The Best Things to Do in New Mexico
The following are some New Mexico attractions our guests have enjoyed. Read on to learn more about the best things to do in New Mexico!
Attractions in Southwest New Mexico
Hatch | 2.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Located just off I-25 in southern New Mexico, Hatch is famously known as the Chile Capital of the World for growing a variety of peppers including New Mexico’s state vegetable, the New Mexico chile. Every Labor Day Weekend this small, 3-mile village hosts the Hatch Chile Festival that brings upwards of 30,000 visitors from all over the world.
If you don’t catch the Hatch Chile Fest in early September, just walking the streets during harvest times with the fresh smell of roasting peppers is worth it for a quick visit! Just be sure to come by for lunch at Sparky’s, a funky counter-service burger cafe decorated with fun, decorative vintage memorabilia that’s truly out of this world – the green chile burger is a must-try!
Las Cruces | 3 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Located in southern New Mexico, about 40 miles north of El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces is the second-largest city in New Mexico, following Albuquerque. It is the home of New Mexico State University and offers a unique blend of outdoor recreation, culinary experiences, vibrant culture, and rich history.
The Organ Mountains that sit about 10 miles to the east are the perfect scenic backdrop and offer beautiful scenic hiking trails. Other popular attractions include their weekly farmer’s markets, rated one of the best in the country with hundreds of vendors that stretch over seven city blocks. The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is also worth a stop and offers an in-depth, interactive dive into the 3,000-year history of farming and ranching in New Mexico.
Apache Rocks and Turtleback Mountain | 2.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
This view encompasses the Apache homelands in all directions and is not far from where the military had their headquarters, and Geronimo was captured at one time. Visitors can feel the spirit of the Apaches in the isolation of this beautiful land. One can understand their determination to keep this region as a sacred, holy place, given to them by their creator.
Beaverhead | 30 Minutes From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
This site in the Gila National Forest remains relatively undisturbed from the time that Geronimo was born in the mountains to the west. This is one of the most easily accessible pristine valleys outside the wilderness area. A Forest Service workstation is located here, staffed seasonally. An outdoor restroom, picnic table, and water are available.
Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House | 4.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Near Silver City, Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House offers great food set in the authentic 1860s. Don’t miss the chance to see and enjoy the Buckhornfor an incredible frontier experience you will never forget. The Buckhorn features a full bar and a complete menu of steaks, poultry, and fish dishes, including New Mexico-inspired tastes and recipes.
Entertainment is often available in the bar, as well as melodramas in the Pinos Altos Opera House, immediately next door to the Buckhorn. Visit the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House Website.
The Catwalk | 5.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
The Catwalk National Scenic Trail offers a fascinating glimpse into the geologic and historic foundations of Grant County. As the result of cataclysmic volcanic actions, the area now offers a beautiful picnic spot next to Whitewater Creek, a challenging one-mile trail along the historic 1890’s mining waterway, and a sense of peace that creates images of an earlier time.
The name for the area, The Catwalk, refers to the original plank-board walkway placed atop the steel pipe used to bring water to the ore processing plant, ruins of which can still be seen near the parking area. Although most of the pipe is now gone, much of the current all-access trail follows this original route, winding right through the center of the creek canyon perched safely a dozen feet above the creek. Keep an eye out for trout cruising in the waters below.
The first portion of the trail is relatively easy and leads to hidden pools and splashing waterfalls – magical spots in our high desert environment. Beyond the developed trail, more rigorous trails lead into the Gila Wilderness. Consult with the Forest Service before venturing beyond the Catwalk trail area.
The Ghost Town of Chloride | 1.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
The town of Chloride was a booming silver mining town that sprung up in the 1880s. In its heyday, the town had nine saloons, a general store, a millinery shop, a restaurant, a butcher, a candy store, a pharmacy, a school, two hotels, and a town newspaper. The town suffered Apache attacks, saloon brawls, shootings, and an occasional flood.
Chloride began to dwindle in 1896 with the Silver Panic, and most of the town fled to other prosperous opportunities. Today 11 residents reside here year-round. Many of the original buildings remain standing, the Pioneer Store has been renovated into a fascinating Museum, and the old “hanging tree” still stands in the middle of Wall Street. There is an RV park, cabins for rent, and a rest area available for visitors. You can also find interpretive information about the town’s history at the rest area and Museum.
