New Mexico

Encircle New Mexico: New Mexico has been owned by Native Americans, Spain and Mexico before becoming a U.S. territory and then a state in 1912. Enjoy your visual tour through the center of the “Land of Enchantment” from north to south.

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1 Mesa at Sunset in Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument is wedged in a valley surrounded by mounts ranging in height from 5,000 to 10,000 feet. The sun and clouds create dancing shadows as you look down from the peak. Once you descend, you will find Ancestral Pueblo dwellings and petroglyphs carved into cliffs dating from 1150 – 1600. The area also has several mesas. These tabletop mountains glow during the sunset.

15 Entrance Rd, Los Alamos, NM 87544
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2 Camel Rock Silhouette at Sunset near Tesuque, New Mexico

Erosion carved this sandstone bluff called Camel Rock into the shape of a sitting camel in Tesuque, New Mexico. The stone camelid looks right at home in the arid surroundings while basking in the sunset. Across U.S. 84-285 is another Camel Rock. That entertainment establishment is a Pueblo-managed casino with a great buffet. In this reservation of 500 Native Americans, you will also find artisans offering paintings and pottery.

285 Frontage, Camel Rock, Santa Fe, NM 87506
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3 New Mexico State Capitol Building in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The New Mexico State Capitol has two distinctions: the House and Senate chambers are below ground and it is round, hence the nickname “The Roundhouse.” Built in 1996, it is one of the newer state capitol buildings. However, Santa Fe is the oldest capitol city in the U.S. New Mexico became the 47th state on January 6, 1912.

490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501
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4 New Mexico State Capitol Building Rotunda in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The marble rotunda in the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe is only 60 feet tall. It is covered with a skylight symbolizing the weave of an Indian basket. The apex is also the center of the state’s symbol for the sun. The “Zia,” is featured in red on New Mexico’s yellow flag and is also the shape of the building.

490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501
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5 New Mexico State Capitol Building Buffalo Head Sculpture in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The New Mexico State House displays 600 pieces of art by state artists. The gallery was sponsored by the Capitol Art Foundation, founded in 1992. This collection, worth about $6 million, feels like a contemporary art museum. My favorite is “Buffalo” by Holly Hughes. The unique sculpture is made from old paintbrushes, papier-mâché and scrap metal. Spectacular!

490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501
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6 Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico

When Santa Fe, New Mexico, was founded in 1610, its name in English was The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi. Therefore, it was appropriate the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi was placed downtown in 1886. The structure was built with yellow sandstone blocks in a Romanesque Revival style. This western entrance features arches, columns, a rose window and two towers. The statue of the patron saint of animals was added in 1967.

131 Cathedral Pl, Santa Fe, NM 87501
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7 Indian Warrior Statue on Canyon Road Art District in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Around 900 AD, the Pueblo Indians settled on the land now occupied by downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Native Americans continued living there through the Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish in 1680. The uprising was led by Popé, also known as Po’pay. This statue looks similar to the fierce leader of 2,500 Pueblos. The sculpture is located in the Canyon Road Art District. This quaint neighborhood features over 100 galleries of western and Native American contemporary art, sculptures and jewelry.

McLarry Modern, 225 Canyon Rd #8, Santa Fe, NM 87501
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8 Sergio Bustamante Art in Canyon Road Gallery Window in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was used during the Spanish period for carrying firewood on burros. In the early 1900s, it began to blossom into an art colony. Now there are over 100 galleries along its narrow, winding road. They feature western, Native American and contemporary art, sculptures and jewelry. The Meyer East Gallery displays works by Sergio Bustamante, an acclaimed Mexican artist. This resin crescent moon seen through a doorway is named, “Luna Flamenca.” The blue sky and cloud are real.

Meyer Gallery, 225 Canyon Rd Suite 15, Santa Fe, NM 87501
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9 Old Boarding House Mercantile in Madrid, New Mexico

Madrid, New Mexico, has not grown much since starting as a coal mining town in the 1850s. Many of its 150 citizens cater to tourists driving by. Route 14 is lined with artisans in historic buildings. An example is the Old Boarding House Mercantile. Among the novelties for sale are memorabilia from a biker movie filmed there in 2007. “Wild Hogs” stared John Travolta and Tim Allen.

2887 NM-14, Madrid, NM 87010
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10 Macaw Petroglyph at Boca Negra Canyon in Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico

Volcanoes once scarred the 7,200 acres called Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico just west of Albuquerque. Many of the ancient magma rocks display 24,000 carvings. The primitive designs were created by the Ancestral Pueblo people from 400-700 years ago. The petroglyphs include images of birds, animals, faces, plants and symbols. You can study this ancient art along developed trails. You can also climb around two canyons and discover more such as this Macaw in Boca Negra Canyon.

