New Mexico

Super useful & totally free New Mexico travel guides, written by locals and expert travelers who love New Mexico

Abigail with her two dogs on the lush green landscape in New Mexico
Abigail, a Travel Lemming Editor, backdropped by vivid New Mexico scenery

Why We Love New Mexico: New Mexico is a vibrant outdoor destination and cultural enclave. Diverse peoples call this state home, including 23 indigenous tribes. Native American art, cuisine, and tradition can be experienced in many destinations. Other areas that draw tourists largely center around natural attractions. Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Parks are two popular sites, but stunning landscapes are found across the state. Hiking, skiing, and soaking in natural hot springs are just a few recreational activities to enjoy here. Visitors will find that the state’s motto, crescit eundo (“it grows as it goes”), reigns true — the more you see in New Mexico, the more you’re drawn in.

Best of New Mexico

🏙️ Destinations

View of the historical site at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Discover the ancient past at Chaco Culture National Historical Park

From city attractions to backcountry trails, New Mexico engages a variety of visitors. Here are a few of the state’s beloved destinations:

  • Santa Fe – Find diverse cultures and many things to do in Sante Fe. Adobe structures serve as restaurants, art galleries, and places to stay. 
  • Taos – Popular things to do in Taos include Taos Pueblo and skiing the state’s tallest mountain. Enjoy hot springs and rafting in the Rio Grande.
  • Albuquerque – Visit the capital for its museums, outdoor attractions, and annual International Balloon Fiesta. 
  • Jemez Springs – A hidden gem loved for its natural hot springs. Visit a resort or hike to remote pools in the Santa Fe National Forest. 
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park – A UNESCO World Heritage site that preserves ancestral Pueblo culture.

👉 Explore all places to visit in New Mexico.

Things to Do

Outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs, and everyone in between can appreciate the myriad of activities in New Mexico:

  • Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – The largest hot air balloon festival in the world. It draws thousands every October, especially photographers.
  • Spot UFOs in Roswell – The 1947 UFO incident draws conspiracy theorists and pop culture fans to this cool, kitschy town. 
  • Go Underground at Carlsbad Caverns – A nearly 800-foot descent leads to stunning rock formations at this national park. 
  • Explore Ancient Ruins – Delve into history at several national monuments and historical parks. These include Chaco Culture, Gila Cliff Dwellings, and Bandelier.
  • Sample Fry Bread – This Native American delicacy can be found at restaurants and roadside food stands. Top with savory or sweet ingredients.

✨ Read the full list of best things to do in New Mexico.

View of the people at the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque
Each October, the International Balloon Fiesta draws thousands to Albuquerque

🗺️ Where to Stay

View of the camper vans in Taos, New Mexico
A unique stay in Taos, New Mexico

Even lesser-known attractions can be easily accessed from certain destinations. Strategic places to stay include:

  • Albuquerque – Many tourists fly into Albuquerque International Sunport. Stay here for convenience and a variety of hotels.
  • Santa Fe – Find lodging in downtown Santa Fe, the Historic Eastside neighborhood, and other areas. Several day trips are within reach.
  • Taos – Unique stays include eco-friendly Earthships, historic inns, and ski-in, ski-out lodges. Also home to some of the best camping in New Mexico.  
  • Farmington – An ideal location to access Chaco Culture. Aztec Ruins, Ship Rock, and Four Corners Monument are also nearby.
  • Jemez Springs – Soak in natural hot springs and day trip to otherworldly sites. Bisti Badlands and Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness are remote gems.