City of Rocks State Park | 4 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Roughly 27 miles north of Deming, NM, you’ll find the mysterious site of City of Rocks State Park. The otherworldly rock formations you see here today measure their existence in millions of years. Over the last 30 million years, these inexplicable rocks were wind-carved and rain worn, sculpted into outlandish streets and houses, temples and towers, some so improbable they could as well be the figments of an exploding dream.
Man has also inhabited the area. Shards of pottery and arrowheads have been found there and continue to be found today. Spanish Conquistadores carved mysterious crosses on the rocks that some have alleged may point to a long-buried treasure. Every city has its legends! Explore the City of Rocks’ fascinating streets or even set up camp at one of the many campsites within the formations and enjoy spectacular stargazing amidst the Park’s relentless beauty.
Continental Divide | 45 Minutes From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
New Mexico 59 crosses the Continental Divide at an elevation of 7,670 feet. All watershed on the west side of this invisible line flows toward the Pacific Ocean. All watershed on the east side flows toward the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Continental Divide is also a 3,100-mile long trail that begins in Mexico and stretches all the way up to Canada. You can enjoy a hike along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail #74 from the rest area just west of the Continental Divide. Dispersed campsites are also located near the trail.
Cuchillo | 2 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
The community of Cuchillo was established in the 1850s as a farming community. Its location midway between the railroad center at Engle and the Black Range’s mining camps made it an important stop-over on the state line. The historic old bar that was once the stagecoach stop is still in business and is a unique place to visit. A few small businesses add to the local flavor of the community. The church is still used for special services and feast days.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park | 2.25 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Elephant Butte Reservoir, created by a dam constructed in 1916 across the Rio Grande, is 40 miles long with more than 200 miles of shoreline. Although constructed to provide irrigation and flood control, the lake is New Mexico’s premier water recreation facility and the largest lake in New Mexico. A wide variety of water sports are available at the lake, with fishing being one of the most popular. Sailing, water skiing, and boating are also available. Campsites, playgrounds, walking trails, and restrooms are also available throughout the park. The mild climate of the area makes this park a popular year-round destination. The Dam Site Recreation Area is the site of a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, and the buildings and rock work dating from that period are still in use.
Over 100 million years ago, the area was part of a vast shallow ocean. Once the sea receded, the area was the favorite hunting ground of the Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur. Evidence of the Rex, the largest land-dwelling predator of all time, and other dinosaur species have been discovered in area rock formations. Although fossils of the stegomastodon (a primitive relative of today’s elephant) have been discovered just west of the reservoir, the area was not named for its former and formidable inhabitants. The name “Elephant Butte” was derived from the eroded core of an ancient volcano, now an island in the reservoir, in the shape of an elephant.
Geronimo Springs Museum | 2.25 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Located in Truth or Consequences, Geronimo Springs Museum provides displays on multiple facets of the area and history of southwest New Mexico. The Fossil Room highlights the mammoth and mastodon skulls that were found in Sierra County. The Military Room features displays about early forts and boasts memorials to locals who were military heroes. The Apache Room features a life-size statue of Geronimo and has displays explaining the history and culture of the Apaches who once lived in the area. The Hispanic Heritage Room and Ranch Room contain exhibits on these early settlers and their cultures. The Pottery Room features a world-class collection of Mimbres Pottery, the unique Black-on-White designs of the early Mimbres people, as well as an extensive display of Native American arrowheads. The Log Cabin is an authentic miner’s cabin that was moved to the site. The Ralph Edwards Room tells the story of the town’s name change from Hot Springs to Truth or Consequences in the 1950s.
Other rooms contain displays of the early settlement of Sierra County and Hot Springs and the heritage of the area’s different cultures. Stop in the gift shop for some books on the area and culture, beautiful hand-crafted jewelry, modern made Mimbres pottery, postcards, and more!
Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway
The Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway begins in Truth or Consequences. From there, you can explore the northern section of the Byway or the southern. You will travel the northern section on your drive out to the ranch!
The Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway encompasses a wide landscape, from desert mountains to forested mountains and vast stretches of mesa lands in between. There are miles of natural terrain that have not changed for hundreds of years. The wide-open spaces and distant vistas give the traveler a feeling of isolation in a world apart. The view through the window will vary from rugged high peaks, man-made lakes, flat landscape with greasewood and cactus to rough mountain terrain with heavy forests. Expect to see cattle, horses, bison, deer, elk, or small animals such as rabbits, roadrunners, and various birds.
