New Mexico’s nickname attests to its perfect description; the Land of Enchantment. This southwestern American state offers a unique cultural blend that sets it apart from other states due to its native Spanish and American communities. The state rewards its visitors with enchanting natural beauty, fine arts scenery mostly around Santa Fe, lots of outdoor recreational opportunities, and typical local cuisines. Here are some astonishing facts that every first-time visitor to New Mexico will be surprised to know about the state:

You’ve heard great about how California, Texas, Florida, and Oregon produce the country’s best wine, but you haven’t tasted one produced in New Mexico. Yes, New Mexico is a wine-producing state and you’ll find many wine grape fields in the state’s Rio Grande and these produce millions of wine gallons per year! There are more than fifty 50 wineries throughout the state some of which have produced award-winning wine brands before!

A Taos Pueblo settlement
The Adobe-style Taos Pueblo settlement

The state also has some of America’s oldest human habitations dating back more than 5000 years ago. One of the settlements is Taos Pueblo whose people from the Tiwa community have resided in the trademark adobe dwellings for more than 1000 years. The community is still thriving side by side with the modern America.

Do you know the highest elevated state capital in the US? Well, it’s Santa Fe in New Mexico. Standing at the attitude of 7199ft above the sea level, Santa Fe Santa Fe sits in the rising Sangre de Cristo foothills. It’s famous for its Pueblo-style architecture, and as a creative performing and visual arts center, shopping, appetizing cuisines and lots of outdoor fun experience. Santa Fe is even North America’s oldest capital city having been founded in 1610.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Tell me where in the US can you see as many as five states from one spot? It is none other than on top of Capulin Volcano in New Mexico! This 8000ft extinct cinder cone volcano is a national monument found in the Great Plains of the northeastern part of the state. It also served as a marker on the famous Santa Fe trail and you can drive all the way to the top to have great picturesque views of the five states of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado at once!

Aerial view of the Capulin volcano
Aerial view of the Capulin volcano

Not all parts of New Mexico are under the desert. It is one of the most geographically diverse states with very pretty landscapes, from the southern deserts to the northern alpine forests and savannah. These provide the best outdoor activities like skiing in the snow-capped mountains that are more than 13,000ft, and whose sides are lined with nice wildflowers, pine trees, and riparian forests. Going further in the southwestern part, you’ll enjoy the white sand dunes and the huge areas of prairies.

Did you know that Smokey Bear came from New Mexico? This black bear was rescued by firefighters in Taos Pueblo during the battle to contain Capitan Gap fire in 1950. He was adored by many and therefore became the Smokey living idol that had been invented to sensitize Americans about the danger of wildfires.

Also, the world’s first atomic bomb Trinity was detonated in the desert sands of Jornada del Muerto, New Mexico. The bomb was similar to those dropped on the two Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The detonation site is now a national Historic Site.

Though New Mexico is the oldest unceasingly occupied state in North America or having the oldest capital city on the whole continent, still it is one of the youngest states in the US. New Mexico joined the rest of the country in 1912.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Other fascinating facts about New Mexico include having a provision in their electoral laws that bars ‘idiots’ from voting. This term referred to people with mental illness back then when these laws were being made. The state also has the most number of wilderness reserves and hence the origin of the famous US Wilderness Act. 75% of the state’s roads are untarmacked due to its expansive rugged landscape especially in the central-southern part of the state. These are probably the best 4×4 wheel drive roads for the wild country drives.

Furthermore, the state has more cows than the total number of people who live there. Statistics show that there are 20 people per square mile and that more than 60% of this state is covered by cattle ranches. That’s why it is the meat producing capital of the US. And lastly, every October Albuquerque plays host to the famed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta which attracts tens of thousands of spectators who crave to enjoy the colorful festival.