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55 interesting facts about New Mexico

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Do you want to learn more about the US’ very own miniature Mexico state? Read on to learn some interesting facts about New Mexico!

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Interesting Facts About New Mexico

New Mexico, located in the southwestern United States, has a rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, as it sits between two entirely different countries. 

Home to the first atomic bomb test and the largest enchilada, there are many interesting facts about New Mexico. So, let’s explore more of this perfecto state!

1. The History of New Mexico’s Name

First, let’s start with some naming-related interesting facts about New Mexico. You might wonder why it’s named after a whole other country!

Well, the name “New Mexico” is because of the Spanish colonisation of the state. In the early 16th century, Spanish conquistadors began to explore the present-day region of New Mexico. 

They named the region towards the north of Rio Grande “Nuevo México” (translation: New Mexico). Furthermore, the name “Mexico” is influenced by the Mexica people of the Aztec Empire.

2. Breaking Bad Was Filmed in New Mexico

Breaking Bad used to be one of my favourite shows when it premiered in 2008. Therefore, I was delighted to know that the series was shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Some of the iconic Breaking Bad locations in New Mexico are Twisters Restaurant (shown as Los Pollos Hermanos) and Car Wash at Snow Heights Circle. You can also find the houses of Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, and Hank. However, they’re private properties.

If you are a fan of the show, you can take a self-guided tour!

3. First Atomic Bomb Was Exploded in New Mexico

Here is one of the legendary and interesting facts about New Mexico!

The first atomic bomb exploded in New Mexico as part of the Manhattan Project. It was a highly secretive research and development program during World War II. 

The code name of the bomb was “Trinity,” and it was detonated on July 16, 1945, on the plains of the Alamogordo Bombing Range. 

Additionally, it was developed and tested under the leadership of J. Robert Oppenheimer at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico.

4. New Mexico Is Known as the “The Land of Enchantment”

Let’s get into some interesting facts about New Mexico and its nicknames.

Like other states, New Mexico also has a magical nickname. Today, many people refer to it as the “Land of Enchantment”, and there’s a whole backstory for it.

In 1935, New Mexico’s Tourist Bureau called the state “The Land of Enchantment” to attract tourists. Now, guess what? In 1941, it was also written on the licence plates and became popular amongst the masses.

Before this nickname, New Mexico called itself the “Sunshine State”. However, it had to give it up since Florida officially adopted “Sunshine State” as its nickname!

5. Jeff Bezos Was Born in New Mexico

We all know who Jeff Bezos is, but here are some interesting facts about New Mexico related to him.

Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon and currently, he is also the third-richest person in the world with a net worth of 158.1 billion dollars! 

But, did you know that he was born on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico? After that, he spent the majority of his life in Houston and Miami and graduated from Princeton University in 1986.

6. Many People Have PhDs in New Mexico

This is one of the most inspiring and interesting facts about New Mexico.

The state has one of the largest concentrations of PhDs per capita in the US. To give you an idea, Los Alamos city has the highest number of PhDs than any other US city. The reason is that the state has many research laboratories.

According to the official statistics, there are more than 60,000 students enrolled in PhD programs in just the Albuquerque metro area.

7. Look at Five Different States from Capulin Volcano! 

Here are some interesting facts about New Mexico.

Located in northeastern New Mexico, Capulin Volcano is an inactive volcano with an elevation of 8,182 feet. 

The best part about the volcano is that you can see unobstructed views of five different states from its highest point. These include Colorado (North), Kansas (East), Texas (South), Oklahoma (Northeast), and New Mexico!

8. Santa Fe Is the Capital of New Mexico

Albuquerque is one of the popular cities, but here are some surprising and interesting facts about New Mexico.

Albuquerque is not the capital of New Mexico. Instead, Santa Fe has been the capital of the state since 1610.

As of 2021, Santa Fe’s population stands at 87,503, making it the fourth-largest city in New Mexico. Out of the total population, 76.3% are white whereas 1.7% are Native American or Alaskan Native tribes.