🛎️ Best Hotels

A closeup look at a classic kiva fireplace inside the room
Many historic inns feature adobe architecture and kiva fireplaces in rooms

Major cities in New Mexico feature historic lodging, full of charm and handmade decor. Chain hotels meet travelers’ needs in smaller towns:

  • Hotel Chaco – Located in historic Old Town Albuquerque and one of the best hotels in the capital. Several attractions are within walking distance. 
  • Inn on La Loma Plaza – Historic Southwest architecture and walkability to Taos Plaza are two key benefits. Continental breakfast included. 
  • La Fonda on the Plaza – Centrally located with easy access to popular Sante Fe sites. Relax in its rooftop hot tub and spa.
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton – Best accommodations in Farmington featuring modern amenities and pet-friendly rooms. 
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites – This recommended stay in Roswell has an updated interior, indoor pool, and airport shuttle service.

🚗 Best Road Trips

Travel Lemming Editor Abigail and her family posing at the state line
Abigail and her family snapping a photo at the state line

Few states rival the vast beauty that you’ll find in New Mexico. Pack up the car and experience one of these unforgettable adventures:

  • Route 66 – An iconic American road trip with 465 miles through New Mexico. Stop for souvenirs, retro diners, and photo ops with neon signs.  
  • Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway – The road trip for outdoor enthusiasts. Passes sites for skiing, fishing, hiking, and more in the area near Taos.
  • Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway – Quiet, open road that leads to Chaco Culture, plus El Morro and Aztec Ruins National Monuments. 
  • Mining District Ghost Towns – Starting near Silver City, drive to four mining-era ghost towns: Hanover, Hillsboro, Monticello, and Chloride.
  • Breakfast Burrito Byway – Sample delicious burritos (and the finest green chile) through Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and nearby areas.

♨️ Best Hot Springs

Travel Lemming Editor Abigail enjoying the water at Spence Hot Springs
Abigail at Spence Hot Springs, a backcountry pool in Jemez Springs

The desert of New Mexico may see high temperatures, but even summer evenings are brisk. Warm up and relax in these natural hot springs:

  • Jemez Hot Springs – Find four pools and convenient amenities at this quiet resort. Showers and towels are available on-site.   
  • Spence Hot Springs – Also located in Jemez Springs, but this backcountry pool is free to visitors. Leave no trace when visiting.
  • Ojo Caliente Hot Springs – Enjoy various soaking pools, including a unique mud pool. This resort near Taos also features a spa and lodging.
  • Black Rock Hot Springs – Also near Taos, this clothing-optional backcountry spring is set along the scenic Rio Grande. 
  • Gila Hot Springs – Four miles from Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. It’s attached to a private, locally-owned campground.

👉 Read the full list of the best hot springs in New Mexico.

⛷️ Best Ski Resorts

View of the scenic snow covered Kachina Peak
Kachina Peak, one of the mountains that make up Taos Ski Valley

Surprised to learn that New Mexico is home to ski resorts? Find snowy destinations all across the state:

  • Taos Ski Valley – World-class skiing in the valley below New Mexicos’ tallest peak. Enjoy steep, gladed runs and upscale lodging.
  • Angel Fire Resort – A family-friendly resort near Taos. Largely composed of easy and intermediate trails with night skiing available. 
  • Ski Apache – Offers stunning views of White Sands National Park and a unique attraction: the world’s third-longest zipline. 
  • Ski Santa Fe – This easy-to-access resort features a variety of terrain for all skill levels. Frequented by locals more than tourists. 
  • Sandia Peak – To experience the state’s oldest resort, ride North America’s longest tramway to the ridge overlooking Albuquerque.

🖼️ Best Museums

View of people on a traditional dance at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
A traditional dance taking place at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (photo: Kit Leong / Shutterstock)

What’s traveling without a bit of learning? Discover the culture and history of New Mexico, from renowned artists to gunslinging outlaws:

  • Indian Pueblo Cultural Center – A museum and event space honoring local Native American tribes. Visit on a weekend to see traditional dances.
  • Turquoise Museum – An Albuquerque museum that highlights the state’s gemstones. Its collection includes jewelry, decor, and other unique pieces. 
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – Set in Santa Fe, this attraction celebrates one of New Mexico’s most famed artists. See paintings, sculptures, and more.
  • International UFO Museum and Research Center – With exhibits on cover-ups to pop culture, this Roswell museum is a must for paranormal enthusiasts. 
  • Billy the Kid Museum – A fascinating collection of artifacts involved in the Wild West outlaw’s life. Found near the Texas-New Mexico border.

