitates a light jacket, but during the day the sun is bright, warm, and inviting. Insiders note: Don’t drive to the Balloon Fiesta! If you want to go to the fairgrounds, take one of the buses that picks up in various locations around the city and has access to special lanes and entrances. It is much less of a hassle and better for the environment to ride with so many other passengers rather than sitting in traffic for an hour or even two.

Ryan at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Large Array

Ryan at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array

6. National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array– Last, but certainly not least, is the nerd’s dream -the Very Large Array. A radio astronomy observatory with 27 individual antennae linked together and acting as one antennae. The antennae are spread along a Y shaped track and can be as far apart as 22 miles from one end to the other. Upon our visit, my husband and I could see the VLA for miles away and thought we were quite close, but the antennae just kept getting larger and larger for the next 30 minutes until we finally arrived at the Visitor’s Center.

BONUS: A list of things I haven’t gotten to yet, but totally are on my list of things to check out:

Leave me a comment about your favorite place in your home state.

Join the conversation; your thoughts are welcome!