The city is spread across an area of 97 square kilometres. It has many iconic landmarks – Santa Fe Plaza (town square), Loretto Chapel, and Santa Fe Opera House.

9. New Mexico Makes Good Wine

If you are an oenophile or well, somebody who just loves wines, read these interesting facts about New Mexico.

New Mexico’s wine industry has been there since the Spanish colonisation due to the state’s favourable weather conditions. Today, regions like the Middle Rio Grande Valley, Mesilla Valley AVA, and the Mimbres Valley AVA have more than 40 wineries!

The all-time popular wines in New Mexico include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

Interesting Facts About New Mexico

10. New Mexico Has the World’s Largest Enchilada!

These interesting facts about New Mexico are a treat for foodies. 

Forget about all the other accomplishments, New Mexico holds a Guinness Record for the largest three-layered flat enchilada too.

In 2014, Roberto’s Mexican Restaurant took part in the Whole Enchilada Fiesta and made the world’s biggest enchilada. The enchilada was over 10 feet long, and used 750 pounds of tortillas, and 75 gallons of chilli sauce! It required more than 100 volunteers.

Today, you can visit the iconic Mexican restaurant at Las Cruces in New Mexico.

11. New Mexico Has the Largest Gypsum Desert in the World

If you’re feeling confused about what exactly a gypsum desert is, here’s what you should know. A gypsum desert is a unique type of desert with an extensive stretch of white sand, made up of gypsum crystals.

New Mexico is home to the largest gypsum desert in the world, known as the White Sands Desert. It covers a staggering area of 710 square kilometres! You can camp here and take some magnificent pictures of this unique wonder.

Today, the White Sands Desert is a national park and is located in Otero County and Doña Ana County of New Mexico. 

12. New Mexico Has a Diverse Landscape

I used to believe that New Mexico was probably just a desert. When I read more about its landscapes, I came to know that there’s a lot to the state!

New Mexico has major deserts like the Chihuahuan Desert and the White Sands Desert. However, you’ll also find mountain ranges, like the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Sacramento Mountains.

The state has deep canyons (Rio Grande Gorge) and beautiful forests such as the Gila National Forest and Carson National Forest. There are volcanoes too, including the Capulin Volcano.

As you can see, New Mexico’s landscape is quite diverse.

13. Wheeler Peak is the Highest Point in New Mexico

Here are geographical interesting facts about New Mexico.

New Mexico has many mountains. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the northern part of the state are well-known!

Wheeler Peak, a part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, is the highest point in New Mexico. It is situated in the northeast of Taos and reaches a height of 13,161 feet above sea level. You can get some spectacular views from its summit!

Despite its humongous height, it ranks 98th in a list of 477 major summits in the US.

14. New Mexico Is Part of the Chihuahuan Desert

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll also find the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico.

The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest in North America as it has an area of 360,000 square kilometres

The desert also extends into a huge portion of southern and central New Mexico. Apart from that, Chihuahuan covers parts of other US states like southeastern Arizona and far West Texas.

Interesting Facts About New Mexico

15. John Denver Is From New Mexico

Folk music lovers, here are some fun facts about Mexico for you!

John Denver, a renowned American musician, was born in Roswell, New Mexico, on December 31, 1943. 

Despite his birthplace in New Mexico, John spent the majority of his life in Aspen in Colorado, where the state’s landscapes influenced his songs. 

Some of his hit songs include “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High,” and “Annie’s Song”. If you listen to them, you’ll be teleported to the magnificent landscapes of the Rocky Mountains!

16. New Mexico Has an Ice Cave

You won’t think of an ice cave when it comes to New Mexico. The state is a land of surprises, as it also has an ice cave.

Found in a lava tube created by the Bandera Volcano, the Bandera Ice Cave or Zuni Ice Cave is pretty ancient, as it is over 3,400 years old. The ice cave has freezing temperatures all year long, along with thick ice covering its walls

17. Spanish Is Widely Spoken in New Mexico

These language-related interesting facts about New Mexico aren’t that surprising!

More than 20% of New Mexico can speak Spanish fluently due to Spanish colonialism and its close proximity to Mexico. This Spanish isn’t like the usual Spanish. Instead, it is a mix of Spanish, Nahuatl, regional slang, and indigenous words.

18. New Mexico Shares Borders With 5 States

New Mexico is a landlocked state, which means that it doesn’t have a coastline. Hence, you’ll see that the state is bordered by five other states. 

These include – Colorado (north), Oklahoma (east), Texas (east), Arizona (west), and Mexican states like Chihuahua and Sonora (south).

19. New Mexico Is Home to North America’s Rarest Mammal 

If you love animals, you’ll get to see North America’s rarest mammal, the black-footed ferret, in New Mexico. These ferrets are only found in the US states of Arizona, South Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico. 

Black-footed ferrets are small carnivorous animals that have one-of-a-kind black masks around their eyes and black feet. Sadly, they were considered almost extinct in the past.

Interesting Facts About New Mexico

20. Unshaven Women Can’t Appear in Public in New Mexico’s Carrizozo

There are a few unusual laws in certain places, including Carrizozo town in New Mexico. Apparently, it’s illegal for women to show up unshaven in the town!

21. The Roswell UFO Museum Is Located in New Mexico

Do you love UFOs? Then, know these mysteriously interesting facts about New Mexico.

The Roswell UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico, is based on the 1947 Roswell UFO incident. In the museum, you can see historical documents, photographs, and eyewitness accounts related to the event! 

After the incident, Roswell also hosts a UFO Festival every year between June and July.

22. New Mexico Produces ¾ of Potash in the US

New Mexico is known for producing two types of potash – sylvite (potassium chloride) and langbeinite (potassium-magnesium sulphate). These are mined from two underground mines and one solution mine.

The potash mining industry provided 750 jobs (2020) in rural New Mexico and raised $4.4 million in revenue (2019)!

23. New Mexico Has an Unemployment Rate of 3.6%

New Mexico is one of the states with the highest rate of unemployment. It ranks 12th in a list of 50 US states in the unemployment list declared by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

24. New Mexico’s 1/4th of Land is Under Forest Cover

New Mexico has five national forests. Hence, around 28% of the state’s land is under forest cover. 

Some other national forests are Carson National Forest, Lincoln National Forest, Gila National Forest, Cibola National Forest, and Santa Fe National Forest.

25. New Mexico Has a Lot of Native American Tribes

Around 1.7% of New Mexico’s population consists of Native American tribes. You’ll find 23 recognised tribes here. Out of these, 19 are Pueblos, 3 are Apache tribes, and the last one is the Navajo tribe.

26. The Official Motto of New Mexico is “Crescit eundo”

There’s a confusing meaning behind the official motto of New Mexico, “Crescit eundo”. It is a Latin phrase which translates to “It grows as it goes”. 

In the past, many people have been confused about its vagueness.

27. Albuquerque Is the Most Populated City in New Mexico

Located near the centre of New Mexico, Albuquerque is the most populated city in the state with a population of 558,523 residents (2023). 

It is also the 32nd most populated city in the entire US and the fourth-largest in the Southwestern part of the US.

Interesting Facts About New Mexico

28. You Can See Dinosaur Footprints in New Mexico

These interesting facts about New Mexico are for those who love palaeontology! 

The Clayton Lake State Park in Clayton, New Mexico, is famous for its dinosaur footprints from the Cretaceous period.

29. A Boy From New Mexico Was Once the Youngest To Fly a Hot Air Balloon

New Mexico is widely known for its hot-air balloon rides. The state has also soared high when it comes to this adventure activity.

For instance, Bobby Bradley, a nine-year-old boy from Albuquerque, became the youngest person to fly a hot air balloon alone in 2011! He landed safely and perfectly thirty minutes after the flight.

30. Microsoft was Founded in New Mexico

Techies will love these interesting facts about New Mexico.

In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in Albuquerque. However, they relocated to Redmond, Washington, in 1979 to find better programmers. 

