Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in New Mexico!

New Mexico is an interesting mix of the ancient and the modern. On the one hand, you have some of the oldest Native American ruins in the world. On the other, it's the state that helped usher in the Nuclear Age. You can explore prehistoric natural wonders like Carlsbad Caverns one day and a dazzling array of giant satellite dishes searching for extraterrestrial life the next.

Yes, the Land of Enchantment covers the full spectrum of intriguing things to see and do. Here are 20 that you shouldn't miss.

1. White Sands National Monument

It's one of the most unique landscapes on earth, a place where the gypsum sands have built up into ever-shifting dunes. This quiet, eerie place is like being on another planet.

2. Chaco Canyon

This incredible archeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features an intriguing mix of both small and giant ruins dating back thousands of years. The park allows for camping and hiking, and offers telescopes for some canyon-based stargazing.

3. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks

They weren't kidding with the name: these bizarre, cone-shaped rock formations resemble tents. The area makes for some of the most interesting hiking in the state.

4. Birdwatching

New Mexico has many diverse areas that are especially attractive for the spring migrations. The Gila River Bird Habitat in particular draws nearly 300 species. How many will you spot? (Silver City)

5. Explore The Pueblos

There are numerous pueblos around the state, with eight key ones in the Santa Fe area. It's a great way to explore their unique history and cultural significance.

6. Carlsbad Caverns

The underground landscape found in these caves is truly jaw-dropping. There are bizarre geologic formations, massive "rooms" and dazzling colors. The popular "Big Room" is the size of 14 football fields.

7. Watch Bats Take Flight

One of the more popular summer events at Carlsbad Caverns is the "bat flight." Watch as thousands of them leave the caves during the evening to chow down on bugs. Hey, a bat's gotta eat.

8. Billy the Kid Museum

One of the Old West's most famous outlaws had a short but memorable life, being shot to death at 21 by Sheriff Pat Garrett. The museum has items like the original "Wanted" poster, Billy's rifle and horse-riding equipment. He's also buried nearby. (Fort Sumner)

9. The Sandia Peak Tramway

It's a view like no other, a nearly 3-mile journey up to an observation deck atop Sandia Peak. The ride up and down is amazing, but the panoramic views of the Rio Grande Valley are really something. (Albuquerque)

10. Santa Fe Indian Market

It's the world's largest Native American market, and has taken place each August since 1922. Over 1,000 artists and craftsmen sell everything from weavings and jewelry, to paintings and more.

11. Aztec Ruins National Monument

They are some of best-preserved ruins anywhere, dating back to the 12th century. You can almost feel the presence of the people who once lived there. (Aztec)

12. Loretto Chapel

This former Roman Catholic church (now a museum) is best-known for its unusual spiral staircase, one with a mysterious backstory. The legend is that it was built by St. Joseph himself. At any rate, the chapel - and the staircase - are gorgeous. (Santa Fe)

13. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

During nine days, about 500 stunning hot air balloons soar into the desert skies. Daytime flights make for amazing photos; the nighttime "glowfest" will blow your mind.

14. Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

This historic railroad offers a great way to see the Western scenery, as it chugs along the New Mexico-Colorado border. It offers breathtaking views, and a sense of travelling back in time.

15. The "Very Large Array"

Sci-fi fans will immediately recognize this massive collection of 27 radio-telescope antennae located at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Each is 80 feet tall and pointed towards the heavens, in hopes of making "contact." You can take a self-guided walking tour among them. (Socorro)

16. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

As one of America's groundbreaking artists, she immortalized aspects of the New Mexico landscape in her work. This museum showcases her life and legacy in a profound and beautiful way. (Santa Fe)

17. Skiing in Taos

During the winter months, Taos has an abundance of snow (more than the usual amount in the Southwest). That makes it a perfect destination for anyone in the market for skiing or snowboarding.

18. Los Alamos Historical Society

The Manhattan Project created and delivered "the bomb" that brought WWII to its end. Much of the planning took place here in Los Alamos. The Historical Society offers an intriguing look at this super-secret chapter of American history.

19. Roswell

If you've ever wondered if we're alone in the Universe, Roswell (reportedly where a UFO crash-landed in 1947) is the place for you. Pretty much the whole town is dedicated to the theme of UFOs and aliens. Get your "X-Files" on.

20. The Valle Vidal

The name is Spanish for "Valley of Life" - and it boasts an abundance of wildlife, including the largest herd of elk in the state. The area has been dubbed the "Yellowstone of New Mexico." Located in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains, there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife-spotting, hiking, biking and more.

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601 Eubank Boulevard South East, Albuquerque, NM
Mission:The Museum’s mission is "To serve as America’s resource for nuclear history and science. The Museum presents exhibits and quali... Read More
121 Sandia Crest Road, Sandia Park, NM
It took Ross Ward over 40 years to carve, collect, and lovingly construct what is now Tinkertown Museum. His miniature wood-carved figures were fir... Read More
87 North Frontage Road, Edgewood, NM
About Us: Wildlife West Nature Park is New Mexico's premier facility dedicated to native wildlife and ecology. Located just minutes east of Albuque... Read More
100 West Eleventh Street, Roswell, NM
Mission:The Roswell Museum and Art Center inspires discovery, creativity, and cultural understanding of the art and history of the American Southwe... Read More
114 North Main Street, Roswell, NM
History: In July 1947, something happened northwest of Roswell during a severe thunderstorm. Was it a flying saucer? Was it a weather balloon? What... Read More
409 East College Boulevard, Roswell, NM
The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art opened its doors in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1994 to showcase works of art produced by alumni of the Roswell... Read More
1001 West Santa Fe Avenue, Grants, NM
Mission Statement: The Cibola Arts Council is dedicated to providing the citizens it represents, especially our youth, with experiences in the Art... Read More
1717 West Second Street, Suite 205, Roswell, NM
Mission Statement:The mission of the Roswell Symphony Orchestra (RSO) is to provide the people of Roswell and Southeast New Mexico with the best of... Read More
108 Spencer Road, Alto, NM
Mission: The mission of the Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts is to enrich the cultural lives of South-Central New Mexico's residents and vi... Read More
102 Smokey Bear Boulevard, Capitan, NM
Smokey's Museum opened in 1961, having been dedicated in 1958, the rustic one room building almost bursts with Smokey memorabilia, photos and poste... Read More
727 Grand Avenue, Las Vegas, NM
Mission :  The City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection engages visitors in the rich history of the Las Vegas area by col... Read More
3198 State Route 2001, Alamogordo, NM
Mission: The mission of the museum is to educate the people of New Mexico and our visitors from around the world in the history, science, and tech... Read More
200 North Lea Avenue, Roswell, NM
About us: This stately home of James Phelps White, a Roswell landmark since it's construction in 1910, now stands amidst towering elms as the Chav... Read More
2900 Carlisle Blvd NorthEast, Albuquerque, NM
About The Vortex : The Vortex Theatre is a venue for classic, contemporary and cutting edge theatre. Our audiences can enjoy wonderful works for ... Read More
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