10 Things You Must Know if You're Traveling to New Mexico | I am New Mexico

10 Things You Must Know if You’re Traveling to New Mexico

—When it comes to New Mexico, not only is it unique, but it also has it’s quirks for those who are unwary. Nothing to be too worried about, just the basics.

Be Aware of the Weather

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Photo: I am New Mexico (2015)

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Photo: I am New Mexico ©  2015

While you’re in New Mexico, you’re going to know what the whether is going to be like. Although some of New Mexico is desert, more than half the state in encompassed with high peaks and snow valleys.

Bring Sunscreen and Moisturizing Lotion

Rio Grande Sunset, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo: I am New Mexico (c) 2015

Rio Grande Sunset, New Mexico. Photo: I am New Mexico © 2015

If you’re from a climate where theres any moisture, you’re going to have to bring sunscreen and lots of lotion. New Mexico has a dry climate for the most part and you should consider bringing a high SPF sunscreen and a good lotion to keep your skin moisturized, otherwise your skin may feel a little tight after a few days and the last thing you want to do is be lotion shopping while you could be enjoying the sunshine.

Extra Clothing (Layers)

Photo: John Fowler, Clouds over the Sandia Mountains

Photo: Flickr, John Fowler, Clouds over the Sandia Mountains

Not only do you have to dress appropriate for the particular elevation you may be at, you may have to bring layers, as that same elevation might give you sun, rain and snow in the matter of a few hours. Basically, the skies rule New Mexico.

An Additional Food Budget

Photo: Will Barnes │ © 2015 I am New Mexico

Photo: Will Barnes © 2015 I am New Mexico

Although you may have heard of our delicacy, the Green Chile and the Red Chile? Until you have tasted recipes from New Mexico that are hundreds of years old, you haven’t tasted it the way it was meant to be. Knowing this, it takes a lot of pride and love when it comes to making a good meal and that’s a reputation that New Mexican’s won’t fall short of. So, make sure you bring an appetite when you visit. There are numerous places throughout the state that will satisfy you taste for New Mexican food and we New Mexicans will assure you of that.

Bring a Decent Camera

Rio Las Vacas, Jemez Mountains. Photo: I am New Mexico © 2015

Rio Las Vacas, Jemez Mountains. Photo: I am New Mexico

Even if there’s no subject matter, a New Mexico backdrop is almost always breathtaking. With clear blue skies that you can see for miles and landscapes shaped millions of years ago, in the event that you forget to bring a good camera, or have to resort to using the camera on your smartphone, you will definitely regret it.


New Mexico’s stunning natural beauty is something you will never want to forget, or something you’ll want to capture a photo of, to enjoy for years to follow.

Rent a Car

Sandia Crest, Photo: Zachary Mayne

Sandia Crest, Photo: Zachary Mayne

New Mexico has a vast landscape and most of the destinations that you’ll want to see are going to be a distance from one another. In able to see a reasonable amount of what New Mexico has to offer, you’re going to need to be mobile. Nonetheless, you won’t regret taking the scenic route.

Pack a Pair of Hiking Boots

Photo: John Hammond, foothills of the Sangre de Chrito Mountains

Photo: John Hammond, foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains

If you want to experience thousands of years of culture, you’re going to need to get your boots out. Many of New Mexico’s gems are tucked away down dirt roads and rugged landscapes throughout the state.

 Get Acclimated to the Elevation

Photo: Woody Hibbard

Photo: Woody Hibbard

New Mexico, for the most part, is high-desert and you may experience a little fatigue if you’re not used to high elevations, or decide to venture to the top of one of our outstanding peaks.

Acclimatization is the process of the body adjusting to the decreased availability of oxygen at high altitudes. It is a slow process, taking place over a period of days to weeks.

High altitude is defined as:

  • High Altitude: 1500 – 3500 m (5000 – 11500 ft) 
  • Very High Altitude: 3500 – 5500 m (11500 – 18000 ft) 
  • Extreme Altitude: above 5500 m

Practically speaking, however, we generally don’t worry much about elevations below about 2500 m (8000 ft) since altitude illness rarely occurs lower than this. 

Certain normal physiologic changes occur in every person who goes to altitude:

  • Hyperventilation (breathing faster, deeper, or both) 
  • Shortness of breath during exertion 
  • Changed breathing pattern at night 
  • Awakening frequently at night 
  • Increased urination

As one ascends through the atmosphere, barometric pressure decreases (though the air still contains 21% oxygen) and thus every breath contains fewer and fewer molecules of oxygen. One must work harder to obtain oxygen, by breathing faster and deeper. This is particularly noticeable with exertion, such as walking uphill. Being out of breath with exertion is normal, as long as the sensation of shortness of breath resolves rapidly with rest. The increase in breathing is critical. It is therefore important to avoid anything that will decrease breathing, e.g. alcohol and certain drugs. Despite the increased breathing, attaining normal blood levels of oxygen is not possible at high altitude. (Source)

Stay Hydrated

New Mexico, Las cruces, Heart of the Sands, Transverse Dunes and Yucca Plants, White Sands National Monument. (Photo by: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

New Mexico, Las cruces, Heart of the Sands, Transverse Dunes and Yucca Plants, White Sands National Monument. (Photo by: Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

New Mexico is an arid place summer or winter. Be sure to hydrate yourself more than you would normally, especially if you’re partaking in a walkabout or a high-altitude hike.

Learn About New Mexico Culture, Present and Past

Taos Pueblo is a real-life adobe settlement that offers a look into the culture of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona. This interesting pueblo, which has existed for nearly 1000 years, holds the honor as the only living Native American community designated as both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. Photo courtesy of Natalia Bratslavsky/iStock

Taos Pueblo is a real-life adobe settlement that offers a look into the culture of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Arizona. This interesting pueblo, which has existed for nearly 1000 years, holds the honor as the only living Native American community designated as both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.
Photo courtesy of Natalia Bratslavsky/iStock

With thousands of years of History, New Mexico has an amazing amount of cultural interactions that have taken place nowhere else on the planet. From Native American Culture to the Colonization of Spaniards in the 16th Century. If you plan on traveling to New Mexico, take your time and find out the history of our beautiful state, you will be astounded on what you did not know.

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