Destination, USA

New Mexico Bucket List

New Mexico Bucket List

New Mexico is a beautiful state beloved for its sweeping landscapes, rich Native American culture, and adobe architecture. You’ll find adventure around every corner of The Land of Enchantment. Whether you want to add hiking, sledding, skiing, or cave exploring to your itinerary, it’s all here. With so many exciting things to see and do in New Mexico, you might not know where to begin. We created a New Mexico bucket list of the absolute best things to do in New Mexico.

New Mexico Bucket List

Sled the Dunes at White Sands National Park

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Considered one of the greatest natural wonders in the world, White Sands National Park is truly unlike anywhere else on earth. That’s why it’s on the top of our New Mexico bucket list.

Known for its unique landscape of glistening white sand, White Sands National Park is the world’s largest gypsum dune field.

It offers fun around every corner with opportunities to go sledding, hiking, cycling, or dune driving. The dunes almost look like snow so hop on a sled and plunge down the hills. We are huge fans of winter tubing and sledding, but White Sands National Park provides a whole new take on sledding.

The best sledding dunes are between mile markers 4-6! You can purchase sleds at the Visitor Center shop located at the entrance to the park.

Offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains, the Dune Life Nature Trail features outdoor exhibits along the way. Families with kids can opt for the elevated Interdune Boardwalk or let kids enjoy the wide-open spaces.

For an epic night under the star-studded sky, plan for a backcountry camping adventure.

White Sands National Park entrance fee is $25 per vehicle and valid for seven consecutive days. It’s payable at the entrance booth on Dunes Drive.

Travel Underground at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad, New Mexico

Located in southeastern New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is arguably the most famous cavern in the United States.

Hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 caves—formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes. You can explore the natural wonders at your own pace and it’s great for all ages.

The Big Room Trail is the most popular route and is only 1.25 miles round trip. The name of this cave gives a clue as to what you can expect, as the immense formations in the Big Room fill every nook and cranny.

At 4,000 feet long and 255 feet tall at its highest point, it is the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America.

All caves here offer spectacular views, but the Natural Entrance Trail is the steepest at the equivalent of 75 stories deep. There are elevators to take you down if you’re not up for hiking the 750-foot descent.

Above ground, there are various desert hiking trails with ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, and desert wildlife.

Kids will love the hands-on exhibits at the Visitor Center, which tell the story of how the cavern was formed and the plants and animals that make the desert their home.

Alex Tiffany, the founder of Just Go Exploring, said, “I recently traveled around New Mexico, and the definite highlight for me was visiting the Carlsbad Caverns.  This is the most incredible network of caves I have ever seen, and it should be on everyone’s New Mexico bucket list.

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back over 11,000 years. Petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the soft rock cliffs, and standing masonry walls pay tribute to the early days of a culture that still survives in the surrounding communities.

Located on soft rock cliffs, you can see cave dwellings. Fire smoke still stains some houses, and some of them contain petroglyphs. – Brit on the Move

Experience cave life up close by climbing into many of the dwellings!

Discover Aliens in Roswell

Aliens in Roswell, New Mexico

The UFO history makes Roswell a one-of-a-kind destination in New Mexico, and another New Mexico bucket list must.

Known across the globe for being the site of an alleged 1947 UFO crash, Roswell is a quirky city that boasts a UFO theme and storefronts plastered with weird alien images. You can get an in-depth look into the extraterrestrial world and strange stories of unidentified flying objects by visiting Roswell’s International UFO Museum and Research Center.

If aliens aren’t your thing, you can still visit this unique city and explore its attractions and museums. Some of the top attractions in Roswell include the Cielo Grande Space Park, Miniatures & Curious Collections Museum, and Spring River Park and Zoo.

Hit the Slopes at Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Via Getty

If you’re a fan of snow, Taos Ski Valley should be on your New Mexico bucket list. It’s the largest ski resort in New Mexico and a mecca for skiing and snowboarding, offering a diverse range of world-class terrain and 110 runs. Set at the base of Kachina Peak, Taos Ski Valley offers some of the lightest powder in North America.

Taos Ski Valley is a rugged, authentic mountain, pioneered by people who put skiing first and all else second.

If heart-stopping terrain is not your thing, you will also find miles of well-manicured slopes and gradual groomers to carve up all season long.

