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New Mexico

by Philip Greenspun, 1997


Chili Peppers in Chimayo, New Mexico New Mexico is more quietly beautiful than some Western states. It isn't "one National Park after another" like Utah or California. It doesn't have one spectacular spot like Yellowstone. You might have to spend an entire year in this vast state to hit your photographic stride. But if you do hit that stride, you'll be in good company with the artists and photographers who've been attracted to the light for over a century.

Things Made by People

There are three cultures co-existing in New Mexico (if you read the middle third of my Summer 1994 travelogue then you might question the extent to which these actually co-exist). The Indians created interesting pueblos. The Spanish some impressive churches. The Anglos ... mostly some houses that look like they could have been imported from Cleveland.

Canyon Road. Santa Fe, New Mexico. There are awe-inspiring Anasazi houses dating from 1200 A.D. or so. The most famous of these are in Mesa Verde National Park, just over the border into Colorado from northwest New Mexico. For photography, I personally think that Chaco Culture National Historic Park is the most interesting ancient spot. It is also possible to photograph at current occupied pueblos in Taos and Acoma.

Virgin Mary. New Mexico. As far as Spanish adobe churches, the most famous is in Ranchos de Taos, 90 minutes north of Santa Fe. The back of this church has been done by every major Western photographer. The entire area from Santa Fe to Taos is rich with interesting churches.

I really can't say that I've taken too many good photos of any New Mexican thing built by Anglos. There are a lot of huge adobe hotels and such in Santa Fe that are impressive for scale. Los Alamos National Lab is important historically. But I didn't spend enough time in the state to find good Anglo subjects.

Things Made by Nature

New Mexico has high snow-covered mountains, dry plateaus, pine forests, aspen forests, and canyons. There are also some animals but, unless you are especially fond of deer, these will be difficult to photograph.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

I'll leave most of the cultural description to the official National Park Service site. Suffice it to say that Chaco is about a 4-hour drive from the ABQ airport, one hour of which is along a semi-rough dirt road (regular rental car is fine). Bring everything that you will need except water. Pitch a tent in the campground and feel envious of the people in their nice RVs.

Chaco was the center of a trading society with an extensive road network and far-flung settlements. There are all kinds of impressive ruins, notably Pueblo Bonito, which once contained 600 rooms and 75 kivas.

Between Chaco and Mesa Verde...

Bisti Badlands ... there are some interesting places to visit, not least of which is Aztec Ruins National Monument. This area was built up by people from Chaco around 1100 A.D. and then occupied by people from Mesa Verde around 1200 A.D. There is a ruined pueblo the size of a football field and a reconstructed Great Kiva.

Mesa Verde

Cliff House. Mesa Verde, Colorado. Strictly speaking, Mesa Verde is not in New Mexico but rather just over the NW border into Colorado. However, it is spiritually and physically quite close to Chaco and deserves to be included in any tour of New Mexico.

Here's what I wrote to my brother back in 1994:

I'm very glad I got to Mesa Verde last weekend. The Park Service is going to close all the ruins to tours in a couple of years, according to one ranger. One could see why. They've instituted a ticket system for Cliff Palance and Balcony House, two of the the largest ruins. The (free) tix sold out at 11:30 and 1 on Saturday so I went only to Balcony House on Sunday (there is plenty more to see in the park). About 50 people went on the tour and there was really no way for them to all stay off the ruin walls. A really interesting anthropologist gave the tour and explained the Anasazi movement from pit houses on the mesa top (600 AD) to above-ground housing (1000 AD) to cliff housing (1200 AD) in terms of better food preservation technology to support a growing population. (They bugged out entirely in around 1300 to become the Hopi and the rest of the Pueblo Indians, presumably in response to a drought, deforestation, and exhaustion of the local resources.)

As long as you're in Colorado...

... you might as well drive east from Mesa Verde until you get to Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

The most obvious photographic tip here is to plan your trip to include at least one sunset and at least one sunrise; the dunes aren't so interesting in the flat light of midday. There is a campground within the park and you'll be able to get plenty of rest because there isn't much nightlife inside Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

Try to avoid changing film out in the Dunes, especially if it is windy. Sand inside your camera will scratch the negatives and only hours and hours of painful work in PhotoShop will restore them. Sand can also get into lens focusing helicals so you might not want to take those $3,000 Hasselblad lenses out onto the Dunes if the wind is high.


The most interesting thing in Taos is the Pueblo.

[By the way, unless you are an expert skier, do not even think about skiing in Taos. It is one of the toughest mountains in the US and basically does not have beginner slopes. The nearby Angel Fire resort apparently caters to wimps to some extent, though I've never been there.]

Ranchos de Taos

Just a few miles south of Taos, this little town is world-famous for its church. Nobody seems to want to photograph the front of the church or the environs ...

Everyone wants to photograph the back of the church (which faces West). But I was there in March when it wasn't the right time of day for the light:

I returned in August and got better results:

Between Taos and Santa Fe

Along the low (fast) road...

Chimayo, along the beautiful high road to Taos from Santa Fe, is famous for its church.

Santa Fe

By law, structures in the center of Santa Fe must be built from adobe.

Art, however, can be built out of anything, including Cheese Doodles:

One weekend in August, Santa Fe goes crazy with "Indian Market", where hundreds of Native American artists converge on the plaza to sell their wares. How expensive are some of these? Suffice it to say that all of the cash machines in town are empty by Sunday afternoon.

Wherever I am, I like to take photos of dogs.

It would also seem that, wherever I am, I managed to get a photo of a Gay Parade, though Santa Fe's isn't as big as New York's.

