Five Great Things to do in Northern New Mexico
This week we’re wrapping up our tour of Northern New Mexico. There are too may amazing things to list, but we think these are the top things to do that didn’t fit into our previous lists.
Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM
Chances are, you never thought you could go SCUBA diving in the middle of the desert. Well, think again. The Blue Hole is a natural phenomenon that is constantly filtered by an underground aquafer system so visibility is always near 100% and is always a comfortable 62 degrees because of the geothermal heat. Noted as one of the best places in the United States to train for diving, the Blue Hole attracts visitors from across the Southwest and beyond.
The depth of Blue Hole around 80 feet. There are underwater caves connected to the blue hole that go much farther down than the 80 foot area, but these are covered by a grate and are generally regarded as much too dangerous for human exploration. For more information, click here.
Photo By Eric T Gunther, Taken from Wikimedia Commons
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Holding arguably some of the best trails in New Mexico, Tent Rocks is a great example of New Mexico’s unique and beautiful landscapes. The original terrain was formed by volcanic activity and which has eroded into some remarkable cone shapes that can range from a few feet to around 90 feet in height. These formations are mostly made of soft stone, and are topped with a hard caprock.
Both trails, are about 1 ¼ miles long and both lead to unique areas of the area. The scenic overlook trail leads to the top of a canyon where you can see much of the park and offers a great view of the Tent Rock formations. The Cave Loop trail leads through a narrow area of Slot Canyon with surreal views and several small caves. Tent Rocks is located on the Cochiti Pueblo Reservation, but is open during the day the public. For more information, click here.
Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness area
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin wilderness area is a badlands area south of Farmington that has some of the most unique scenery in the United States. Said to be a prehistoric swamp, the soil has a unique mix of coal, ash, and sandstone that has eroded to create an alien looking landscape. Petrified wood, from the swamp so many years before, is visible to in the area as well as gravity-defying sandstone formations.
The Bisti Badlands do not have marked trails and cell service is spotty in the area, so we highly recommend bring a GPS or map. For more information, click here.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Aztec Ruins, which were ironically not inhabited by the Aztecs, are one of the oldest Native American sites in New Mexico. The ancestral pueblos inhabited this area about 900 years ago, and their unique architecture stands to this day. The Great Kiva, which has been reconstructed is a main attraction to the monument, is an interesting show of some of the religious practices ancient Native Americans.
Exploring Aztec ruins is about a half-mile walk, and is far from strenuous, so we highly recommend this national monument if you have small children. For more information, click here.
Valles Caldera National Preserve
The Valles Caldera is one of the largest calderas in the world. The almost 14 mile long depression created by volcanic activity almost 1.5 million years ago. Also known as the Jemez Caldera, the site has been an important area for human inhabitants for at least 10,000 years. Much of the obsidian used by Native Americans in the Southwest came from the Valles Caldera. Today, the Valles Caldera is run by the National Park Service and is one of the most popular preserves in the state, a can’t miss for anyone interested in geology.
The Valles Caldera is relatively open, and there are several “Backcountry” roads that are great for biking and off-roading. A permit is required to operate off-road motorized vehicles, but 35 permits per day are given to visitors. For more information, click here.