New Mexico: 5 true experiences


“I think New Mexico was the greatest experience from the outside world that I have ever had. It certainly changed me forever.”
— D.H. Lawrence

The sun shines a little brighter, a little harder among the wide-open spaces of New Mexico. To be out among the juniper hills and vast skies, the Pueblos and cities, the desert plains that bloom with wildflowers every spring, is to be part of a living painting. A landscape that has inspired everyone from Georgia O’Keeffe to Billy the Kid, New Mexico doesn’t just stand apart from the other 49 states. It’s like nowhere else on Earth.

Come for the arts scene and a cuisine that’s been shaped by Native American, Hispanic, and American influences; stay for New Mexico’s history, culture, and outdoor adventures. You won’t want to leave.


1. State of the Arts


“Well! Well! Well!… This is wonderful! No one told me it was like this.”

On her first visit to New Mexico, Georgia O’Keeffe summed up why so many artists come and never leave. The state’s rich landscape, culture, and history are inextricably woven into the local art scene.

Come see for yourself. With itineraries that take visitors to the studios and galleries of New Mexico’s finest fiber artists, to trails that cover the traditional and contemporary pottery of the pueblos, here are just a few of the art experiences worth having in the state with more artists, open studios, and galleries per capita than anywhere else in the country.

2. New Mexico’s unique food scene


New Mexico is worth a trip for the cuisine alone. A unique blend of Native American, Spanish, and American influences, there’s more to the local food scene than chile…though it’s a pretty great addition to, well, everything. Take on the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail or the Breakfast Burrito Byway to find out for yourself.

Or head out on the New Mexico Ale Trail, the Culinary Treasures trail (highlighting the best of New Mexico’s family-operated hotspots), the Wine Trail; the Chocolate Trail

Breakfast Burrito Byway
The breakfast burrito started right here in New Mexico. If you’ve never tried one, here’s the gist: Traditional breakfast items — bacon, egg, potato, and any number of additional toppings — get covered in cheese, topped with local chile, and wrapped up in a big ol’ flour tortilla. It makes cereal look like a sad husk of a meal (which sounds about right). To celebrate the dish’s popularity, the Breakfast Burrito Byway shows off the state’s best versions. You’re welcome.
Dozens of spots across the state make the list, with seven in Santa Fe and 18 in Albuquerque alone.

Photos: New Mexico Tourism, vineyard by Aidan


3. Culture like nowhere else


New Mexico’s cultural scene is unmatched. From Santa Fe’s 95-year-old Indian Market — the largest Native art fair in the country — to the weekly Native American dances at Albuquerque’s Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, to the whimsy of October’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, to the concerts and performances that take place in towns and cities across the state, the culture and cultural offerings here are incredible.

Photos: New Mexico Tourism, SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market by Larry Lamsa, Indian Pueblo Cultural Center by Mr. TinDC, Spencer Theater for the Performing Arts


4. The story of New Mexico


Not many places have a history as rich as New Mexico’s. Home to nearly two dozen Native American nations, half a millennium of Hispanic culture, and plenty of True West lore, today’s New Mexico is a beautiful mashup of influences. From the windswept ruins of Chaco Culture National Historical Park to the once lawless town of Lincoln, here are just a few of the state’s most interesting historical sites.

5. True outdoor adventure


With over 13 million acres of public land, almost all of it open for use, as well as 17 national parks and monuments, 35 state parks, and 25 wilderness areas, it’s true: New Mexico was made for adventure.

World-class rafting, kayaking, and fishing; hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking; windsurfing, scuba diving, even skiing — you can do it all here. And you’ll probably get amazing weather while you’re at it. After all, New Mexico sees over 300 days of sunshine every year.

Rafting the Rio Grande
New Mexico’s spring runoff season — typically starting in April — sees kayakers, canoers, and rafters take on the epic, snowmelt-fed rivers lacing northern New Mexico’s valleys. Experienced whitewater rafters head to the rushing Rio Grande west of Taos; a gentler, but no less stunning, ride is its dam-controlled tributary, the Rio Chama.
Rio Grande, northern New Mexico

Photos: New Mexico Tourism, Carlsbad Caverns by snowpeak, Biking by Derek Markham


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