Salinas Pueblo National Monument

Drive south from Santa Fe along the Turquoise Trail through Madrid, an officially charming artists' community. After you cross I-40, you'll eventually come to Salinas Pueblo National Monument, a collection of ruins. Here are my snapshots from the area:

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico Fifteen miles southwest of Alamogordo ("home of the Big One"), White Sands National Monument's pure gypsum sands are presumably beautiful at sunrise. I wouldn't know because it was closed when I got there at 7 am, the official opening time. The military was testing missiles at the nearby White Sands Missile Range. By the time the monument opened for tourists, it was too late to get any decent photos. To distract you from the fact that I couldn't stay an extra day to cover the 275 square miles of dunes at sunset and sunrise, I'll throw in some random facts. Uh... actually I can't think of any random facts. You drive in 8 miles. You drive back out 8 miles. You get out of the car sometimes to walk around a bit with your camera. You get back into the car.

Oh well, here are some of my photos (taken around 10 am) just to let you know what White Sands looks like:

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico Deep in southern New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is impressively huge (one room is the size of 14 football fields). It is a tough place to photograph artistically. Electronic flash will ruin the mood. The National Park Service is against lurid light shows and mostly has the interior lit with subdued lights in just a few hues. Still, it is worth a walk-through with a tripod. There is a cafeteria down at the bottom if you should get hungry.

If you're going down as far south as Carlsbad, you should consider visiting Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas and Juarez, Mexico (across the border from El Paso).

Very Large Array

Very Large Array radio telescope, Socorro, New Mexico Officially in Socorro, the Very Large Array is actually 50 miles west on a high deserted plateau. Countless movie crews have been attracted to this spooky complex of huge parabolic antennae on railroad tracks. There are 27 dishes, each 81 feet in diameter. They can be spread out in a Y pattern 22 miles across. The basic idea is that the VLA can work like an antenna that actually is 22 miles across. The larger the antenna, the smaller angle over which it transmits or receives. So the VLA dishes can be pulled in tight when radio astronomers want to scan a broad area of the sky or spread out wide when investigating a small region. Anyway, at this point I'm exhausting what I remember from freshman physics at MIT, so you probably should check the National Radio Astronomy Observatory server for more info.


On your way back from the VLA to the Albuquerque airport, consider stopping at the Acoma Pueblo, continuously occupied since 600 A.D.


The only thing that I can really recommend in ABQ is the National Atomic Museum

Just the Weather

A Reasonable Plan

Red Rocks. Back road to Los Alamos, New Mexico. You might find this map helpful.

  • Fly into Albuquerque. Leave immediately for the Acoma Pueblo and allot a few hours to see it. Maybe spend the night in Grants.
  • Drive north to Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Spend 2 nights there.
  • Drive up to Aztec Ruins National Monument and then proceed to Mesa Verde. Spend 2 nights there.
  • Drive east to Durango, Colorado and spend 2 nights there.
  • Drive south to Taos and spend 1 or 2 nights there.
  • Think about driving west to Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu and staying a few days taking a class; otherwise go straight on to Santa Fe
  • Spend five nights in Santa Fe. Go to Los Alamos and Bandelier for one day. Go to Chimayo and the other small towns on another day. Spend a couple of days poking around downtown Santa Fe. Go to the Santa Fe Opera at night if you can (summer only).
  • Drive south through Madrid and cross I-40 to the Salinas Pueblo National Monument. Try to stay overnight if you can.
  • Proceed south to Alamogordo and White Sands National Monument. Spend the hour before sunset on the Dunes Drive. Sleep in a motel in Alamogordo. Make sure that you arrive at the monument when it opens at 7 am to catch the morning light (else you'll have a bunch of bland images like mine).
  • Proceed south-east to Carlsbad Caverns. If you're there on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, try to go 26 miles east to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (800-336-WIPP) where atomic weapon byproducts will remain stable for 10,000 years (unfortunately these byproducts are deadly for 100,000 years). Spend the night in Carlsbad.
  • Proceed south to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
  • Proceed west to El Paso and Juarez. Spend the night in El Paso.
  • Proceed north to the VLA. Spend the night in Socorro.
  • Proceed north to Acoma and then the Albuquerque airport.


Car. Glorieta, New Mexico.

  • car, preferably big, comfortable, and air-conditioned + tent OR motorhome
  • cooler for food
  • cooler for film (no ice is OK; you just want to protect film from the extreme heat of midday; professional film does not actually need to be refrigerated--after a few months at room temperature, it becomes "consumer" film and you can no longer rely on supertight color tolerances)
  • several gallons of water in different kinds of bottles; you will need to carry water with you everywhere.
  • tripod
  • quick-release plates
  • film (tough to buy in New Mexico). There is plenty of sunlight so so get the slowest, finest-grained film that you can find.
  • largest format camera you own. New Mexico is unimaginably huge and extremely conducive to slow high-resolution photography
  • handheld spotmeter. New Mexico is a very high contrast place. Meter carefully.

The scenic areas of New Mexico are poorly supplied with professional camera shops. If you're halfway through an expedition and need some gear, get one of the photo.net recommended camera retailers to ship you an item for overnight delivery.


The New Mexico Handbook (Stephen Metzger; Moon) is my favorite guidebook to the state.

Most of these images were taken in March of 1994 with a Nikon system (F4, 24, 50/1.8, 105 macro, 80-200/2.8) or in the summer of 1994 with a Canon EOS system (14, 20-35/2.8L, 50/1.0, 35-350L). Film was either Fuji Velvia, Fuji Sensia. In almost all cases, a tripod was employed. The exceptions are some pictures taken with a Yashica T4 point & shoot camera and Fuji ISO 400 color negative film. In all cases, the images were scanned to Kodak PhotoCD and then run through the batch conversion tools that I give away in my image library presentation tutorial.