There is something for everyone along the trail. History buffs will love the old mining towns and the Depression-era architecture of downtown Truth or Consequences. The trail’s wonderful scenery is a favorite of photographers and painters. Outdoor enthusiasts will find the hiking trails, bicycling roads, and other outdoor activities a challenge. Those who prefer water sports will find a wide variety of opportunities at either Elephant Butte Lake or Caballo Lake State Parks. Avid fishers love to relax at the lakes and rivers surrounding the trail.
The Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway is a charming drive through some of the most scenic and historical territories in the United States. Small towns and communities dot the Byway; however, much of the landscape remains in its natural state. From stately mountains to a large lake to a national forest, the Byway travels through a blend of terrains, surprising visitors at every turn.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument | 5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument offers a glimpse of the homes and lives of the people of the Mogollon Culture who lived in the Gila Wilderness from the 1280s through the early 1300s. For a few short generations, these early settlers built their homes into the cliffside caves in what is now the Gila National Forest. They also farmed the surrounding area and hunted for small game. Today, visitors can climb up to and explore the dwellings and enjoy miles and miles of hiking trails throughout the National Monument.
The Gila Cliff Dwellings are surrounded by the Gila National Forest and lie in the middle of the Gila Wilderness, the nation’s first designated wilderness area. Wilderness designation means that the area’s wilderness character will not be altered by the intrusion of roads or other evidence of human presence.
Rockhound State Park | 4 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Twelve miles to the southeast of Deming is Rockhound State Park. Forget for once the usual public-property admonition “Take pictures only; leave only footprints.” At Rockhound State Park, the rule doesn’t apply. In fact, this park is one ‘you can take with you.’ Here, rangers encourage visitors to take the rocks they find. Visitors are limited to taking up to 15 pounds per person. These rocks can be included in personal collections, jewelry, or garden decor.
Established in 1965 and dedicated in June 1966, this little park, in the craggy desert that uplifts from the Little Florida Mountains, has been a favorite for rock and mineral buffs since the early part of the century. These days, the park gets 45,000 visitors a year, most of whom come in the cool of winter, when the 29-site campground, among beautifully landscaped gardens of prickly pear, cholla, and bird of paradise, is often full. But according to park officials, even though many of these visitors do, in fact, take rocks from the park with them, the area’s landscape has changed very little over the years.
The park’s visitors include both casual and serious rockhounds, the latter hip to the agate, onyx, and opal often found frequently just underground, sometimes lying right in view. Park officials claim anyone willing to do a little work can find something worthwhile. Bring a pickaxe and shovel and a good pair of hiking boots or shoes, and head out into the park’s 240 acres. Look for nodules, round or oval rocks that may contain agate, opal, or quartz when crystal n cracked open.
Rio Grande River | 2.25 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
The drive along the Rio Grande from Elephant Butte Lake to Truth or Consequences is very picturesque, with the river meandering through the desert mountains. Fishing is popular in the river during the summer. Floating the river is also a popular outdoor activity with White Water Weekends. Choose from rafts, kayaks, or float tubes and enjoy a scenic six-mile trip downstream along the Rio Grande.
Silver City | 4.25 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Silver City’s Historic Downtown still shows much of its Old West charm, with buildings and streets from the days when bars of silver were stacked neatly on curbsides, waiting for assay or delivery out of town. Today, Silver City still has much to offer visitors and residents alike.
Retail shops, restaurants, coffeehouses, over 2 dozen art galleries, antique stores, historic lodging, entertainment, and a wide variety of service businesses are all part of the mix. Walk the vibrant streets of downtown and view the brightly painted buildings. Take a slight detour off the main drive for a quiet route along the river.
The town is also home to the Western New Mexico University Museum, which houses one of the finest Native American pottery collections. It houses the largest and most complete collection of Mimbres artifacts in existence. Another popular attraction is the Silver City Museum that highlights the diverse history and culture of the town. There’s a little something for everyone in Silver City!
Truth or Consequences | 2.25 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
One of the best-kept secrets in Southwest New Mexico is the town of Truth or Consequences. Locally known as T or C, the town attracts New Mexico natives and tourists with its cultural experiences, history, and recreational opportunities. A small resort town with a year-round population of just over 8,000, this little town with a big name was overshadowed by its big brother, the neighboring city of Las Cruces.
While most towns in northern New Mexico attract tourists to their ski resorts and chic Southwestern-style vacation homes, Truth or Consequences has remained a lesser-known haven for nature lovers and those who want variety in their surroundings. As a result, the town has remained unspoiled and has not seen local development run rampant or real estate prices rise beyond the reach of long-time locals. Here the breathtaking sandstone bluffs, nearby state parks, and sunny blue skies remain the biggest neighborhood attractions.
