The 3 Best National Parks In New Mexico
20th January, 2023
The best national parks in New Mexico- As I take you through this article, you’ll understand why the state is nicknamed ‘the land of enchantment‘. These national parks are fantastic places to visit for a rural tourism holiday and have so many amazing New Mexico hikes too. Keep reading as I highlight the best accommodations to stay in when visiting the national parks in New Mexico, an essential packing list and finally the best national parks in New Mexico.
What is a national park?
What is a national park? A national park is a site of beauty, as well as being of historic and cultural significance. They usually boast stunning landscapes and have unique features that set them apart from the ordinary. A national park aims to preserve its grounds and benefit from them as well as caring for the natural environment. The ‘National park service‘ manages 423 national parks across America, in aims of conserving the ‘natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations’.
Why visit the national parks in New Mexico?
Why visit the national parks in New Mexico? The national parks in Mexico boast some of the most unique landscape, from the White sands’ natural phenomena to El Malpaise’s starry nights: you will find some of the most stunning landscapes in New Mexico.
How many national parks in New Mexico are there?
There is a total of 15 national parks in New Mexico, with an annual visitation of 1.4 million! It’s no surprise why these national parks are so popular, so keep reading to find out what makes the 3 best national parks in New Mexico so special.
The best accommodation when visiting the national parks in New Mexico
Where is the best accommodation when visiting the national parks in New Mexico? Here I will break down the best priced, best quality and most conveniently located accommodation in New Mexico. You can search for available accommodation options using the map widget below, or keep scrolling for my personal New Mexico accommodation recommendations.
Holiday Inn Express
Holiday Inn express is the closest accommodation to White sands national park. This accommodation has many wellness facilities to enjoy, including a jacuzzi, spa, swimming pool and wellness centre to relax and rewind. There is free WIFI on site, as well as a selection of restaurants situated around the site so you’re never stuck for choice on food. Click here to find out more.
Jemez Springs Cabin
Jemez Springs Cabin is a 40-minute drive from Valles Caldera national park. This stunning log retreat offers comfort, convenience and beautiful views of the mountain peaks of Cebollita Mesa. This accommodation features a fully equipped kitchen, lounging area, free Wi-Fi, flat screen TV and outdoor BBQ facilities. Jemez Springs Cabin is perfect for rewinding, situated within the woods, so it’s perfect for some peace and quiet when visiting the national parks in New Mexico. Click here to find out more.
Quality Inn & Suites Grants
Quality Inn & suites is just a 20-minute drive from El Malpais national park. This accommodation has some great facilities to make sure you have a lovely stay: which include an indoor heated pool and fitness centre, free Wi-Fi and free continental breakfast. Click here to find out more.
Days Inn is nearby to White sands national park. This accommodation is in a great location, with serval restaurants and cafes nearby, including Starbucks, Waffle and Pancake shop and Wild Buffalo wings. There are plenty of great facilities offered by Days Inn, including free WIFI, a swimming pool, a flat screen TV and an amazingly comfy bed! Click here to find out more.
Essential packing list when visiting the national parks in New Mexico
Here is the essential packing list when visiting the national parks in New Mexico. We all know what it’s like to go on holiday only to find out we forgot an essential! But with this quick and easy list, you’re sure to have all of the essentials on lock!
Suncream and moisturiser
It’s essential to bring skin protection on your trip to New Mexico, with hot temperatures and high exposure! I recommend the Garnier Ambre suncream for 24-hour protection and spf 50, ensuring your skin stays damage free.
A hydration backpack is a cool and convenient way of bringing water with you on a hike. No heavy water bottles required, just fill up the pouch, connect yourself to the straw and drink on the go! This is perfect for the hikes in New Mexico.
Any pair of comfy shoes are an essential whilst visiting the national parks in New Mexico, but I recommend a pair of comfy insole trainers suitable for long distances. Sketchers are perfect for this, with their memory foamed insoles.
Sunglasses are an essential for your trip to the national parks in New Mexico, not only will they keep your eyes protected from the sun, but they are also a stylish way to spice up any outfit. I recommend the Ougenni sunglasses with polarised UV protection and a range of cute colours to choose from.
El Malpais national park in New Mexico is famous for its stunning night skies to stargaze at. Come prepared with the Adasion binoculars to enhance the view and get closer to the night sky!
The best national parks in New Mexico
So, here are the best national parks in New Mexico, renowned for their incredible landscapes. Find a variety of wildlife, volcanic and geological features, beautiful night skies, hiking trails and more.
White sands national park is a natural phenomenon, covering 275 square miles of desert, it’s officially the world’s largest gypsum dune field. It’s described as being ‘Like no place else on earth’, making it one of the most naturally astonishing natural parks in New Mexico. The site was only declared a national park on the 20th of December 2019, therefore making it one of the newest American national parks.
White sands are the perfect place for exploring nature, hence the incredible hiking trails on offer:
- If you enjoy a shorter hike, the Playa hike is an easy 0.5 mile trip with outdoor exhibits to guide you through the characteristics of this trail, uncovering over 10,000 years of history.
- A longer hike to take is the 5 mile Alkali flat trail, contradicting the name this trail is not flat and has many dunes to hike up and down! This trail is spectacular as it places you in the heart of the many dunes, virtually untouched by human footprint.
You can imagine that within the vast landscape of White sands lies some incredible wildlife! Thousands of species can be found at this national park, from Great horned owls to desert box turtles, and from coyotes to porcupines. So, make sure to observe the wildlife and all of its natural beauty, as you might just spot an animal you don’t see everyday!
Valles Caldera is one of the best national parks for its scenic views, with mountain meadows scattering across the lanscape, were below streams flow peacefully through greenery.
The most popular time to visit Valles Caldera is the winter, which is not surprising considering the range of activities on offer. The park has huge amounts of land to immerse yourself in your very own winter wonderland. The conditions are perfect for skiing and snow shoeing on the open Valles and large forests iced with thick snow. Not only is this a unique experience, but it also allows you to view the scenery of the park, as you glide gracefully past the trees and mountains.
Valles Caldera is rich with different hikes to enjoy, all at a short length so you can fit it into your exploration time.
- The La Jara trail takes you on a 1.5-mile loop circling the smallest volcanic dome in the site, which formed from lava 500,000 years ago .
- The Sulpher Springs hike is a 0.3-mile hike which gives opportunity to explore the geothermal features of Valles Caldera, as the area you will reach was previously a hot springs health resort and spa.
- The Valle Grande trail is a 2-mile trail across the edge of Valle Grande, offering great opportunity for seeing the elks that roam the national park.
El Malpais is a volcanic landscape, nicknamed ‘the land of fire and ice’, due to its features including lava tubes and cinder cones. Volcanic features are prominent within the site, produced by recent eruptions from the Zuni-Bandera Volcanic field. In addition, you will also find several cinder cones (the smallest type of volcanoes) around site.
The best hike to take on site is the El Calderon area, offering views of each of the unique features that make El Malpais national park so special. Find the lava tubes, cinder cones and lava flow on the way.
El Malpais is famous for its stunning night skies, made darker by the ground surface of the black lava rock. This allows for some amazing and clear views of the stars up above and the milky way galaxy peaks into vision.
The 3 best national parks in New Mexico- further reading
Thank you very much for reading this article on the 3 best national parks in New Mexico. I hope you enjoyed this, and if you did, make sure to check out these other articles too!
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