Text and photos copyright 1994-1997 Philip Greenspun

Article created 1997

Readers' Comments

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Anthonty Debase , October 28, 1997; 12:24 P.M.

I would like to recommend two additional books for those planning a visit to New Mexico. I found them very useful, not only for the recommendations on where to stay and eat, but more importantly to get a feel for the culture, history and ambiance of the state. Both of these books go far beyond the usual travel guide tips and assume that the travelor is a person of intelligence and curiosity.

These books are:

The Hidden Southwest: an adventurer's guide, Harris, Richard

Journey to the High Southwest, Casey, Robert L.

Keith Sherwood , October 31, 1997; 12:42 A.M.

I was born and raised in Southwest New Mexico. To me, the most fascinating thing about New Mexico is the landscape. Colorado and Arizona may seem more captivating and Texas has more charisma, but I'm certain what inspires mosts artists to colonize New Mexico is the spirit of enchantment over the state. I'm more inspired with the Sandia Mountains or Shiprock, the Organ Mountains or Mule Creek than ruins and chile and petroglyphs. I had to actually leave New Mexico to become more fascinated with it. The countryside and the azure skies and the smell of fresh rain anywhere in the state is where the true enchantment lies. (Although I will say the food is good.)

Phil Johnson , November 17, 1997; 07:51 P.M.

I would just like to add one more thing to do in New Mexico if you go in the rainy season (spring to summer), I got extremely good pictures of lightning because they happen in the afternoon, befor it gets pitch black and to rainy/windy to go out.

- Phil

Dan Culbertson , November 29, 1997; 01:02 P.M.

I took almost the same trip in October 1997. Wish I had checked out this review first -- I would have added a few sites (maybe not - in between the rain from the hurricane in Texas and the snow in Taos I headed back east early --don't do rain & snow!) Anyhow, I just wanted to say -- if you photograph in Carlsbad Caverns try using Konica's SRG 3200 film. Put your camera on a tripod, set it on time exposure, hand hold your flash and flash it two to four times for each exposure (unless you have a real high powered flash). I got some nice non-lurid shots this way since I wasn't relying on the park service lighting. It was a bit of a pain trying to figure out what the real color should be when I scanned the negs -- nothing but a lot of delicate beige and gypsum whites -- should have inculded an 18 percent gray card in a few shots. Anyhow, since there is no natural sunlight down there I guess the "natural color" is whatever you want!

Dan Culbertson , November 29, 1997; 01:15 P.M.

P.S. Forgot to add above -- Film IS hard to buy in New Mexico, especially 120/200 film. I bought out a the entire stock of three camera stores in Taos and Santa Fe -- and it was nearly outdated.

Also, White Sands is a BEAR to expose right. I tried using both incident and reflective readings -- the sun on sand really blows out the highlights sometimes -- it reflects off that white sand like a mirror though you don't really notice it . You might want to use one to one and a half stops over the refective reading -- my incident light reading was about three stops over the reflective and I had real problems scanning the areas with reflected sun. Finally, DON'T CHANGE LENSES in the dunes -- I have enough gypsum dust in my camera to require a mineral export permit!

EM Klouda , February 11, 1998; 06:07 P.M.

Enjoyed the site and the photographic tips. One place in Santa Fe that was not mentioned that is a gold mind for the photographer is Canyon Road. This narrow, winding, uphill, street is lined on either side with art galleries of the unusual variety. Walking it with camera in hand is pure pleasure. There are many walled gardens, a huge chestnut tree, Geronimo's restaurant for the gourmet and thousands of nooks and crannies to capture on film. Go. You won't be sorry. Take water to drink, as there is no place to get any, and the restaurant has odd hours.

Vincent Garcia , March 05, 1998; 08:04 P.M.

You left out quite a bit of Albuquerque. Old town for one compares to Santa Fe and Taos. Also has the longest Tramway in North America with a breathtaking view from 2 miles above sea level. Visit in October and you have the largest gathering of hot air ballons in the world.

A BRENNER , April 19, 1998; 02:19 A.M.


Donna Block , July 09, 1998; 08:19 P.M.

So glad to see the Bisti Wilderness on here.A little known place of ethereal beauty. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is another wonder, and the Ruidoso area has some very lovely scenery as well. Thank you for the nostalgic tour.

Matthew McCleary , March 08, 1999; 01:23 P.M.

I love your New Mexico photo exhibit. Although, obviously, there is much more to New Mexico than you've managed to capture here, you did us justice. I'm 19 and going to school in Socorro at New Mexico Tech, and I grew up in Los Alamos (my parents still live there). Your photos make me very homesick! I love your commentary about Los Alamos--it's very accurate. I know, since I've worked at the Laboratory for two years now.

I hope you'll come back sometime. Maybe I could meet you! =)

raymundo gomez , March 10, 1999; 05:17 P.M.

I came to this site looking for a map of New mexico, but I was captivated by the beutifull pictures I saw. Being from the El Paso TX/ Juarez, Mexico border, I can relate to a lot of things I read on your site, and I appreciate you mentioning our border twin cities ( everybody should come and visit some time) but I think you missed a couple of beutifull towns or areas in New Mexico: Ruidoso is the most southern ski resort in the country, Mesilla (just south of Las Cruces) has a beutifull plaza and church, the Gila National Park as everything from hiking trails to indian ruins and finally I'm sure theres a town where Billy the Kid was once a prisioner but I can't remember the name.

Anyway, I loved the pictures. congratulations.

Raymundo Gsmez

Jim Parker , May 11, 1999; 05:58 P.M.

