In addition to being renowned for its piquant chile peppers, the state of New Mexico is also famous for being home to Billy the Kid, one of the Wild West's most legendary desperadoes. As a young man, Billy the Kid waited tables at the Star Hotel in Silver City, a rowdy mining town wherein much of the original 19th century Victorian architecture still exists.
Many tourists choose to stay in Silver City, using it as a home base for exploring the surrounding ghost towns of Shakespeare, Kingston, and Mogollon. The nearby remains of an ancient Indian culture can be explored at Gila Cliffs Dwellings Natural Monument.
The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, which opened in 1998, chronicles the history of New Mexico's agriculture and rural life over the past 3,000 years. The museum is spread out over 47 acres, and features a working farm with live animals, demonstration kitchen, restaurant, old-fashioned general store, and a produce market.
Nearby is the village of Mesilla, a lovely adobe village that was a center of Spanish Colonial influence. The well-preserved Plaza in the center of town still stands as it did on the day the Gadsden Purchase was signed in 1853. Mesilla hosts a variety of historic celebrations including a colorful Cinco de Mayo Fiesta in May.
For spelunkers, New Mexico offers numerous mountains and caverns for exploring. Rock and mineral hunters can trek through the Florida Mountains and find agate, jasper, opal, quartz crystals, and other stones at Rockhound State Park.
This quaint little mountain town is favored by outdoor enthusiasts because of its terrific hiking, biking, fishing, and golf courses, and horse lovers are drawn to Ruidoso Downs for some of the finest thoroughbred and quarter horse racing in the West.
The Mescalero Indian tribe operates a huge casino and the sprawling Inn of the Mountain Gods resort, as well as Ski Apache. The nation's southernmost major ski area is situated on the slopes of the 12,003-foot high Sierra Blanca Mountain.
The 'Roswell Incident', as it now known, has been the subject of controversy and speculation, and the ongoing publicity has resulted in Roswell becoming an international focal point for UFO-related activities. There are even two museums displaying information about the subject, and for a small fee you can visit the site where the supposed crash was found.
Just to the north, at Trinity Site on White Sands Missile Range, the first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945. Tours of the site are offered twice a year, on the first Saturday in April and October.
The Big Room is roughly the size of 14 football fields, and a mile-long guided tour takes tourists through a field of incredible limestone formations, some of which are millions of years old.
If you want to experience a trip through history, explore natural wonders found nowhere else on Earth, tour sites you've only heard about or seen in the movies, and enjoy some of the nation's finest golfing, skiing, hiking, and camping, you only need to point your car in the direction of New Mexico.