53 Interesting Facts About New Mexico

Last updated on June 27th, 2023

New Mexico is the 36th most populous and the 5th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It is in the Southwestern region of the United States of America. The state attained statehood on January 6, 1912, becoming the 47th state to join the union. Its five bordering states are Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. New Mexico (nicknamed: The Colorful State, The Land of Enchantment) has 33 counties. The state’s capital is Santa Fe. The postal abbreviation for New Mexico is NM. With these 53 facts about New Mexico, let us learn about its history, culture, people, economy, geography, and much more.

Home of Capulin Volcano

1. Over 60 million years ago, the Capulin volcano developed in Northeastern New Mexico. The last eruption happened around 30,000 years ago. You can view portions of five different states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Colorado) when you are at the top of this extinct volcano. The volcano was once used as a landscape marker for the Santa Fe Trail.

Atomic bomb

2. The first atomic bomb was dropped in Jornada del Muerto in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. The same design was dropped in Nagasaki Japan only a few weeks later.[1]

Among the youngest American states

3. New Mexico was not an American state until 1912. This is because the state is dominated by the Hispanic community and catholic, which kept it from being admitted as a state.

The oldest capital

4. Santa Fe holds the distinction of being the oldest state capital in the U.S. as well as New Mexico’s oldest city.[26]

New Mexico on the map
New Mexico (in red) on the map with bordering states.

It’s illegal for women to appear in public unshaven

5. Do you love walking unshaven and declaring you are a natural woman? Then don’t do this is Carrizozo, New Mexico as it is illegal. Always shave while in public.[3]

Home of the Shovel Race Championship

6. The world shovel race championship is usually held in Angel Fire, N.M. The race is held every year, and thousands of people come from around the US to be part of it.[4]

new Mexico hot air balloons
Photo © Rinus Baak

It is the hot air ballooning capital of the world

7. The city of Albuquerque sees more than 700 local hot air balloons glide over its landscape for two weeks every fall. The city’s International Balloon Fiesta draws both balloonists and gawkers from all over the world.[24]

The self-guided bullet is a product of new Mexico

8. The state is home to a lot of research facilities and laboratories. The self-guided bullet is designed in Sandia labs which is in New Mexico. Sandia researchers Red Jones and Brian Kast and their colleagues have invented the dart-like self-guided bullet.[5]

An event that happened in New Mexico inspired the invention of the polaroid

9. The Polaroid or instant photos are a great deal, especially when you are on vacation. The next time you think of taking a Polaroid to remember the inventor by the name Edwin H. Land. He was inspired to develop the technology because her daughter wanted to take instant photos.[6]

Flag of New Mexico

Flag of New Mexico

It holds the world record for the largest Navajo Taco

10. The state produces more than 30 pounds of green chili. This is used in making of a taco. The state holds a world record for the largest taco ever made.[7]

Home to one of the oldest towns in the USA

11. Santa Fe is one of the oldest towns in the USA. It was founded in 1607 thirteen years before the Pilgrims came to the country. It was initially called La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asis and later changed in 1610.

The state of New Mexico is known for its vibrant arts scene, and Santa Fe is home to the third-largest art market in the United States, attracting artists and collectors from around the world.

Home to Bandera Ice Cave

12. The Bandera ice cave dates back to the 1100 B.C. This makes it one of the oldest caves in the area.[8]

A third of the residents speak Spanish

13. This state is predominated by the Hispanic community. Most of the residents speak in Spanish when they are at home and use English for formal communications.[22]

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Facts about New Mexico. Photo © Sean Pavone

Has the oldest government building

14. Santa Fe’s governors’ palace is considered to be the oldest colonial government building in the United States. The building has a lot of history and is a landmark in the state.[12]

It was once the uranium capital of the world

15. Grants, N.M produced a lot of uranium in the 20th century than any other place in the US. This led to the area to be referred to as the uranium capital of the world.[13]

Doc Holliday is from New Mexico

16. Before Doc Holliday gained his fame at the tombstone, he was previously a dentist from Las Vegas. He worked his way up to become famous. He was part of the legendary shootout at the O.K. Corral.[14]

New Mexico on the map

Have a large number of UFO reports

17. The state is known for the many reports about UFO’S. In a recent event, the pilots of at least three separate aircraft encountered an unidentified flying object high above southern Arizona and New Mexico on 24th February 2018. 

