We begin our journey here in New Mexico with the molten magma that pushed its way through the Earth’s crust and has left us EI Malpais, miles and miles of lava beds and spectacular formations. Dinosaurs roamed the area and their footprints and bones continue to be found today. Recently a new species of dinosaur, the Jeyawati, was found in western New Mexico. The name comes from two words in the language of the Zuni people, a Native American tribe whose ancestral pueblo continues to observe ancient traditions. In the early 16th century the Zuni pueblo of Hawikuh was mistaken by Conquistador Corando for one of the fabled Cities of Gold. You can arrange a tour of Hawikuh at the Visitor’s Center.
Long before the Spanish came bringing horses to New Mexico, Puebloan peoples settled the area, leaving behind settlements, petroglyphs, pictographs, pottery and mysterious gathering places of amazing architectural and astronomical design, like Chaco Canyon, before disappearing around 1250 AD. The Chaco peoples, known as the Anasazi, or Ancient Ones, probably migrated and settled what became The Hopi, Zuni, Acoma and Laguna Pueblos of today. Further south in the Gila, the Mogollon and their branch of Mimbres have left cliff dwellings and imaginatively painted pottery artifacts.
In the EI Morro valley, the Anasazi built a large settlement on a high mesa and farmed the surrounding lands before disappearing from history. This mesa has a deep spring at its base, and the peoples who came to get water have left their marks on the rock walls. Don Juan Onate, who led the suppression of the Native American communities in particularly brutal fashion, left his signature on EI Morro’s sandstone on his way to become Spain’s first Governor of New Mexico. Onate’s is but one of many signatures spanning centuries of visitors each with a tale to tell. This special and impressive site is managed by the National Park Service and is a must-see attraction.
Whether you like to hunt with a camera or a rifle, our area is home to some of the largest elk in the US. Antelope herds wander within sight of highways while the deer play hidden within stands of Pinons. Coyote howls fill the night air – and in some areas the howls are from wolves, which have been re-introduced to this area. Bobcats, mountain lions, and black bear are more elusive but they live here, too. Javelinas wander in the southern part of Catron County and cars often stop to allow a flock of wild turkeys to cross the road. Jackrabbits and cottontails abound, ravens and roadrunners share the skies with eagles and we are close to the Bosque Flyway where migrating birds make twice yearly pilgrimages. Oryx are now thriving in the White Sands area. More information about New Mexico’s rich game and fish opportunities can be found here.
We have spectacular night skies for home astronomers. The VLA, or Very Large Array, one of the world’s premier astronomical observatories, is located on the Plains of San Augustin. The movie “Contact” was filmed here and tours are available.
UFO watching is a favorite local pastime and you can always wander over to Roswell and check out their museum that investigates one of the best known “incidents” in ufo-logy.
800-acre Quemado Lake is stocked with rainbow trout, small mouth bass and catfish. The lake nestles in steep pinon forests intersected by numerous hiking trails and Forest Service campgrounds. Snow Lake and Lake Roberts are in the nearby Gila National Forest.
New Mexico has 8 ski resorts that are only a road trip away.
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a world-renowned attraction and destination for adults and kids of all ages. Held in October, guests come from all over the world to celebrate ballooning.