New Mexico

In New Mexico, it's not just the landscapes that seem to be from another world. Follow us to the supernaturally beautiful Land of Enchantment in America's south and uncover the secrets of this special US state.

New Mexico facts

Capital: Santa Fe
Area: about 315,000 km²
Population: about 2.1 million
Area: Southwest of the USA
Nickname: Land of Enchantment
State animal: Roadrunner, Black bear
Time zone: UTC -7 (Moutain)

New Mexico: Location & Population

The landlocked state of New Mexico has borders with Colorado to the north, Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east, and Arizona to the west. The Four Corners Point in the northwest also touches the territory of Utah. South of New Mexico lies the neighboring country of Mexico. With only about 2.1 million inhabitants spread over an area of about 315,000 km², you'll find one thing in particular in New Mexico: a lot of space.

Hispanics and Latinos make up nearly half of all residents (49.3%), giving New Mexico the highest proportion of people of Hispanic descent of all US states. Other large populations in New Mexico include whites (about 27%) and Native Americans (about 11%), primarily members of the Pueblo culture (e.g., Hopi, Acoma, Taos).

The largest cities in New Mexico

Cities and more densely populated regions in New Mexico are mainly found along the Rio Grande. Based on population, these cities are New Mexico's top five:

City Population
Albuquerque 559,000
Las Cruces 102,000
Rio Rancho 96,000
Santa Fe 84,000
Roswell 48,000

 

By the way,
the city of Las Vegas in San Miguel County is home to about 27,000 residents and was founded 70 years before its famous namesake in Nevada.

Nature and Climate

With an average altitude of 1,735 m, the largely mountainous New Mexico is the fourth highest US state after Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains rise in the north of the state, forming the southern part of the Rocky Mountains. Here, you will also find Mount Wheeler (4,011 m), the highest peak in the state.

The south and west are covered with mesas and mountains, especially the Sacramento Mountains. To the east is the vast Llano Estacado plateau, and to the northwest is the Colorado Plateau. Along a north-south axis, the broad Rio Grande Rift divides New Mexico in two.

New Mexico's largest vegetation zone is the upper Sonoran zone, which is dominated by prairie grasses, low pines, and juniper shrubs. The northwest lies the high desert of the Colorado Plateau, where some plants adapted to the salt- and selenium-rich soil grow (e. g. sage, morello cherry, gray wood). Llano Estacado, located to the east, consists of prairie with bluegrasses and is an ideal habitat for herds of bison. In the south, you will find the Chihuahuan Desert with its shrubby creosote trees and many square kilometers of grasslands extending along the southern sections of the Rio Grande.

New Mexico's diverse vegetation zones are home to a multitude of wildlife, including black bears, cougars, elk, coyotes, porcupines, and antelope. Less hilly highlands are also home to the roadrunner, New Mexico's state bird.

New Mexico is one of the warmest regions in the USA. Due to its location in the south of the United States, respectively on the downwind side of the Rocky Mountains, there is a very dry steppe climate, which brings very hot temperatures, especially in summer. In the winter months, however, it can also get frosty cold at high altitudes in the north of the state.

Clear skies combined with relative remoteness make New Mexico the perfect location for large astronomical observatories, such as the Very Large Array (VLA) or the Apache Point Observatory (APO).

Best time to travel to New Mexico

A trip to New Mexico is most beautiful from May to September. Then, pleasantly warm average temperatures beyond the 20°C mark prevail, and there is very little rainfall.

New Mexico in summer

New Mexico's summer is packed with music festivals of all sorts. But yoga festivals also have a firm place in the summer event calendar of the prairie state. The Hatch Valley Chile Festival at the end of August is all about the hot peppers that are indispensable in New Mexico's regional cuisine (but more on that later).

New Mexico in autumn

Make sure to mark your calendar for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in early October. The color spectacle of hundreds of hot air balloons against a clear sky will take your breath away. You can also enjoy a combination of music and balloons at the White Sands Balloon and Music Festival in September.

Travel to New Mexico

The only major airport in the state of New Mexico is Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), where nearly 5.3 million passengers depart or land annually.

A connection from Europe, e.g., London Heathrow, to Albuquerque usually includes a stopover, in most cases in Los Angeles or Atlanta. You can get flights with Virgin Atlantic, Finnair or British Airways, for example.

From Paris, you can also reach your destination with a stopover. Your route will take you with British Airways, American Airlines, or Lufthansa via Dallas, Chicago, or Newark.

Japan Airlines or United Airlines will fly you to Albuquerque with a stop in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or Chicago.

Plan on spending around €900 to €1,000 for your flights between London and Albuquerque. Flights from Paris - Charles de Gaulle are slightly cheaper at around €800. Connections from Tokyo cost between €1,000 and €1,400.

Travel authorization New Mexico

Nicht vergessen: Wenn du kein US-Bürger oder Green Card-Inhaber bist, benötigst du zur Einreise nach New Mexico ein Visum oder ESTA.

ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!

