New Mexicans have an independent spirit. Often, that unconventionality results in weird, wonderful, and, sometimes, just wacky attractions. From museums and roadside landmarks to art installations to historical markers, read on to discover the 12 quirkiest New Mexico attractions that you can visit.
1. International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell
With the 1947 Roswell Incident as its center, this museum explores the vast field of Ufology. Homemade exhibits chart other reported incidents around the world and pop culture’s response to these rumored events. A life-sized diorama grants visitors a photo op with a trio of aliens. While you’re on the hunt for aliens, don’t miss Roswell’s McDonald’s. The architecture mimics the stereotypical shape of a UFO and the interior features space-themed details.
2. Santa Rosa Blue Hole, Santa Rosa
Scuba diving in the desert? Yes, it’s possible at this sparkling sapphire pool. Divers come from other Southwestern states to dip into the 81-foot-deep sinkhole that holds a steady 61 degrees year-round. Swimmers are welcome, too.
3. Earthships, Taos
Architect Michael Reynolds developed this style of architecture and Earthship Biotecture has constructed a residential community of homes build in the style. Builders construct the homes out of natural and upcycled materials, such as glass bottles, aluminum cans, and earth-rammed tires. The residences also use passive solar, recycled water systems, and other features to be more sustainable. Guests can learn more about the construction process at the visitor’s center or by renting a home for the night.
4. The Lightning Field, Catron County
Designed by American sculptor Walter De Maria in 1977, this land art installation covers a square mile in the southwestern New Mexico desert. It uses 400 stainless steel poles to attract lightning. Summer monsoon season brings the most spectacular displays. Guests must stay overnight to witness the field.
5. Ethyl the Whale, Santa Fe
Meow Wolf doesn’t just build interactive, entertainment experiences. It also underwrote the relocation of Ethyl the Whale to Santa Fe. The 82-foot-long, life-sized sculpture of a blue whale is made of recycled plastic trash with the aim of bringing awareness to the impact of plastic on the environment.
6. PistachioLand, Alamogordo
McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch offers orchard tours, tastings, and a tasty gift shop. But one of the best sights is in its parking lot: the world’s largest pistachio. The roadside attraction is 30 feet tall and required 35 gallons of paint to achieve its lifelike appearance.
7. Tinkertown Museum, Sandia Park
Folk artist Ross Ward’s massive collection of dioramas, antique toys, and carnival games is enshrined in this rambling museum. Bring quarters to see the miniatures in Old West towns, circus scenes, and other creations move.
8. Cabinetlandia, Deming
Meant to be a satire of an American artist’s works mocking people buying acres of land on Mars, the New York-based magazine Cabinet purchased a plot and erected its own imagined world. The site is essentially a concrete arch with a file cabinet cemented into it. The cupboard is stocked with oddities—the list of which continues to grow as visitors add their own artifacts.
9. American International Rattlesnake Museum, Albuquerque
This conservation-minded museum in Old Town features dozens of terrariums exhibiting some of the world’s most feared creatures. The collection, as a sign on the door notes, is one of the largest live rattlesnake collections in the world—greater even than notable zoos like San Diego Zoo. Visiting earns you a certificate of bravery.
10. Classical Gas Museum, Embudo
Exhibiting the personal collection of owner Johnnie Meier, this roadside museum catches N.M. 68 drivers’ eyes with vintage gas stations out front. Inside, the museum is chock-a-block with retro road and gas station signs and other memorabilia celebrating America’s love of the open road.
11. Calabacillas Arroyo, Albuquerque
The Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority decided to jazz up its arroyo stabilization project with art. The result is a collection of concrete “fossils” that stretch across the lower portion of this arroyo, just east of Coors Boulevard. Visitors (who are welcome in fair weather when the arroyo isn’t flowing) can spot a T-Rex, saber tooth tiger, and other creatures and items from bygone eras.
12. Grave of Walter White, Albuquerque
The TV show “Breaking Bad” captured the country’s popular attention. Just after the show’s last episode aired in 2013, fans (spoiler alert!) memorialized the fictional main character with a real-life gravestone. Although the creators intended to enshrine it in a cemetery, to avoid offense, the gravestone’s final resting place is a wall in a Duke City strip mall at 6855 4th St. NW.
We hope these quirky attractions inspire your next road trip!