7 Weirdest Things to Know Before Visiting New Mexico
Now, explore 7 things you need to know before visiting New Mexico:
Order an enchilada or burrito at a New Mexico restaurant, and the waitress will inevitably ask, “How would you like your sauce?” Where’s the holiday spirit? As in, “How do you prefer your chile?” in the lingo of the area. The official state vegetable is used to make a fiery, capsaicin-rich sauce that is liberally applied to nearly all New Mexican cuisine.
The little-known secret about New Mexico chile is that the red and green varieties are the same. This is true whether you like your chile spicy green, mild red, or “Christmas,” a combination of the two. The difference lies in the pepper’s level of ripeness when it is picked.
The “sand” in these 275 square miles of shifting dunes 15 miles west of Alamogordo is actually gypsum crystals, but that’s probably splitting hairs. (The quartz crystals and coral that make up the vast majority of inland sand are silica.)
White Sands is otherworldly for other reasons as well: Between 1969 and 1977, 93 African oryx were brought in from the Kalahari Desert and released into the wild. The herds today number over 3,000, with each animal weighing up to 450 pounds and sporting horns that average 34 inches in length.
From the El Patrón Café in Las Cruces to the The Shed in Santa Fe, you won’t find a single dish that doesn’t come piled high with smoky green chile, and by the time you leave, you won’t want to eat anything else.
Thankfully, you can ship roasted, fresh, and frozen green chile to other states with the help of a service. The UPS locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, even have shipping guidelines and a webpage devoted specifically to chile shipping. Either that, or you’ve made friends with some locals who can set you up.
It’s easy to get the wrong impression of New Mexico’s size when compared to Texas; it’s not that far to get from Santa Fe to Roswell, for example. Despite what it may look like on a map, that trip will take more than three hours. If you’re visiting Santa Fe but also want to see White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns, you should spend at least a few days in the south of the state.
How long would it take you to go from a desert garden to white gypsum sand dunes to Ancient Puebloan ruins to a haven for artists to a mecca for aliens to the fifth-largest cave chamber in North America? That’s what New Mexico did, and we can’t say we blame them. Sure, it’ll be worth the trip.
Nearly everywhere opens up for the summer only to close again when school resumes. Most places aren’t like New Mexico. Even though summer is wonderful, the fall and winter seasons may be even more so.
Green chile is traditionally roasted in the oven during the fall season, and there is stunning foliage to enjoy (yes, there is foliage in the “desert”). Ski Santa Fe and Ski Apache, two of the United States’ southernmost ski resorts, offer world-class skiing and snowboarding in the winter. In addition, what could be more Christmassy than a New Mexican town, with its snowy adobes and glowing farolitos? Like something out of a postcard.
This is the Southwest, but that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be warm and sunny here. You should prepare for actual seasons in New Mexico by bringing appropriate clothing.
You should bring lots of sunscreen and lotion if you’re coming from a damp climate. You should bring a high SPF sunscreen and a good lotion to keep your skin moisturized because New Mexico has a dry climate in general; otherwise, your skin may feel a little tight after a few days, and the last thing you want to be doing is going shopping for lotion when you could be out enjoying the sunshine.
You may not be familiar with our specialty, but have you ever tried Green Chile or Red Chile? Until you try New Mexican dishes prepared according to centuries-old recipes, you won’t know what true flavor is. New Mexicans are known for their high standards in the culinary world, and they won’t let that reputation slip.
When you come, be sure to bring your appetite with you. We New Mexicans can guarantee that you will find delicious New Mexican food in a variety of locations across the state.
With one of North America’s most beautiful and varied landscapes, New Mexico is ripe for exploration and adventure.
Cities like Santa Fe and Albuquerque, as well as smaller hubs like UFO-focused Roswell and the artists’ colony of Taos, all offer visitors a wide variety of cultural experiences thanks to the state’s rich Native American and Hispanic heritages.
Located in the heart of the American Southwest, New Mexico (also known as the “Land of Enchantment”) only became a state in 1912.
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