If you follow a lonely road through the rolling hills of northern New Mexico, you’ll catch sight of the Pedernal. Stretching 9,862-feet into the blue sky, it’s the mountain that captured artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s attention, repeatedly making cameos in her paintings.
“It’s my private mountain,” O’Keeffe said. “God told me if I painted it often enough I could have it.”
Her words provide a window into the New Mexican ethos where people share a deep relationship with the earth—a connection some call sacred—that stretches back more than 1,000 years.
At Acoma, one of the nation’s oldest continuously occupied settlements, you’ll find a sun-baked Native American adobe village built 1,000 years ago. In El Sanctuario de Chimayo church, people have collected dirt believed to have healing powers for more than 200 years.
In Santa Fe, soft adobe buildings and homes climb hillsides and line streets like spectators at a parade. In Las Cruces, green chiles harvested nearby transform classic dishes into sensory experiences.
To the east, the earth turns blinding white as it sprawls across 275 square miles to form White Sands National Monument. Next to this stark beauty lies White Sands Missile Range where the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. Herein lies the magic of New Mexico—for every breathtaking turn in the road, there’s a story. It’s your turn to uncover them in this intriguing land.
Tip: Every year Texas and New Mexico go to daylight saving time, but Arizona does not. Remember this one-hour difference as you travel between the states.
Road Trip Itinerary
Start: Bordering Food and Fun in El Paso, Texas
El Paso offers outdoor adventures and a fascinating glimpse of life here hundreds of years before Texas became a state.
Stop 1: Caving In with Carlsbad, New Mexico
See a world-class cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and an artist bear near the park's gateway town. Plus recommendations for food and fun.
Stop 2: 7 Hot Spots in Las Cruces, N.M.
Once part of Mexico, the area offers an incredibly rich culture woven together with strong strands of traditional Mexican influences. Here are the top seven things to do.
Stop 3: Sante Fe or Albuquerque?
Driving through New Mexico en route to the Grand Canyon, do you spend more time in Albuquerque or Santa Fe? Take this quiz to find out.
Stop 4 & 5: Two Landmarks That Helped Americans Land on the Moon
On your road trip to the Grand Canyon, stop by a Meteor Crater near Winslow, Ariz. and the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz. (your next stop) which have played critical roles in NASA’s space program.
Stop 6: Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course
Feel like a kid again at Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course, Arizona’s only tree-top self-guided obstacle course. Five adult courses range from easy to challenging.
Stop 7: Tusayan, Arizona
Located just 7 miles south of Grand Canyon Village, Tusayan's 4 best-kept secrets are the IMAX's "Hidden Secrets," finding a parking space, a pool and park passes.
Stop 8: Grand Canyon National Park
Open 365 days a year, the South Rim offers plenty of activities, restaurants and, of course, gorgeous views.
Stop 9: Silver City, New Mexico
From the Grand Canyon, point your wheels southeast to Silver City, N.M., home to a vibrant arts scene and natural beauty. Explore these three nearby attractions, Gila Ciff Dwellings, Santa Reita Mine, and the Catwalk.