New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations

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Blue Hole, Guadalupe County

The Southwest's scuba center
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy Beatrice Murch of Flickr under Creative Commons license

New Mexico packs scenic grandeur and geologic interest into every corner of its vast desert territory—and beneath it, too, when you add the Carlsbad Caverns complex to the list. It has America's best example of a continental rift, notable calderas, and volcanic and fossiliferous rocks of all ages. Have a taste of the state's geological treats.

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Santa Rosa, the "City of Lakes," is a scuba diving destination thanks to this deep, spring-fed swimming hole, one of many artesian springs in the area.

02
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Bottomless Lakes, Chaves County

A cenote cluster
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy Stephen Hanafin of Flickr under Creative Commons license

Nine small round lakes near the Pecos River, in Bottomless Lakes State Park, are solution pits known as cenotes, where former caves have collapsed.

03
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Capulin Volcano, Union County

Classic cinder cone
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy trps of Flickr under Creative Commons license

Drive up the young cinder cone of Capulin Volcano for commanding views of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field in Capulin Volcano National Monument.

04
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Carlsbad Caverns, Eddy County

A world-class cavern
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy The Javelina of Flickr under Creative Commons license

This UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park is home to scores of caves besides Carlsbad Caverns, whose natural entrance is shown here.

05
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Cimarron Canyon, Colfax County

Dont miss the Palisades
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy Cyborglibrarian of Flickr under Creative Commons license

Northeast of Taos, Cimarron Canyon State Park displays a wide variety of Rocky Mountain rocks, including the Palisades, a sill of porphyritic dacite of late Oligocene age.

06
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Clayton Lake, Union County

Dinosaur tracks
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy OakleyOriginals of Flickr under Creative Commons license

There are hundreds of dinosaur tracks at Clayton Lake State Park here at the south end of the Dinosaur Freeway, but there's more to see if you linger.

07
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Dog Canyon, Otero County

A Paleozoic procession
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy Samat Jain of Flickr under Creative Commons license

A National Recreational Trail passes a long section of Paleozoic rocks in Dog Canyon in Oliver Lee State Park near Alamogordo.

08
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Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, Sandoval County

A hoodoo hoedown
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy Raul Diaz of Flickr under Creative Commons license

This new National Monument near Santa Fe and Albuquerque combines sedimentary and volcanic features in a most picturesque set of hoodoos. Geologist-blogger Garry Hayes has a post from a visit there.

09
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Rockhound State Park, Luna County

A rare collecting haven
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy John Fowler of Flickr under Creative Commons license

Near Deming in the far southwest of New Mexico, Rockhound State Park allows collectors to seek thunder eggs, geodes, perlite, jasper, thomsonite and other minerals.

10
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Shiprock, San Juan County

Iconic and sacred landmark
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy jimfrizz of Flickr under Creative Commons license

An iconic volcanic neck, Shiprock is sacred to the Navajo people. The neck and surrounding dikes consist of minette, a highly potassic, biotite-rich form of the mafic lava lamprophyre.

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Valles Caldera, Sandoval County

A vast volcanic bowl
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy Jim Legans Jr. of Flickr under Creative Commons license

This large volcanic basin in the Valles Caldera National Preserve is one of the world's best-studied calderas

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White Sands, Otero County

Gypsum dunefield
New Mexico Geological Attractions and Destinations. Photo courtesy John Fowler of Flickr under Creative Commons license

The closed drainage of the Tularosa Basin allows gypsum to accumulate in the spectacular dunefield of White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo.