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Ancient pueblo ruins at Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico



New Mexico is home to 18 national parks and monuments, many of which are well-known across the country, thanks to their unique beauty and historic significance. Here are a few to put on your bucket list.

Bandelier National Monument

Thirty-three thousand acres of canyon and mesa near Los Alamos await visitors at Bandelier National Monument. While it is not one of the more well-recognized national monuments in the state, those who have visited have been struck by its overwhelming beauty. Beyond the stunning natural attributes of the area, visitors head there to go back in time 11,000 years. The settlements of the Ancestral Pueblo people are still standing, offering a glimpse into history.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Just between Albuquerque and Farmington stands another Ancestral Pueblo historic site. Here, you’ll find a window into life from 850 to 1250 A.D., when it was a cultural and economic center of the San Juan Basin. You can take tours that will immerse you in the history of the area, or simply observe the sites for yourself and hike around the nature trails to enjoy the beautiful scenery of this unique destination.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Most people around the country have heard of this unique national park in southern New Mexico. Once under a large sea of water, this area was formed by limestone and fossil reefs, which left more than 119 caves just underneath the surface of the earth. They have a long history of human use and occupation, stretching back to prehistoric days. It’s also a great place to explore the local landscape, which showcases beautiful native plants and many species of wildlife.

White Sands National Park

A list of New Mexico national parks would not be complete without perhaps the most well-known of them all: White Sands. This park in southern New Mexico features acres and acres of white gypsum sand as far as the eye can see. It is, as the National Park Department says, like no other place on earth. You can go sledding on the dunes, or hike through several different ecosystems, including straight through the dunes, on one of the main trails – if you’ve got the stamina for it!

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