🎨 Best Galleries

View of the Lincoln's Union statue at the Charles Collins Gallery in Taos
Charles Collins Gallery in Taos is another studio worth visiting

One of the things that distinguish New Mexico is its incredible art community. Admire the work of local artists at these galleries:

  • Canyon Road Contemporary Art – Houses creations by more than two dozen artists and features an inspiring sculpture garden. 
  • Nedra Matteucci Galleries – A renovated mansion full of various art forms by historic and contemporary creators. Tour the garden when visiting. 
  • The Michael McCormick Gallery – Located in Taos, this gallery highlights notable New Mexico artists. Speak with the owner for art history and insights. 
  • Gallery Hózhó at Hotel Chaco – Admire contemporary paintings, sculptures, and other artwork. This gallery is attached to a top Albuquerque hotel.
  • Meow Wolf Santa Fe – The original Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. An engaging, interactive attraction that’s part gallery, part fun house. 

New Mexico Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit New Mexico is March to May and September to November. However, every season is unique and worth experiencing: 

  • 🍂 Fall – Enjoy comfortable temperatures and golden aspens during this prime season. For the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, visit in October. 
  • 🌼 Spring – During spring, you’ll see fewer crowds and lower hotel rates. Southern areas are warm, while ski resorts operate through March.
  • ❄️ Winter – A great time to experience New Mexico’s city attractions, like galleries and museums. Bundle up for outdoor activities. 
  • 🌞 Summer – Temperatures can reach triple digits during the daytime. Camp and hike at higher elevations, or try whitewater rafting to stay cool. 

🚌 Getting In & Around

A rental vehicle is the best way to experience all that New Mexico has to offer. However, other modes of transportation are available:

  • ✈️ Airports – Most fly into Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ). There’s also Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF) and Roswell Air Center (ROW).
  • 🚗 Driving – A rental vehicle is the best way to explore smaller towns and natural attractions. 
  • 🚇 Public Transit – Airport shuttles, buses, and trains are available in metro areas like Albuquerque and Santa Fe. 
  • 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are available in major cities, but this form of transit isn’t recommended elsewhere.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Certain areas of Santa Fe and Albuquerque are biker-friendly, as are smaller towns like Taos and Silver City.
  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – With dense neighborhoods and historic areas, many New Mexico destinations are walkable.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🚰 – Stay Hydrated – It’s important to drink plenty of water when visiting New Mexico’s arid/semi-arid climate. Consume extra in the summer and at higher altitudes. 
  • 🚙 – Drives are Lengthy – If taking a road trip, note that drive times are often surprisingly long. Take in the beauty on dirt paths and mountain passes.
  • 🎶 – Download Essentials – Before hitting the road, download your digital map, as you may lose service. The same applies to music, podcasts, and audiobooks.
  • 🌶️ – Smother It “Christmas Style” – You can’t visit New Mexico without trying its incredible cuisine. Smothered burritos in red and green chile are a must.
  • 🥾 – Explore Respectfully – Many natural attractions are sacred to local tribes. Follow the rules, respect wildlife, leave no trace — and leave it better than you found it.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 💧 – Water Bottle – See travel tip number one! You’ll want to carry this with you wherever you go, whether it’s a city or the backcountry. 
  • 👙 – Bathing Suit – With so many hot springs in New Mexico, you’ll want to pack a swimsuit — unless you’re on board with those that are clothing optional!
  • 👟 – Comfortable Shoes – Whether you’re hiking in wild places or touring endless galleries, a comfortable pair of shoes is crucial. 
  • ☀️ – Sunscreen – New Mexico sees plenty of sunshine. Be protected when skiing, rafting in the summer heat, and all times in between.
  • 📸 – Camera – Whether you’re using an action camera, a polaroid, or your cell phone, you’re going to want to capture the Land of Enchantment.

