35 Most Beautiful Places & Hidden Gems in New Mexico

Table of Contents

New Mexico is one of my favorite states because of its natural beauty, Native American history, and rich, earthy tones. There are so many beautiful places in New Mexico that you’ll fall in love with.

Through research and personal experience, I’ve created a bucket list-worthy list of the prettiest spots in New Mexico. And let me tell you- there’s a reason this state is called the Land of Enchantment!

While I haven’t personally been to each and every one of these places, I plan to someday- and it’s going to be epic.

As you scroll through these photos and reach about the locations, don’t be surprised if you fall in love with New Mexico like I did! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Without further ado, here are the 35 locations I deem to be the most beautiful places in New Mexico!

Map of the most beautiful places in New Mexico

Here is a map of the most beautiful places in New Mexico. Feel free to open it in Google Maps so that you can see what each point is!

If you’re planning a road trip through New Mexico or looking for points of interest in a specific area, this map could definitely come in handy!

1. Acoma Sky City

Photo source

Acoma Pueblo is considered the oldest continuously inhabited area in North America!

Home to Acoma’s unique Native American tribe for centuries, since 1100 AD, the area’s dwellings have stood tall on a 370-foot sandstone mesa in the New Mexico desert.

2. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Lee Ruck via Flickr

Albuquerque’s annual hot air balloon festival is unlike anything else in the world!

Five hundred colorful balloons fill the October sky above New Mexico from early morning until the twilight hour with thousands of spectators braving the crisp fall weather to witness the event.

The only downside to this place on my list is that it only happens once a year! So be sure to plan your trip in advance. You’ll get to see why this is one of the most beautiful places in New Mexico!

3. Bandelier National Monument

Sarah Stierch via Flickr

Bandelier is home to some of the oldest ruins and petroglyphs in the American southwest.

The Anasazi peoples carved dwellings into the volcanic rock tuff centuries ago, many of which are well preserved to this day!

You can explore the dwellings and surrounding area via a short loop path.

4. Bisti Badlands

John Fowler via Flickr

The Bisti Badlands is a geological marvel in the high desert of New Mexico.

The 2,000-acre area is filled with interesting shapes of sandstone rock formations known as hoodoos. The Badlands were a former inland sea, which now stands as a testament to the effects of climate change on the landscape of New Mexico.

Is it any wonder why it’s worthy of being one of the most beautiful places in New Mexico?

5. Blue Hole

Deborah Lee Soltesz via Flickr

One of the most bizarre and incredible natural swimming holes in the world is the United States is Blue Hole.

Halfway between Albuquerque and Amarillo, the Blue Hole is technically an 80-foot deep lake, part of a system of seven area lakes connected by deep underground systems!

This former fish hatchery is now a popular swimming area and top scuba diving destination in the southwest.

6. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

The Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge in Socorro County is a spot for mass gatherings of the feathered variety.

Every year, countless migratory birds from hundreds of species descend on the refuge on their way to the warmer climates.

Visitors travel here around Thanksgiving time to catch a glimpse of thousands of sandhill cranes hovering in the air above the naked landscape.

7. Brazos Cliffs

Ed MacKerrow via Sharing Santa Fe

The massive granite Brazos Cliffs tower over the Chama River northwest of Albuquerque.

The best time to see these mountainous marvels is during sunset when the setting sun bathes them in gold!

You can see the escarpment from miles around with some of the best views coming from an overlook on Highway 64 in Carson National Forest.

8. Capulin Volcano National Monument

Photo source

A symmetrical cinder cone volcano stands in the middle of the New Mexico plain. Four hundred feet deep, this perfectly preserved volcano is a striking sight to see on the scenic drive towards it.

You can hike its uneven rim, which loops for a mile and peer into the dormant volcano’s mouth.

9. Carlsbad Cavern National Park

David Sanborn via Flickr

Calcite formations hang from the ceilings of over a dozen named rooms at the Carlsbad Cavern’s cave formations.

This national park is home to nearly 200 caves in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert!

While access to most of them is prohibited, a self-guided tour takes you through the former sea-turned-underground desert cave system. You especially don’t want to miss the central area known as the Big Room.

10. Chaco Culture National Historical Park & Chaco Canyon

John Fowler via Flickr

Fifteen ruins stand tall at this UNESCO World Heritage Site and archaeological site formerly occupied by the Ancestral Puebloan peoples over 1,000 years ago.

Trails lead to the area’s top sites, including many Pueblonian kivas, underground rooms shaped like perfect circles! The inhabitants used these kivas for religious and cultural purposes.

11. Cloudcroft

Via New Mexico Tourism

Cloudcroft is a mountain village popular with campers and hikers alike.

Half-a-dozen trails take visitors towards scenic areas, such as the Cloud-Climbing Trestle Trail, with views of the abandoned train trestles.

Winter-time in Cloudcroft means skiing and staying warm and cozy inside its many restaurants serving some of the best fare in New Mexico!

12. Cumbres-Toltec Scenic Railway

Via Visit Albuquerque

Train enthusiasts, take note of this bright red train in the middle of the New Mexico desert! 