Situated on the Rio Grande banks in southwest New Mexico, Truth or Consequences has long been a preferred vacation site for New Mexico natives. Traditionally, they have come to bathe in the soothing hot springs or partake in the many recreational opportunities at the two large lakes nearby. In the past decade, however, Truth or Consequences has begun to garner more national praise. In fact, the number of retirees relocating here continues to grow. National publications such as Where to Retire have recently named the city one of the top retirement destinations in the United States.
There’s no question that the main recreational draw in Truth or Consequences are its famous mineral bath hot springs. Currently, no less than eleven such spas are operating within the city limits. Most are located in the downtown area, and prices are quite reasonable. Riverbend Hot Springs, the only open-air bath in town, also offers a stunning view of the mountains right along the Rio Grande River.
Truth or Consequences Historic Bath House District | 2.25 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Downtown Historic Bath House District in Truth or Consequences has eleven operating bathhouses originating in the 1930s and 1940s. Many have been modernized and upgraded but retain their rustic flavor and appeal. The Apache warriors used the hot mineral waters to heal their battle wounds. The clear, odorless water (no sulfur smell!)provides soothing relaxation to users. Expansive additional spa services are available at many locations.
The water comes out of the ground at a temperature between 98 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Laboratory analysis of the water has revealed traces of 38 different minerals, including chloride, sodium, bicarbonate, calcium, sulfate, potassium, silicate, silicon, magnesium, and lesser minerals. The pH is about 7, or neutral, and there is no odor to the water. Other services may include massages, sweat baths, wraps, reflexology, and acupuncture. Prices vary, and towels are provided for a nominal additional fee. Riverbend Hot Springs offers guests of Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch a 10% discount off overnight lodging!
The Very Large Array | 3 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
The Very Large Array, one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories, consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter. The antennas’ data is combined electronically to give the resolution of an antenna 36km (22 miles) across, with the sensitivity of a dish 130 meters (422 feet) in diameter. Guided tours are offered on the first and third Saturday of each month, with self-guided tours available daily.
Winston | 1.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Winston was established during the early 1880s under the name of Fairview. It was settled by the more sedate families who did not care for the rambunctious town of Chloride five miles away. It is now a ranching community with a general store, post office, cafe, and bar. There are many historic buildings to be seen in the town. Information is available at the General Store.
Attractions in Southeast New Mexico
White Sands National Park | 4 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Driving northeast from Las Cruces on Hwy 70, you’ll notice the mountains growing smaller in the distance, and the grassy plains start to turn into rolling hills of white sand inexplicably. Here lies the otherworldly destination of White Sands National Park, the country’s newest National Park redesignated from National Monument to National Park in 2019. Here in the Tularosa Basin flats, for thousands of years, the prevailing westerly winds have deposited gypsum power, formerly eroded from the nearby San Andres Mountains. It has since created a huge area of white dunes covering roughly 275 miles. Visitors to the Park enjoy hiking, driving, or even sledding across these fascinating sugary dunes.
Just outside of the Park is the Trinity Site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated in July 1945. The surrounding area, White Sands Missile Range, is still used extensively by the military for various kinds of weapons testing, so be sure to check for road closures if you plan to visit! White Sands National Park is one of the most unusual and magical places in all of New Mexico and is definitely worth a stop!
Alamogordo | 4.25 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Alamogordo is located in Southern New Mexico in the Tularosa Basin of the Chihuahuan Desert. The area has been occupied for at least 11,000 years, with the original inhabitants being the Clovis Culture and the Folsom Culture. The Mescalero Apache also lived there before the Spanish arrived in 1534. The town of Alamogordo was established in 1898 with the construction of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad. The town was also known for being the 1945 Trinity test site, the first-ever atomic bomb explosion.
The town offers a variety of recreational and leisure activities. Popular attractions include the New Mexico Museum of Space History, the Desert Lakes Golf Course, which is open year-round due to the moderate climate of the area, and PistachioLand, which includes a pistachio farm, general store, winery, and is home to the world’s largest pistachio.
Also, because of its location, you’ll have easy access to a wide range of outdoor adventures, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping in the Lincoln National Forest, and a short 15-minute drive will get you to the otherworldly dunes of White Sands National Park.
