I could continue to wax eloquent about the beauty of New Mexico’s luminous landscapes, charming Spanish churches and proud Native American history; but pictures will undoubtedly offer much more than my feeble attempts to capture the magic of her charms. And so, as an introduction to New Mexico, I give you my Top Ten Photos.
The fifty-mile Rio Grande Gorge southeast of Taos, New Mexico, flows through the Taos Plateau volcanic field. Approximately twenty-nine million years ago, a separation in the earth’s crust occurred when the North American and Pacific plates collided. The tectonic chasm allows New Mexico’s longest river to run the entire length of New Mexico.
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, dubbed the “the bridge to nowhere” during construction in the early 1960s when funding to reach the other side did not exist, was awarded the distinction of “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the “Long Span” category by the American Institute of Steel Construction when completed in 1966. The famous structure has appeared in a handful of films, including Wild Hogs, Terminator Salvation, She’s Having a Baby, Natural Born Killers, and Twins.
New Mexico’s Puye Cliff Dwellings (poo-yay) is one of 46 National Landmarks in the state. The two-thousand-year-old ancestral home of the Santa Clara Pueblo people offers a unique perspective into Native American Culture and a stunning panoramic view of northern New Mexico from the top of the Parajito Plateau.
The Palace of Governors, originally constructed in the early 17th century as Spain’s seat of government, is one of the oldest public buildings in America. The adobe structure in Santa Fe was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and an American Treasure in 1999.
On the corner of Guadalupe and Agua Fria streets in Santa Fe, the 12-foot statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the oldest shrine in the U.S. built in honor of our Lady of Guadalupe (1777), greets visitors to the historical chapel – the Sanctuario de Guadalupe, and the newer Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument is 275 square miles of desert, one of the largest in the U.S.; although the sand isn’t really sand (as in quartz), but gypsum, a product commonly used for industrial purposes. The dunes are literally the wind made visible courtesy of about 7,000 to 10,000 years.
The Sacramento Mountains, just east of Alamogordo and the Tularosa Basin, are one of 89 mountain ranges in the state of New Mexico that lend credence to the state motto, The Land of Enchantment. Those same mountains bore witness to the Trinity test, the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, conducted by the U.S. Army on July 16, 1945, on the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range.
The official state question in 1999 was, "Red or Green?" The question refers to the two colors of chile available for garnishing just about everything eaten in New Mexico, the Chile Capital of the United States. From ice cream to the Breakfast Burrito, an invention for which New Mexico proudly claims ownership, no entrée is complete without this colorful vegetable (although it's technically a fruit).