The Cumbres and Toltec train track carves its way through 64 breathtaking miles of valley and mountain canyons.

Take in New Mexico’s high desert, hills, and 600-foot deep gorges in the most unique way aboard the historic train, now celebrating its 50th anniversary of cooperation between New Mexico and Colorado.

13. Ancient Petroglyphs

Bowie Snodgrass via Flickr

Visit the Petroglyph National Monument to witness 3,000 years of history.

The ancient rock carvings found on basalt rocks in the Boca Negra Canyon are some of the oldest in the Americas and can be seen without much effort and without a guide.

14. El Morro National Monument

Jacqueline Poggi via Flickr

This sandstone mesa in New Mexico is a natural guestbook of sorts.

Puebloan peoples and explorers that made their way through the region and took refuge at the foot of the bluff carved their names and stories into the sandstone!

You can see the inscriptions below the bluff and at the top as well if you follow the Inscription Trail to the bottom or Headland Trail to the top.

15. Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon

Joshua Hansen via Flickr

Standing at 400 feet, surrounded by big sky and dry desert, the Faja Butte casts a tall shadow and deserves a visit.

The site is most impressive at sunset and is home to the famous Sun Dagger!

Unfortunately, access to the ancient sundial is no longer allowed due to the erosion caused by people traffic.

16. Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness

Diana Robinson via Flickr

We mentioned Chaco Canyon, but located nearby is the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, a badland that makes for good fun.

Hoodoos (also known as fairy chimneys) are plentiful and appear otherworldly as if you ventured onto Tatooine in the Star Wars galaxy!

The area is also replete with dinosaur bones (um, how cool is that?), so mind your step.

Without a doubt, the Ah-She-Sle-Pah Wilderness definitely deserves to be called one of the most beautiful places in New Mexico!

17. Ghost Ranch (Abiquiu)

Diann Bayes via Flickr

Abiquiu is a stunning expanse in northern New Mexico home to red hills, mesas, and formerly Georgia O’Keeffe!

Today, you can visit and see the impressive Cerro Pedernal which appeared in many of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings and where her ashes were scattered.

From further in the distance, the reds, yellows, and browns of the cliffs offer a bold contrast against the deep blue sky.

18. Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument

Photo source

Surrounded by forest, the Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument is a testament to millennia of human development and migration in the region.

The cliff dwellings are the only evidence of Mogollon ruins, with 40 rooms dug into the sides of cliffs forming the well preserved structures tourists flock to annually.

Evidence of agriculture and pottery also remains, even though the ruins were looted shortly after their discovery in the late 19th century.

19. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Photo source

Hundreds of years of volcanic activity formed the peaks and crevices of the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks.

A three-mile hiking trail will take you through the canyon and past the area’s signature tent rocks (another name for hoodoos).

The smooth rust-colored sandstone shaped by wind and water is a perfect spot for some Instagrammable photos!

20. Las Cruces

Woody Hibbard via Flickr

New Mexico’s second-largest city boasts nearly 365 days of sun and will have you asking “what can’t I do here?”

Perfectly located for excursions to national parks and home to a lively cultural scene, you can catch a concert, see a show, or do a bit of shopping in the city’s downtown area.

21. Pecos National Historical Park

Via Day Trippen

Ponderosas and junipers dot the perimeter of Pecos National Historical Park near Santa Fe.

The natural area in the Pecos Valley was home to Pueblo and Plains Indians for thousands of years until the arrival of missionaries and Spanish conquistadores.

Visitors to the national park can stop at the Glorieta Pass Battlefield where Confederate forces took the Glorieta Pass from the Union before being forced to retreat to Santa Fe!

22. Ruidoso

The Village of Ruidoso in the Sierra Blanca Mountains has welcomed visitors for years to this oasis in the mountains.

Especially since it boasts the southernmost ski resort in the United States. There are plenty of reasons to visit Ruidoso if you like to ski, but it’s fun to visit in all seasons!

Adventurers will find one of the longest ziplines in the world, trails that are the dream of mountain bikers the world over, and the Ruidoso Downs Race Track for those who are feeling a little bit lucky! 

Check out my list of 12 things to do (besides skiing) in Ruidoso here!

23. Sandia Peak Tramway

Jordan Meeter

The Sandia Peak Tramway is a funicular near Albuquerque that offers incredible views of the Sandia Mountains.

Sandia Peak Tramway has the world’s third-longest single span hovering 10,000 feet above the ground.

There is nowhere else from which you can see panoramic views of the entirety of Albuquerque and the surrounding area!

Looking for places to stay in New Mexico? You can search right here!

Booking.com

24. Santa Fe

Steve Walser via Flickr

Santa Fe is renowned for its unique architectural style, history, and culinary experiences.

Historical sites important to Native American, Mexican, and American cultures can all be found in this city, along with Pueblo Revival style architecture inspired by the Pueblo peoples and that of Spanish missionaries.

One of the most obscure things to see in Santa Fe is a life-sized sculpture of a whale! Ethyl the Whale is cared for by the art collective Meow Wolf and is made entirely of recycled plastic!

