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National Parks in New Mexico

The Land of Enchantment is highly regarded for its beautiful landscapes and its rich cultural history. The National Parks in New Mexico often offer a bit of both. In total, there are fifteen Historical Parks, National Parks and National Monument located throughout the State.

Fort Union National Monument

Take a trip through history and explore the Old Santa Fe Trail by visiting Fort Union National Monument.

This park offers visitors the opportunity to see the remains of the Old Santa Fe Trail and imagine what travelers experienced when they headed out West. Initially, Fort Union served as a trading post and as a military fort for those who headed west to settle the new frontier during westward expansions by Americans in the 1800s. Today, all that remains of an important part of American history are the remaining adobe ruins. Fort Union is located close to Las Vegas, New Mexico, and represents a unique insight into how the west would experience change.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Dive into the deep and explore inside the earth. The Carlsbad Caverns offers visitors a great opportunity to see one of the rare wonders of the world. Carlsbad Caverns are world-renowned and give visitors a chance to explore over one hundred caves. The National Park offers a variety of adventures from exploring the Big Room, Bat watching, and unique hikes.

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument ensures more than 33,000 sections of land that holds petroglyphs, homes cut into the delicate shake bluffs, and standing stonework dividers that pay tribute to the beginning of a culture that still exists today. This national monument offers easy hiking trails and epic ladder climbs into the remaining ruins that still exist in the area.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

The Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is a noteworthy place that offers a chance to watch, study, and experience the geologic procedures that shape normal scenic views.

The National Monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in the New Mexico area, offers visitors a chance to visit a region that is considered to be sacred with activities such as hiking, bird watching, and more. The tent rock formations are the result of volcanic eruptions that took place millions of years ago from the Jemez region.

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Concealed amidst New Mexico you’ll discover Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The three destinations offer a look into a novel time ever. A period settled in with social obtaining, strife, and battles. The now deserted locales remain as indications of the Spanish and Pueblo People’s initial experiences. The three locations for the Salina Pueblo Missions National Monument are Abo, Quarai, and Gran Quivira. The Gran Quivira location is the largest of the three and is located near Mountainair, NM.

The Petroglyph National Monument

New Mexico offers many glimpses into its historical past. Populated with Native Americans and Spanish colonists, the Petroglyph National Monument offers visitors the chance to visualize cultural significance and awareness of New Mexico’s rich history. The Petroglyph National Monument has been described as one of the largest collections of petroglyphs in the United States. Additionally, the National Monument offers visitors the chance to explore ancient volcanoes which are West of the main petroglyphs trails.

Chaco Canyon National Historic Park

Chaco Canyon National Historic Park can be described as a central hub for ancestral Pueblo people.

The historic site offers camping and ruin exploration. The historical park is very large, so we’d recommend that when visiting, it would be ideal to stay overnight camping to fully experience this historic site. In terms of cultural significance, it can be outlined that Chaco Canyon served as a center point for regional communities for trade, ceremonies, and more.

Chaco Canyon is world-renowned for its representation of cultural achievements with architecture, agriculture, social complexity, engineering, astronomy, and economic organizations. Chaco Canyon is incredibly famous for its portrayal of social accomplishments. Moreover, the historical site is one of four places in the world to be designated a Dark Sky Park.

El Malpais National Monument

If you love to explore ancient volcanoes, El Malpais National Monument is the place to do it. Located near Grants, New Mexico, the National Monument offers camping, hiking, lava tube exploration, wildlife, and more. The landscape of El Malpais National Monument is known for its geology and the habitats created by the eruptions of volcanoes in the area thousands of years ago. The area has many unique hikes and sites to visit such as La Ventura Arch. You may also encounter a variety of wildlife that are in the area such as deer, elk, and coyotes.

El Morro National Monument

Just a short drive from El Malpais National Monument is El Morro National Monument. This monument served as a place of rest for ancient tribes as a watering hole hidden near the sandstone bluffs. With water retained year-round, travelers were able to travel here. At El Morro National Monument, you’ll find hiking, ruin exploration, and camping. The ruins are located on top of the large Sandstone Bluff and served as a strategic advantage point for ancient Pueblo people. A unique feature of this monument is the signatures of ancient Puebloans, Spanish and American people who have visited the area over the last 2000 years that include messages and petroglyphs.