Ruidoso | 4.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Ruidoso is a mountain resort town located high up in the Rocky Mountains in southeast New Mexico near the Lincoln National Forest. It is a year-round popular destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. It got its name from the Rio Ruidoso, Spanish for “Noisy River,” a small stream that flows through the town. Aside from the downtown area complete with art shops, restaurants, wineries, breweries, ski shops, and apparel, the two most popular attractions are Ski Apache and the Inn of the Mountain of the Gods, both owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe.
Located on the 12,000-foot mountain, Sierra Blanca, Ski Apache is the southernmost ski resort in the United States. In the winter, you’ll find ski and snowboard runs for any level of experience. You can also enjoy bike trails, a zip line, and plenty of hiking trails in the summer. For a more leisurely stay, the Inn of the Mountain of the Gods offers a casino, hotel, arcade room, and golf course.
Roswell | 5.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Famously known as the spot of an alleged UFO crash in 1947, Roswell has since become a scene for alien and UFO enthusiasts worldwide. Though the crash actually occurred roughly 75 miles from Roswell, much of the tourism in the town is focused around aerospace engineering and ufology museums and businesses, as well as alien-themed iconography.
Roswell was also a site in the early 1930s for much of Robert H. Goddard’s early rocketry work. The Roswell Museum and Art Center is a popular attraction and displays models of his early rocket engines. Other popular attractions in the town include the International UFO Museum and Research Center and Gift Shop, Pioneer Plaza located downtown often hosts live music. For some outdoor fun, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Bottomless Lakes State Park offer great options for anyone looking to spend time in the great outdoors.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park | 6 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is one of the oldest and most famous cave systems in the world. Carlsbad is located about 200 miles west of Las Cruces, just above the Texas border in the Chihuahuan Desert of the Guadalupe Mountains. Above ground, you can explore miles of hiking trails featuring ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, desert flora and fauna, and desert wildlife. Sitting beneath the surface, you’ll find an intricate cave system of more than 119 unique caves that formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind one of the most unique attractions in the state of New Mexico.
Carlsbad Caverns has several vast underground chambers, with some reaching a height of 250-feet, filled with amazing formations of many colors and shapes. Call ahead to reserve your tickets for a guided tour of the main caves or enjoy a self-guided tour on your own. Either way, Carlsbad is more than worth the drive to explore this fascinating underground attraction.
Attractions in Central New Mexico
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument | 4.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
In the middle of New Mexico lies the remains of the 16th century Salinas Pueblos Missions, a once-thriving Native American trade community of Tiwa and Tompiro language-speaking Puebloans. Three satellite villages make up the Pueblo and offer a glimpse into the history of the Puebloans and Spanish missionaries’ early encounters. The Gran Quivira Ruins are the largest and most remote of the three sites, followed by the Abó Ruins and the Quarai Ruins.
The first construction began around 1275 AD. This vast city had multiple pueblos and kivas, including a 226 room structure. In 1598 Don Juan de Oñate was the first Spaniard to colonize what later became New Mexico. With the Spanish’s increased arrival, additions to the Gran Quivira began in the early 1600s to house the newcomers. Chapels were also built as the Spanish pushed their Catholicism on the Puebloan People. By 1672, a combination of disease, drought, famine, and Apache raiding led to the area’s abandonment.
The three historic sites offer a short, paved walk through the ruins with beautiful views of the surrounding grasslands. Additional information about the Pueblos can be found at the site’s gift shops and museums located at the Monument’s entrance. While the structures have all been abandoned for over 300 years (since around 1677), the sites’ remoteness causes a generally low occupancy rate. The lack of any development in the area has left the remains in pretty good condition. It is well worth the journey for anyone interested in learning more about New Mexico’s Native Indian past.
Albuquerque | 4 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Old Town is the heart of Albuquerque’s heritage. The first Spanish families settled here near the banks of the Rio Grande in 1706. That’s right–April of 2006 marked Albuquerque’s Tricentennial! Albuquerque was a colonial farming village and a military outpost along the Camino Real between Chihuahua and Santa Fe. When it was built, the village was formed in the traditional Spanish pattern of a central plaza surrounded by a church, homes, and government buildings. Some of the old homes are still standing today, and many have been renovated into businesses.
