The U.S. National Park Service manages 419 individual sites, which are classified in 19 different categories ranging from national parks (Yosemite and Yellowstone, for example) to military parks (such as Gettysburg and Vicksburg) and national historical parks (e.g., Pennsylvania’s Independence Hall and Valley Forge).
The largest category is the 84 national monuments, and New Mexico is home to 10 of them—only Arizona, with 13, has more. The following special places found throughout New Mexico represent the state’s mix of cultural and natural history (city names in parentheses):
- Aztec Ruins National Monument (Aztec) This sacred Puebloan pilgrimage site includes a 900-year-old Great House that had 400-plus rooms.
- Bandelier National Monument (Los Alamos) The rugged canyons and mesas at Bandelier date back over 11,000 years.
- Capulin Volcano National Monument (Capulin) This NPS site interprets an extinct cinder cone volcano and the surrounding landscape.
- El Malpais National Monument (Grants) Visitors can hike along trails that showcase the park’s forests, sandstone bluffs, and lava caves.
- El Morro National Monument (Ramah) More than 2,000 carvings by the Puebloans and early Spanish explorers are visible at El Morro.
- Fort Union National Monument (Watrous) This adobe-style fort served as a military outpost between 1851 and 1891.
- Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (Silver City) The Mongollon people crafted temporary shelters in the caves around the Gila River.
- Petroglyph National Monument (Albuquerque) Well-preserved petroglyphs, dating back to the 14th century, are embedded in the park’s rock formations.
- Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument (Mountainair) Three ruins sites offer a look at the lives of early tribes and missionaries.
- White Sands National Monument (Alamogordo) The world’s largest group of gypsum dunes are found at this sandy wonderland.
To learn more, go to nps.gov/nm.
Top photo: Bandelier National Monument
Photo by CC Flickr/Greg Gjerdingen: bit.ly/2kIKSvy