As a child I spent many a vacation in New Mexico and was always enchanted with its beauty. I would like to recommend several sites I have visited over the years. The Gila Cliff Dwellings Nat.Mon. in southwestern N.M. north of Silver City is a very interesting spot. While in the area take a trip up into the mountains to visit the ghost town of Mogollon. The vistas from Cloudcroft looking down upon White Sands has some interesting qualities. Drive up the Pecos River canyon and hike into the Pecos Wilderness for a day or so. In reference to Raymundo Gomez reference to Billy the Kid: Lincoln,N.M. is where the Lincoln County range war took place and in Lincoln is where Billy was incarcerated and on trial when he escaped. The courthouse is a museum of the area and Billy the Kid. He is buried on the outskirts of the city of Fort Sumner. They recently recovered his headstone that had been absconded with years ago. In northcentral N.M. in the town of Chama you can take a ride into the mountains of southern Colorado on a narrow guage R.R.(The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic R.R.) In the Northeastern part of N.M. you can drive up a perfect volcanic cinder cone at Capulin Volcano Nat. Mon., nearby is Folsom N.M. home of ancient Folsom Man.

If I had a choice I would rather live in New Mexico than any other state. Now if I can just convince my wife to get transferred from Florida to N.M. or at least back to Texas which is a heck of a lot closer!!!

I enjoyed you photographs and hope you don't mind my reminiscing(sp)!

Jim Parker Oviedo (Orlando,Fl.)

matthew chavez , June 22, 1999; 06:36 P.M.


Mike Bradley , July 19, 1999; 03:01 P.M.

If you normally drive a car and stay in motels, rent a small motor home in Albequerque instead. It costs about the same as motel travel, but you won't be moving in and out of a different motel every morning and night. We stay in campgrounds and never hear the sound of a car or TV at night. We generaly make our own breakfast and lunch and have dinner out (no greasy spoon breakfasts). You'll have more freedom to go where you please and stay as long as you like, and be comfortable doing it.

mary ellen clay , July 31, 1999; 11:43 A.M.

I just want to thank the author for such beautiful pictures. Though I have not lived in New Mexico for many years, everytime I hear or read about it my heart misses a beat and I get a terrible hunger to go back and see all the wonders of my state. I hope I'll be able to return someday and take my kids and show them all of the beauty of this land of enchantment. M.E. Clay

kathy klenk , August 05, 1999; 09:54 P.M.

I have been to New Mexico twice: once 7 years ago and once 5 years ago. The first time I "did" Albuquerque and Santa Fe (including the steam railroad mentioned in a comment above). That was in October. I experienced a variety of different fall seasons on that trip: the fall of the high meadow country in Colorado/New Mexico (the railroad), the aspen fall of the Sante Fe ski areas, and the "real" fall of New England when I returned home. I didn't get the full effect of the Albuquerque balloons (sic) fiesta because on my two days there, the winds were too high to launch!

My second trip was in June and July 1994. I spent 18 days driving around southwestern New Mexico. I too say the Very Large Array and was in awe. I visited several small towns (OFF the interstate!). The largest was 5,000, I believe. Truth or Consequences, Socorro, Deming, Magdalena, and Silver City all have their charm. People adopted me all along the route. I saw a cattle drive down Main street in Magdalena for Old Timers' Day (the first weekend after July 4th each year) that I just stumbled on while driving to VLA. Also junior rodeos in Silver City as adoptee of local families whose daughters were competing in the rodeo.

I am going out again (alas for only 4 days) in about 2 weeks. I hope to move out there some day. I am serious about that!

I am a serious amateur photographer but only 35mm. I agree with comments above: get the largest format camera you can. 35 mm doesn't do it justice! The scope of scenery and expanses out there are monumental.

Thanks for this opportunity to share!

mark blakemore , September 02, 1999; 05:22 P.M.

I live in NM but just barely.... Chama is only 7 miles from the CO border. If you want scenery head north, way north. Albuquerque is just another city.

Laura Flores , September 15, 1999; 05:43 P.M.

I though your pictures were wonderful and very helpful for my project at school. My state is New Mexico after, seeing these photos I would love to visit your state. Thanks again!!!!!!

James Baker , September 16, 1999; 02:51 P.M.

I have toured a great bit of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and West Texas, and would like to emphasize that southern New Mexico is the heart of the Land of Enchantment! While the northern part of the state is so very beautiful with its mountains and adobe cities, the southern part of the state offers many a photographic site. This is my short list of places in southern New Mexico to visit I do not see on this site.

1. Sitting Bull Falls
2. The route to the northern side of Guadelupe Mountains National Park
3. Bottomless Lakes
4. Valley of the Fires
5. Cloudcroft
6. Living Desert State Park
7. City of Rocks
8. Anywhere in the Chihuahuan Desert or the Lincoln National Forest

Skip Converse , September 30, 1999; 03:43 P.M.

A must see/attend is the Santa Fe Photography Workshop. You will NOT be disappointed. One instructor is particular really pushes/pulls the best out of the students: Wendy Walsh.

Regards, Skip Converse

Klaus-Dieter Finke , October 21, 1999; 02:28 A.M.

It is really strange. I had the opportunity to spent two days in NM in 1993. That was out of nearly 4 weeks I spent at that time visiting 14 states in total. NM rang a bell somewhere inside and I cannot explain why. I told my wife (we met and married years later) whenever we go back to the US we go to NM, whenever we look for a place to stay when we get old it must be NM. I am sure I will be back again soon. Klaus-D. Finke (Niederkruechten-Elmpt, Germany)

Ruth Garnett , November 02, 1999; 06:40 P.M.