🧳 See the full New Mexico packing checklist.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Population – 2.1 million people
  • Capital – Albuquerque
  • Largest Metro Areas – Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe
  • Time Zone – Mountain Time (UTC -6 / UTC -7 during daylight savings)
  • Airports – Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), Santa Fe Municipal Airport (SAF), Roswell Air Center (ROW), Lea County Regional Airport (HOB)
  • Colleges & Universities – University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, Eastern New Mexico University, Western New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University
  • Nickname – Land of Enchantment, The Cactus State, The Spanish State, The Land of Sunshine
  • Demonynm – New Mexican
  • USPS Abbreviation – NM 
  • Governor – Michelle Lujan Grisham (Democrat) 
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • MERIC Cost of Living State Rank – 19th most affordable 
  • 3-Star Hotel Room – $75-$150+/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $70-$200+/night
  • Rental Car – $30-$70+/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$3-$5 
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $20-$30
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $40-$80
  • Draft Beer – $5-$10

FAQs About Visiting New Mexico

Is New Mexico safe for tourists?

New Mexico is generally safe for tourists. Like all major cities in the United States, urban areas in New Mexico experience violent and property crime. Albuquerque ranks above the national average for both. Standard precautions, like traveling in a group and securing valuables, are strongly advised. 

Outdoor areas are also usually safe. However, New Mexico is home to some poisonous snakes, spiders, and scorpions. Be aware of mountain lions and black bears in certain areas.

What is New Mexico best known for?

New Mexico is best known for its diverse cultures and outdoor recreation. Twenty-three Native American tribes reside in this state. There are also heavy Anglo and Hispanic influences in certain areas. Tourists can appreciate the state’s unique food, architecture, art, and traditional ceremonies. 

With a variety of landscapes, New Mexico is also an ideal place to ski, hike, climb, and camp. Hot springs are also abundant, as are activities like kayaking and whitewater rafting.

What is the best month to visit New Mexico?

The best month to visit New Mexico is October, in my opinion. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta occurs the second week of this month. Outside of the capital, many destinations see fewer tourists and lower hotel rates during this time of year. October also offers comfortable temperatures and dry conditions, ideal for hiking and camping.

What’s the nicest city in New Mexico?

The nicest city in New Mexico is Santa Fe, in my opinion. This destination is easy to navigate and offers an array of activities. Visitors can explore galleries and museums, hike and ski, and take day trips to other iconic attractions. There’s also a range of places to stay, making it ideal for a variety of budgets.

Do they speak Spanish in New Mexico?

Those in New Mexico speak Spanish, though English is the predominant language. Given the state’s history and proximity to Mexico, many locals are bilingual.

Meet Our New Mexico Travel Expert

McKenna Mobley

McKenna Mobley is an avid adventurer, traveler, mountaineer, and writer from Southern California. Her goal is to climb some of the world’s highest mountains and visit as many countries as she can. She loves Latin America and has been to almost every Latin country. She also has a thirst for solo adventuring and has hiked 400 consecutive miles by herself through the Arizona desert. You can also find her on her blog.

👉 Read McKenna’s Articles

Abigail Bliss

Abigail Bliss is a Colorado-based writer who aspires to work from the road.  An avid hiker, skier, and canyoneer, she shares a unique perspective of the American West, highlighting destinations less traveled.  When she isn’t exploring the outdoors with her husband and two dogs, Abigail manages her freelance marketing business, Campsite Creative.

👉 Read Abigail’s Articles

📰 New Mexico Travel Guides

New Mexico is an incredible destination that captures the soul of the Southwest. Explore popular attractions and hidden gems across the state with our index of guides:

🗺️ New Mexico Map