Interesting facts about New Mexico

new mexico

New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern Region of the United States.

It is bordered on by Colorado on the north, Texas and Mexico on the south, Oklahoma and Texas on the east, and by Arizona on the west.

As of September 2018, the population of New Mexico was estimated to be about 2 million people. It is the 36th most populous state in the United States.

New Mexico is the 5th largest state in the United States in terms of total area with 315,198 square kilometers (121,699 square miles).

Santa Fe is the capital city of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state. The city is founded by Spanish colonists in 1610, is the oldest state capital in the United States. Santa Fe is the highest capital city in the United States at 2,130 meters (7,000 feet) above sea level.

santa fe

The New Mexican landscape ranges from wide, rose-colored deserts to broken mesas to high, snow-capped peaks. Despite New Mexico’s arid image, heavily forested mountain wildernesses cover a significant portion of the state, especially towards the north.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains, run roughly north–south along the east side of the Rio Grande in the rugged, pastoral north. The Great Plains of North America sloping east from the Rocky Mountains, cover New Mexico’s eastern border with Texas. This elevated plateau area gradually blends with the large (and flat) treeless areas of western Oklahoma and Texas.

Wheeler Peak is the highest natural point in New Mexico. It lies in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. The peak’s elevation is 4,013 meters (13,167 feet).

wheeler peak

Lakes and Rivers make up only .002% of the state’s total surface area. The lowest water-to-land ratio of all 50 states.

The Rio Grande is New Mexico’s longest river and runs the entire length of New Mexico. Its name is Spanish for the “Big River,” but the Rio Grande is actually known as Rio Bravo in Mexico. “Bravo” translates as “ furious,” so the name makes sense.

rio grande

New Mexico has 15 national parks and 27 state parks.

Comprised of nearly 120 known caves, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is hidden mostly underground. Carved from limestone deposited in an ancient sea, the alien underground landscape is one of the most famous New Mexico tourist attractions. The primary attraction of the park is the show cave which includes a large limestone chamber, named simply the Big Room, which is almost 1,220 meters (4,000 feet) long, 191 meters (625 feet) wide, and 78 meters (255 feet) high at its highest point. The Big Room is the fifth largest chamber in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world.

carlsbad caverns

White Sands National Monument is one of the most stunning landscapes in the state, located a half an hour’s drive southwest of Alamogordo in the south of New Mexico. The monument is situated at an elevation of 1,291 meters (4,235 feet) in the mountain-ringed Tularosa Basin and comprises the southern part of a 710 square kilometers (275 square miles) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. The gypsum dune field is the largest of its kind on Earth.

White Sands National Monument - New Mexico...dawn in the desert...

The Four Corners Monument marks the quadripoint in the Southwestern United States where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet. It is the only point in the United States shared by four states, leading to the area being named the Four Corners region.

four corners monument

Each autumn, Albuquerque hosts the world’s largest hot air balloon festival, drawing crowds of more than 80,000 people. The tradition, which started in a parking lot in 1973 with only 13 balloons, has grown to occupy a 365-acre park with more than 500 balloons participating. This nine-day festival is kicked off by the breathtaking “Mass Ascension” and continues with unique displays of coordinated ballooning and nighttime presentations.

hot air balloons

In the remote rolling hills west of Socorro lies the Karl G Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) – a radio astronomy observatory located on the Plains of San Agustin. The array is used to observe black holes and other astronomical phenomena. There are self-guided walking routes through the site, and the VLA also hosts.

karl g jansky very large array

Roswell is a city in New Mexico. A top tourist attraction in Roswell, the international UFO Museum and Research Center was opened in 1992 as an information center inspired by the 1947 “Roswell incident.” This widely speculated event put Roswell on the map as a hub of UFO activity and curiosity. Despite this, the museum’s intention is not to convince visitors to believe in extraterrestrial life or government conspiracy theories. Exhibits take an objective look at local events, as well as numerous others around the world, inviting visitors to come to their own conclusion.

international ufo museum

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad (C&TS) is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge heritage railroad running for 103 kilometers (64 miles) between Antonito, Colorado and Chama, New Mexico, United States. The railroad gets its name from two geographical features along the route, the 3,053 m (10,015 ft) high Cumbres Pass and Toltec Gorge. Originally part of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad’s narrow-gauge network, the line has been jointly owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico since 1970.

cumbres & toltec scenic railroad

The history of New Mexico is based on both archeological evidence, attesting to varying cultures of humans occupying the area of New Mexico since approximately 9200 BC, and written records.

Inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years before European exploration, it was colonized by the Spanish in 1598 as part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain.

New Mexico received its name long before the present-day nation of Mexico won independence from Spain and adopted that name in 1821. In 1581, the Chamuscado and Rodríguez Expedition named the region north of the Rio Grande “San Felipe del Nuevo México”.

new mexico map

After Mexican independence in 1824, New Mexico became a Mexican territory with considerable autonomy.

New Mexico became U.S. territory as part oft he Gadsen Purchase in 1853.

It was admitted to the Union as the 47th state on January 6, 1912.

During World War II, New Mexico was the site of the top-secret Manhattan Project, in which top U.S. scientists raced to create the first atomic bomb, which was tested at the Trinity Bomb site, near Alamagordo, on July 16, 1945.

Three federally-protected Native American tribes–the Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache peoples inhabit New Mexico.

The flag of New Mexico features the state’s Spanish origins with the same scarlet and gold coloration as Spain’s Cross of Burgundy, along with the ancient sun symbol of the Zia, a Pueblo-related tribe.

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