I am a native of the Southwest and an Art Teacher. The photos of New Mexico are outstanding but the southeastern part of the state has been omitted. The Pecos Valley, centralized in Roswell (known for the UFO's) has a lot to offer artists or lovers of nature. Robert H. Goddard considered it home, there is an Artists in Residence Program with professional artist from around the nation, and the valley is based on agriculture with many, many beautiful views of the mountains and open plains. We have some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the world; and the air is clear enough to enjoy them. West of Roswell is the Hondo Valley, Lincoln (Billy the Kid country),Capitan (home of Smokey Bear), Ruidoso and the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation. In Ruidoso is horseracing in the summer, snow skiing in the winter, and during the in-between seasons of spring and fall there are theatre presentations, festivals, conferences and conventions on a variety of subjects. At Mescalero there is the Inn of the Mountain Gods which has an outstanding golf course, great gourmet dining, and gambling casinos. The reservation is also the owner of Ski Apache on Sierra Blanca. The climate is usually enjoyable and the people are hospitable and friendly (we do have a few ole soreheads). It would be nice to see some photographs of areas I have mentioned in you exhibit. Try visiting the area, you won't regret it. May God bless you, Ruth Garnett

andrew dimler , November 03, 1999; 10:31 P.M.

I live in Colorado but travel to New Mexico as often as I can. The photographs on this site are great. As a photographer myself I sometimes feel as though I could spend a lifetime taking pictures in the land of enchantment. Each area of the state I've been to offers wonderful photographic opportunities. I especially love to photograph the many beautiful ruins throughout the state from spanish missions to the ancient dwellings and cerimonial places of the earlier people. It is a land full of treasures.

Tim Ramirez , December 22, 1999; 11:40 A.M.

Buddy, buddy, with regard to Albuquerque - how can anyone leave out a Lobo Men's Basketball game, the Hot-Air Balloon Fiesta and riding the Tram to Sandia Peak? Not to mention the views from up there!

Love your site! But give ABQ. some credit.

Manhattan/Madrid resident originally from NM.

Denise Schuh , December 22, 1999; 03:45 P.M.

I just want to add that after reading the comments of others on this website, they all seem to resonate the same sentiment about New Mexico: it truly is a magical place. Once it is with you, it stays. You have captured some of that magic (or enchantment) in your photos and viewing them gave me that longing feeling to go back. Thanks.

Kathy klenk , March 19, 2000; 08:19 P.M.

I commented above about a year ago. Glad to see the many new comments. I did get back to New Mexico for 5 days in August (the only time I had between the end of my cancer treatments and going back to law school after medical leave!). I stayed at a bed and breakfast called CINNAMON MORNING, on Rio Grande Blvd., in Albuquerque. I highly recommend it. They have a web page that is worth a visit also. I agree with a comment above that Albuquerque should not be slighted. I ALWAYS go to the Tramway;just the ride out to the base of it along Tramway Blvd reminds one of how truly BIG Albuquerque is in land area! I got to the Petroglyph park just west of Alb. Be careful of glare when taking pictures out there; those rocks can be deadly, even WITH a polarizer in place. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, my trusty Fujica SLR had developed light leaks from old seals. When I developed my 8 rolls of file, it was heartbreaking to find lovely orange-yellow streaks through about 2/3s of the pictures. CHECK YOUR CAMERAS, friends, before you go. Thanks for providing this website on which we New Mexicophiles can comment.

Dennis Carmody , April 24, 2000; 03:26 A.M.

Definately more on Albuquerque needed. I live in Albuquerque and was looking for good pictures to show my friends (I am in Boston for the time being) and there weren't any good ones of Albuquerque. I can't find any online anywhere that don't have stupid balloons in them!

Richard Baznik , June 13, 2000; 06:20 P.M.

This guide was quite helpful in planning a two-week shooting trip to NM (came back a week ago). I want to mention an excellent processing outlet in ABQ -- Carl's Darkroom, on Quincy off Menear, near San Mateo. Excellent E-6 and C-41 work at very reasonable prices, and fast service.

Thanks for the information.

sandy johnson , July 16, 2000; 06:19 P.M.

Just a word to those visiting the VLA - which is sort of near Socorro - it's actually much closer to Datil and just wanted to let you know there is a FREE and very nice campground in Datil which is about 15 miles west of the VLA. I moved to New Mexico in 1995 just because of the "feeling of enchantment" and now live in Datil. Quite a nice change from the "land behind the zion curtain" UTAH from where i came. ha ha - Datil is also home of the "other" UFO crash - they didn't just go to Roswell! Also around Datil are some nice rock climbing formations - which make for some interesting photos. Lots of wildlife and great views and of course we never run out of cows and cowboys.

Chris Aide , August 14, 2000; 05:05 P.M.

I spent summers in Deming from the time I was 11 until 17. I enjoyed your pictures, but there is one place that was not mentioned. The City of Rocks State Park is an amazing place. I have been there many times and each time I go back there I am fascinated by it.I have not been to Deming since October of 1998, but hopefully will be going back this fall.

Samantha Sullivan , October 19, 2000; 12:14 P.M.

I live in Anton Chico, N.M and this is a very nice place. It is a very small town. It is in beteen Las Vegas,N.M and Santa Rosa, N.M. I noticed that you did'nt mention anything about Santa Rosa either. It is the city of natural lakes. Blue hole, perch lake, and many other nice lakes. I think that Anton Chico is a very pretty place.

Sara Allison , November 01, 2000; 10:49 P.M.

