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New Mexico’s Unexpected Oasis

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According to its state motto in Mexico is the “land of enchantment”. Anyone driving through New Mexico for the first time may look around at the barren arid desert, scrub brush, and tumbleweeds and wonder just what is so enchanting. There is a beauty in the desert that happens right about twilight when the sky turns purple and the land seems to stretch out forever. Fortunately for people who like to see their beauty in the daytime there are several oases in the southwest desert.

Sitting Bull Falls

In the repetitive vegetationless drive from El Paso, Texas to Carlsbad, New Mexico all you will see is a small sign with an arrow that says “Sitting Bull Falls”. Following that sign down a twisting dirt road, you discover — seemingly coming out of nowhere — a box canyon with a lake, waterfalls, and stunning pools of water. This natural box canyon is home to the Sitting Bull Falls caves, linked in part to the famous caves of Carlsbad Caverns. The grounds feature picnic areas and wading pools where water socks or old sneakers are advised. A grotto behind the waterfall is accessible to visitors and offers a unique through-the-water view of the desert landscape. The falls are free of charge and a wonderful getaway from the dry and dusty desert.

Cloudcroft

Cloudcroft, New Mexico is a small tourist area about 20 miles from Alamogordo, New Mexico. It is located at the summit of the Sacramento mountain range and an approximate 5,000 foot climb vertically from the flat desert of Alamogordo. Taking US Highway 54 will lead you directly to Cloudcroft, a village with a sparse population and amazing mountainous climate. Cloudcroft offers skiing in the winter, beautiful trees and waterways in the spring and summer, and apple orchards burgeoning for harvest in the fall. The village is home to isolated rental cabins were visitors can get away from the heat or simply relax in its quiet environment. The residents of Cloudcroft are friendly and helpful and the village serves as a home for a lively community of folk art.

Albuquerque

As the capital of New Mexico and a growing city Albuquerque has something to offer everyone. However on the outskirts of this city known more for its hospitals and high-profile concerts than its conservation lays the Bosque Del Apache wildlife refuge. In Spanish the name means “woods of the Apache”, and although there is no forest around there is a major wildlife sanctuary and includes thousands of birds. Many of these birds can be seen during their natural migration habits and depending on the time of the air can include Arctic geese, ducks and cranes. The refuge offers recreational areas and a map with sites for bird watching as well as an understanding on how to protect and conserve this unique outdoor environment.

The key to traveling through New Mexico isn’t so much about what you see but what you don’t. Take any small road around the corner and you may find yourself encountering a lake, a cave, or flock of Nordic fowl. Its ability to surprise even the most hardened citizens is what truly has made New Mexico the land of enchantment.

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