Transfer from New Mexico Airport

The Albuquerque International Sunport is located about 5 km southeast of the city. You have the following transfer options to reach your accommodation:

Public transport from Albuquerque

Airport Public transportation in Albuquerque consists of the bus lines of ABQ Ride. Bus lines 250 and 50 take you from the Albuquerque International Sunport to the city center. The bus stop is located on the lower level of the airport in bus bay "E."

Shuttle from Albuquerque Airport

Several companies offer a shuttle service to Albuquerque, but also to Santa Fe, Los Alamos, or Taos. You can find the shuttles on the 1st level of the airport building.

Taxi from Albuquerque

Airport Five cab companies are waiting at the Albuquerque International Sunport to take you to your accommodation. You will also find them on the 1st level of the airport building.

National Parks and Natural wonders in New Mexico

When you see New Mexico's extraordinary landscapes, you'll feel like you've stepped into another world. Put the following five natural highlights of the Land of Enchantment at the top of your travel list.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

New Mexico's only national park, Carlsbad Caverns, is located in the Rocky Mountains in the north of the state. The huge network of caves and canyons impresses especially by its length of 350 km. In the underground world of the caves, countless rock formations, 17 species of bats, and over 119 limestone caves, including the particularly impressive Big Room, await your discovery. Tip: Take a full moon hike on a desert trail during the summer months, and have a park ranger explain everything about the wildlife in and around the caves.

Valles Caldera National Preserve

Almost no one would suspect that he is in the middle of a volcano when he stands on the grasslands in the Valles Caldera. But around 1.25 million years ago, the earth collapsed here in a supervolcano eruption over a distance of around 21 km!
Today, however, there is no more danger for you. The Valles Caldera is known for vast high mountain valleys, large herds of elk, and Bandelier National Monument, a well-preserved historic site of the Pueblo.

White Sands National Monument

Located near the city of Las Cruces, at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert, stretch the brilliant white expanses of the White Sands National Monument. The largest gypsum dune field in the world is located at an altitude of around 3,900 to 4,100 m and covers an area of around 300 km². By the way: Even if this natural wonder seems quiet at first glance – the dunes are among the most active ones in the world, moving about 9 m per year!

Shiprock Peak

The silhouette of the prominent Shiprock Peak is visible in all directions already from a distance of 80 km. The 482 m high colossus emerged as a remnant of an eroded volcanic plume and got its name because of its optical resemblance to a clipper ship. For the Navajo, it is a sacred mountain, and therefore cannot be climbed without permission.

Bisti Badlands

In the Bisti Badlands in arid northwestern New Mexico, you'll feel like you're standing on another planet. The oddly shaped mushrooms of colored sandstone and shale called "hoodoos" rank among the most unusual rock formations in the United States. They are the remains of a swamp that stretched across the area millions of years ago and today offer an otherworldly natural spectacle.

Top 10 Sightseeing highlights New Mexico

The following places in New Mexico are must-sees and should definitely be added to your travel list:

  • Carlsbad Caverns Nationalpark
  • White Sands National Monument
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park
  • Bandelier National Monument
  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Continental Divide Trail
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument
  • Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

City Highlights in New Mexico

New Mexico is full of fascinating places. These are the top city highlights for your sightseeing trip through the Land of Enchantment:

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City Highlights Santa Fe

If you're an art lover or interested in Native American history, especially Pueblo culture, Santa Fe will have you covered.

Embark on an exploration of the city's many fascinating museums, where you can learn all about the long history of New Mexico's capital and admire stunning paintings.

If you're craving a fiery chili or burritos afterward, you'll find plenty to choose from in Santa Fe's excellent restaurant scene. These city highlights await you in Santa Fe:

  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Museum of International Folk Art
  • Meow Wolf Santa Fe
  • New Mexico Museum of Art
  • The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

City Highlights Albuquerque

The legendary Route 66 used to run through the middle of Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico. Today, this fast-growing, vibrant metropolitan area is the economic and cultural heart of New Mexico.

The city offers you many exciting museums and outdoor activities. Tours to the Valles Caldera also start here. End the evening in Nob Hill: nowhere else in Albuquerque can you mingle with the locals as well as in the many excellent restaurants and bars in this neighborhood.

Get inspired by these city highlights in Albuquerque:

  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • Sandia Peak Tramway
  • New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
  • Albuquerque Museum
  • ABQ BioPark

City Highlights Roswell

The small town in southeastern New Mexico enjoys otherworldly fame: the hype surrounding the alleged UFO crash on July 14th, 1947, still attracts many tourists to Roswell today. Flying saucers and little green men can be seen not only in the town's UFO museum but also on virtually every corner.

If that's not enough, you should book one of the guided tours to the alleged spaceship crash site. Things get even more supernatural at the end of July, when the city hosts its annual UFO festival, AlienFest.

These city highlights await you in Roswell:

  • International UFO Museum and Research Center and Gift Shop
  • Roswell Museum & Art Center
  • Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Spring River Park & Zoo

City Highlights Taos

Located in a picturesque setting in the middle of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is known as one of the most beautiful mountain towns in the world. Artists such as Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams have come to the city to be inspired by its history, culture, and historic architecture.

