New Mexico’s Top 10 Most Unique Finds
We know what makes New Mexico great—the chile, the beautiful landscape, the people, and the list goes on. But what lies underneath the surface is a state full of unique and mysterious history, oddities, and the off the beaten path finds. It’s not just the landmarks that make the state enchanting, it’s the quirky attractions, forgotten towns, and intriguing history.
1. World’s Largest Pistachio Nut
Truly a monument that can only be found in New Mexico, this 30-foot tall pistachio cannot be missed driving on U.S. Hwy 54 between Tularosa and Alamogordo. The pistachio is a tribute honoring Tom McGinn, the founder of McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch. It has become one of New Mexico’s most famous roadside attractions. Stop by PistachioLand for a photo op and some great nuts!
2. Hand-Carved Caves
Deep within the earth lies a world of its own, created by Ra Paulette. For over 25 years, Paulette has carved and chiseled images and pure works of art into the side of over 14 caves in northern New Mexico. These intricate designs come to life, and they are left to be discovered by others like you and me, with most accessible to the public. Learn more about the caves and Paulette’s love for them through the documentary Cavedigger.
Wake Up to Wanderlust
3. Alien Streetlights
The city of Roswell emphasizes its UFO claim to fame in many ways, but did you know that even the city streetlights display alien paraphernalia too? When strolling the city at night, the lights take on a glow that will leave you wondering whether Roswell is a city of humans, or truly is extraterrestrial.
4. Meow Wolf Arts Complex
Find yourself amid 30-foot tall robots, giant tarantulas, and enter alternate worlds at this unique attraction. The complex features the House of Eternal Return, described as a 21st century funhouse with all makings of technology and sci-fi can offer. In addition to these immersion experiences, Meow Wolf is also a top-ten music venue. If secret passages, fantasy lands, and great music are your cup of tea, then this is the place for you.
5. Tent Rocks
This national monument is exceptionally fascinating, and rare in its formation. Formed by volcanic eruptions 6-7 million years ago, they left ash and pumice in their wake. Many of the tent rocks are 1,000 feet thick, with some as tall as 90 feet and some as small as a few feet in height. Whether you’re into hiking, geologic observation, or simply taking in wonders of the world, you’re sure to enjoy nature’s uncommon creation.
Bureau of Land Management
6. Route 66 Musical Road
What other state can claim they have a musical road? Yes, that’s right, driving down the highway on Route 66 will yield an unexpected melody. After a sign prompts you to slow down to 45 mph on a quarter-mile stretch near Tijeras, America the Beautiful can be heard. Designed to encourage drivers to adhere to the speed limit, you must maintain 45 mph exactly to hear the music. You’ll get where you’re going and enjoy the ride too!
Driven for Drives
7. Lake Valley Historic Townsite
Once a booming town of silver that began in 1876, this site is all but a ghost town now. Like many boom towns, silver was discovered and people traveled thousands of miles to snag a bit of the wealth. However, it soon became apparent that the silver deposits were not abundant, and the town soon gave way to dust and vandals, with the last resident wandering off in 1994. Chained and padlocked, you’ll only have access to this nostalgic piece of New Mexican history Thursday through Monday 9-4.
8. Center of the Universe
Although others might claim to be the center of the universe, we know the true center lies in New Mexico. On the University of New Mexico campus, a hallway structure takes center stage with the x, y, and z axis. This bunker-style installation was designed by artist Bruce Nauman to mark the exact location. Sooner or later, others will realize that this place is not only the crossroads for UNM students, but the crossroads of the universe as well.
Architectural Guide to New Mexico
9. Classical Gas Museum
Between Santa Fe and Taos on Route 68, you’ll discover a display of effects long forgotten by most dotting the side of the road. Created by Johnnie Meier, his collection began over 25 years ago. You’ll discover everything from old gas pumps to neon signs and old soda machines at this museum, and even an old diner. It’s off the beaten path, but this find is well worth it.
10. Alamogordo Landfill
Every state has its secrets, but buried beneath New Mexico’s desert land is something truly unusual. Millions of copies of Atari’s E.T. video game are believed to have been buried underneath the Alamogordo landfill. It was possibly the worst video game ever made, and an embarrassed Atari had 3 million copies that it needed to dispose of. I suppose burying them seemed like the best solution. While many speculate the truth in it, 1,300 copies were unearthed in 2014.