Gila National Forrest.
Photo courtesy New Mexico Tourism Department
Southwestern New Mexico is on track to become the epicenter of space tourism, thanks to Spaceport America, which is slated to launch the first commercial spaceflights in 2019. While you're waiting for your Virgin Galactic flight, check out the state's largest lake, secluded hot springs, and the world's first wilderness area.
Truth or Consequences
Set 75 miles north of Las Cruces, this town is known for its mineral hot springs. Pools are available at the 11 resorts that make up its Hot Springs Bathhouse Historic and Commercial District.
Eighty miles north of Las Cruces, Elephant Butte Lake State Park ranks as the state's largest lake. At capacity, it stretches 40 miles long, giving boaters plenty of space to hit the throttle past the elephant-shaped rise that gives the lake its name.
In Socorro, history, nature, and space coalesce. In town, visit the 400-year-old parish at Old San Miguel Mission. Outside of town, birders flock to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve, known for the scores of migrating sandhill cranes and other waterfowl who winter there. Fifty miles east, on the wide plains of San Agustin, the Very Large Array comprises 27 towering antennas and offers glimpses of the universe's mysteries.
www.sdc.org/~smiguel, fws.gov/refuge/bosque_del_apache, vla.nrao.edu
Colorful Silver City is a portal to the 3.3 million–acre Gila National Forest, the largest in the state. It encompasses three wilderness areas and offers ample lands for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is a superb outing; there you can wander five caves the Mogollon people occupied in the 12th century.
Photo courtesy Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic's long-awaited commercial spaceflights are rumored to begin in mid-2019. Visitors can currently tour the world's first commercial spaceflight facility. Be sure to experience the sensation of spaceflight in the G-Shock simulator.