Many unique things come to mind when you think of Albuquerque. Its age, for one. The town is over 300 years old and dates all the way back to the Spanish era. Route 66, of course. ABQ is a popular stop along this famous highway. Turquoise, obviously. Turquoise was first unearthed and used around 200 B.C by the Anasazi and Hohokam tribes of New Mexico and Arizona. Turquoise mines are still in operation today around the ABQ area. Sterling Silver and clothing, a modern generation of contemporary fashion and arts inspired by the Native American tradition of handcrafting that spans millennia. And, of course, hot air balloons. Albuquerque is known as the “Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World” and brings in tens of thousands of people from all over the world every October for the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Old Town is a great area to walk around and admire the old architecture, shop the boutiques, view the galleries, stop in the handmade pottery and glass shops, pick up some unique souvenirs, and eat a delicious and authentic meal. Albuquerque has long been considered the trade center for Southwest crafts. Come to the source, where prices are often 50% less than they are in nearby Santa Fe!
Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
Experience the drama of an 11,000 square-mile panoramic view of northern New Mexico from the world’s longest tramway. Climb aboard for an incredible 15-minute ride from the base to the 10,378-foot peak of the Sandia Mountains. Time and terrain seem to move in harmony as passengers lift from the desert floor and float to the mountain top. View the incredible jagged mountainside cliffs and thick forests of the Sandia Mountains on one side and the vast high desert landscape and the city of Albuquerque on the other. – Take a cruise around the gift shop at the base. Once you reach the peak, take in the breathtaking 360-degree views and enjoy a nice meal or a drink at the newly renovated restaurant, Ten 3. If you’re up for an adventure, there’s a fairly difficult 8-mile trail, La Luz. You can take it to the top and then take the tramway down. Call ahead to reserve your tram tickets and check the hours of operation. One-way or round trip tickets are available.
Petroglyph National Monument
Petroglyph National Monument is the largest collection of Native American petroglyphs and pictographs in North America. The Monument protects more than 20,000 hand-carved images preserved in volcanic stone. Carved between 400 to 700 years ago by Native Americans and Spanish settlers, some images are recognizable as animals, people, or crosses, while others are more mysterious. All are inseparable from the landscape and from the spirits of the people who created them.
The Monument has three different sites. The Boca Negra, Rinconada, and Piedras Marcadas Canyons. Alive with the high desert’s sights and sounds, each of the three sites has a free parking lot and easy walking paths no longer than 2.5 miles round trip to view the numerous carvings. The images carved onto these black rocks provide an opportunity for people today to share the cultures of those who long ago inhabited and traveled through the Rio Grande Valley.
International Balloon Fiesta
For nine days in October, the New Mexico skies are painted as hundreds of balloons lift off from Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park. Nothing rivals the power of Mass Ascension on crisp early mornings as these graceful giants leave the ground to take their place in the cerulean desert sky.
For ballooning fans worldwide, the hot air balloon festival is a pilgrimage. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whimsical special shapes filled with equal parts of hot air and wonder create Balloon Glows that light up the night sky. No matter who you are, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will leave you awestruck and wanting more.
Attractions in Northwest New Mexico
Chaco Culture National Park | 6.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
In the northwest corner of New Mexico, 150 miles northwest of Albuquerque, you’ll find Chaco Culture National Park tucked into a canyon near the Chaco Wash. Though this remote Park is an adventure to get to with at least 21 miles of gravel road to reach its entrance, it’s incredibly rich Native American history is well worth the journey. Chaco Culture National Park is the largest collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico. It is one of the most important pre-Columbian cultural and historic sites in the United States.
Despite the high-desert landscape, minimal rainfall, long winters, and short growing season, in its heyday, the Chaco Canyon was the largest and busiest economic trading site and the center of a thriving culture over a thousand years ago. The tremendous extent of their development of the area, including the construction of grand-scale architecture, extensive roads connecting hundreds of communities outside of the center hub, not to mention their social organization and community life, far exceeds that of any community before or since.
The Chaco Culture people first settled and began development in 800 AD and thrived for more than 300 years. They constructed Great Houses (multi-storied buildings containing hundreds of rooms), including the Pueblo Bonito, Una Vida, and Peñasco Blanco, which can still be seen today. Amazingly enough, these Great Houses were oriented to solar, lunar, and cardinal directions.
By 1050, Chaco became the epicenter for all major ceremonial, administrative, and economic needs of the San Juan Basin, and its sphere of influence was massive! Though this special gathering place where many clans came together to trade, celebrate, and share in their own unique traditions began to dwindle in the 1100s and 1200s as construction began to slow and regional centers shifted, the importance of the Chacoan ways continues to be shared, researched, and honored throughout the southwest.
Acoma Pueblo | 5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Located an hour west of Albuquerque, Acoma Pueblo, also known as “Sky City,” is one of the few places in the country you’ll be able to recount a long, ancient history while experiencing it in the present day. Acoma Pueblo is made up of four Native American communities and is currently home to about 65 Ancestral Puebloan people.
