New Mexico is the 5th largest state in the United States, and its diverse geography and climate mean that it’s a great place to tick some items off your bucket list. Rose coloured deserts, broken mesas, and snow-capped peaks which brush against the sky mean it’s a great place for adventure. The foothills off the Rocky Mountains start here, meaning that it’s possible to ski and rock climb. Although there’s not a lot of surface water in New Mexico, it’s home to the 4th longest river, the Rio Grande, perfect for kayaking and rafting. So, let’s look at the top 7 activities to strike off your bucket list in the Land of Enchantment.
- Become one with nature by horseback riding
The perfect family activity – horseback riding is easy, relaxing, and the kids will love it. There are a number of beautiful trails across the state perfect for taking horses, including Angel Fire, the heart of the Red River, the Enchanted Circle, and Carson National Forest.
Riding in Carson National Forest will give you a great opportunity to see the wildlife that calls New Mexico home, including coyotes, bobcats, and bighorn sheep.
Not only will you have the opportunity to enjoy the landscapes and nature of the state, but you’ll also be able to follow in the footsteps of the famous Wild West gold-panners from days gone by. Follow the Elliot Barker trail, and who knows? You may even find some riches of your own.
- Get the adrenaline flowing while off-roading in a 4 x 4
A lot of Mexico will seem like it’s off limits, but it doesn’t have to be, especially when you’ve got something like a Steyr Puch 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 off-roader to conquer any terrain you can throw at it!
Take a Wild West safari, where you’ll see ancient petroglyphs, Cowboy and Indian ruins, wild horses, and beautiful views of the desert from the most inaccessible locations. The thrill of bombing through the desert in such an unusual vehicle is bound to be an unforgettable experience and something that you’ll be delighted to tick off your bucket list.
- Get wet by rafting on the Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is one of the most important rivers in the Southern United States and Northern Mexico. As well as being part of the natural border between the States and Mexico, the river is extremely important for agricultural.
However, most importantly, it provides unbeatable white-water rafting! There’s a lot of wildlife and birdlife you can see from the river, but it’s best that you concentrate on the swells and white water splashing over you first. Thanks to the guide at the back of the boat, you’ll be rafting in total safety, and having a lot of fun.
There are even 24 overnight camping rafting trips, where you’ll be able to experience even more of the Rio Grande whilst enjoying a riverside camp with a delicious meal.
- Challenge yourself with rock climbing at the Rio Grande Gorge
One day you can be rafting on the Rio Grande, the next day looking down at today’s rafters from a lofty position from the sheer rock faces of the Rio Grande Gorge.
The canyon consists of many layers of volcanic basalt rock, perfect for getting out your harnesses and climbing shoes and attempting to scale the sides. Experience rock climbing in the heart of the Rio Grande and you’ll have incredible views for miles across the New Mexico desert as the rushing waters cut through the landscape below.
Routes will depend on your experience and fitness level, and you have to use footwork more than upper body strength. No worries though, on a rock-climbing trip there’ll always be an expert guide to help you make this bucket list experience memorable and fun.
- Catch your dinner with a spot of fly-fishing
There are a number of rivers, lakes, and streams that are home to excellent fly-fishing experiences throughout the state, meaning that you will be able to catch fish such as trout, yellow perch, and bike which will all make for a delicious meal, should you want to take something back to the campfire or your hostel and feel the satisfaction of eating something caught by your own hand!
The best times to try your hand at fly fishing are in June, even though water and weather conditions can never be truly accurately predicted. The best thing about fly-fishing is you don’t even need a guide – you just need a car, some equipment, and a desire to come home with a bag full of fish!
- Improve your balance with stand-up paddleboarding.
The river, streams, and especially lakes aren’t just fully stocked with fish and great for fishing – they’re also great for trying new sports. Hailing from Hawaii, and gaining popular along the United States’ coast, stand-up paddleboarding is also becoming popular on the waterways of New Mexico. It’s a great way to not only have a great laugh, but to improve your balance, fitness, and coordination.
As it’s quite new to the state, there aren’t loads of place you can do it, but New Mexico River Adventures offers a guided paddleboat session, complete with all the gear. So, if it’s a one-time bucket list thing that you won’t repeat, you haven’t wasted your money on expensive equipment!
- Tackle the white-water solo in a kayak.
Rafting too easy for you? You feel that you don’t need a guide and you can tackle the white waters by yourself? Then put your money where your mouth is and give kayaking on the Rio Grande, Rio Chama, or even a more chilled out trip on a calm lake a go!
This exhilarating way to experience New Mexico’s rivers means that you’ll be totally in control of your own craft, and inflatable kayaks are a whole lot of fun. If you want a tandem craft so you can share the experience with a friend or a loved one, that’s an option too.
We hope that this list has given you a better idea of what you can do in New Mexico to get some ticks on your bucket list! Check out more destination guides and accommodation reviews over at Trip101.