Aztec Ruins National Monument

In the Northwest region of New Mexico, you’ll find yourself exploring the area that carries many similarities throughout the area. Similar to Chaco Canyon National Monument, in Aztec, New Mexico you’ll stumble upon the ruins of an Ancestral Pueblo ruins that are over 900 years old. This national monument is a short half-mile hike as you’ll get to explore the ruins of the ancient past. A unique feature of this National Monument is the reconstructed Great Kiva that served as a ceremonial place for rituals of the ancient Pueblo people who once lived here. Most of the ruins have stood the test of time.

White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park is unlike any other place on the planet.

Located near Holloman Airforce Base and Alamogordo, New Mexico, White Sands Park serves as a unique place to visit with giant gypsum dunes which are unique and rare. The dunes are also the world’s largest gypsum dunes in the world. White Sands National Park has a rich history, such as it served as the testing range for the first nuclear weapon test, also known as the Trinity Site. The site is still used as a missile testing range today. White Sands is perfect for a day trip, picnics, and much more. The National Monument is considered to be one of the natural wonders of the world because of the gypsum dunes that cover an area of 275 square miles.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument 

Located in the middle of the Gila National Forest, you’ll find the Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument.

For thousands of years, the caves located in canyons and bluffs near the Gila River served as a shelter for many indigenous groups of people such as the Mogollons. The Mogollons are generally described as nomadic, however, in the 1200s, this group of people would construct the structures located at the Gila Cliff Dwelling. The Cliff Dwelling served as home to this group for an estimated 20 years before being abandoned. Today, many of the structures in the cliff dwelling have had minimal restoration and roughly 80% of the original dwellings have remained intact. This national monument gives us a glimpse into the past to what life may have been like for the Mogollon people. Near the cliff dwelling is a small natural spring that flows to the Gila River. There is camping and hiking throughout the area for those who want to spend a few days here. Additionally, the Gila River serves as a great place for fishing.

Pecos National Historic Park

If you are familiar with the saying “times are changing”, you’ll bear witness to the changes that can occur throughout a region by visiting Pecos National Historic Park in New Mexico.

The Pecos National Historical Park offers visitors a chance to witness the changing of times and the effects that changes can have on different collective groups. The park is located near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The park gives visitors a glimpse of history and previews the clash of cultures between the Spanish and Native Indigenous Pueblo People of New Mexico. The Park offers the attractions of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass, the Last Church built before the mass rebellion against the Spanish, and more. The Glorieta Pass served as part of the Old Santa Fe Trail, but long existed as a passageway for native people for thousands of years.

Valles Caldera National Preserve

Located near the peak of the Jemez Region of the Santa Fe National Forest is the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Over a million years ago, a large volcanic eruption occurred that would create what is now known as the Valles Caldera. The area serves a large valley the meadows that serve as the center point for much of the wildlife in the region. Streams for fishing and trails for biking and hiking, Valles Caldera serves as a location for amazing outdoor activities and adventures. At Valles Caldera, camping isn’t allowed but many camping areas in the region are close in proximity. At the visitor center, visitors can purchase fishing permits for the preserve. Additionally, the Valles Caldera has served as home to deer, elk, and much more wildlife.

Capulin Volcano National Monument 

Capulin Volcano National Monument
Source: Jay Gannet/Flickr

To the naked eye, the Capulin Volcano National Monument serves as a simple ancient volcano that hasn’t erupted for a very long time and isn’t considered to be active. However, the Capulin Volcano is much more than meets the eye. The monument gives visitors a chance to witness how this ancient volcano would have affected the environment around it. The surrounding landscape in the area is unique with mountains and plains. The monument is great for hiking and has several trails. Some of the trails don’t allow dogs but some do. The crater rim trail and the Lave flow trail provide hikers with the opportunity to see inside the volcano and provide great views of the volcanic field that is located in the region of New Mexico.

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