Situated atop a 367-foot sandstone bluff, rising from a valley dotted with towering rock formations sacred to the native people, Acoma Pueblo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America. Travel back in time when you explore San Estévan del Rey Mission Church, the Haak’u Museum, and the 300 or so adobe buildings that line the streets of the mesa. Immerse yourself in the authentic and modern-day life of New Mexico’s Native American history when you visit Acoma Pueblo.
Bisti Badlands | 6.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
If there’s anywhere that exemplifies why they call New Mexico the “Land of Enchantment,” it’s Bisti Badlands. Located in the northwest corner of the state, just 40 miles south of Farmington, you’ll find over 60 acres of badlands offering some of the most unique and bizarre landscapes on the planet.
70 million years ago, the area was a coastal swamp of an inland sea called the Western Interior Seaway and was home to many large trees, reptiles, dinosaurs, and primitive mammals. Over time, natural elements like climate change have transformed this prehistoric swamp into a dry desert wilderness, an otherworldly landscape of strange rock formations of interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt. Since 1984, the Bureau of Land Management has managed all of the badlands except three parcels of private Navajo land.
This park draws photographers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers from all over the world who come to see and explore the hoodoos (weathered rock in the form of pinnacles, spires, cap rocks, and other unusual forms), desert spires, natural arches, and fossils from this unique area.
Attractions in Northeast & North Central New Mexico
Madrid | 5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Take the Turquoise Trail about 40 minutes southwest of Santa Fe to the small funky art village of Madrid for a unique splash of color amidst the Ortiz Mountains. What used to be a historic coal mining and ghost town is now a community of artists that turned this one road town into a popular destination with over 40 art galleries, museums, gift shops, restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, and a spa.
It’s also a popular destination for Hollywood and was featured in the 2007 Tim Allen movie “Wild Hogs,” as well as the 1976 film “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” starring David Bowie.
Sante Fe | 5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Santa Fe is the most attractive and historic town in the Southwest. It is also the oldest state capitol in the United States, founded in 1610. The small village is known for its unique adobe architecture, thriving art community, and the famous Loretto Chapel with the “floating spiral staircase.” The town center has a charming small-town feel, with all the main shops, restaurants, galleries, and old buildings within walking distance of each other. On a typical week, you can find the downtown square bustling with shoppers and tourists. The square is famous for the many Native American merchants displaying their handmade goods on blankets on the sidewalks circling the square.
Throughout the town, the distinctive adobe architecture is used almost universally. Houses are painted in subtle, officially-approved shades of pale brown, with characteristic clay walls and protruding wooden ceiling posts. Banks, restaurants, art galleries, the police station, even the local McDonald’s are all built in the same style.
Bandelier National Monument | 5.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Bandelier National Monument is located about an hour west of Santa Fe in the Jemez Mountains outside of Los Alamos. This 33,677 acre National Monument preserves the homes and territories of Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the area between 1150 and 1600 AD.
The site was designated as a National Monument in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson and named after a Swiss-American anthropologist, Adolph Bandelier, who studied the cultures of the area and helped in the preservation of the site. It consists of over 70 miles of trails, three miles of road, Ancestral Pueblo archeological sites, a campground, and a varied scenic landscape. It is the country’s largest National Park Service Civilian Conservation Corps National Landmark District.
The unique terrain of shale, sandstone, and limestone deposits was drastically changed after an eruption of the Valles Caldera volcano over 1 million years ago spreading ash far enough to cover much of the Western United States. The Ancestral Puebloans broke up the firmer materials to use as bricks while carving out dwellings from the softer material that can still be explored today at this fascinating Monument!
Jemez Mountains | 5.5 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
The Jemez Mountains are volcanic mountains in northern New Mexico that make up the Rocky Mountains’ southernmost tip. The Jemez is an extensive wilderness area that spans three counties Los Alamos to the east, Sandoval to the west, and Rio Arriba to the north.
Numerous Puebloan Indian tribes lived in the Jemez Mountains region long before the Spanish arrived in New Mexico. You can see historical sites of these tribes who inhabited this region over 2,000 years ago at Bandelier National Monument, the Jemez Historic Site, and Jemez Pueblo.