25. Shiprock

Beau Rogers via Flickr

Known by its Navajo name, Tse Bitai, this sacred peak stands high above everything for miles around.

The legend of Shiprock is that it was once a massive bird that carried Navajo ancestors on its back before turning to rock. The people living at its peak were stranded when lightning struck the towering formation, and no access is granted to the top to this day lest their spirits are disturbed.

Definitely one of the most beautiful places in New Mexico!

26. Spence Hot Springs

Photo source

Spence is a wonderful natural hot spring and respite from all the hiking you will undoubtedly be doing!

Located in Jemez Valley, the water reaches a temperature of 100-degrees, and a soak in the pools offers panoramic views of the canyon and creeks below.

27. Tamaya Horse Rehab

This hidden gem you won’t find on anyone’s list, but I thought it deserved a spot on my list of the most beautiful places in New Mexico.

Imagine riding a beautiful horse with the Sandia Mountains creating an enchanting backdrop. The stunning terrain will make you feel like you’ve stepped back into the Old West. That is just what a trail ride feels like at The Tamaya Horse Rehab.

The Tamaya Horse Rehab is near and dear to my heart because of the time I got to spend with the horses while staying at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya on the Santa Ana Pueblo.

You can learn all about why you should stay at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya here!

Of course, you don’t need to stay at the hotel to spend some time with these beautiful horses- you can book one of their trail ride options here!

28. Taos Gorge

Michael W. Wile via Flickr

The fifth highest bridge in the United States hangs over the Taos Gorge along Highway 64. The gorge is lined with red stone cliffs and desert vegetation.

Six hundred fifty feet above the Rio Grande, you can walk across the bridge and look out over the river. Or, strike a pose with the Hollywood mainstay in the background from one of the area’s lookouts.

The view in the photo above was taken from the Guadalupe Mountain Trail Overlook.

29. Taos Pueblo

Andy Smith via Flickr

The Taos Pueblo community is over 1,000 years old and is home to 150 Puebloan people currently living here.

The unique architectural style of the structures assured that the Pueblo and distant mountains are on the shortlist of most photographed scenes in the United States!

30. Taos Ski Valley

Photo source

New Mexico isn’t just desert and sandstone. Taos Ski Valley is the largest ski resort in New Mexico, with nearly 1,300 acres of skiable terrain! 

Book a mountain lodge and hit the freshly powdered slopes only 70 miles north of Santa Fe.

31. The Rio Grande from Hot Air Balloon

I said this list was going to be of the most beautiful places in New Mexico- I didn’t say getting there was going to be cheap or easy!

But don’t worry, this is the only thing on this list that will cost a pretty penny (roughly around $99-$250 per person). But the good news is that it is so worth it!

I talked about the beauty of the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival, but how about getting into a hot air balloon yourself?

You can float up in the sky with Rainbow Ryders- we did just that while staying at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya. You can book your hot air balloon ride here!

32. Valles Caldera National Preserve

Jerry Friedman via Flickr

1.25 million years after volcanic activity creates a massive expanse in New Mexico, Valles Caldera is the place for some of the more strenuous outdoor activities that travelers to the area crave.

Perfect for day hikes and open valley horseback riding, the picturesque landscape is home to hundreds of species of animals from mammals to birds!

33. Very Large Array

Karen and Brad Emerson via Flickr

50-miles west of Socorro in the desert is where you will find a formation unlike any other in New Mexico.

No, not a rock formation. Rather 27 radio telescopes that, together, form the Very Large Array Radio Telescope Facility where astronomers use the telescopes to observe the universe.

You can tour the area and learn about the National Radio Astronomy Observatory as well as take in the stars yourself at night, though without the help of the massive equipment.

34. Wheeler Peak Wilderness

Kevin Muncie via Flickr

Outdoor recreationists, alpine skiers, and casual hikers would be right at home at Wheeler Peak Wilderness area.

The glacier-carved landscape consists of lakes, forests, peaks, and tundra that make for excellent adventuring and animal spotting.

See if you can take a selfie with a bighorn sheep, but use a telephoto lens and don’t get too close!

35. White Sands National Park

And last on my list is what I consider to be the most beautiful place in New Mexico: White Sands National Park.

White Sands is a spectacular natural marvel unlike any other in New Mexico, and possibly the entire United States.

The unique geographic feature is a stark contrast to the blue skies above New Mexico and is formed by white gypsum sand dunes. Wear bright colors for that extra pop!

Running around on the sand dunes makes you feel like you’re on another planet!

In conclusion…

I hope you can see why New Mexico is called “The Land of Enchantment!”

Some of these places are just downright dreamy!

Now that you have this list of the most beautiful places in New Mexico, I hope you have a fun time exploring this state.

Here are a few articles about New Mexico that might help you plan your travels:

Safe travels,

Jasmine

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Hi, I’m Jasmine! I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. I’ve quit my 9-5 to become a travel blogger, and my goal is to show others how they can too! And if you love your full time job, stick around for travel tips and inspiration! Thanks for following along on my adventures!

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