To this day, Taos, with its numerous museums as well as the adobe settlement of Taos Pueblo, is a paradise for artists and those interested in culture.

Close to town are four ski resorts, making Taos a popular starting point for skiers in the winter.

Get inspired by these city highlights in Taos:

  • Harwood Museum of Art
  • Taos Art Museum at Fechin House
  • Millicent Rogers Museum
  • Taos Plaza
  • Kit Carson Home and Museum

Road trip in New Mexico

Besides stunning nature and interesting cities, New Mexico also has a number of cultural and historical highlights in store for you.

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument on the Pajarito Plateau near Los Alamos is an impressive testament to the Pueblo culture that lived here between 1150 and 1600. Hidden in the wilderness of the Jemez Mountains, you'll find several Pueblo houses, kivas (ceremonial structures), and petroglyphs within Frijoles Canyon.

Taos Pueblo

Just a few minutes' drive out of the town of Taos, the 1,000-year-old settlement of Taos Pueblo rises from the desert floor. Built in the traditional pueblo style of New Mexico's indigenous people, the town is still inhabited today and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992.

Santa Fe National Historic Trail

The historic Santa Fe Trail trade route connected the densely populated areas along the Missouri River with the prairies of New Mexico before the construction of the railroad. Today, the 1,937 km long Santa Fe National Historic Trail is considered one of the most interesting long-distance hiking trails in America. Traveling along the trail, you will pass many interesting landmarks such as Fort Union National Monument, Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, the Comanche National Grassland, and of course, the city of Santa Fe.

Blue Hole

Finally, a sightseeing tip out of the series: passionate divers should definitely plunge into the Blue Hole. The small lake, located east of Santa Rosa on Route 66, has a constant temperature of 17 °C. What makes it special? Although the surface measures only 24 m in diameter, you can dive down 40 m until you reach the bottom.

Instagram hotspots New Mexico

It doesn't take long to find a spectacular setting for your Instagram photos in New Mexico's unique landscape. But these five photo spots are sure to impress your followers:

  • White Sands National Monument
  • Welcome Sign of Roswell
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  • Downtown Santa Fe
  • Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Food Highlights in New Mexico

The proximity to its neighbor Mexico is clearly noticeable in New Mexico's cuisine. But influences from Spanish specialties and Native American dishes also find their way onto the menus. In any case, you should be able to eat spicy food because chili peppers are omnipresent in New Mexico.

When you're traveling in the Land of Enchantment, try these food highlights:

Christmas – Sauce from red and green chili peppers

Sopaipillas – Pastry specialty with pumpkin flesh, served either sweet with apple puree or salty with a salsa

Green Chile Cheeseburger – Cheeseburger served with a chili sauce or chopped green chilies

Pozole – Stew on the basis of corn

Carne Adovada – Pork marinated with a puree of onions, red chilies, and spices

Fun Facts New Mexico

Want to learn more about the state of New Mexico? No problem, you probably didn't know these facts yet:

  • Santa Fe is located at an altitude of about 2200 m, making it the highest state capital in the USA.
  • Santa Fe was founded tenyears before the Mayflower landed in Plymouth by Spanish colonists. This also makes it the oldest capital in North America.
  • You can see five different states from the top of the 2,400 m high Capulin Volcano: New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado.
  • On July 16th, 1945, the first nuclear weapon explosion in history (Trinity Test) detonated at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.
  • The Valles Caldera is a popular filming location for movies, mostly in the Western genre.

Immigrate to New Mexico

Are you so enchanted by the out-of-this-world beauty of New Mexico that you want to stay? Our tips for living and working in New Mexico will give you some ideas on how to make your dream come true.

Working in New Mexico

Important industries in New Mexico are agriculture, with the cultivation of corn, wheat and millet, cotton, and cattle and sheep farming. Furthermore, oil, natural gas, and potash salts are mined.

The US government maintains two nuclear research and development centers in New Mexico, Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque and Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos. You'll find other jobs in research and the IT sector, primarily in the largest city, Albuquerque.

Or perhaps you're thinking a little further into the future? Maybe a career at Spaceport America, the first privately funded spaceport in the USA, recently built near the city of Las Cruces, is something for you?

Living in New Mexico

Compared to the US average, living in New Mexico is about 12% less expensive. According to the Cost of Living Index, you'll save on housing, transportation, and health care costs.

You can live cheaper than in the rest of America, not only in rural areas but also in cities like Albuquerque (10% cheaper) or Roswell (5% cheaper).

The capital city of Santa Fe is an exception, as housing costs are more than 60% higher than the US average.

With a Green Card to New Mexico

You have decided to immigrate to New Mexico? Then all you really need is a Green Card! The Green Card Lottery of the US government offers you a fast and uncomplicated way to get the much sought-after immigrant visa. Sign up now and secure your chance to win one of the 55,000 Permanent Resident Cards that are drawn annually!

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