The Ultimate List Of Things To Do In New Mexico
There is so much more to see in New Mexico besides the mainstream tourist attractions!
No doubt, the National Monuments and Parks are a must-see in New Mexico, but there’s just so much more to see!
In my New Mexico travel guide and New Mexico Road Trip Itinerary, I have mainly covered the major attractions, including the National Parks and the National Monuments in New Mexico. However, there is so much more to see in New Mexico, including museums, landmarks & geological sites, scenic railroad & drives, and gardens & amusement parks.
I didn’t want to completely exclude these neat places from my New Mexico travel guide, so I have compiled this comprehensive list of all things to see and do in New Mexico. If you’ve already been to the major attractions in New Mexico and still have time, you should definitely visit a few places from this list that are not included in my 5-day New Mexico Travel Itinerary.
Here you’ll find all attractions in New Mexico grouped by the attraction type!
But if you have limited time and just want to visit the major attractions in New Mexico, you should use my 5-day New Mexico Travel Itinerary. That said, the other attractions that are not included in my 5-day itinerary are equally stunning and worth visiting in New Mexico.
Here is the ultimate list of things to do in New Mexico, with details about each attraction grouped by attraction type, including National Parks, Monuments, Landmark, Museums, etc.
New Mexico Attractions Map
I have organized the things to do in New Mexico by attraction type!
To make it convenient for you to select an attraction in New Mexico, I have categorized the New Mexico attractions by their type, including National Parks, National Monuments, Museums, Landmarks & Geological sites, Scenic railroad & drives, and Gardens & amusement parks.
Things To Do In New Mexico Grouped By Attraction Type
National Parks In New Mexico
- White Sands National Park (Alamogordo)
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park (Carlsbad)
National Monuments In New Mexico
- Petroglyph National Monument (Albuquerque)
- Bandelier National Monument (Los Alamos)
- Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (Cochiti Pueblo)
- Aztec Ruins (Aztec)
- Capulin Volcano (Capulin)
- El Malpais (Grants)
- El Morro (Ramah)
- Fort Union (Watrous)
- Gila Cliff Dwellings (Silver City)
- Salinas Pueblo Missions (Mountainair)
National Historical Park In New Mexico
- Chaco Culture (Nageezi)
- Pecos (Pecos)
Landmarks & Natural Wonders In New Mexico
- The Blue Hole (Santa Rosa)
- Sandia Peak (Albuquerque)
- Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (Bloomfield)
- Shiprock (Shiprock)
- Rio Grande Gorge (Taos)
- Taos Pueblo (Taos)
- Four Corners Monument (Farmington)
- Very Large Array (Socorro)
Museums In New Mexico
- New Mexico Museum of Space History (Alamogordo)
- Balloon Museum (Albuquerque)
- New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science (Albuquerque)
- National Hispanic Cultural Center (Albuquerque)
- New Mexico Museum of Art (Santa Fe)
- New Mexico History Museum (Santa Fe)
- Museum of International Folk Art (Santa Fe)
- Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (Santa Fe)
- New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum (Las Cruces)
- International UFO Museum and Research Center (Roswell)
Scenic Railroad & Drives In New Mexico
- Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway (Guadalupe Backcountry)
- Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad (Chama)
Amusement Parks & Gardens In New Mexico
- Cliff’s Amusement Park (Albuquerque)
- Western Playland (Sunland Park)
- ABQ BioPark – Botanic Garden (Albuquerque)
National Parks In New Mexico
New Mexico is home to two great National Parks – White Sands & Carlsbad Caverns!
White Sands National Park: White Sands National Park, home to mystical white sand dunes! With glistening white sand dunes and wave-like structures, White Sands National Park is an otherworldly experience and very picturesque.
Drive through the Dunes Drive, 16 miles roundtrip, starting and ending at the visitor center, is one of the most spectacular scenic drives in the US. The Dunes Drive is the gateway to all hiking trails, vista points, sledding, and picnic areas within White Sands National Park. White Sands National Park Address: 19955 Highway 70, Alamogordo, NM 88310.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park: The Carlsbad Caverns National Park is home to one of the oldest, largest, and very complex cave systems in the world! Carlsbad Caverns is known for its several unique cave formations naturally decorating the caves. Carlsbad Caverns National Park Address: 727 Carlsbad Caverns Highway, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220.
Carlsbad Caverns can be explored by hiking one of the many hiking trails in the park. However, to stick to this itinerary timeline, I would recommend the Big Room Trail, which is also the most popular hiking trail in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
National Monuments In New Mexico
After Arizona and California, New Mexico has the most national monuments in the US!