31. Greater Roadrunner Is New Mexico’s State Bird

New Mexico is home to over 500 species of birds! Hence, if you love birds, these interesting facts about New Mexico are for you.

Some common birds in New Mexico are the Western Meadowlark, the House Finch, the American Crow, the Bald Eagle, the Dark-eyed Junco, the Mourning Dove, the Black-chinned Hummingbird, and many more.

Out of these species, the Greater Roadrunner was titled the state bird of New Mexico in 1949. This beautiful bird is popular for its unique appearance with a long tail and a bunch of feathers on its head!

Interesting Facts About New Mexico

32. Polaroid Photos Were Inspired in New Mexico

This is one of my favourite interesting facts about New Mexico since I love Polaroid photos!

Edwin Land, the inventor of the Polaroid instant camera, got the idea during a family vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1943. 

When he was there, his daughter asked him why she couldn’t see a photo right after it was taken. After all, it was an era before amazing camera phones.

Due to his daughter’s question, Edwin came up with the concept of instant photography and developed the first Polaroid camera.

33. Albuquerque Is the Ballooning Capital of the World

Do you love hot air balloons? These interesting facts about New Mexico are for you.

Albuquerque, the capital of New Mexico, is referred to as the “Ballooning Capital of the World” too.

It is because the city offers ideal weather conditions with a high altitude and a desert climate. There’s also low humidity, which helps in keeping the hot-air balloons afloat!

The city also hosts the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, one of the largest and most famous hot-air balloon events with over 500 balloons! It takes place around early October every year. The festival was started in 1972 with just 13 balloons.

34. Hundreds of Thousands of Bats Live in New Mexico

If you are terrified of bats, these interesting facts about New Mexico might scare you away!

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, located in southeastern New Mexico, is home to millions of bats. Once upon a time, the cave was home to over 7 to 8 million bats. However, in the next few years, the numbers have reduced to a mere 1 million!

One of the most popular bat species in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park is the Brazilian free-tailed bat. Apart from these, you’ll also find 16 other species of bats there, like big brown bats, Townsend’s big-eared bats, and silver-haired bats!

35. The Rio Grande Gorge in New Mexico Is a Geological Wonder

The Rio Grande Gorge located in northern New Mexico is truly a geological wonder! It extends for around 80 kilometres between northwest and southwest of Taos. Moreover, it has a depth of up to 800 feet in some points!

36. St. James Hotel in New Mexico Witnessed 26 Murders

Well, here are some tragic yet interesting facts about New Mexico.

The state is infamous for its St. James Hotel, located in the town of Cimarron. The hotel was started in 1872, and was known as “Lambert’s Inn”.

Unfortunately, the hotel fell victim to the lawless days of the Old Wild West. This led to over 26 murders that took place in the hotel’s saloon, rooms, and restaurant.

It is believed that the 18th room of the St. James Hotel is haunted by the ghost of Thomas James Wright. Other spooky things are happening in the hotel too!

37. New Mexico Has the World’s Longest Tramway

I’ve got many awe-inspiring and interesting facts about New Mexico, including this one!

A tramway is simply a transportation system where aerial tram cars move people or goods up and down an elevated region.

Now, the longest tramway in the world is the Sandia Peak Tramway, which stretches for 4.3 kilometres. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it starts at the base of the Sandia Mountains (6,559 feet) and reaches the summit at a height of 10,378 feet.

You can get breathtaking views of the surrounding regions and the thrill of being on the top of New Mexico!

38. New Mexico State University Grew Chile Pepper in Space

Here are some interesting facts about New Mexico with a bit of spice.

New Mexico State University grew chile peppers in space as part of a NASA experiment! The team of scientists and researchers from the state university developed “NuMex Española Improved”, which became a part of the Plant Habitat-04 experiment.

39. New Mexico Has One of the Oldest Monuments in the US

Located near Los Alamos in Sandoval and Los Alamos counties in New Mexico, Bandelier National Monument is one of the oldest in the world!

