12 New Mexico Tourist Attractions That Most New Mexican’s Haven’t Seen

1. White Sands National Monument

Jöshua Barnett, White Sands, New Mexico
Jöshua Barnett, White Sands, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument is one of the most stunning landscapes in the state, located a half an hour’s drive southwest of Alamogordo in the south of New Mexico. It lies in the Tularosa Basin, a northern offshoot of the Chihuahua Desert and is surrounded by rugged mountains. Here, gleaming white gypsum sand has built up into an extraordinary landscape of dunes up to 60 ft high, which are constantly displaced by the wind.

Hours: Open 8am-7pm (May 15 to Aug 15), 8am-4:30pm (Aug 16 to May 14)

Admission: Adults $3, Children 16 and under free

2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Ken Lund - Carlsbad, New Mexico
Ken Lund – Carlsbad, New Mexico

Comprised of nearly 120 known caves, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is hidden mostly underground. Carved from limestone deposited in an ancient sea, the alien underground landscape is one of the most famous New Mexico tourist attractions. The Park Service offers self-guided audio tours and ranger-led tours. Visitors can also experience bat tours, trips to specific caves and walks through the outlandish geological formations. Up above, the visitor will find a wide range of opportunities for back-country hikes and backpacking. Be sure to bring ample water.

Hours: Open 8am-7pm (summer) and 8am-5pm (winter)

Admission: Adults $10, Children 15 and under free

carlsbad-caverns-national-park-map

Carlsbad Caverns National Park Map

3. Bandelier National Monument

bandelier
Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument is a 33,677-acre preserve encompassing some of the most dramatic volcanic landscapes and archaeological ruins in the state. Former home of ancestral Pueblo people, the area was occupied from 1150 to 1600AD. Visitors can take advantage of a fine museum, camping options, an interpretative trail and excellent back-country hiking.

Hours: Open daily 9:30am-5:30pm

Admission: $6 per car (seven day permit)

4. Chaco Culture National Historical Park

chaco canyon
Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Perhaps one of the most stunning archaeological sites in all of North America, Chaco Canyon was occupied by ancestral Puebloan peoples from about 800 to 1200AD. It was a major center comprised of 15 massive ruins and hundreds of smaller constructions. Located in a remote area northwest of Albuquerque, the park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Park facilities and activities include camping, an excellent interpretive center, interpretive and back-country hikes and astronomy experiences from telescopes located in the canyon.

Hours: Open 7am-sunset

Admission: $8 per car (seven day permit)

5. Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railyway

Cumbres_and_Toltec_Scenic_Railroad_train
Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railyway

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a narrow gauge heritage railroad that runs between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. It is the highest steam railroad in the nation. Constructed in 1880-81, this cozy train ride traverses the 10,015 ft Cumbres Pass and heads through the dramatic Toltec Gorge. Trains leave from both Chama and Antonito and return bus rides are available.

Hours: Trains run May to October

Admission: Parlor Car: Adults $179; Deluxe Tourist: Adults $139, Children $69; Coach: Adults $95, Children $49

6. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Rooms With a View

North of the old mining town of Silver City are the Gila cliff dwellings: 42 rooms in six caves, built into the cliff face by the Mogollon Native Americans around the year 1300. The monument has a museum and visitor center. Visitors should take note that the tours start at the cliff dwellings themselves, and it takes about a half hour to walk up to them from the trail-head.

Hours: Open 8am-4:30pm

Admission: Families $10, adults $3

7. Billy the Kid Museum

billy the kid museum
Billy the Kid Museum 

Out on the eastern plains of New Mexico is the small town of Fort Sumner, the resting place of the infamous Billy the Kid. The lanky youth was shot and killed at the nearby Fort Sumner State Monument by Sheriff Pat Garrett at the age of 21. The museum hosts the Kid’s rifle, horse-riding equipment and the original Wanted poster. Rumor has it they even have some of his hair. The museum also has a collection of cavalry swords, old firearms and antique cars and trucks. Guided tours are available.

Hours: Open daily 8:30am-5pm

Admission: Adults $5, Seniors $4, Children 7-15 $3

8. Pecos National Historical Park

peco
Pecos National Historical Park

Pecos National Historical Park encompasses what was once one of the largest Native American pueblos in the state. It was inhabited from early 14th century until 1838, with a population over 2,000. In 1990 the park was expanded to 6,600 acres. Also worth visiting is the nearby Civil War Battlefield of Glorieta Pass.