I have lived in New Mexico all my life and I am glad. I was born in eastern New Mexico in a town called Portales which was about an hour away from the Texas/New Mexico line and lived there until about a couple of months ago. I now live in western New Mexico in a town called Lordsburg which is about 20 minutes away from the Arizona/New Mexico border. East and west are exact opposits let me tell you. In Portales the land is flat. Here there are hills on the ranch I live on and mountains surrounding the town. I am glad of this though, because I want to become a landscape photographer and I think New Mexico is the perfect place to start my career. I have been all over New Mexico and I think it is beautifull. I think anyone wanting to move to the great state of New Mexico should.

Gail Morris , November 05, 2000; 10:35 P.M.

I lived in Silver City NM for three years and it was just beautiful, you never get tired of looking at the Mountains every day, Silver City is 6ooo ft and Mountains all around it...and a must is the Cliff Dwellings and the Cat Walk....and many many more things to see there, and if you didn't know, Silver City is the town where Billy the kid grew up.....This town is a must for anyone heading that way....I hope to visit there again just to sit back and look again....It's breath taking.....Gail Morris

juan vargas , April 07, 2001; 10:54 P.M.

when i finished school, my one goal in life was to head west and experience life. i decided to pack my car and head to tucson arizona. on my way to tucson, i stopped and visited santa fe, new mexico. it took me just one day for the city to captivate me. i decided to stay. every morning when i awake and look at the mountains and beautiful skies, i say to myself, i love santa fe. i cant imagine what it would be like to not live here. All my life i have been searching for that certain place in life where i will be comfortable living the rest of my life, santa fe, is the place. I love you Santa Fe!

Martha Brislen , April 17, 2001; 09:31 P.M.

According to Oliver la Farge, there are two ways to become a New Mexican: by birth or by passionate adoption. Being a New Mexican by birth, it is nice to see so many who have adopted my state as their own. I stumbled on this site my freshman year of college and have been back many times in the three years since. I go to school in the midwest and looking out across the flat plains and cornfields I ache to see my home. I agree that Albuquerque needs to be given more of a chance. They're odd, but the Bart Prince houses add a lot of unique character. Rancho de Corrales is an excellent restaurant in an old adobe mansion west of the city in Corrales, and just the drive down near the river is beautiful. The La Luz trailhead is off of Tramway road. A nearly 8mi hike climbs about 3500 feet up to the crest (you can take the tram back down) through shaded areas and sunny rock slides. It's a haul but well worth it. If you haven't been, go take a look.

Ken Bilbo , June 07, 2001; 10:09 P.M.

I really enjoyed Photographer's guide to New Mexico. I have been traveling New Mexico for the past 15 years. I feel it is my second home. I am thinking of retiring there and try to finish driving the few roads I have yet to travel. Some enjoy the freeways . I like to travel the roads less traveled. My favorite spot in New Mexico is the quiet little village of Chama. Ken Bilbo

therysa kamdar , August 26, 2001; 01:53 P.M.

As a native of NM, and having traveled extesively in the last 15 years, I have to add that very few people know about the burning of 'OLD MAN GLOOM'also known to locals as Zozobra (a 60 ft. tall paper mache doll)which kicks off the fiestas in Santa Fe the Thursday after Labor day. This is an experience which NO ONE should miss. It is bigger than the 4th of July. Marcy park (off of the plaza) is open for seating @ 3 pm -bring a blanket, drinks, and munchies- the trial begins@ dusk (8-9 pm)with bands and entertainment all day. If you would be interested in more info. there is a site at www.santafefiesta.com.

Claire d , January 17, 2002; 09:20 P.M.

I have lived in carlsbad for all of my life, and am now goinh to college in Las cruces. I have to drive that dull 3 hour drive between carlsbad and el paso monthly if not more often than that. I don't find any bit of that interesting along the road. even the pictures taken and put up here. Its just so.....beige. everywhere.

But i do advise you go to mckitrick(sp?) canyon in the fall. the colors are beautiful, and the temperature isn't going to boil you.

I also notice you skipped the first area i would have gone to. The cloudcroft and Ruidoso area is really pretty, and shouldn't be ignored.

David Burch , January 27, 2002; 06:40 A.M.

Gila Cliff Dwellings near Silver City, New Mexico in the southern part of the state.

James Baker commented that his favorite eight places were in Southern New Mexico and not covered by this article. There are over 1,000 articles on Southern New Mexico--including Jame's favorite eight places--at SouthernNewMexico.com.

Charles Mackay , May 20, 2002; 10:36 P.M.

These are stunning photos and certainly the overall advice on traveling NM is excellent. However, the idea that Taos Ski Valley is unskiable by normal people is erroneous. The back of the mountain contains lots of friendly intermediate terrain. Philip is certainly right in warning off beginners, but I know many Joe / Jane Schmoe Average Skiers who ski Taos all the time. (Obviously, many of the famous expert runs off the front, like Stauffenberg, are among the most difficult in the country.)

Brooke Berger , July 24, 2002; 12:49 P.M.

I am a native New Mexican and so I have a few suggestions. The local cultures are varied and beautiful.The hispanic culture has many beauties, and Feast days are a great time to visit reservations but not all alow photography. New Mexico storms are amazing, and its wildlife diverse and excellent subjects for photography.The whole state is extreamly photogenic if you know where to look. I would recomend checking out Tent Rocks national monument as well. To get good information on beautiful places in New mexico go to the BLM, or the Forest Service web sites. Conserving public lands and beautiful places is their job and they are a wealth of information.

Ron Payton , August 14, 2002; 05:37 P.M.

Almost everyone ignores the unique beauty of the southeast corner of New Mexico. It is desolate of people and all remains of ancient life have disappeared, but the play of light and color across the caprock, sands and desert are a truly enchanting view.