The town of Roswell, New Mexico gained worldwide attention due to the alleged crash landing of an unidentified flying object (UFO) in 1947, making it a popular destination for UFO enthusiasts.

Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo is over 900 years old

18. The Taos Pueblo building is over 900 years which makes it one of the oldest inhabited building. These structures are in excellent condition, and they look like a story building.[15]

Amazon’s founded was born here

19. Interestingly, the founder of another American giant Amazon.com–Jeff Bezos–was born (January 12, 1964) in Albuquerque.

State fair

20. The New Mexico State Fair, held annually in Albuquerque since 1938, is one of the largest and oldest state fairs in the United States.

In television

21. The “Breaking Bad” television series (2008-2013), which gained international acclaim, was set and primarily filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A scenic byway

22. The “Turquoise Trail” is a scenic byway that stretches for 50 miles (80 km), encompassing 15,000 square miles (24,140 square km) through the heart of New Mexico, connecting the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

A national monument

23. The Bandelier National Monument is one of New Mexico’s largest and oldest monuments. It sits on over 33,000 acres and has artifacts dating back as far as 11,000 years ago.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park sign
Photo © Robert Philip

Cave chamber

24. Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico is home to the fifth-largest cave chamber in North America, known as the “Big Room.”

Gorge, river, bridge

25. The Rio Grande Gorge is a massive gorge created naturally based on the environment over 1 million years ago. It’s 850 feet (259 meters) deep and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide.

26. The Rio Grande, one of the longest rivers in North America, flows through New Mexico for approximately 315 miles (507 kilometers).

27. The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, located near Taos, is the fifth-highest bridge in the United States, standing at a height of 650 feet (198 meters) above the Rio Grande River.


28. The state of New Mexico has over 50 tasting rooms, distilleries, and wineries with a long history of wine – the first vineyards were planted more than 400 years ago.

Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Facts about New Mexico. Photo © Ritu Jethani

The longest tramway

29. New Mexico is home to the longest tramway in the United States; the Sandia Peak Tramway ascends over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) to the top of the Sandia Mountains.


30. New Mexico is home to the Very Large Array (VLA), a radio astronomy observatory consisting of 27 radio antennas arranged in a Y-shaped configuration, featured in movies such as “Contact” and “Independence Day.”

Dinosaur tracks

31. Clayton Lake State Park located in northeastern New Mexico is home to more than 500 fossilized dinosaur tracks that are estimated to be around 100 million years old.

23 Native American Tribes

32. New Mexico is home to 23 Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation, which is the largest Native American reservation in the United States, covering portions of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. It is the state with the fourth-largest number of Native Americans.

Space history

33. The New Mexico Museum of Space History, established in 1976 and located in Alamogordo, showcases the state’s rich history and contributions to space exploration and research.

Since 1888

34. The New Mexico State University in Las Cruces is the oldest public university in the state. It was founded in 1888 and is renowned for its agricultural and engineering programs.

Spaceport America in New Mexico
Spaceport America in New Mexico (home of Virgin Galactic). Photo © Judd Irish Bradley

Commercial spaceport

35. The world’s first commercial spaceport, Spaceport America, is located in New Mexico, 45 miles (72.5 km) north of Las Cruces, and began operations in 2011.

Native American pueblos

36. New Mexico has 19 Native American pueblos, which are communities with distinct cultures, traditions, and governance systems.

37. The Gila Wilderness in New Mexico was designated as the world’s first designated wilderness area in 1924, protecting approximately 558,014 acres (2,257 square kilometers) of pristine wilderness.

38. The Billy the Kid Museum in Fort Sumner, 150 miles (241 km) from Santa Fe, New Mexico, houses artifacts and exhibits related to the infamous outlaw, who was active during the late 1800s.

42 million acres of land

39. New Mexico has the highest percentage of public land in the United States, with approximately 42 million acres of land owned and managed by federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

route 66 , facts about New Mexico
Facts about New Mexico. Route 66.

Route 66

40. The historic Route 66 is 2,400 miles (3,862 km) long and passes through New Mexico, offering travelers the opportunity to experience iconic Americana, roadside attractions, and nostalgic towns.

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