Hours: Visitor center open 8am-4:30pm (Labor Day to Memorial Day)

Admission: Adults $3

9. The Very Large Array

Very_Large_Array,_2012 The Very Large Array

In the remote rolling hills west of Socorro lies the Karl G Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) – a radio astronomy observatory located on the Plains of San Agustin. The array is used to observe black holes and other astronomical phenomena. There are self-guided walking routes through the site, and the VLA also hosts free, guided tours on the first Saturday of each month. Though reservations aren’t required, it is worth checking ahead for times. Tours begin from the VLA Visitor Center.

Hours: Museum open from 8am-4:30pm

Admission: Free

Official site: http://www.vla.nrao.edu/

10. Valle Vidal

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Valle Vidal

Perhaps the most stunning landscape in New Mexico, the Valle Vidal is a 101,794-acre mountain basin tucked into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains northeast of Taos, New Mexico. Protected from mineral exploitation in 1996, the Valle Vidal offers miles of pristine wilderness. Hiking, camping, fishing and hunting opportunities abound.

Hours: Open year round

Admission: Free

11. Wheeler Peak Wilderness

View_of_Jeff_Davis_Peak_from_Wheeler_Peak
Wheeler Peak Wilderness

The highest point in New Mexico is the summit of Wheeler Peak, at 13,161 ft. The mountain is next to Moreno Valley near Angel Fire in the Carson National Forest, in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. The area is home to a variety of wildlife and visitors may be lucky enough to see marmots, pikas, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and golden eagles. Hiking is one of the most popular things to do with several trails, most ranging from 4 mi to 8 mi long.

Due to the elevation, Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area enjoys moderate summer temperatures and cold winters, when temperatures regularly fall below freezing. Most visitors come here during the summer months, which are warm but also a little wet. July and August are the rainy months, so be sure to bring a rain jacket to deal with passing showers.

Hours: Open year-round

Admission: Free

12. Taos Ski Valley

Bleuzette La Feir, Taos Mountain

Bleuzette La Feir, Taos Mountain

Northeast of Taos, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (8,900-12,500 ft), is the magically beautiful and excellently equipped winter sports region of the Taos Ski Valley. There are more than 100 runs covering 1,294 acres, and half of the trails are for expert skiers.

Hours: Open 9am-4pm

Admission: Adults $77, Seniors and Children 17-12 $67, Children 12 and under $47

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BEST Burger in New Mexico

Bobcat_bite_640_426_85 

SANTA FE (KRQE) – It’s the stuff that causes furious debate. It’s even a state competition. Who cooks up the best green chile cheeseburger in the state? Yahoo has declared a winner as it went out to find the best burgers in all 50 states.

After the three months of researching, eating, and yes, fighting, Yahoo believes the best burger in New Mexico can be found at Santa Fe Bite in our capital city.

“It’s a great article. It’s always good to be recognized,” said John Eckre, owner of Santa Fe Bite.

Eckre previously owned Bobcat Bite and earned a reputation for mouth-watering burgers there.

“I’ve been doing it for 15 years now, so I should start getting good at it pretty quick,” he joked.

“We always do our best. We grind our meat fresh every day: whole boneless chuck and sirloin; it’s like ground steak,” he said.

Eckre set out to cook with the best ingredients he could find. But that’s not his only secret behind the kitchen door.

“We take our time with the burgers. We don’t hurry them and mash them down. We let them cool slow. That leaves you with a savory flavor that longer cooking gives you,” Eckre said. “I made my grills myself. I used to be a welder, so I built three cast iron grills that really do enhance the flavor of the burger. It makes a big difference,” he said.

Customers, whether first-time diners or longtime patrons, raved about their meals over their Friday lunch.

“When you order a medium, it’s just a perfect medium. The meat is very well made, and it’s juicy. It’s never dried out, and the vegetables are always fresh,” said Lewis Smith. “I’ve been coming here every other Friday,” he added.

A Huffington Post article also recognizing Santa Fe Bite is what led Sandy Usita of Rio Rancho to choose to dine here this particular Friday.

