Outbound Collective logo

5 Adventures to Fall in Love with New Mexico

Falling in love is so easy to do.

By: Sara Sheehy + Save to a List

New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, is full of surprises. It's home the oldest continually inhabited community in North America, startlingly diverse natural landscapes, and more adventure than you'd ever be able to tackle in one lifetime.

If you haven't been to New Mexico, you're going to want to get it on your list pronto. Get ready for mountains, deserts, dunes of white sand, wild rivers, and locals who love their state fiercely (yet kindly). 

Here's just a taste of the adventures in the Land of Enchantment.

Explore Ghost Ranch

Photo by Sara Sheehy

The colorful landscape of Ghost Ranch was made famous by painter Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived and worked at this quiet property for over 50 years. Now used as a retreat and education center, visitors can explore Ghost Ranch on foot and horseback. A campsite offers overnight lodgings to tenters and RVers, too.

The hike to Chimney Rock is perhaps the most iconic at Ghost Ranch, but other popular options include Kitchen Mesa, Box Canyon, and Matrimonial Mesa.

Hike the Gila

Photo by Josiah Roe

The Gila (pronounced "hee-luh") Wilderness is the oldest designated Wilderness in the world. If that alone doesn't tempt you to visit, consider this: the most accessible parts of it are at least an hour from cell service on a well-paved but winding road through the hills.

This is wild country, folks.

Full of hot springs, big rivers, and beautiful cliffs along the Gila River, you can go for a day trip or a multi-day backpack. Check out Jordan Hot Springs and Little Bear Canyon.

Camp at White Sands

Photo by Wendy Li

Hike, sled, and camp on the crystal-white dunes of White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. Remarkably pretty at sunrise and sunset (and simply otherworldly and impressive at all other times), the best way to experience the dunes is by snagging one of the backcountry campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

For a paltry $3 per person, you can have one of the coolest camping experiences of your life. Dogs are allowed, too.

Hike Bandelier National Monument

Photo by BobnPattie Watson

Bandelier National Monument is filled with several thousand ancestral Puebloan dwellings, many carved into tall tuff cliffs around Frijoles Canyon. The ancestral Puebloans climbed to their homes, but these days, you can visit a few of them via tall wooden ladders secured to the rock walls. It's not for the faint of heart, but absolutely worth the effort.

While there, be sure to do the hike to Alcove House and the nearby Tsankawi Trail

Explore Santa Fe

Photo by Gemina Garland-Lewis

Arguably New Mexico's most famous destination, Santa Fe attracts turquoise jewelry lovers, green chile aficionados, and adventurous souls. 

Staying right in Santa Fe opens the door to all sorts of outdoor pursuits, like the hike up Lake Peak and the chance to spend a night in a cozy Hyde State Park yurt in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

When you're not exploring outside, don't miss the chance to experience Meow Wolf

Cover photo by Wendi Li

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


A Slice of Heaven in Northern New Mexico

Jake Fagan

Enchantment in Santa Fe County at the Godless' Filming Locations

Josiah Roe

Exploring White Sands National Monument

Cameron Catanzano