WHETHER YOU’VE BEEN to New Mexico or not, you likely have a sense of its beauty. Red rocks, starry desert skies, the works. But if you haven’t been, what you probably don’t realize is that this is the home of the true American story, going back millennia. Ancient supervolcanoes. Petrified riverbeds. Some of the oldest inhabited places on the continent.

To truly dive into the diverse story that New Mexico tells, it’s best to see it in person. Until then, you can use these images to start planning your own road trip of a lifetime through the Land of Enchantment.


Blue Hole

One of the most unexpected and scenic swimming holes you'll ever come across, the Blue Hole is also a popular training spot for SCUBA divers. Consider it one of the many facts about New Mexico you never would have guessed.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


White Sands National Monument

White Sands is one of those places you've got to see to believe. It's 275 square miles of desert, and by "desert" we mean pristine gypsum dunes, sometimes piling hundreds of feet high, all untarnished and unlike any other landscape—and any experience—in the world.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


Lincoln National Forest

Lincoln National Forest is more than just beautiful wilderness—it's also the birthplace of Smokey Bear. Its more than one million acres houses the National Solar Observatory, aptly located in the village of Sunspot.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


Valles Caldera National Preserve

Valles Caldera is wide-open wilderness full of mountain meadows, wildlife, and bountiful streams. There are miles and miles of hiking, equestrian, and bike trails for the warmer months, and cross-country skiing opportunities to be had in winter. It's one of those places that just compels you to get outdoors.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


Hatch Valley Chile Festival

Welcome to the chile capital of the world. And if you happen to be here around Labor Day, welcome to one spicy festival. For two days, tens of thousands of people celebrate (and sometimes ignite) their tastebuds in both incredibly traditional and out-of-the-box ways. Come find out just what makes chile so iconically New Mexican.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


The Santa Fe Opera

The Santa Fe Opera has been running strong since 1957, and in that time has produced hundreds of shows and even commissioned ten new operas (and 55 premieres). Visitors can get their fix at a performance in the opera house (which, as you can see above, is not your typical stuffy theater building) or take a free backstage tour on Saturdays.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


Zuni Arts and Cultural Expo

There are 19 New Mexico Pueblos. Zuni is the largest, and its people have held onto their unique language, culture, and history—many are active artists, preserving local traditions. On the last weekend in July, check out the Zuni Arts and Cultural Expo, which showcases their work.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


La Fonda, Santa Fe

La Fonda on the Plaza sits right on the edge of Santa Fe's central square—the only hotel on the plaza. The modern iteration of this historic lodging opened in 1922 and is decorated with hand-painted furniture and original local artwork. On the fifth floor is the Bell Tower Bar (pictured above), with unparalleled views out over the city.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

40 miles southwest of Santa Fe, this monument is an easy and fun day trip for. Only open during the daytime, the way to check out these rocks is to walk the 1.2-mile trail (through a slot canyon) to a lookout, viewing the tent rocks from above.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism


Carlsbad Caverns National Park

"The Big Room," the largest cave chamber in this national park, is 4,000 feet long and over 250 feet high. You can take the natural entrance, but there's also elevators to avoid the climb. Our tip: Take the natural entrance in and the elevators out, saving your energy for the above-ground hiking trails.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


Ladder Ranch

Bison, elk, deer, antelope, javelina, mountain lions, and bears wander the nearly 250 square miles of Ladder Ranch. For those looking for a true luxurious getaway, look no further. Visitors can stay right here with accommodations fit for Southwestern royalty.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department


Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

Hard to believe, but this area was a river delta about 70 million years ago. Fast forward to today, and you have an ancient burial ground of fossils and petrified wood, of red, black, gray, and purple sand and stones, all begging to be explored.
Photo courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department