Flickr/Michael Kesler

10 Hidden Gems of New Mexico

New Mexico is one of the most breathtaking states in the United States. Whether you're roadtripping Route 66 from Amarillo to Tucumcari, on a UFO expedition or simply exploring the wondrous landscape, there's a world of discovery in the Land of Enchantment. Here are 10 New Mexico destinations that are sure to enchant you.

10. Taos Earthships

Taos, located in the North Central region of New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, is a bevy of historic and artistic sites. Among those sites are the Taos Earthships, a collection of "off-the-grid" homes powered by solar energy. The best part? The homes are available for rent and are nestled in the mountains with a killer view.

9. Sparky's BBQ and Espresso in Hatch, New Mexico

You may be thinking, "What is a BBQ and burger joint doing on a list of New Mexico attractions?" Well, Sparky's isn't just any roadside cafe. Surrounded by whimsical roadside kitsch, the quirky diner is practically begging you to pull over and step inside. Sparky's boasts one of the best green chile cheeseburgers in a state where green chile cheeseburgers are so revered there's an actual Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail. If that's not enough spice for you, pair it with a green chile lemonade or a green chile milkshake.

8. Santa Rosa Blue Hole

The Santa Rosa Blue Hole, a large sinkhole in East Central New Mexico, is one of the most celebrated dive destinations for SCUBA diving in the country. The water is crystal clear and stays at 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

7. International UFO Museum and Research Center

In 1947, a UFO crashed at a ranch in Roswell, N.M. The U.S. government said the object was an Air Force balloon. But some Roswell residents and UFO aficionados from around the globe maintain that the object was an alien spacecraft covered up by the feds in a massive conspiracy. Roswell became holy ground for UFO believers everywhere. Today, you can channel your inner Mulder and Scully and investigate for yourself at the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

6. Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary

The Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah is a refuge for captive-bred wolves and wolfdogs. With a guide from the sanctuary, you can visit with the animals. There's also a campground across the street from the refuge that allows visitors to help the sanctuary volunteers feed the animals.

5. The Lights of Tucumcari

Tucumcari is one of the most memorable towns along historic Route 66. As larger highways were built up around it, the town of 6,000 saw a massive dip in tourism. But due to its beautifully preserved mid-20th century neon signs and roadside attractions, such as Teepee Curios, a long-running Route 66 gift shop, the town is enjoying a revival. Be sure to drive through Tucumcari at night to see the beautiful old signs and get the full experience of the Mother Road.

4. Tinkertown

Tinkertown, a folk art museum and veritable wonderland in Sandia Park, was dreamed up by Ross Ward. Ward was enamored by roadside attractions and decided to build one of his own in 1983. Blending Old West artifacts, classic American roadside imagery and a whole lot of whimsy, Ward expanded his two-room home into Tinkertown. The result is a dizzying collection of one man's lifelong dream. It's not to be missed.

3. The Ghost Town of Lincoln

This perfectly preserved Old West town allows you to time travel back to the 1870s. You can even walk through the historic Tunstall Store, an old general store with original 19th century products on original shelving. You can also visit the Old Lincoln County Courthouse that Billy the Kid escaped from in 1881.

2. Billy the Kid's Grave

Billy the Kid didn't get much rest in his life and didn't seem to get much rest in the afterlife either. A flood washed away the wooden marker that signified the outlaw's grave site in Fort Sumner. To make matters worse, the Kid's replacement headstone has been stolen three times. Fort Sumner officials built a cage around the headstone to keep out vandals.

Then there's the rumor that Billy the Kid never died in New Mexico, but actually lived to be an old man in Hico, Texas. Yeah, it's confusing. We may never know the truth about Billy the Kid's fate. But at least we can visit this piece of Old West history in the land where the legend spent many of his days rabble rousing.

1.  Plaza Blanca in Abiquiu

One look at Plaza Blanca and you'll immediately know why famed artist Georgia O'Keeffe named it as one of her greatest inspirations. The stunning landscape of eroded volcanic formations is ideal for hiking. "The White Place," as O'Keeffe called it, is a magical, off-the-beaten path destination that's more than worth the journey.

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