A little-known fact about the fifth-largest state in the country, New Mexico, is that it's also known as the 'land of enchantment.' The state's motto speaks to its glorious desert landscapes, colorful and diverse culture, and state parks that often go undiscovered with neighboring states like Arizona, Utah, and Colorado overshadowing them. While it might not garner the attention it deserves, there are plenty of reasons why this motto speaks true.
If you happen to be wondering why New Mexico lives up to its enchanted description, the best way to understand is through photos. Some of its most beautiful landscapes, including hot springs and, occasionally, snow-covered mountains, make up the most diverse vistas across the state. If you're still not convinced, here's some proof for why New Mexico deserves the title of being the 'land of enchantment' that goes beyond its use on brochures and license plates.
Natural Landscapes Give Way To Otherworldly Vistas
New Mexico is full of unique rock formations, canyons, and even underground caverns. Just below the surface and high above, there's plenty to see during a visit to this beautiful state - and it's not all desert landscapes.
This area of New Mexico is easily described as otherworldly and 'alien-like' due to its unique terrain. Many of the park's hoodoos, which were formed naturally, have been carved into surreal shapes that make the entire landscape appear like something from another planet.
Crevices and desert plants run parallel to the trails, making each section of this park more unique than the last. There's plenty to explore, and the views are quite unlike anything else in the U.S.
On the border of Texas, visitors to New Mexico can go underground to explore Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This underground world is almost overwhelming in its unparalleled beauty, making it one of the most beautiful caverns in the country.
Pictured is the 'Big Room' which is home to nearly 4,000 feet of stalactites and stalagmites, with a ceiling height of almost 253 feet. This room is only one out of 119 caves to explore, though, and it's a perfect example of how New Mexico is just as enchanting below ground as it is above.
New Mexico's History Plays Just As Big A Role In Its Enchanted Landscape
It's a well-known fact that New Mexico has been home to many groups of people, giving it a rich culture that's diverse in nature. Many ancestral homes and pueblos are open to the public for tours, and it's here that visitors can fall even further in love with this state and its past.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
The Aztec Ruins National Monument is easy to find thanks to the town that's also named after it, and it first opened to visitors in 1923. The ruins of the pueblo within it are estimated to date back nearly one thousand years ago which, as some people may have caught onto, does not exactly align with the timeline of the Aztecs.
Rather, the ruins were misattributed to the Aztecs by the early settlers of the area, however, the name stuck around. In reality, the pueblo settlement is believed to have belonged to Ancestral Puebloans who lived in the area a thousand years prior. The settlement consists of 400 rooms that are still fairly well-intact, along with Great Kiva, which has been reconstructed in the traditional style and occasionally plays host to ritual ancestral music.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument wins visitors over for more than one reason. Not only is it a testament to the history of the area but it's also a protected wilderness area. That means visitors can hike through the national forest or explore one of five caves nestled in the region, which were believed to be home to the Mogollon Peoples.
These ancient dwellings still have pictographs carved into their walls with artwork that dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries. It's humbling to be in the presence of such extensive history and it's even more mind-blowing when visitors realize that they're standing on such ancient ground. It's easy enough to spend multiple days at this archeological site, especially with so many rooms to go through and so much ancient artwork to take in. Save some time, though, because this region is about to enchant you even more. In the surrounding area, visitors can treat themselves to natural hot springs, as well as hiking trails that show off even more of the state's beauty.