Get outside and experience outdoors in NM - Albuquerque Journal

Get outside and experience outdoors in NM


New Mexico boasts three World Heritage Sites, a coveted designation from UNESCO, more than any other state.

Taos Pueblo

Likely constructed about A.D. 1325, with roots that stretch back beyond A.D. 1000, cited for “the significance of its traditional Native American living culture.”


Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Thousands of ancestral Puebloans lived in the massive buildings in Chaco from about A.D. 850 to 1250. A particularly impressive event is the summer solstice sunrise when the precisely engineered Casa Rinconada kiva reveals a pattern of light and shadow as the sun begins its climb in the sky.


Carlsbad Caverns National Park

With more than 120 limestone caves that natural forces carved about 25,000 years ago, the park is one of the best preserved and most accessible cave systems available for scientific study in the world.



Outdoor recreation is a driving force in New Mexico’s economy and the state’s 35 designated state parks are key players.

For a complete list of parks, go to and click on “state parks.”

Following is a completely unscientific list of favorite state parks if you’re planning a particular summer activity.

  • BOATING: Navajo Lake, Elephant Butte, Bluewater Lake, Caballo Lake
  • SWIMMING: Bottomless Lakes, Caballo Lake, Heron Lake, Elephant Butte
  • CAMPING: Hyde Memorial, Elephant Butte, Murphy Lake, Bluewater Lake, Heron Lake, Coyote Creek, Manzano Mountains
  • FISHING: Navajo Lake, Bluewater Lake, Cimarron Canyon, Ute Lake, Eagle Nest Lake, El Vado Lake, Fenton Lake, Heron Lake, Clayton Lake, Coyote Creek, Morphy Lake, Sugarite Canyon, Villanueva
  • HIKING: Sugarite Canyon, Cerrillos Hills, Eagle Nest, Villanueva, Oliver Lee Memorial, Hyde Memorial
  • NIGHT SKIES: City of Rocks, Clayton Lake, Leasburg Dam, Cerrillos Hills
  • BIRDING: Pancho Villa, Rockhound, City of Rocks, Leasburg Dam, Percha Dam, Caballo Lake, Elephant Butte, Mesilla Valley Bosque



For a desert state, New Mexico is liberally sprinkled with lush golf courses to lure the discerning putter.

Golf Digest ranked these as the state’s top courses for 2021-22 (public and private, accessible to public).

Paako Ridge Golf Club, Sandia Park

In the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, Paako Ridge combines three nine-hole courses to create an unending series of challenges.


The Club at Las Campanas, Santa Fe

Two championship Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses woven through the natural high desert beauty of northern New Mexico. Each of the 18-hole courses offers a golfing experience enhanced by glorious mountain vistas.


Black Mesa Golf Club, La Mesilla

Black Mesa is a links-style course set against a backdrop of stunning sandstone ridges. The 18-hole course offers a majestic desert golf experience on rolling fairways extending through mountainous valleys.


Cochiti Golf Club, Cochiti Lake

The 18-hole Robert Trent Jones Jr. public golf course is conveniently located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It is nestled in the beautiful high desert terrain of northern New Mexico with the blue waters of Cochiti Lake as a refreshing backdrop.


Twin Warriors Golf Club, Santa Ana Pueblo

Twin Warriors is unique in that it winds around 22 cultural sites of previous habitation, creating a challenging and fair test of golf. There are numerous picturesque holes.


Piñon Hills Golf Course, Farmington

With a high desert layout and lots of green grass, the course has a relaxing, parkland feel. The fairways and greens were contoured to the rolling shape of the landscape.


Rockwind Community Links, Hobbs

Designed and built as a Scottish-style links course, Rockwind features rolling hills, few trees and undulating greens and fairways.


Sandia Golf Club, Albuquerque

The 7,752-yard golf course was designed by Scott Miller and will challenge and delight golfers of all skill levels with a layout routed through the rugged high desert landscape featuring panoramic views of the Sandia Mountains and greater Albuquerque area.


Red Hawk Golf Club, Las Cruces

Red Hawk’s links-style design is player friendly at all levels. Playing directly at the Organ Mountains can be visually intimidating for first-timers.



New Mexico is chock-full of the Old West and mining history. The state is home to more than 400 ghost towns, where most are nothing more than a few structure foundations. Take a look at a few of them.


Taiban was established by three Portales businessmen in 1906 as a small ranching community near the newly laid railroad tracks. It’s in De Baca County about 14 miles east of Fort Sumner along U.S. 60. According to the book “The Place Names of New Mexico,” by Robert Julyan, Taiban is named for a nearby creek that flows southwest and joins with the Pecos River.



Located three miles south of Lordsburg, Shakespeare began as Mexican Springs 1850s as a stop on the Butterfield Overland Stage line. In 1870, prospectors discovered samples of very rich silver ore in the surrounding hills and they went hunting for financing to develop their new mines. Today, the ghost town is privately-owned and can only be toured one weekend during each month or by appointment.



Located five miles southwest of Winston off State Road 52. Chloride got its start in the late 1870s by accident. Harry Pye, who was hauling freight through the area for the U.S. Army when he found some “float” that he thought might be silver ore in a creek bed. He had the rocks assayed and found they were rich in chloride of silver. Pye kept his find a secret until his Army freighting contract expired in 1879.



Located 17 miles east of Cimarron, the Dawson coal mine opened in 1901 and a railroad was constructed from Dawson to Tucumcari. Phelps Dodge Company bought the mine in 1906 and became a thriving town. On Oct. 22, 1943, an explosion killed 263 miners and 10 years later, another explosion killed 120 men. By 1950, the mine closed down. Today, the cemetery is all that remains.

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