Welcome to the land "where the plains meet the mountains." Visit Capulín Volcano National Monument, an extinct volcanic cone (inactive now for 10,000 years) and you can say you saw the plains of Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. Still visible are the deep wagon-wheel ruts left by those frontiering souls traveling the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri to our capital city. Explore the Army post ruins established in 1851 at the Fort Union National Monument near Las Vegas and you'll learn about the soldiers whose job it was to protect the trail. Also around Las Vegas, check out the spring and fall commutes of waterfowl and birds of prey at the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge.
It's the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that turn into rolling plains here, giving this region its dramatic landscape. In its wake the range has created a host of lake oases. You may be surprised and delighted to learn that if you're an angler, a boater, or a Scuba diver, the Northeast region of New Mexico is paradise. Catch pike, bass, catfish, and trout at any number of the lakes in the area - Conchas, Eagle Nest, Maloya, Maxwell, McAllister, Morphy, Springer, Storrie and Ute, among others or waterski, canoe or sail in these desert bodies of fresh water. For Scuba divers from around the world, there's the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, an 81-foot-deep clear pool that's a lovely 63-degree temperature year-round. It's hard to imagine that droughts once forced the Anasazi to abandon the area for points south and west, where they established multistoried settlements like the now-abandoned Pecos Pueblo (now the Pecos National Historic Park). Other must-sees include the St. James Hotel in Cimarrón (Billy the Kid and all of the other gunslingers and outlaws who caroused it are gone, but it's still a great place for a respite). Also in Cimarrón, don't miss the Kit Carson Museum, which gives a good portrayal of 1850s settlement life. In Capulín, hit the Folsom Museum for evidence of prehistoric man in the region (we're talking 12,000 B.C.).