Petroglyph National Monument: Petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings created by removing the upper layer of the rock using chisels, hammers, or stone. The Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is one of the largest petroglyph sites in the US. The Petroglyph National Monument protects a vast area and preserves more than 20,000 petroglyphs created several years ago by the Native Americans and Spanish settlers in the area. Petroglyph National Monument Address: GPS Lat: 35.139 Long: -106.711.
The petroglyphs can be viewed only by hiking one of the four hiking trails in Petroglyph National Monument. I recommend skipping the visitor center and head directly towards a hiking trail of your choice.
Bandelier National Monument: Bandelier National Monument located in Los Alamos preserves a beautiful canyon with evidence of human presence going back over several thousand years. The canyons and mesas at Bandelier National Monument were formed by volcanic eruptions and lava flow in the area millions of years ago. However, the remnants of ancestral Pueblo settlement in the area make Bandelier National Monument more interesting and archaeologically significant.
The only way to explore the canyon and see the remnants of ancestral Pueblo settlement in the area is by hiking one of the trails in Bandelier National Monument.
Tent Rocks National Monument: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, home to unique cone-shaped volcanic rock formations! Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a geological site being actively studied and letting visitors explore the unique terrain and its awe-inspiring rock formations.
The best way to explore Tent Rocks National Monument is by hiking one of the two trails with the Monument. There are three main hiking trails in the Monument, including Cave Loop Trail, Canyon Trail, and Veterans Memorial Trail.
Aztec Ruins National Monument: Located in Aztec in northwestern New Mexico, Aztec Ruins is an archeological site with remnants of an Ancestral Pueblo Society. The monument can be explored via a 0.5-mile walking trail that lets you see ancient structures including, a Kiva – a communal meeting place, and several masonry rooms. Aztec Ruins Address: 725 Ruins Rd, Aztec, NM 87410.
Capulin Volcano National Monument: Capulin Volcano, Capulin, located in northeastern New Mexico, is home to an extinct cinder cone volcano that is part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. The top of the Crater Rim, accessible via the Volcano Road, offers breathtaking views of the crater and sweeping views of the neighboring states.
The top of the Crater Rim is also the starting point of Crater Rim Trail, a one-mile moderately strenuous hike around the rim of the volcano. Capulin Volcano is home to several other hiking trails, including Crater Vent Trail i, Lava Flow Trail, Boca Trail, Nature Trail, and is also a very popular place for stargazing. Capulin Volcano Address: 46 Volcano, Capulin, NM 88414.
El Malpais National Monument: Located in west-central New Mexico, El Malpais is home to a rugged landscape shaped by some of the recent volcanic activities in New Mexico. You can hike one of the many hiking trails in El Malpais and explore the lava fields and several volcanic features, including caves, lava tubes, and cinder cone.
There are several hiking trails in El Malpais National Monument, including El Malpais Visitor Center Trail (0.5-mile easy hike starting at the visitor center), Lava Falls Trail (easy One-mile loop), El Calderon Area (moderate strenuous 4.8 miles roundtrip), Zuni-Acoma Trail (7.5 one way, extremely strenuous), and Big Tubes Area (strenuous two miles hike). You can find more details about the Monument timings and hiking trails on El Malpais National Monument website.
El Morro National Monument: El Morro, located in west-central New Mexico, is a historical and geological site. El Morro, home to a natural spring amid barren land and massive sandstone bluff, served as a campsite for several Ancestral Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers who passed by the El Morro area.
The travelers left behind several inscriptions, including signatures, messages, and petroglyphs. El Morro National Monument can be explored via the two hiking trails – The Inscription Trail and The Headland Trail. El Morro National Monument Address: NM-53, Ramah, NM 87321.
Fort Union National Monument: Located in Watrous, northeastern New Mexico, Fort Union was the largest military fort in the region. The monument protects remnants of the military fort and offers self-guided and ranger-led tours of the area. Fort Union National Monument Address: 3115 NM-161, Watrous, NM 87753.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument: Located in Silver City, southwest New Mexico, amid Gila National Forest, Gila Cliff Dwellings is a historical site protecting remnants of nomadic Indian tribes who built their homes in these cliffs and lived in the area several thousand years ago.
There are several hiking trails in the area, but the most popular is the Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument hike, a one-mile loop. You can find details about other hiking trails and backpacking in the area on Gila Cliff Dwellings website.
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument: Located in Mountainair, central New Mexico, Salinas Pueblo Missions protects three historically significant sites in New Mexico – Two Pueblo communities Abo and Quarai, and Gran Quivira, a large city with multiple villages.
There are self-guided and ranger-led tours available in the monument that let you explore the ruins of the missions and the villages. However, reservations are required for the ranger-guided tours. Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument Address: 105 S Ripley Ave, Mountainair, NM 87036.
National Historical Parks In New Mexico
Two great Historical Parks of New Mexico – Chaco Culture & Pecos!
