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BY ERIN SULLIVAN
4 New Mexico national parks not to miss.
Nestled in the American Southwest lies New Mexico: A sprawling desert sprinkled with cities and a treasure-trove of history just begging to be explored. After booking your stay at WorldMark Red River, WorldMark Taos, or WorldMark Santa Fe, take a day trip to one of the state’s famous national parks or monuments, where you’ll find everything from volcanoes and lava tube caves to one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America. Whether you’re relaxing at a resort or embarking on an adventure, New Mexico’s captivating landscape is sure to leave you in awe.
1. Capulin Volcano National Monument
2 hours from WorldMark Red River, 2.5 hours from WorldMark Taos
When you think of New Mexico, volcanic fields probably aren't the first thing that come to mind — but Capulin Volcano National Monument may surprise you. Located in the Northeastern region of the state, the now-extinct cinder cone volcano is believed to have last erupted over 55,000 years ago. Drive up to the rim for some spectacular views, or for the more adventurous, take a hike down into the mouth of the crater. Because who wouldn’t want to say they've explored a real volcano?
2. Pecos National Historical Park
35 minutes from WorldMark Santa Fe
Amid the Sangre de Cristo Mountains just outside the city of Santa Fe is Pecos National Historical Park — a region inhabited by many over the years, where cultural demonstrations and practices are still held today. Breathtaking Native American ruins stand tall against a scenic backdrop, most notably, Pecos Pueblo (otherwise known as Cicuye Pueblo). The community dwelling was abandoned in 1838 before the American Civil War turned the region into an official battleground in 1862 with the Battle of Glorieta Pass. Bring some comfortable shoes and explore the rich history of Pecos Valley with each step.
3. El Malpais National Monument
2 hours from WorldMark Santa Fe
El Malpais translates to “The Badlands” in English, a fitting name for one of New Mexico’s most otherworldly regions. Journey down into the lava tubes — caves once created by the heat and force of flowing lava — to see the bubble-like ice formations and a slew of other natural wonders. Then, take a scenic hike to the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook — and don’t forget to bring your camera. El Malpais National Monument also features some extraordinary natural archways, so be sure to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time at this incredible destination.
4. Petroglyph National Monument
1 hour from WorldMark Santa Fe
There are few things on Earth as fascinating as petroglyphs — meaningful messages that have stood the test of time. At Petroglyph National Monument, you’ll find sacred, preserved symbols that Native Americans (most notably, the Pueblo tribe) and early Spanish settlers carved into volcanic rocks hundreds of years ago. Learn about the expression of Native American culture and its spiritual significance as the images transport you through time. Like other New Mexico sites, Petroglyph National Monument is also home to a chain of fascinating volcanoes, including JA Volcano, so be sure to check them out.