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New Mexico in Pictures: 14 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Carri Wilbanks
Dec 19, 2019

Wild and wonderful, New Mexico is filled with beautiful places to photograph. The Land of Enchantment, as New Mexico refers to itself, is home to huge stretches of wide-open spaces and wild landscapes, like the endless dunes at White Sands National Monument and the straight-out-of-an-old-Western backdrop at Red Rocks Park. It also boasts charming and beautiful small cities like Santa Fe and Taos that look like nowhere else in the U.S. and are filled with hundreds of years of history, culture, and art.

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1. White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument

The ethereal landscape at White Sands National Monument is beautiful anytime of day, but visiting as the sun is setting (pictured above) is truly spectacular. White Sands is like nowhere else on the planet. The national monument in southern New Mexico features a 275-square-mile area of huge wave-like glittering white sand dunes in the middle of the desert.

2. Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo

One of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the U.S., the Taos Pueblo (pictured above) has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The all adobe architecture set against a high desert meets mountain backdrop is striking.

3. Bandelier National Monument

Sunrise over the Bandelier National Monument
Sunrise over the Bandelier National Monument

Just outside Los Alamos in northern New Mexico, Bandelier National Monument is especially beautiful at sunrise (pictured above) and sunset, when the sky blazes a rainbow of colors and makes the surrounding rocky desert landscape glow. The park in canyon and mesa country also preserves the ruins of ancient Ancestral Puebloan dwellings built here some 11,000 years ago.

4. Santa Fe

Santa Fe adobe lit by farolitas
Santa Fe adobe lit by farolitas

The all adobe city of Santa Fe looks straight out of a film set with its matching architecture and narrow, winding streets branching off a big grassy main square. After dark in the festive season, you'll find the entire city twinkling with the light of farolitas (pictured above) on and around the adobe buildings.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Santa Fe: Best Areas & Hotels

5. Shiprock

Shiprock at sunset
Shiprock at sunset

This iconic volcanic rock formation rises up 1,583 feet from the high desert plain in New Mexico's Four Corners region (where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah all meet). On Navajo Nation land, Shiprock is spectacular at sunset, when it is framed against a fiery orange, pink, and purple sky. This is one sight best photographed from a distance.

6. Las Cruces

Cactus above the town of Las Cruces
Cactus above the town of Las Cruces

In southern New Mexico, the town of Las Cruces is surrounded by serene and stunning desert landscapes like the scenery pictured above. Less explored than the state's northern cities like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Las Cruces is perfect if you're looking for a remote back-to-nature style escape.

7. Red Rocks Park

Red Rocks Park
Red Rocks Park

Just outside Gallup in western New Mexico, Red Rocks Park looks a lot like an old Western film set. The red cliffs here are more than 200 million years old. The park is filled with hiking and biking trails.

8. Albuquerque during the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Hot air balloons in Albuquerque
Hot air balloons in Albuquerque

Whether you witness it from the ground or rising up with hundreds of other balloons participating in the mass ascension (pictured here), Albuquerque's annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is a beautiful sight. It's held in early October, when the sky is usually clear, blue, and sunny, and the colorful balloons juxtaposed against a mountainous backdrop makes for a gorgeous photo.

Accommodation: Best Hotels in Albuquerque

9. Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

The scenery at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is remarkable. And like so many other New Mexico destinations, it is truly one of a kind. Here, you can hike a network of trails through a landscape of bewitching cone-shaped rock formations created by volcanic eruptions some seven million years ago.

10. Fall in Abiquiu

Fall in Abiquiu
Fall in Abiquiu

In northern New Mexico, about 50 miles north of Santa Fe, Abiquiu's beauty inspired the artist Georgia O'Keeffe for almost four decades. The acclaimed artist, best known for her large-format paintings of flowers and landscapes, called Abiquiu home from 1949 until 1984. Abiquiu is particularly fetching in autumn (pictured above).

11. Pecos National Historic Park

Pecos National Historic Park
Pecos National Historic Park

Protecting the remains of a civilization created by the Ancestral Puebloan people, who called the area around Pecos National Historic Park home for more than 7,000 years, the well preserved ruins here are an impressive sight. Located southeast of Santa Fe, at one time Pecos was the largest Native American pueblo in the Southwest.

12. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The Big Room in the Carlsbad Caverns
The Big Room in the Carlsbad Caverns

In southern New Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert, Carlsbad Cavern National Park features more than 100 different caves, including the one pictured above. The namesake cavern features a huge underground "Big Room," with impressive Stalactites hanging from its roof. You can tour the caverns on an organized tour or explore the park from above-there are hiking trails and driving loops.

13. El Santuario de Chimayo

El Santuario de Chimayo
El Santuario de Chimayo

The picture-perfect mountain town of Chimayo in northern New Mexico is home to the El Santuario de Chimayo, which is a famous Roman Catholic Church. Constructed in the early 1800s, the shrine here is believed to having healing powers and attracts almost 300,000 religious pilgrims each year during Holy Week around Easter.

14. Sangre De Cristo Mountains

Fall in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains
Fall in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains

A subrange of the Rocky Mountains, the Sangre De Cristo range run between southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. In winter, they play host to New Mexico's top ski areas, but in fall (pictured above) they are wonderful hiking playgrounds that put on a fiery and beautiful color show.

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