Family lore says when I returned from a parent free weekend at my grandparents I asked my parents when I could leave again. Since then I have traveled all over the world either with friends, family, or on my own. Each trip has been special and unique in its own way providing me with wonderful memories that I love to share with others. Over the years I have gravitated more and more to the desert taking the type of trips where you only need a backpack and tent. There is something unique about the American southwest that I simply cannot get enough of.
Whether you believe or not in UFOs, this museum is worth a stop. It provides enough mountains of evidence and photos that will make you reconsider your position if you are skeptic. If you are a believer this is your Disneyland :)
History buffs will appreciate this stop. While most come to see where Billy the Kid is buried, Fort Sumner was an integral piece to the story of the American West. The U.S. Army forcibly moved the Navajo and Mescalero Apache people from their traditional homelands to the land surrounding this lonely outpost. The Navajo called this journey the Long Walk. The museum here offers a place to visit and reflect on the history and the suffering of people forced away from their homes.
Whether you are a trivia buff, a history buff, or an architecture lover, the capital building is a must stop when you are in the area. The New Mexico Capital Building is the only round state capital in the US because when viewed from the air it is meant to represent the Zia sun symbol. This is the same symbol found on the state flap. On your self guided tour of the capital you will have a chance to learn how Santa Fe has been a capital city since the 1600s when the Spanish first established it as their capital in the area. Don't forget to wander the lovely gardens around the capital.
Acoma Pueblo is unofficially known as "Sky City" which makes sense when you see it in person. The site was established in the 12th century on top of a ~370 foot tall mesa. Standing at the top you will marvel at what it took to haul the logs to build the houses and wonder how sunrises look from this vantage point. NOTE: The only way to reach the top, sign up for a shuttle tour at the Cultural Center at the base of Acoma. Do not take photos without a permit and modest dress is required. No tank tops or shorts are permitted.
Chaco has an allure there that will draw you in and make you want to return often. It is far off the beaten path so there are practically no tourists to get in the way of your daydream about how this place looked back in its prime over a thousand years ago when several thousand people lived here. There are miles of trails to hike and explore. NOTE: There are no amenities within the park (or even close to it) so top off the gas tank and load up the cooler before you arrive. If you are planning on camping (highly recommended) a reservation is required.
If I had to pick one place I think everyone should see in their lifetime, it would definitely be Chaco Culture National Historic Park. You will marvel at the architecture of the ancients while you watch a spectacular sunset. It will make you redefine beauty.