Feel the enchantment of a region that encompasses New Mexico’s largest city as well as some fantastic small towns and stunning public lands. Start in Albuquerque, where the 850-year-old Sky City beckons visitors to learn the history of the region’s Acoma people. While in town, grab a seat at a local Mexican restaurant, where fire-roasted green chiles add bold flavors to time-honored dishes. Explore the Sandia and Manzano Mountains to the east, and then cool off at Chochiti Lake, which has been described as “heaven with a zip code.” Las Lunas is a charming small town that serves as a stop on the region’s commuter railroad, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.
The heart of Southwest New Mexico is Las Cruces, a 400-year-old frontier settlement that bursts with the kind of rich cultural diversity only a bubbling borderlands region is capable of delivering. Mexican and American ways of life have crossed paths and coexisted here for centuries, resulting in a wealth of intricately layered cuisine and art. Outdoorsy types can dive into Gila National Forest (spanning 3.3 million acres), City of Rocks State Park or Rock Hound State Park. Over in Silver City, explore the old Wild West while walking in the footsteps of legends like Billy the Kid and Geronimo.
Toward the southeast, several attractions highlight the rugged mountains and sprawling deserts that characterize this region. Marvel at the vast sea of dunes at White Sands National Monument; follow the trails that wind through the Sacramento and Guadalupe mountains; and land in Roswell, a magnet for UFO aficionados. Seeking cooler air? Go underground at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.