The Bandelier National Monument is known for its ancient archaeological sites. These are 11,000 years old, which makes the area one of the oldest human inhabitations in North America. 

If you wish to visit the monument, you can get to see breathtaking cliff dwellings, cave paintings, and even petroglyphs. Everything is spread across an area of 120 square kilometres.

40. New Mexico Has an Abandoned Coal Mining Town

Let’s talk about the mining history in these interesting facts about New Mexico.

New Mexico was once a significant place for coal mining. Hence, there are several abandoned coal mining towns. The best example is the town of Dawson, located in Colfax County. 

At the start of the 20th century, Dawson had a booming population of around 2,000 people. It also had its swimming pool, theatre, and whatnot!

However, when two massive explosions took place in 1913 and 1923, over 300 miners lost their lives. Soon enough, the town was abandoned, and today it is an actual “ghost town”. I will discuss more about it in one of the next facts!

41. Colorado Pinyon Is New Mexico’s State Tree

New Mexico is home to several native and non-native tree species. Some of the trees are the ponderosa pine, pinon pine, juniper, cottonwood, and Douglas fir.

Out of these, Colorado Pinyon was designated as the state tree of New Mexico in 1949. The New Mexico Federation of Women’s Clubs was asked to choose the state’s tree and they decided to go for the Colorado Pinyon.

Pinyon’s pine nuts have served as a food source for both the Native American tribes and wildlife in New Mexico for years!

42. New Mexico is Famous for Pueblo Pottery

Let’s talk about some craft-related interesting facts about New Mexico.

The state has a rich culture, owing to its location between the US and Mexico. The Pueblo pottery is an extensive part of it.

Crafted by Native American Pueblo tribes, like the Hopi, Zuni, San Ildefonso, and Taos, this pottery has intricate designs and vibrant colours. You’ll see many geometrical shapes drawn in the form of a lovely pattern.

43. Dawson Cemetery in New Mexico Is Said To Be Haunted

Here are some spooky and interesting facts about New Mexico!

As mentioned above, Dawson is an abandoned coal mining town in New Mexico. Its Dawson Cemetery is the scariest place in the whole of the state. 

The place is the burial ground for hundreds of miners who died in the two mining explosions that took place in Dawson. In 1913, 253 men died, whereas in 1923, 123 men died.

Many visitors who have been through the place have heard strange noises and experienced ghostly figures walking around the place.

44. Oppenheimer Was the Director of the Lab of the Atomic Bomb in New Mexico

You might know about Oppenheimer, after Christopher Nolan’s film of the same name.

J. Robert Oppenheimer was an American physicist who played an important part in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Known as the “Father of the Atomic Bomb”, he became the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico between 1943 and 1945.

He worked on the Manhattan Project and under his leadership, scientists at Los Alamos successfully designed the atomic bombs.

45. Demi Moore Is From New Mexico

If you love knowing about celebrities and their lives, here are some interesting facts about New Mexico.

Demi Moore is a famous American actress and film producer! You might’ve seen her in movies like “G.I.Jane,” “A Few Good Men,” and “Indecent Proposal.”

Moore was also born in Roswell, Chaves County in New Mexico, in 1962. However, she moved to many states later, including Washington.

46. New Mexico Has Another Las Vegas

Do you love Las Vegas? Well, these interesting facts about New Mexico talk about Vegas apart from the Nevada one!

New Mexico has another Las Vegas, located in San Miguel County. In fact, it is the original Vegas as it has been inhabited since 1835 by the early settlers. On the other hand, Las Vegas in Nevada was founded in 1905.

Las Vegas in New Mexico has many pretty Victorian-style buildings and a population of just 13,053 people (2022).

47. New Mexico Has a Unique Flag

Let’s get into some flag-related interesting facts about New Mexico.

New Mexico’s flag is one of the few flags that doesn’t have a blue background colour. Instead, it has a yellow background with a red sun symbol in the middle. 

The symbol is called the “Zia Sun Symbol” and has four groups of four rays coming out of it.