Chaco Culture National Historical Park: Located in northwest New Mexico, Chaco Culture National Historical Park preserves a historical and archeological site, home to several remnants of an ancient southwestern village in New Mexico.
The ruins of significant structures of the ancient village are located along the 9-mile long Canyon Loop Drive. The drive is short, but there’s a lot to see in the park, and I also recommend using the GPS coordinates to get to the park. Chaco Culture National Historical Park Address GPS Coordinates: Lat: 36.0515, Long: -107.9614.
Pecos National Historical Park: Located in Pecos, close to Santa Fe in New Mexico, Pecos is a culturally and historically significant site that preserves the rich history of prehistoric Native Americans who lived in the area. Several remnants in the park, including a Spanish church, kivas – a place for communal gathering, and other Pueblo structures can be explored via a self-guided tour. Pecos National Historical Park Address: 1 NM-63, Pecos, NM 87552.
Landmarks & Natural Wonders In New Mexico
New Mexico is home to several landmarks and awe-inspiring natural wonders!
Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area: Located in Bloomfield, 185 miles northwest of Santa Fe, Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area is an astounding badland. Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area is also known as Bisti Badlands and is home to some of the world’s strangest rock formations shaped by weather and erosion. The unique figures include spires, hoodoos, and a few with a cap-like structure on the top; Bisti Badlands is a one-of-a-kind experience in New Mexico! I also recommend visiting the Four Corners Monument that’s located 97 miles northwest of Bisti Badlands when visiting Bisti Badlands. Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area Address: County Road 7297, Bloomfield, NM 87413.
Four Corners Monument: The Four Corners Monument is the only point in the US shared by four different states. Though not much to do in the area, it is a neat and unique place to visit and the only place where within a few steps, you could be in four different states in the US. You could obviously visit this point from the other adjacent states of Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. However, if you’re visiting from New Mexico, I highly recommend visiting the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area on your way to Four Corners Monument. Four Corners Monument Address: 597 NM-597, Teec Nos Pos, AZ 86514.
Shiprock: Located 15 miles from the town of Shiprock, Shiprock is a unique volcanic rock formation that looks like a bird sitting with its wings folded. The Shiprock is sacred to the natives, and climbing or hiking is not permitted. However, the view of this rising tower in the middle of barren land and the unique shape makes it worth a visit, and as it sits in-between Four Corners Monument and the Bisti Badlands, you must see it if visiting the other two landmarks. Shiprock Address: GPS Coordinates: Lat: 36.7817, Long: -108.6828
The Blue Hole: Located in Santa Rosa, The Blue Hole is a natural wonder you must see while you’re in New Mexico! Indeed, a deep blue pool of water appears amid the desert like a blue gem emerging from the earth’s surface. Blue Hole Address: 1085 Blue Hole Rd, Santa Rosa, NM 88435.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To The Blue Hole
Sandia Peak: Ride the aerial tramway at Sandia Peak to catch some breathtaking views from the observation deck located at 10,378 feet above the ground. The observation deck offers panoramic views of the Rio Grande Valley and an option to grab a bite at the summit. The aerial tramway is operated only when weather conditions are suitable, so please consider calling ahead. Sandia Peak Tramway Address: 30 Tramway Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122.
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge: Located in Taos, one of the highest bridges in the US, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge offers spectacular views of the valley underneath. The bridge has also been featured in several films, including Terminator Salvation, White Sands, and Wild Hogs. Rio Grande Gorge Bridge Address: GPS Coordinates: Lat: 36.4762, Long: -105.7330.
Very Large Array: Located in Socorro, 130 miles southwest of Albuquerque, the Very Large Array is an astronomical radio observatory famous for its several giant dish antennas. The area undoubtedly looks dramatic with several massive antennas. The observatory also has a visitor center and a self-guided tour leading to the base of a giant dish antenna. Very Large Array Address: GPS Coordinates: Lat: 34.0758, Long: -107.61925.
Taos Pueblo: Located in Taos, Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community in the US and a World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO. The National Historic Landmark is home to several pueblo structures, historical artifacts belonging to the Taos Indians who lived in the area. There are strict rules while touring and photographing the area, as many members of the tribe still live in Taos Pueblo. Address: 120 Veterans Highway, Taos, New Mexico 87571.
Museums In New Mexico
New Mexico is home to several Museums, with the majority in Albuquerque and Santa Fe!
Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum: Overlooking the Balloon Fiesta Park, the International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque is a great place to learn about the history of hot air balloons and experience several life-size hot air balloons displayed within the Museum. Every year in October, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is held in the Balloon Fiesta Park, adjacent to the Museum. The International Balloon Fiesta is celebrated for nine days, and during the fiesta, the sky is filled with several hot air balloons, all lifting off from the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque. Balloon Museum Address: 9201 Balloon Museum Dr. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113.
