Sunshine, big skies and miles of open road: New Mexico is any roadtripper’s fantasy. If you’re looking to travel across New Mexico by car, then there are some spectacular sites to visit along the way. Whether you’re a nature nut, crave the bright lights of the city or are searching for a piece of this state’s fascinating history, there is something for everybody out on the road. Home to cowboys, aliens and a mean apple pie, this state will give you a journey to remember.
This conspiracy theorist’s dream destination should be top of your list when visiting New Mexico state. The International UFO Museum and Research Centre is located here, slap-bang in the middle of downtown Roswell. It has some great features including contemporary footage of people speaking about the 1947 crash, interactive alien displays and a limitless gift shop. It also has a library filled with books related to the Roswell incident and other UFO themes.
White Sands National Park
Here you’ll find 275 square miles of desert, covered with the rare white gypsum sands of the Tularosa Basin. This is a place truly like no other on Earth and a definite must-visit for any passing roadtripper. Whether you choose to trek through the shifting sands under the noonday sun or watch the stars come out in the dark skies above, make sure you stop off to experience this special piece of Nature’s bounty.
For this next stop, it’s all in the name! In Pie Town, two neighbouring pie-toting establishments named Pie Town Café and Pie-O-Neer Pies give visitors a choice of New Mexican apple pies to enjoy, depending on which day of the week it is. Both cafes have agreed to only open for half the week each, allowing business to be equally divided between the two different shops. For those on a road trip, it’s simply the perfect excuse to stop off and eat plenty of honest-to-goodness apple pie.
If Roswell whetted your appetite for the spooky and strange, then the ghost towns of Mogollon and Madrid will guarantee you your fill of the supernatural. Mogollon is not completely abandoned but when the mines were closed in the 1970s, it was all but deserted by its inhabitants. Now only a sparse few people remain amongst the fixtures of the town as they’re slowly reclaimed by nature. The history of Madrid tells much the same story, but the small town has now been reclaimed by artists, craftspeople and bikers. It’s a quirky and unusual place to check out just off the Route 66 bypass.
Of course, no trip to New Mexico would be complete without visiting its capital city, Santa Fe. Filled with art galleries, museums, parks, restaurants, shops and bars, you can spend a few days here before heading off further up the state again. Standout attractions include the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, the Siler Road District, the Spanish Market and Bar Alto.
Las Vegas, NM
It may be 700 miles from its more famous namesake, but Las Vegas, New Mexico still has plenty going to recommend it. The town has served as backdrop for many a Western movie, from the silent films of the 1910s right through to the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men. It’s also the regular reunion place for real-life cowboys, who congregate every year to eat pie, have a ball and conduct “ranch rodeos”. During your visit you can still get a taste for the Vegas Strip; you could check out the Rat Pack’s greatest performances on your phone or take a few spins online whilst you sip a cocktail or two in the local bar, Borracho’s. The watering holes here may be more saloon than speak-easy, but they still offer a riotously good night out.
Just outside of Santa Fe you can experience the true history of the surrounding country by visiting Tsankawi, the ancient site of an Ancestral Pueblo village. Almost shockingly accessible, by walking the trail to the village you can find pieces of clay pot along the way and see the caves and ruins that the inhabitants lived in. Although you are asked to leave behind any and all relics that you come across, it is a truly humbling and awe-inspiring trip to take and see where Native Americans lived in the 15th century.
New Mexico is an alluring state with so much to offer, hence its adopted name of the Land of Enchantment. With a rich history including the north-western Navajo Nation and Apache tribes, this bilingual state now weaves together Native American, Hispanic and Latin American cultures in a unique and special way. It’s well worth the trip down to this southwestern state to appreciate its natural beauty, warm and welcoming people, and its idiosyncrasies too (see Roswell).