It is important to the Puebloan people, who resided in the region. It also represents four directions, seasons, and parts of the day. 

The flag was adopted in 1925 and was designed by archaeologist Harry Mera as a part of a competition sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

48. Santa Fe Is the Oldest Capital City in the US

Here is one of the historical interesting facts about New Mexico.

Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, holds the title of being the oldest capital city in the entire US! It was officially founded in 1610.

In 1610, Pedro de Peralta, the Spanish conquistador, established Santa Fe as the capital of the province of the “Kingdom of New Mexico” or Santa Fe de Nuevo México. Hence, it is also one of the earliest European-colonised cities in the US.

The surprising fact is that the region is estimated to have been inhabited since 1050!

49. Chile Is New Mexico’s State Vegetable

New Mexico is responsible for producing around 77% of chile peppers in the US. Hence, the vegetable has a huge role to play in the state’s food.

Chile pepper, mainly green chile, became the official state vegetable of New Mexico in 1965.

Green chile is grown in various parts of New Mexico, but the southern part of the state, especially the Hatch Valley region, is known for its green chiles. It is also called the “best chile place in the World”.

50. New Mexico Shares a Border With Mexico

As mentioned earlier, New Mexico is surrounded by five states, including two states from Mexico.

Hence, it shares a 290-kilometre international border with Mexico towards its southern region.

The counties of New Mexico in contact with Mexico (mainly the Chihuahua state) include Doña Ana, Hidalgo, and Luna. 

51. New Mexico has a Mexican-style cuisine

These are some interesting facts about New Mexico for foodies!

Due to the close proximity of New Mexico with Mexico, the cuisine also has a heavy Mexican influence. 

Hence, the common food items are enchiladas, tamales, tacos, and chiles rellenos. They share similar Mexican ingredients like beans, corn, chiles, and cheese.

If you want to try some delicious dishes in New Mexico, visit restaurants like the Los Cerritos Mexican Kitchen and Tomasita’s Santa Fe New Mexican Restaurant.

52. Yucca Flower Is the New Mexico State Flower

New Mexico has over 4,200 plant and flower species! There are many native species in New Mexico too, like the Sunset hyssop, Bearberry, Tickseed sunflower, and Artichoke Agave.

Now, a survey of students was conducted to choose the state’s official flower. Many were in favour of the Yucca flower. Later, even The New Mexico Federation of Women’s Clubs agreed with the choice. 

Hence, the New Mexico State Legislature officially accepted the Yucca flower as the state flower in 1928.

The flower is known for its beautiful bell-like appearance and white shades. It also has a significant part in the state’s art and craft!

Interesting Facts About New Mexico

53. New Mexico State Is Larger Than Entire Countries

Let’s talk about some area-related interesting facts about New Mexico.

Like many other US states, New Mexico is larger than several countries. It is also the fifth-largest state in the US with an area of 314,917 kilometres.

Owing to its vast size, the state is larger than many small countries, including Switzerland (41,290 square kilometres), the United Kingdom (242,495 square kilometres), and South Korea (100,210 square kilometres).

54. New Mexico Is Part of the Four Corners Monument

Here are some interesting facts about New Mexico and its monuments.

The Four Corners Monument is the only point in the US where four states meet! These include Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.

The monument’s construction began in 1866 and completed in 1912. However, it was opened to the public only around 1931. 

The best part about this place is that it has a granite marker and plaza, which lets you stand in the four states simultaneously!

55. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge Is One of the Highest in the US

This is one of the marvellous and interesting facts about New Mexico!

Gorge bridges are basically huge bridges that are built across deep canyons. Now, the US has several bridges. 

But, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in New Mexico is the fifth-highest bridge in the country. It is also the second-highest bridge on the US Highway System.

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is built about 650 feet above the Rio Grande River. It was constructed in 1965 and was named the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in 1966.

Further Reading – Interesting Facts About New Mexico

New Mexico is a mix of both the American and Spanish cultures. I hope these interesting facts about New Mexico helped you learn more about its history and present-day significance. 

You can also read more of such blog posts on my website:

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