New Mexico Museum of Space History: Located in Alamogordo, the New Mexico Museum of Space History is a planetarium and has an extensive collection of exhibits related to space research. The New Mexico Museum of Space History is located just 20 miles from White Sands National Park and is a great addition to your itinerary when visiting White Sands National Park or Alamogordo. New Mexico Museum of Space History Address: 3198 State Rte 2001, Alamogordo, NM 88310.
National Hispanic Cultural Center: Located in Albuquerque, the National Hispanic Cultural Center showcases Latino art and culture from all around the globe through its massive art collection, liver performances, a research library, and several educational programs for all ages. National Hispanic Cultural Center Address: 1701 4th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.
New Mexico Museum of Art: Located in Santa Fe, the New Mexico Museum of Art is renowned for its extensive collection of American and European artwork and photographs. The collection includes artwork of many famous artists and photographers, including Gustave Baumann and Jane Reese Williams. New Mexico Museum of Art Address: 107 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501.
New Mexico History Museum: Located on the historic Santa Fe Plaza, the New Mexico History Museum tells the story of the making of New Mexico, starting with ancient native people to the modern New Mexican era, with the help of several artifacts and interactive displays. New Mexico History Museum Address: 113 Lincoln Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501.
Museum of International Folk Art: Another great Museum in Santa Fe, internationally acclaimed for its extensive collection of folk art from all around the globe. Museum of International Folk Art Address: 706 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505.
Museum of Indian Arts & Culture: Located in Santa Fe, the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is home to a massive collection of fine arts and archeological artifacts excavated from New Mexico that allows us to reflect upon the lives of Ancestral Pueblo and Native Indians who inhabited the land today known as New Mexico. Museum of Indian Arts & Culture Address: 710 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, NM 87505.
New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum: Located in Las Cruces, 55 miles from White Sands National Park, the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is a fun-filled museum celebrating the farming and ranching history of New Mexico and is a great addition to your literary when visiting White Sands National Park. New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum Address: 4100 Dripping Springs Rd, Las Cruces, NM 88011.
New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science: Located in Albuquerque, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science with several fossils, gardens, other interactive exhibits pertaining to nature and evolution is a nice place to visit, especially if you have kids. New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Address: 1801 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104.
International UFO Museum and Research Center: Located in Roswell, often a subject of controversy, the International UFO Museum and Research Center is a neat little place to fulfill your aliens and extraterrestrials quest. International UFO Museum and Research Center Address: 114 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88203.
Scenic Railroad & Drives In New Mexico
Explore New Mexico via a scenic train ride or an epic drive!
Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad: This is an epic train ride along the New Mexico and Colorado state borders amid dramatically varying landscapes ranging from desert land to steep mountains. This narrow gauge, coal-fired 64 miles train ride with onboard meal service is a must-do in New Mexico.
However, Cumbres and Toltec Scenic train rides are seasonal, operating from mid-June through mid-October. You could also take the same train ride from Colorado, but I highly recommend verifying the schedule and making your reservations in advance on Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad website. Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Station New Mexico Address: 500 Terrace Ave, Chama, NM 87520.
Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway: The 30 miles long Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway is a great way to explore the varying nature of New Mexico’s landscape. The scenery quickly transitions on this short drive, changing from barren desert land to a dense forest of pines. There are designated viewing areas, and you may also spot some wildlife on your drive, including deers, antelopes, foxes, and birds.
The Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway starts at the intersection of US 285 and State Highway 137/Queen Highway. However, I have marked and saved the entire route on google maps for your convenience – Guadalupe Backcountry Scenic Byway Map.
Amusement Parks & Gardens In New Mexico
If you’re still not impressed, New Mexico has a few great Amusement Parks and Gardens to be explored!
Cliff’s Amusement Park: Located in Albuquerque, Cliff’s Amusement Park is the largest amusement park in New Mexico with several thrill rides, family and kid-friendly rides, and a small waterpark – WaterMania. With several rides and many dining options, Cliff’s Amusement Park is a fun place for the entire family! Cliff’s Amusement Park Address: 4800 Osuna Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.
Western Playland: Located in Sunland Park in southern New Mexico, close to Texas and New Mexico state border, Western Playland is an amusement park featuring four famous rollercoasters and other family and kid-friendly rides. Western Playland Address: 1249 Futurity Dr, Sunland Park, NM 88063.
ABQ BioPark: Located in Albuquerque, ABQ BioPark is home to a botanical garden, a small zoo, and an aquarium. ABQ BioPark is an excellent choice for families with kids and a great place to experience wilderness within the city. ABQ BioPark Address: 2601 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104.
Other New Mexico Attractions & Related Posts
I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate List Of Things To Do In New Mexico, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to New Mexico.
Happy feeding your soul!
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