10 Natural Wonders in New Mexico
New Mexico has many unique and beautiful natural wonders spread out all over the state. From cinder cone volcanoes to huge caves to unique and spectacular rock formations to pure white sand beaches and dunes nowhere close to an ocean New Mexico is rich with natural wonders. These are the ten best natural wonders in New Mexico.
Beautiful Carlsbad Caverns is huge tourist attraction that is located in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico about 30 miles southwest of Carlsbad. Visitors to Carlsbad Cavern can hike down to the cave through a natural entrance or they can take a 750 foot ride down the elevator to the main cave floor. Inside the cave are are dozens of named rooms that are well lit including the Hall of the Giants or the Big Room which is over 350,000 square feet in size. From April through November tens of thousands of bats fly out the natural entrance to feed every sunset creating a magical scene that delights most visitors to the tremendous natural wonder in New Mexico that is Carlsbad Caverns.
White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument is a spectacular natural wonder consisting of rare snow-white gypsum sand dunes that is located along Highway 70 about 12 miles southwest of Alamogordo in south-central New Mexico. The gypsum sand dunes are rare because gypsum is water-soluble and normally rain would dissolve and carry away the gypsum to the ocean but White Sands lies far inland so when rain and melting snow carry away gypsum from the surrounding mountains it gets deposited in the seasonal Lake Lucero in the monument and then when the water evaporates the gypsum reforms. And the result is spectacular white sand dunes that reach heights of over 60 feet.
White Sands National Monument is a popular natural wonder tourist attraction in New Mexico with hiking trails and camping and it's not unusual to see college kids from New Mexico State University playing volleyball in the white sand. There is another spectacular inland white sand national park that is filled with blue lagoons called Lencois Maranheneses located in Brazil.
Located in the northwest corner of New Mexico about 12 miles southwest of the town of Shiprock is the towering rock formation named Shiprock. Shiprock rises some 1,800 feet above the surrounding high desert plane and has a total elevation of 7,177 feet. It id believed it was formed some 27 million years ago under the earth's surface and then exposed over millions of years of erosion. Shiprock is called Rock with Wings or Winged Rock by the native Navajo's and this magnificent rock formation is located on Navajo Nation land. Travelers in this part of New Mexico can hardly miss seeing Shiprock since it is such a landmark monument in the area. Rock climbers have ascended Shiprock though rock climbing is forbidden by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department since the rock monument is sacred to the Navajo people.
Rio Grande Gorge
The Rio Grande Gorge is a long gorge that runs north to south in northern New Mexico mainly west of Taos. It is a striking natural wonder that that reaches depths of 800 feet and is a popular tourist attraction with rock climbing and white-water rafting adventure seeking vacationers. The best place for most tourists and visitors to view the Rio Grande Gorge is from the 1,280 foot long 650 foot high Rio Grande Gorge Bridge which is located along Route 64 about 10 miles northwest of Toas.
Capulin Volcano is located in Capulin Volcano National Monument in northeastern New Mexico along Route 325 about 3 miles north of the town of Capulin. This beautiful volcanic cinder cone was formed some 60,000 years ago when the volcano erupted with ash, lava and cinders. Capulin Volcano is a fantastic tourist attraction in New Mexico as there is a paved road that winds visitors right to the top of the volcano which is over 1,000 feet above the surrounding prairie and 8,182 total feet in elevation. At the summit parking lot are hiking trails that go around the rim and down to the mouth of the volcano. From the summit one can see views of the Rocky Mountains as well as the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
City of Rocks in New Mexico
The City of Rocks is located in the City of Rocks State Park in southwestern New Mexico along Route 61 well north of the town of Deming. This cool looking park consists of massive rock pinnacles and boulders of volcanic origin that have been carved and shaped into present day form by wind and water erosion over millions of years. Some of the rocks in the park are 40 feet in height and hiking trails and campsites are located between these majestic rock formations. Well over 50,000 tourists visit the City of Rocks every year making it a popular visitor attraction and scenic natural wonder in New Mexico.
Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque
Located just to the east of the capital city of Albuquerque, New Mexico is the beautiful Sandia Mountains. The highest point in the Sandia Mountains is the 10,768 foot high Sandia Crest. The longest aerial tram in the world the Sandia Peak Tramway provides visitors access to the mountains from the hotels and motels in Albuquerque. At the top there is a restaurant, hiking trails and a ski resort to go along with the fabulous views. The Sandia Peak Tramway is a popular tourist attraction in New Mexico which carries close to 500,000 people a year to the top of the Sandia Mountains.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Image Source (Tent rock hoodoos)
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is located about 40 miles southwest of Sante Fe and 55 miles northeast of Albuquerque in central New Mexico. The tent rocks here are geological wonders that were produced by volcanic eruptions that occurred some 6 to 7 million years ago. The tent rocks are hoodoos made of soft volcanic pumice and tuff with much harder caprock on top that have been carved to their present form by weathering and erosion. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument offers tourists and visitors a unique natural wonder travel experience in New Mexico.
El Morro National Monument in New Mexico
Located off Route 53 in western New Mexico about 40 miles southwest of Grants is El Morro National Monument. The main feature of the monument is the massive 200 foot high sandstone rock promontory that provides shade for a pool of water at its basis creating a rare oasis in a United States desert. El Morro means The Headland in Spanish. Tourists and visitors wanting to see El Morro will have to drive a distance unless they are camping because there are not many hotels or motels or accommodations nearby.
Snowy River Cave
Located under the rolling hills of southeastern New Mexico is what some scientists believe is the longest continuous cave formation in the world and certainly one of the most unique caves anywhere. The Snowy River Cave is named for the bed of bright white calcite that lines the cave floor. Snowy River Cave is providing scientists with a unique extreme environment that is yielding new discoveries as some 36 new species of microbes that break down materials and produce mineral compounds have been discovered living in the cave. Though the Snowy River Cave is a fascinating place it is not presently open to tourists or visitors and might never be given its uniqueness but it is a great natural wonder in New Mexico.
For more see 10 Natural Wonders in New York State