“I’m glad I had a chance to read the article because it’s great. I missed this for I don’t know how long,” Usita said. “I absolutely love a good burger. This is quality,” she said.

Shane Plossu developed his cravings back at Bobcat Bite and visits Santa Fe Bite when he returns to Santa Fe. “It’s just a real treat for me to do that. Get a green chile fix everytime I come back home,” he said.

“The Bite is really the best burger I’ve had. I’ve traveled a lot myself as well, tried lots of burgers and to me the green chile cheeseburger is just the one,” Plossu said.

In its review, Yahoo said, “The chuck and sirloin beef mix complements the smoky heat of the chiles, and makes you wish more people from other states would start putting green chiles on everything.”

But was there a runner-up in New Mexico?

Yahoo began its burger choice for the Land of Enchantment by saying, “With apologies to the delicious burgers at Manny’s Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, we had to go with Santa Fe Bite’s green chile cheeseburger.”

Santa Fe Bite is located at 311 Old Santa Fe Trail.

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11 Craziest New Mexico Homes

Get ready to question the laws of physics. These private homes have such wild architecture you have to wonder if Dr. Seuss had a hand in their design.

Here’s 11 unique, innovative New Mexico homes that really stand out.

The Residence of Architect Bart Prince

Built in 1983, this funky-looking Albuquerque house goes by many names: “The Spaceship House,” “The Hovercraft House,” “The Bug House,” and “OMG WTF is that?”

It’s the residence of New Mexico architect Bart Prince (3501 Monte Vista Blvd. NE), who designed many amazing houses and community centers in New Mexico.

“On the top level are a series of translucent water tubes which are part of a passive solar heating system. There are two spiral stairs which serve the upper area and connect it to the living room and studio. A masonry tower, added in 1990, provides library and drawing storage space,” reports Albuquerque Business First.

Next door (3507 Monte Vista Blvd. NE) is another structure that’s more angles than curves, but still has the same cantilevered style. It’s said to be Prince’s studio.

The Camouflage House

“The Camouflage Home,” or “The Flintstone House” as locals call it, seems to almost disappear into the surrounding rocky desert landscape.

Designed by Santa Fe jeweler Norah Pierson, this 2,300-square-foot home in Lamy isn’t actually made from rock at all. It’s covered with a polyurethane spray foam that’s usually used as insulation to give it a stone-like look and then tinted it to match the environment.

The Turbulence House

The Turbulence House, created by architect Steven Holl (2001-2005), sits atop a windy desert mesa in northern New Mexico.

“The form allows turbulent wind to blow through its center. The stressed skin and aluminum rib construction is digitally prefabricated in Kansas City then bolted together on site. A total of 31 metal panels, each with a unique shape are fabricated to form the ‘shell’ of the house,” writes Holl.

The Mead/Penhall Residence

Albuquerque’s Mead/Penhall residence, designed by Bart Prince (1992-1993), is “built on the last vacant lot in a previously developed neighborhood with existing houses on three sides.”

Sometimes called “The Cigar House” due to its shape, the residence “is lifted above the site to take advantage of the distant mountain and valley views. The plan of the house resulted from a response to the clients who wanted to provide for their collection of art and antique furniture in a contemporary environment.”

 

The Modern Ruin

“The Modern Ruin” is the name of a house and studio in Agua Fria Traditional Village (3094 Agua Fria), just outside Sante Fe.

Sharing a piece of property with a family member’s house, a green house, chicken coops, and a garden, the new structures designed by Autotroph Design (2011) embody the area’s traditional adobe architecture and its modern industrial infrastructure.

According to Autotroph Design, the goal was to convey a modern ruin — “clean, elegant form with a weathered, hand-hewn feel.”

“Additional factors informing the design include a rooftop deck reached via the single upstairs bedroom, with space for a future green roof. Water catchment and gray water reuse are key to maintaining cottonwood and aspen trees, limber pines, native grasses and restoring the property’s historic orchard.”

 

The Scherger/Kolberg Residence

This Albuquerque house designed by Bart Prince (2001-2005) even has its own website. The house takes advantage of the views from the base of the mountain.

“The site backs up to a national park and offers great views of the mountain as well as the city below. The plan of the house wraps around a center courtyard that is used for the main entrance. Sloping roofs and large windows extend the view.”