For a thrill off the slopes, sign up for a snowmobile tour to the peaks and ridges above Taos Ski Valley.

If you want to sharpen your skills, book a lesson with one of the pros. The skiing and snowboarding lessons are tailored to your needs and can be done in groups with your family.

If you’re planning an overnight retreat, stay slopeside at The Blake at Taos Ski Valley for easy access to all the action or escape to El Monte Sagrado, a luxury Taos hotel located just blocks from the town’s historic plaza and 20 miles from world class skiing at Taos Ski Valley.

Learn about the History of Folk Art at the Museum of International Folk Art

The Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Museum of International Folk Art expands the understanding of folk art and encourages dialogue about traditions, cultural identity, community, and aesthetics. The museum is a dynamic, multidimensional learning environment that is an integral part of community life. Their collection and programming provide important connections between past, present, and future folk art and related traditions.

It is also a great place for families with children. Their exhibitions are all created with the visitor experience in mind, including engaging ages 3 to 103. Families with toddlers might specifically enjoy the “Tree of Life” play area and the permanent exhibit in the Girard Wing.

The Tree of Life toy lounge is filled with toys and books that encourage imagination. The newly renovated book and toy area encourages imaginative play with discovery boxes, miniature tree houses, puppets, a make-a-tree activity, and books. A favorite destination for kids of all ages!

Explore the Unique World of Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return is an explorable art for people of all ages in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

It takes participants on a macrocosmic adventure of seemingly endless possibilities. Featuring over 70 rooms of immersive art, it’s colorful, fun, and unique.

Enjoy Family-Friendly Fun at ABQ BioPark

If you’re traveling to New Mexico with the kids, a visit to Albuquerque’s ABQ BioPark is a New Mexico bucket list must.

This unique environmental museum features four facilities: an Aquarium, Botanical Gardens, Zoo, and Tingley Beach.

Animal lovers won’t want to miss getting up-close to exotic and native animals in the 64-acre Zoo. You can watch live shows, participate in giraffe feedings, or observe apes, elephants, wolves, and polar bears!

Alternatively, opt for a journey to the Gulf of Mexico and see aquatic animals at the Aquarium. The Shark Tank is teeming with sharks and sea turtles. Touch Pools offer hands-on displays with rays, sea urchins, and horseshoe crabs.

Kids will love the Botanic Garden. They feature more than 1.5 miles of foliage-filled pathways that lead to a collection of whimsical gardens. Make a stop at Butterfly Pavilion to see hundreds of colorful winged beauties.

The entire family will enjoy wildlife, fishing, picnics, and hiking at Tingley Beach.

Ride the Cable Cars at Sandia Peak Tramway

No New Mexico bucket list is complete without a ride on Sandia Peak Tramway, which offers 11,000 square miles of panoramic views over the Sandia Mountains. As you ascend one of the country’s most beautiful urban peaks, you can watch the dramatic natural beauty of this area unfold as you reach the sky-high observation deck.

The tramway is an activity suitable for all ages, with the cable cars carrying you nearly three miles along a suspended cable to the summit of Sandia Peak. At the top, you can sit back and take in the stunning views, which stretch across the Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment.

See Why Albuquerque is the ‘’Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World”

The weather in Albuquerque is widely considered to be the best in the world for ballooning. It has the optimal weather conditions, which include wind conditions and air temperature. Both of these factors contribute to successful hot air ballooning and Albuquerque has the perfect mix.

A leading hot air balloon company in Albuquerque is Rainbow Ryders. They offer breathtaking community or private sunrise and sunset flights. Enjoy a 45 to 60-minute voyage through the clouds and experience breathtaking panoramic views of the sunrise or sunset engulfing the Rio Grande in electrifying hues. Soar over the enchanting southwest vistas and toast to the new year with mimosas after your flight to complete your Rainbow Ryders experience! While sunrise flights remain year-round, sunset flights will be available until the end of February– don’t miss your chance to experience a day-to-night hot air balloon ride!

In addition to year-round balloon ride offerings, each fall, pilots, crews, and spectators from all over the world come to the city for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest hot air ballooning event. This year, Balloon Fiesta will be bigger and better than ever as they celebrate 50 years of flying.

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