To get the most out of your trip to the Jemez, take a cruise down the 74-mile Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway (New Mexico State Hwy 4). This beautiful stretch of road begins in the mountains near Los Alamos from the east or at Bandelier National Monument from the south. Then, take the road west, where it will turn into high desert land of low mesas and exposed red sandstone formations ending up in San Ysidro. Make it a day drive and hit the highlights, or spend a few days hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, and exploring deeper into some of the more popular sites in the area. From east to west, popular sites include Jemez Falls, Santa Fe National Forest, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Fenton Lake State Park, Spencer Hot Springs, Battleship Rock, the Soda Dam, Jemez Historic Site, Jemez Springs, the Gilman Tunnels, and Jemez Pueblo.
Ghost Ranch | 6 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Explore the colorful scenic landscapes that inspired much of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work when you visit Ghost Ranch near the village of Abiquiu, New Mexico. Ghost Ranch sits on 21,000 acres, features incredible views of red and yellow cliffs, and was the site where the theropod dinosaur Coelophysis and many other dinosaur species remains were found and preserved.
The ranch has a long, twisting history of being passed from one owner to the next since 1766. It began as a land grant to Pedro Martin Serrano from Charles III of Spain. The Archuleta brothers first inhabited the canyon. The pair were cattle rustlers who enjoyed the canyon’s invisibility because it made stealing and transporting cattle undetectable. A series of bad moves left both brothers dead, allowing Roy Pfaffle to win the deed to the ranch in a poker game in early 1928. His wife, Carol Stanely, put the deed in her name. She named the place Ghost Ranch and moved there two years later after divorcing Roy. She developed guest rooms and opened it as an exclusive dude ranch for wealthy creatives, including the frequent visitor Arthur Newton Pack, writer and editor of Nature Magazine. Stanley had trouble affording the place despite her wealthy clientele and sold it to Arthur Pack in 1935. Pack tried to sell it to the YMCA, the Boy Scouts of American, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and the United Brethren Church with no luck until the Presbyterians accepted the offer who remain its owners to this day.
While day trips are available, Ghost Ranch offers a full package experience as a retreat and education center that offers over 300 workshops a year. Horseback riding and water activities are available, as well as eight hiking trails with a range of easy to moderate difficulty with stunning overlooks and breathtaking 360-degree views.
Abiquiu Lake | 6 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
This 5,200-acre reservoir offers some of the finest fishing in Northern New Mexico. Abiquiu Lake is located 61 miles north of Santa Fe, at the intersection of Highway 84 and Highway 96. Water from the Rio Chama is impounded with the Abiquiu Dam that was built in 1963 by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers.
The crystal blue lake is surrounded by beautiful red sandstone formations and offers great views of the Cerro Pedernal Mountains from the dam. The area offers outdoor recreation, including boating, fishing, water sports, picnicking, swimming, hiking, and camping. Surrounding attractions include the popular Ghost Ranch, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the San Pedro Wilderness. The area is also unique because it was the site of many 200 million-year-old reptile fossil discoveries.
Taos Pueblo | 6.25 Hours From Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
Taos Pueblo is one of the only continuously inhabited Native American communities left in the United States. It is also the only living Native American community designated as both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. It is located in northern New Mexico at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, just one mile north of the modern city of Taos.
The Pueblo is made entirely of adobe – earth mixed with water and straw and either poured into forms or made into bricks. The Pueblo is actually many individual homes built side-by-side and was constructed well before Columbus arrived in America and hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages. The main buildings were likely built between 1000 and 1540 AD and today look much as they did back then. The Pueblo land is approximately 99,000 acres. Nearly 1,900 Taos Indians live on the land, about 190 live full time in the Pueblo, while others have homes closer to their fields and return to their homes in the Pueblo for ceremonies.
An entrance fee of $16 allows you to enter and explore this unique village. Self-guided or private and group tours are available. Their culture and religion is verbally passed down from generation to generation and is generally kept very private. Thus, it is important to respect the rules when visiting, especially when it comes to photography and entering buildings, as many are still private homes. While visiting, be sure to grab a bite to eat at one of the local stands and check out the mica-flecked pottery, silver jewelry, moccasins, boots, and drums, as well as other handmade artisan crafts at many of the individually owned curio shops within the Pueblo.
Experience The Best of New Mexico at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch
When planning your New Mexico adventure be sure to book a stay at Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch! Horseback ride through incredible canyons with crystal clear spring-fed streams. Learn about the ancient Mimbres Culture who lived in this area over a thousand years ago. Enjoy three mouthwatering meals a day cooked for you by our chef! Reconnect with nature and each other and make memories that will last a lifetime!