New Mexico Vacation Ideas

New Mexico Vacation Ideas #1: The Cumbers & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a Narrow Gauge Railroad and it is the longest and the highest of that breed of railroads. Riding this train is the experience of a life time as it is a little piece of history.

Just about everything connected with the railroad is pre-1900 and the landscape is just like it was back them. With narrow gauge, the cars and the engine are smaller than present day, and they transport you back in time giving you the sensation of what the old west was all about. The location is Chama, New Mexico just South of the Colorado border, due North of Albuquerque.

This is real old-time railroading with sharp curves, trestles, tunnels and steep grades plus scenery that hasn’t changed in over 100 years.

In August of 2010 the Cumbers & Toltec Scenic Railroad will celebrate it’s 40th year of bringing the old days back. There will be special train rides and behind the scenes tours and more.  

#2: Carlsbad Caverns National Park - New Mexico is famous for ballooning, but there is a natural geological formation that also brings fame to the state. You’ve certainly heard of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park. If you get anywhere near these caverns, change your plans and take the cavern tour, it’s awesome.

These Caverns have over 100 individual caves which lie under the Guadalupe Mountains and there are a couple of ways to see them. You can take a tour which is guided by a park ranger of you can go it alone with an audio guide.

If you’re a first timer the guided tour is the best plan so call ahead and make reservations. Be alert to the fact that on occasion you will need to crawl through some tight places to don’t bring you 85 year old grandmother along.

There is a special treat on summer evenings. That’s when the 300,000+ bats fly out of the caves at dusk to feed on the night’s banquet of insects. July and August are the best months for this bat-show. Of course, the bats have to return at dawn so you have two chances to attend this show. Along with touring the caverns there are other activities such as camping and bird watching.

Hot Air Balloon at Night
New Mexico Vacation Ideas #3: International Balloon Festival - So you’re thinking about a New Mexico vacation. There are so many interesting things to do in New Mexico that you just can’t miss. You must have heard about the love of Hot-Air Ballooning in this beautiful state.

Keep in mind that the first week of October starts the nine days of the International Balloon Festival where you will see the sky filled with hundreds of colorful (and we really mean Color-Full) balloons.

Being there as a spectator during the festival is an amazing experience. However, going up in a balloon is the real excitement and the real reason you are considering the inclusion of ballooning in your vacation.  

Evenings, as the sun retreats behind the horizon, the festival morphs into Balloon "Glowdeos". The balloons are inflated but remain grounded while the propane burners create luminous light bulbs in many shapes.  

There are several places around Albuquerque that provide balloon tours. Be sure to bring your camera, everything about ballooning is highly photogenic. You might also have a look at the International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque.  

#4: Roswell, New Mexico - Believe it or not, many people still believe that aliens landed in Roswell, New Mexico on July 3rd, 1947. To refresh your memory, a ranchman allegedly discovered a flying saucer space ship along with the bodies of a couple of aliens. This announcement, as you would expect, set off an international debate regarding the truth of this find.

The argument was stifled by the CIA which came to Roswell and locked all the evidence away in one of its secret vaults. The crazy thing is that it actually happened near Corona, some 80 miles away from Roswell. That’s enough of a history lesson. Let’s talk about a vacation in Roswell NM. There is one historical remnant of the 1947 event and it’s the "International UFO Museum and Research Center".

This center continues to have a high interest for tourists and visitors. So, If you are traveling anywhere near Roswell, you might want to swing over and find out the latest thinking about UFO’s. Talk about stories to bring home! Independent of the UFO history, today Roswell is a modern city with colleges, cultural museums, etc., and is a really great place to visit.  

New Mexico Vacation Ideas #5: Santa Fe - You should remember from your high school geography that Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico and as the capital it is high on the list of vacation spots. We’ll start with the Barrio de Analco which is the old quarter and has a number of old buildings which have been restored. It also has an adobe building that is considered to have been built in 1200 which would make it the oldest structure in the US.

This old building is still an active souvenir shop and restaurant. There are so many interesting things to do and see downtown that a walking tour with a guide would really be a great idea. You could see the Capitol Building, the San Miguel Mission Church, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and the Palace of the Governors.

The Rio Grande river runs though the town so it was natural that whitewater and rafting businesses should start up here in Santa Fe.

There are a variety of river activities on the Rio Grande and Chama rivers so check out these possibilities. Just think, here’s a New Mexico tourist attraction where you have some highly interesting walk-to history very close to some highly exciting water sports. A match made in vacationer’s heaven.

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