New Mexico

The state of New Mexico is our destination this week. I am looking forward to exploring this state because, while it is partly the desert that most of us picture in our minds, there are surprises in store. You'll see what I mean soon. I have the vacation guide and all the other materials that I use to decide what I want to see. Coffee is on the stove and the refrigerator is stocked. Let's get a snack and something to drink and get to it.

New Mexico is the 47th state. The state vegetables are chiles and frijoles (pinto beans). One thing to remember in New Mexico is that no matter where you travel, you will need sunblock, a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of water.

Native Americans have been in New Mexico since 12,000 to 30,000 years ago. Today there are 22 distinct tribes, each of which is recognized as a sovereign government. The vacation guide tells the collective history of these tribes, as well as a short history of each tribe. New Mexico is where the Navaho Code Talkers are from. They were instrumental in helping the Allies win World War II. There is also a section on etiquette to be observed when visiting tribal lands. Please read it and observe the customs of each area. I know I'm offended when visitors to my home don't follow the rules of the house and I assume they feel the same way.

Life Zones are a means of describing areas with similar plant and animal communities. New Mexico contains six of the seven Life Zones. In the Alpine Zone mountain peaks, pikas and marmots live near twisted pines and summer-blooming wildflowers. Farther down the mountain are bighorn sheep, elk, and mountain goats living among bristlecone pines, blue spruces, and subalpine firs in the Hudsonian Life Zone. Aspen trees are found with deer and elk in the Canadian Life Zone in the White, Mogollon, Jemez, Las Tusas, and Sangre de Cristo mountains.The Transition Life Zone is where cooler, wetter climate creates ideal conditions for wildlife. Most of north-central New Mexico is in this zone and black bears and mountain lions can be found in the columbine, pennyroyal, and other wildflowers. Many of the major mountain ranges of the state are covered in pinon, oak, and juniper trees, comprising the Upper Sonoran Life Zone. The Lower Sonoran Life Zone is the dry plains in the southern part of tha state. There are pronghorn antelope and herds of javelinas among cholla and prickly pear cactus, creosote, yucca, and cottonwood trees. I told you that you would be surprised.

Some places I want to explore: White sands National Monument is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. Crests of sand that look like ocean waves cover 275 square miles. Valles Caldera is one of the youngest calderas (a collapsed area of land caused by volcanic eruption) in the world. Other formations like Ship Rock and Little Black Peak are evidence of volcanoes in the past. The maze of subterranean caves forms Carlsbad Caverns National Park, one of the largest cave systems in the world. These were caused by circulating underground water that deposited salt, gypsum, and limestone that give shape to the caves. The Blue Hole is an 60-foot deep artesian spring with warm water all year long. Scuba divers come from all over the world to dive here.

There is such a diversity of ways to experience nature in New Mexico. Spelunking, rock climbing, horseback riding, hiking, biking, the world's largest aerial tramway, train, scenic byways, boat.... to name just a few. The vacation guide alone lists so many activities that my head is swimming. Just pick the things you want to explore and go for it. When you get home drop me a quick line to let me know what you did. There are links below to help you find your "thing". In the meantime, I'm going to go see the true story of Smokey the Bear. Then I'm going to go to Petroglyph National Monument to hike the trails and look at the ancient carvings of people, animals, and crosses.


New Mexico Official Site
Travel Guide
New Mexico ENewsletter
New Mexico Magazine
New Mexico Wildlife
National Parks
New Mexico Byways
Ghost Towns
State Monuments
New Mexico Places To Go
Places To See
Offbeat Tourist Attractions


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