Christian Deichert , January 08, 2003; 12:49 P.M.

. . . . . .

Sunset at the Very Large Array near Socorro

I definitely second Phillip: the Very Large Array (VLA) is definitely worth stopping by if you're in the neighborhood. When fully extended, the dishes stretch 22 miles across, but they photograph much better in their closest formation. The dishes sit in a gigantic basin off US 60 between Datil and Socorro, and it's a fascinating exercise in scale just to drive towards it. Info for tourists is available here. FYI, there's free camping in Pie Town and the Cibola National Forest west of the VLA. Also, the drive along US 60 from Pie Town to the VLA is a must-see; the Cibola National Forest is absolutely stunning.

[Originally posted in July, 2000; edited to update link to photos.]

Chris Dove , February 11, 2003; 08:33 A.M.

While reading the review of the Nikkor 24/2.8 AF-D, I noticed the nudes taken from the trail overlooking Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon. Incidentally, a friend of mine also took some nudes in that very same spot. When we arrived back at the trailhead, two park rangers in a pickup came screeching to a halt next to our car and jumped out, ordering us to stop our vehicle (we had just noticed them as we were pulling out of the parking lot). Apparently they had been watching through binoculars and were certain that one of us had "picked something up." They proceeded to question us for about 5 minutes and then gave up and returned to their truck. However, as we were driving away an exchange of smiling and winking confirmed what had really been going on. Obviously, they had also partaken in the photo session from a safe distance with their high-power binoculars. I'm just happy that nobody got in trouble, although I still find it a bit unsettling that they found it fit to hassle us about stealing artifacts just for a laugh (and maybe a closer look at the subject in the photos). Moral: beware of who may be watching in Chaco Canyon!

Georg Himmeroeder , July 05, 2003; 03:05 P.M.

Nice page. Moving from Germany to New Mexico in 1999 my family and I live here now for almost 4 years and we regret not one day. I work here for a German company and that gives us a lot time to travel around. We live in Alamogordo and although its not the ideal starting point to travel around in New Mexico there are quite a lot of interesting things to see even in that area. I placed a lot of my photos on my website for our relatives in Germany but feel free to visit an look around. You might find some intersting shots. ( http://homepage.mac.com/ghim/ ) Coments about the photos or questions (english or german) about traveling in New Mexico are welcome.

Georg Himmeröder Alamogordo, NM

Ken Davis , September 18, 2003; 11:27 P.M.

You are to be commended for your presentation of my home state. I was born in Los Alamos and grew up in Santa Fe, Espanola, Clovis, and other areas. I started photography when I was 14 years old and still do today, some 27 years later. What this state does to you is affect you on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. There is no other place with such a mix of culture and scenery in the United States. Well Done!

Having lived there for so many years (I'm in San Diego now, another beautiful place) I had many opportunities to travel around the state and still did not get to see all of it. It is that big. I would like to offer some suggestions to others that would like to experiece the enchantment that is New Mexico. I will at some time get the volumes of slides that I have uploaded for others to see, but for now let me just offer some other suggestions.

Taos, Chaco Canyon, Bandelier, Mesa Verde, etc. are all great sites. But don't forget the backroads and the small country roads that are the heart of the state. For instance, get off the highway from Santa Fe to Taos on the highway to Los Alamos, which is state road 502. Ten miles along look to the right and you'll see Black Mesa. Fabulous. Continue up to the Y where 502 takes you to Los Alamos and State Road 4 takes you to White Rock. Go to White Rock and find Overlook Park which overlooks a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. Beautiful.

In the southern part of the state is the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. Go there in the winter (November through February) and get there before sunrise. You will be treated to one of natures most magnificent symphonies as thousands of geese and cranes ascend into the sky lit by an awe-inspiring New Mexico sunrise. Emotionally unequalled!

Get to know the people, especially the Native Americans. The faces reflect the spirit of these people - warm and hospitable.

Downtown Santa Fe years ago was charming and representative the state. Now, it's overrun by trendy stores and Rodeo-drive types. Try Albuquerque Old Town for a more authentic taste of the good old days. Not far from there is the Rio Grande Zoo which is exceptional. Also nearby is Albuquerque's Botanical Garden which has merit of it's own. Take your macro lens and go to the Butterfly exhibit.

Finally (for now) don't forget to take a trip on Route 66. You'll see the charm of a bygone time with roadside diners, the Space Age Lodge, and country so vast and skies so wide you'll feel awe and insignficance all at once. Take a wide angle....you'll need it.

The aspens up north.

The wide open deserts with their thundestorms in summer.

Hot air balloons.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Bottom line, get off the main road and take your gear. The spirit of this enchanted land awaits!

Well done, Phillip. Thanks for such a great presentation!!!

Whitney Purvis , October 25, 2003; 12:00 A.M.

When I was younger I lived in Santa Fe, before anything had started to happen, when Taos and Santa Fe looked and felt the same. The Southwest is an incurable disease, and these photographs capture it, particularly the photo of the low road from Taos. I'm a writing student in college now, yet I still can't quite put into words how much I miss it and how much I want to go back forever. Edward Abbey comes awfully close to how I see it:

"Brightest New Mexico. In that vivid light each rock and tree and cloud and mountain existed with a kind of force and clarity that seemed not natural but supernatural. Yet it also felt as familiar as home, the country of dreams, the land I had known from the beginning." - from 'Fire on the Mountain'

Only those who have lived there and seen it and smelled the pinon can really know what I mean. And I suppose for us, it takes no more explanation.

Barry Calero , November 14, 2005; 11:02 P.M.