Boca Negra Canyon, Atrisco Dr NW, Albuquerque, NM 87120
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Bank Clock in First National Bank Courtyard in Albuquerque, New Mexico

At night, several downtown buildings in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are illuminated in vibrant colors, such as green, blue and yellow. By day, a rainbow of colors can also be seen in the numerous wall murals decorating the city. In the center of the First National Bank Courtyard is this vintage Albuquerque National Bank clock.

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11 Black Raven Mural in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The black raven, like this mural in Albuquerque, is often believed to be a bad omen or predictor of pending death. Their evil reputation has been reinforced in classic literature by Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens and Stephen King. The raven is also mentioned in about a dozen Bible passages. Despite these various portrayals, the raven has one of the largest brains among birds and is capable of advanced problem solving.

118 Rte 66, Albuquerque, NM 87102
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12 Frutos De La Expresion Mural by Claire Bain in Albuquerque, New Mexico

In downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, is this mural called “Frutos De La Expresion.” The art was designed by Claire Bain in 2000. It commemorates three amendments to the U.S. Constitution: the first for freedom of speech, the fifteenth for freedom to vote regardless of race or color and the nineteen allowing women to vote. The mural was sponsored by Working Classrooms, Inc. This is an arts and educational program for young artists.

212 2nd St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
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13 Historic Monuments Mural in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico, has embraced murals in programs such as “Street Arts” which is sponsored by 516 Arts. The vivid results show across the downtown buildings. Once barren walls are now canvases for local artists. This is the center detail of a very long mural. The painting seems to be protesting the raising of Albuquerque’s historic landmarks.

109 2nd St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
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14 Mother Road Mural with 1960 Corvette Convertible in Albuquerque, New Mexico

This colorful mural called “Mother Road” was designed by Joe Stephenson and sponsored by Working Classroom. The vivid art is a tribute to Route 66 connecting Chicago with Los Angeles. The iconic road cut through Albuquerque on Fourth Street starting in the mid-20s and switched to Central Avenue in 1937. Among the vehicles driving down “The Main Street of America” is a 1960, Roman Red Corvette convertible. The classic originally sold for less than $4,000 and now fetches up to $75,000. Apparently, nostalgia does not come cheap.

212 2nd St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
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15 San Felipe de Neri Church with Shroud on Cross in Albuquerque Old Town, New Mexico

From 1519 to 1821, the land west of the Mississippi was New Spain. In 1793, during the Spanish rule, this church in Old Town Plaza was called San Francisco Xavier. It was renamed San Felipe de Neri by the Duke of Albuquerque. This honored Philip V, the former King of Spain. It looks similar to the Collegiate Church in Xàtiva. This town in eastern Spain was burned down by Philip V during the War of Spanish Succession and then also called San Felipe.

San Felipe de Neri Church, 2005 North Plaza NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
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16 Climbing Gypsum Sand Dunes at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

The dunes in southern New Mexico cover over 140,000 acres. They consist of gypsum crystals called gelenite. Unlike sand, they are pure white, continually shift and blow and do not convert sunlight into heat. So kids slide down the dunes on saucers in shorts and bare feet while nearby snow plows keep the roads open. An eight mile road into this geologic anomaly is provided by the White Sands National Monument. Nearby is a missile range where the first atom bomb was detonated.

Yucca Picnic Area Loop Dr, Tularosa, NM 88352
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17 Gypsum Sand Rock and Soaptree Yucca in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Nature is incredibly resilient. This twig-thin stalk of soaptree yucca manages to grow across the 115 square miles of drifting dunes in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. This park in the Tularosa Basin is covered with selenite crystals or gypsum. The snow-white material is constantly blowing while creating unique sculptures and wind-swept ridges, knolls and enormous hills. This region averages 100 days with heat above 90° F. Yet the dunes remain cool while snowplows are constantly clearing the road of gypsum sand.

Yucca Picnic Area Loop Dr, Tularosa, NM 88352
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18 Virgin Mary Statue at Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla, New Mexico

Mesilla, New Mexico, became a town when the area was considered “No Man’s Land” during a Mexico and US border dispute in 1851. The same year, the San Albino mission was formed. Thirty years later, Billy the Kid was tried, found guilty and sentenced to hang for murdering Sheriff Brady. These historic events are retold in shops surrounding Mesilla Plaza and anchored by the Basilica of San Albino. Dedicated in 1908, the church was declared a minor basilica by the Holy See 100 years later. This statue of the Virgin Mary stands in front of its brick façade and leaded, stained-glass windows.

2070 Calle De Santiago, Mesilla, NM 88046
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