Every state in the Union has at least one national park. The national parks in New Mexico, however, may top all other parks when taken all together.
New Mexico National Parks
The following list of national parks in New Mexico is arranged in a particular format. First, the parks are in alphabetical order. Second, general locations are listed, but keep in mind some parks move beyond the borders of New Mexico. Third, the type of national park is also listed.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument is located in far northwest New Mexico in the city of Aztec. The West Ruin has been excavated; the East Ruin has not. The architecture of Aztec is similar to that of the Chaca Canyon Pueblos. The West Ruin great house was 3 stories tall, had over 500 rooms, a plaza, and many kivas, including a great kiva.
Bandelier National Monument
Los Alamos, NM
Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence going back over 11,000 years (NPS).
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico protects a 60,000-year-old volcano. A paved road goes to the 8,182′ summit of the volcano. The road is a two-lane shelf road, with one side against a rock wall and the other a foot away from a plunge to the valley floor 100’s of feet below.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park – A personal favorite!
Carlsbad Caverns is known for caves where sulfuric acid dissolves limestone. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, located in southern New Mexico, contains one of the largest cave caverns in the world. Its name, The Big Room” holds through because it could hold 6 football fields.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
The Anasazi or Ancestral Puebloans created these fantastic structures, more than a thousand years ago, with hundreds of rooms, multiple stories tall, astrologically aligned, and with mysterious purposes.
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
It is unlikely that any single path into what is now New Mexico did more to change the history and culture of the area than El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or the Royal Road to the Interior Lands. Today the trail itself is largely a memory, but the sites (and sights) along the trail still carry the heritage El Camino Real created.
El Malpais National Monument
The primeval black basalt terrain of El Malpais was created by volcanic forces over the past million years. Molten lava spread out over the high desert from dozens of eruptions to create cinder cones, shield volcanos, collapses, trenches, caves, and other eerie formations.
El Morro National Monument
For centuries, travelers lured here by the promise of a reliable water source, have left their names indelibly inscribed on the cliffs at El Morro National Monument beneath a giant 875-room pueblo.
Fort Union National Monument
Fort Union was established in 1851 as a guardian of the Santa Fe Trail.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument
Silver City, NM
Another jewel on the New Mexico landscape. See the natural caves of Cliff Dweller Canyon. Walk the trail to the caves followed by a tour of the ruins.
Old Spanish National Historic Trail
In 1776, two Franciscan priests, Atanasio Dominguez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante passed through a valley in the Southwestern portion of the United States. Their mission began in modern-day Santa Fe, New Mexico and ended at a mission outpost in Monterey, California.
Pecos National Historical Park
Located in Pecos, New Mexico near Santa Fe- Humans have inhabited the Pecos Valley for at least 12,000 years. The fifteenth-century Towa-speaking trading pueblo had over 2,000 inhabitants.
Petroglyph National Monument
Petroglyph National Monument protects a variety of cultural and natural resources including volcanoes, archeological sites and an estimated 24,000 carved images. Many of the images are recognizable as animals, people, brands, and crosses; others are more complex. These images are inseparable from the cultural landscape, the spirits of the people who created and who appreciate them.
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
This national monument offers a relatively easy hike to a surprisingly stunning overlook. The tent rocks are cones of volcanic material worn into their unusual shapes over eons.
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
The Old Spanish Trail is America’s 15th National Historic Trail. This rugged pack mule route was in use across the desert southwest from 1829-1848 and linked the tiny village of Santa Fe, NM with the San Gabriel Mission near the small town of Los Angeles.
White Sands National Monument
While there are many spectacular places in the world, and in the United States National Park system, one of the best is the white sand dunes of White Sands National Park.
The national parks in New Mexico are amazing. Petroglyph National Monument and the Carlsbad Caverns are highlights, but you really can’t go wrong.