And thinking that I was the only person to discover New Mexico.......I lived in Clovis for about two years and traveled back/forth to Albuquerque and Santa Fe many years ago.....I came back about four months ago and I still had that feeling of peace that seems to be in the landscapes.....And guess what????? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and I know it all?????? I shall return to you New Mexico......BARRY CALERO / PS...Do you know what little town BILLLY THE KID is buried in??????

Donald Peterson , December 09, 2005; 08:20 A.M.

Beautiful New Mexico!

As a transplanted New Yorker who is now a New Mexico resident, I never cease to be amazed by the natural diversity of New Mexico. Less than an hour away from the relatively arid city of Albuquerque, you will find the lush green Jemez mountains with verdant valleys, majestic red rock formations, natural springs and abundant wildlife (this is an under-appreciated attraction known well only by the locals). Or, simply drive to the east side of the Sandia and Manzano mountains that border Albuquerque for green farmland and rich forests.

Donald Peterson , December 12, 2005; 12:14 P.M.

I have added aphoto gallery for Cuba, New Mexico (about 60 miles northwest of Albuquerque to my website. This is a rugged little mountain town near the Continental Divide that has numerous great photo opps of abandoned farm and ranch buildings along with diverse topography.

Donald Peterson , December 14, 2005; 10:04 A.M.

This state is a photographers dream!

Emerson Kent , May 10, 2006; 09:28 P.M.

Phil, sorry to hear you had to zoom through White Sands. I am a passionate White Sands fan. I invite everybody to visit the Sands!

Donald Peterson , June 16, 2006; 09:36 A.M.

Here is a shot of one of the most beautiful areas of New Mexico, the Jemez Mountains. It has red rock formations, hot springs, great fishing camping and hiking and historic relics. Plus it is less than an hour from Albuquerque.

Allen Maestas , September 15, 2006; 05:49 P.M.

Web Site

This is a very good thread with some very valuable information.

Jim Epler , April 16, 2007; 05:16 P.M.

I enjoyed your beautiful pictures and commentary on New Mexico. There is little area near Thoreau along Historic Route 66 which includes ruins of the Casamero Pueblo of the Chacoan Anasazi people. It is a worthwhile mention and a very peaceful destination due to its relative obscurity.

Ancient Indian ruins in New Mexico near Prewitt.

Lorenzo Vigil , June 05, 2007; 03:17 P.M.

A southwest sky/04-2007

Being from New Mexico, I appreciate the "facts" noted here, alot of good photos, but take the time to get off the beaten path, photography is something that is very sacred here, alot of spiritual "Jente", pronounced "hente" (good people) which make this great state enchanted. Photographing people will tell you a story, I personally have not posted living photography, but would be happy to share with those interested. Enjoy and as we say here "la vida es corta, pero ancha" (life is short, but wide) Lorenzo

Alan Ackoff , October 17, 2007; 12:35 P.M.

Mr. Greenspun has done an excellent job of introducing visitors to the beauty and magic of New Mexico and it's cultures.

I am a photographer and musician living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. my wedding and portrait photography and also includes personal work. You will find pictures of Spanish, cowboy, and Native American culture.

Aggie Villanueva , October 18, 2007; 12:07 P.M.

Verdure Illume

I agree with Lorenzo about getting off the beaten path. I live in northern NM and I do photo art of places you'll never see on a post card, which I believe are the most spectacular in the state. I'm not trying to sell anything, but I'm posting my website address because it seems people here just enjoy looking at pix of NM. I think I've clicked on every link on this page. It took me 2 days to get down to here. lol.

Stephanie Steadham , December 13, 2007; 09:51 A.M.

I grew up in Ruidoso and these photos really show the beautiful side of New Mexico. I live in Georgia now and I have proudly pulled up these photos to show people what my "home" looks like. Very impressive.

Donald Peterson , September 06, 2008; 08:11 P.M.

The quiet beauty of New Mexico ranges from desert landscapes to lush mountainsides! I

Vaughan Guenley , October 23, 2008; 01:04 P.M.

It truly is the “Land of Enchantment” and a photographers dream home. From the time I was a child I’ve traveled New Mexico’s scenic outback, 59 years later and I’m still not tired of seeing what is out there. I’ve come here to photo.net as a means of sharing the vision that is a daily experience for many New Mexicans. Enjoy; http://photo.net/photos/vfg

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Donald Peterson , February 22, 2009; 09:45 P.M.

Here is a photo that shows the red rock area of Jemez Mountains in the Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico. If you are ever in New Mexico, be sure to drive along the scenic Jemez Mountain Trail! More New Mexico Photos

New Mexico Photo, Jemez

Donald Peterson , February 22, 2009; 09:50 P.M.

Here is a photo that shows a lovely Adobe inspired storefront in Taos, New Mexico. New Mexico Photo, Taos

Donald Peterson , February 22, 2009; 09:54 P.M.

Here is a New Mexico photo that shows a classic pickup truck in the Jemez Mountains.

Lea Gunn , January 03, 2010; 11:03 P.M.

Beautiful website! I am hoping to move to northern New Mexico within a year or so. I'd like to beat the west Texas heat and look at a mountain, maybe hear a river running by. I know I can't afford Santa Fe or Taos or probably even Albq, but somewhere there must be the perfect little city. When I look the photos here, it makes me want to buy a decent camera.

Thanks for all the lovely photos and comments. I really enjoyed my visit here tonight.

Tina Gaughan , December 18, 2011; 03:56 A.M.

I loved your photos and text.  I've been to the southwest many times and have always enjoyed its beauty and rich history.  Thank you for the privilege of viewing your photos and allowing me to reminisce back to the time when my life was free and easy.


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