Travelers have been crossing these plains on their way to the mountains for generations, and they did so enjoying a fantastic setting – the mountains rise to the west in a magnificent wall of rock and snow.
You can follow in the footsteps of early settlers by tracing parts of the Old Spanish Trail and the Santa Fe Trail – ruts can still be seen in places like Kiowa National Grassland. Along the way you’ll venture through unspoiled small towns like Clayton, Raton, and Las Vegas.
You can drive all the way to the summit of an extinct volcano at Capulin Volcano National Monument. Just off Interstate 25, Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge is home to diverse bird and wildlife. The region is peppered with lakes perfect for a swim or a boat ride – check out Conchas Lake State Park and Clayton Lake State Park.
Visit Folsom National Historical Landmark to see where early humans lived and hunted. Spend a day at Sugarite Canyon State Park, where you can fish, swim, and hike. See dinosaur bones up close at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari.
Where ever the trail takes you, there’s a great destination awaiting you in Northeast New Mexico.
Fort Union National Monument in New Mexico
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Capulin National Monument is just one volcano in a region home to dozens, but it’s the only one you can drive to the top of. A road climbs more than 1,000 vertical feet to the summit, and visitors can hike the rim and enjoy uninterrupted views. At Fort Union National Monument, visitors can take ranger-led walks around the remains of this historic garrison and learn about how it helped shape the development of the Southwest.
You won’t be bored in Northeast New Mexico! Sugarite Canyon State Park, near Raton, has miles of hiking trails, dappled aspen forests, and cool, clear streams. On the high plains, Clayton Lake State Park has sweeping grasslands, hiking trails, and preserved dinosaur tracks. North of Tucumcari, Ute Lake State Park has great water for boating and plenty of hiking and fishing options. Conchas Lake State Park has gorgeous vistas and bays for swimming and boating.