The Earthship Biotecture Houses of Taos

An Earthship is a type of passive solar house made of natural and recycled materials (like earth-filled tires), designed and marketed by Earthship Biotecture of Taos.

They’re designed to work as autonomous buildings using thermal mass construction and natural cross ventilation assisted by thermal draught to regulate indoor temperature. Earthships are off-the-grid homes, minimizing their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They’re built to utilize the available local resources, especially energy from the sun.

You can find most of them along Earthship Way, just outside of Taos.

The Fu Residence

The Fu Residence in Rio Rancho is another Bart Prince design (1999-2002). Sometimes called “The Snake House,” it’s located on Huron Drive, just north of Northern Boulevard.

“This site slopes gently from west to east toward the Rio Grande valley in the near distance and the Sandia Mountain range beyond,” according to Prince’s website.

The Sage House

“The Sage House” in Taos, designed by architect Jon Anderson and Antoine Predock(2006-2008), has panoramic views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

According to Predock’s website: “The Sage House is organized along a simple arc, focusing views outward to the dramatic landscape. An internal courtyard, sheltered from prevailing southwestern winds with walls, an earthen berm and an orchard, completes the inscribing arc.

Designed for a renowned local chef, the house contains a restaurant quality kitchen and spaces for large social events. The central spaces are organized around the courtyard so that the house can be opened to the landscape for warm weather parties. The courtyard contains a central fire pit and is shaded by trellises for summertime use.”

The Whitmore Residence

The Whitmore Residence, or “Glorieta House” as Bart Prince dubbed it (2001-2004), is in Glorieta, New Mexico.

The house sits on the side of the hills in the distance. Prince writes that it’s “a beautiful site of several acres bisected by the adjacent Galisteo River and the Santa Fe Railroad.

The various spaces of the house cascade down the gentle slope in small increments, which total 20 feet in elevation from the lowest to the highest. The central living pavilion is separated from the master suite at one end of the house and the guest suite at the other end by courtyards which provide exterior sleeping areas protected from rattlesnakes and coyotes.”

The Dome Homes

These curious spherical shells are comprised of building materials like Airform, an inflatable balloon-like base structure, steel-reinforced concrete, and polyurethane foam.

Monolithic, the Italy, Texas-based creator of these unique houses, designed a 1,000-square foot sphere in El Prado, New Mexico (35 April Way). The structure comes with all the standard home appliances and heated floors.

But it’s not the only dome home in-state. There’s a teensy 320-square foot, solar-powered dome home in neighboring Taos (211 Camino De Lovato).

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More Sales, Higher Prices in 2014

Local markets see more home sales, higher prices

Posted: Thursday, January 8, 2015 7:00 pm | Updated: 8:10 am, Fri Jan 9, 2015.

By Bruce Krasnow
The New Mexican |

Home sales in Santa Fe finished 2014 on an upswing, as data for the fourth quarter show both a higher median price and more closed sales than in the same period the previous year.

Overall closed sales in the city and county rose 3 percent in October, November and December, while the median price of a home sold climbed 8 percent, according to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors.

 Thursday’s data also show that the median price of a home sold in the city of Santa Fe increased 11.5 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with a 2.9 percent increase in the unincorporated area.

Sales in the northeast part of Santa Fe, where the median price is $724,500, were especially robust, climbing 57 percent from 26 closed sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 41 in same quarter of 2014, according to the association. Sales in the higher-end neighborhoods likely benefited from a climb in the stock market, which hit record levels at the end of 2014.

For the 2014 calendar year, closed sales in the combined city-county market totaled 2,226, just 90 more than sales in 2013, or an increase of 4.2 percent. The median price over the year dropped 1.7 percent to $295,000 from $300,000 a year earlier. The year saw better sales in the first and last quarters and a more sluggish summer.

Association President Barbara Blackwell, a broker with Keller Williams Santa Fe, said inventory tightened a bit in the last three months of 2014, falling 7 percent, and that helped prices. “Interest rates remained lower than expected, helping to attract buyers,” she added in a statement.

Heading into 2015, interest rates have remained low, and that should increase affordability for more buyers, Blackwell said. Additionally, first-time buyers should benefit from lower down payment requirements.

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