Few places on earth offer the rich history and cultural diversity found in New Mexico. Native American culture has been present in the state for more than 2,500 years, and is home to 22 Native American tribes. Their rich history is celebrated today in museums, ceremonial dances, arts and crafts, language, and traditional villages. Visitors can celebrate on the pueblos year round during designated feast days, and partake in native homemade cuisine and tradition. The annual SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market is held the 3rd weekend in August and features more than 1,000 Native artists.
Chaco Culture National Historic Park dates to 850AD and is considered the most exceptional concentration of pueblos in the American Southwest. It is one of only 20 World Heritage sites in the U.S. Chaco is probably the best representation of the first art ever created in New Mexico. Follow the Trail of the Ancients to visit more historic and cultural sites in the Four Corners.
Spanish colonial culture arrived in the state in the late 1500’s, contributing over 500 years of Hispanic influence to the New Mexican way of life. The Annual Traditional Spanish Market displays this influence through food and art in Santa Fe during the summer and in Albuquerque during the winter. The combination of Native and Hispanic elements results in a strong culture found in every aspect of the state from food and fiestas to architecture and art.
The Taos Art Colony and Taos Society of Artists began in 1898 when Ernest L. Blumenschein and Bert Geer Phillips broke a wagon wheel while headed to Mexico to sketch and paint. Both eventually made Taos home and would be joined by many others in the years to come. Taos is still the residence of many talented artists. New Mexico is known as The State of the Arts because it is home to more working artists, open studios, artist-owned galleries, and specialty and artisan-oriented shops than any other state per capita. Visitors can schedule studio tours, which is a great way to explore New Mexico by finding new and traditional art, meeting the artists, and eating local food.
While local events are common, New Mexico has just the perfect environment to host international events every year. Every visitor, no matter where they are from, will find the relaxed lifestyle charming and endearing, while also experiencing other worlds at their fingertips. The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market is the largest of its kind bringing in cultures from more than 40 countries for over 20,000 visitors to experience at the height of New Mexico’s beauty in the summer. Other colorful events include the Roswell UFO Festival, the Great American Duck Race in Deming, and the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium.
Visitors are also drawn to the state’s many historical sites, museums, and celebrations every year. The State of New Mexico operates 8 museums covering a range of interests, from Space History to Folk Art. There are over 40 museums, and hundreds of art galleries throughout the state covering anything from local artisan art to globally-known fine art. Summer is the season for art in New Mexico, including performance art. Thousands come to New Mexico for the Santa Fe Opera season in the world-renown venue that is like no other. The annual Blues Festival held Memorial Day weekend each year draws hundreds of blues enthusiasts to Silver City, a beautiful town in the Gila Wilderness with its own rich history and, today, home to many art galleries. New Mexico’s beautiful historic theaters offer a variety of performing arts, symphonies, chamber music, concerts, and plays.
For those who want to experience the beauty of nature, the state operates 36 parks, 3 national parks, and 12 national monuments. The most famous of these is Carlsbad Caverns National Park, with some of the largest underground caves and chambers in the world. During the summer, stay until dusk and watch as nearly 400,000 bats fly out of the cave for their evening adventure. Nearby Lechguilla Cave, explored to depths of 1,593 feet, is the nation’s deepest cave, and the Gila Wilderness, an area of mountainous beauty and ancient cliff dwellings, was the first wilderness area to be so designated by Congress. Viewers will be struck by White Sands National Monument, which is 275 square miles of pure white sand.
Hiking and biking trails are for you to discover from Angel Fire to Las Cruces, or you can rock climb in Diablo Canyon or see the natural sights at Tent Rocks near Cochiti Pueblo. After a long day of outdoor activity, soak in any one of the hot mineral springs throughout the state in Jemez Springs, which offers both hot and cool, primitive and luxurious pools; Truth or Consequences, whose springs heat up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit; or the 145 year-old Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, which are known for their healing powers.
Boating on any of the 20 lakes in our state parks from Elephant Butte in the south to Navajo Lake in the northwest is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery, and the quality trout waters of the San Juan River are well known to fly fishermen everywhere. Go rafting or kayaking in any one of New Mexico’s rivers, totaling 200 miles of waterway, or dive into the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, a natural 80 foot deep pool, for scuba diving.
Or if you’d rather take a day trip, nearly any town you visit has its own story of life in the wild ‘old west’ and getting there is an experience in itself. This is especially true of the many ghost towns you may encounter along any one of New Mexico’s 25 magnificent scenic byways, which equal over 2,900 miles across a diverse landscape. You can follow one of these paths to take a tour of Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, then visit the museum dedicated to her life and work in Santa Fe. You can also follow the Film Trails and tour the scenes from films and television shows made in New Mexico.
New Mexico hosts all four seasons and fall is one of the most beautiful. The smell of roasting chile in the air, the taste of freshly picked and roasted pinon, and the golden sight of the aspen leaves changing colors on the mountain tops bring warmth to you as the breeze turns cooler. Fall is also a season for fiestas! The International Balloon Fiesta attracts visitors from all over the world to see the Albuquerque sky decorated with colorful and special-shaped hot air balloons. Santa Fe kicks off the harvest season with Fiestas de Santa Fe and continues the celebration with the Wine and Chile Festival, and Hatch hosts their chile festival.
From the stark, arid beauty of southern New Mexico’s deserts to some of the country’s finest ski slopes located on over 20 mountain ranges, this land of breathtaking contrasts offers a myriad of outdoor activities year-round. Each season New Mexico slopes average 300 inches of snow, the Kachina lift at Taos Ski Valley is one of the highest in North America, and Angel Fire is the only New Mexico resort with night skiing. If you are not a skier, there are plenty of other snow activities inner tubing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, ice fishing, and ice skating.
These are the reasons New Mexico is known as the land of enchantment.