Travel the highways and byways of New Mexico and you ride the trails of history. It was over the rolling plains of sand, around rock formations and yucca, and amid the rolling hills that Spanish conquistadors once trekked.
In their visits to the pueblos of the Zuqi and San Juan Indians, modern-day visitors retrace the steps of those explorers from the Old World who discovered this Land of Enchantment decades before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
New Mexico is also a land of contrast. While its roots go back to Indian and Spanish cultures, their remnants coexist with oil wells and other phases of 20th-century life.
The state also has an Old West flavor. Sample the towns of Cimarron, Lincoln, and Fort Sumner, and you are exposed to the haunts of gunmen, miners, and ranchers. Old Lincoln, the place to enjoy the saga of Billy the Kid, is much like it was 100 years ago. Cimarron, now a quiet little town, is haunted by the Colfax County War.
For those who appreciate the wilds, New Mexico has 16 wilderness areas and five national forests. It's a thrill to drive to the top of Mount Withington (at 10,115 feet), west of Socorro.
The wide open spaces of western New Mexico, the land of high mesas and the old pueblo of Acoma, offer another starting point. From Farmington and Aztec, you can explore the beauties of the Four Corners area.
Between Cimarron and Raton, US 64 follows the route of the famous Santa Fe Trail. Raton offers summer horse racing, as well as magnificent views from Raton Pass. Ghost towns, such as Trementina, make for interesting exploring in the vicinity of Las Vegas, where the Rough Riders Museum is a special treat.
The dunes of the White Sands National Monument, near Alamogordo, are best seen among the long shadows of late afternoon or early morning. For something different, take the beautiful forest drive across the Sacramento Mountains through Cloudcroft and the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation to Ruidoso.