Friday, February 26, 2016

National Lands: New Mexico

El Malpais NM Ventana Arch
El Malpais NM Ventana Arch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located on the border with Texas east of Interstate 25. The caverns consist of 119 caves. Cave tours are available, but visitors can also go on self-guided tours. During the summer people can watch the bats fly out of the caves. White Sands National Monument is exactly what the name says. The white sand dunes cover 275 square miles. The monument is located to the northeast of Las Cruces and east of Interstate 25. Travelers should check the National Park Service website before visiting the park because sometimes missile tests are going on in the area. In Albuquerque is the Petroglyph National Monument which preserves the area that is one of the largest sites of its kind in North America. This monument, which is in the northwest corner of the city, is west of Interstate 25 and north of Interstate 40. Further west on Interstate 40 is the Bandelier National Monument. Camping and hiking are available. In the northeast corner of the state is the Capulin Volcano National Monument which is located east of Raton and Interstate 25 near the Colorado border. Hiking trails are available and a great view awaits those who climb to the top.

El Malpais National Monument is located in Grants which is to the west of Albuquerque on Interstate 40. The park contains 350,000 acres with trails to hike over old lava flows and caves to explore. In the same area as El Malpais and Bandelier is El Morro National Monument. This area offered a refreshing pool of water for travelers on their journey west. Inscription Trail features the messages left over the centuries. The Aztec Ruins National Monument is located in the northwest corner of the state northeast of Farmington. No interstates are in this area. Visitors can explore the archeological site. To the south in this area is Chaco Culture National Historical Park. This area is to the west of Cuba and north of Interstate 40. More archeological sites are available in this park, but visitors should be aware that the roads are not paved. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is in the southwest corner of the state near Silver City. Interstate 25 is to the east and Interstate 10 is to the south. Hiking, fishing and horseback riding are available. In the monsoon season afternoon thunderstorms can shut down sections of the park. East of Santa Fe is the Pecos National Historical Park which is located east of Interstate 25. This site features Indian pueblos and also a Civil War Battlefield trail.

English: Mexican (or Brazilian) Free-Tailed Ba...
English: Mexican (or Brazilian) Free-Tailed Bats, Tadarida brasiliensis, emerging from Carlsbad Caverns, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is near Mountaionair which is to the southeast of Albuquerque and east of Interstate 25. Three missions are available for touring. Check the National Park Service website for details. Fort Union National Monument is located to the west of Santa Fe and just west of Interstate 25. This area honors what remains of the largest military fort in the area. This fort is on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail which travels through five states. The trail is located in the northeast corner of the state. The Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area includes Albuquerque and areas north to the Colorado state line. Interstate 25 is the the closest interstate to this area which honors the many types of cultures that have inhabited it. The El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail offers hiking trails and museums along the trail which closely follows Interstate 25. The Old Spanish National Historic Trail travels through six states. Some of the trails and exhibits are on privately owned land, so visitors would be wise to research the area.

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