There are many ways to enhance a travel experience, and for a lot of people, this includes taking an organized tour of places they visit. Some places---military or national monuments, for example---require that you participate as a member of a tour group. Most places, however, will let you wander at your leisure, though doing so as part of a tour might make the trip more interesting.
In New Mexico, there are plenty of opportunities for seeing parks, sites, and communities as part of a group. Some of these are organized by private companies, while others are part of the broader range of services offered by the facility. If you go to some of the larger State or National parks, for example, there are plenty of chances for signing up for an organized tour, though most of these places require advanced reservations (such as Carlsbad Caverns or Chaco National Monument).
This being New Mexico, the tours we have range from the quirky to the educational. Regardless of your taste, you have plenty of choices. What follows is just a sampling of what you can find here:
The UFO Tour, Roswell
Over 20 different locations are visited during the Roswell UFO Tour, including the former homes of several of the first-hand witnesses, as well a drive by several of the city’s museums. One of the most popular portions of the tour involves driving down to the Roswell Industrial Air Park, known as the Roswell Army Airfield in 1947 when the UFO incident occurred. Many of the buildings are still there some 60 years later, including the World War II aircraft hangar (Building 84) where the extraterrestrial bodies and debris were allegedly stored until being shipped out to other locations for study.
This tour is offered through Alpventures Top Secret Tours: www.topsecrettours.com
Lake Lucero Tour, White Sands National Monument
Have you ever wondered how the white sands formed? By taking a tour to Lake Lucero with a ranger, you will learn about the formation of the sands and the special plants & animals that live in and around the dunes. These three-hour ranger-guided tours to the dry lakebed of Lake Lucero are offered once a month and reservations are required.
Reservations can be made no more than one month in advance. The hike is 1.5 miles, roundtrip and the soil can be loose and rough. Phone: 575-479-6124
Santa Fe Plaza, Santa Fe
This 2.5 hour walk is a leisurely stroll and a delightful introduction to the history and cultures of Santa Fe. The walk begins in the Plaza, where you are surrounded by 400 years of history. You will visit historic sites, including Sena Plaza and the Barrio de Analco; the San Miguel Mission (the oldest church in the USA); St. Francis Cathedral; and the State Capital Complex. Tours run daily at 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM.
This tour is offered by Santa Fe Detours: www.sfdetours.com
Wild Bird Watching in New Mexico
Based in Santa Fe, Wings West Birding offers four-hour, eight-hour, and Sunrise-to-Sunset tours throughout New Mexico. Whether you’re drawn to the awesome antics of a Roadrunner, the dazzling display of a Military Macaw, or the mindboggling migration of a Blackburnian Warbler, you’ll find something to your liking. Tours are frequently offered to the Santa Fe Ski Basin, Cochiti Lake, Espanola Valley, Upper Pecos Valley, Sandia Mountains, Bosque del Apache, Elephant Butte Lake, and many other places, including Silver City, the Boot-heel Country, Carlsbad, and Roswell.
Wings West Birding can be contacted at: www.wingswestbirding.com
The Breaking Bad Tour, Albuquerque
This 38 mile tour, offered through the Albuquerque Trolley Company, covers 13 major Breaking Bad locations, including Walter White’s house and condo; Jesse Pinkman’s house and duplex; Gus’ house; the Car Wash; Saul Goodman’s law office; Tuco’s headquarters; the Railyards; the Crossroads Motel; Los Pollos Hermanos; and more. www.abqtrolley.com
Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruces
The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces is 47 acres packed with real stories about real people. The interactive museum brings to life the 3,000-year history of farming and ranching in New Mexico. There are both indoor and outdoor exhibits that include live animals and demonstrations.
Docent-led tours---arranged in advanced by appointment---are a fun way to see the museum and current exhibitions. The tours are designed to be both fun and informative, lasting about 90 minutes: www.nmfarmandranchmuseum.org.
Chaco Canyon Archaeological Tour
Ok, this one is a bit different from the others and it is not inexpensive. But it will make for an incredible experience if you can find the time. This tour is offered through Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, whose goal is to advance knowledge of the human experience through archaeological research, education programs, and collaboration with Native Americans.
The 2014 tour of Chaco Canyon is scheduled for June 1-7 and costs $2,720 (for nonmembers). You will be able to explore the Chaco phenomenon, visit remote sites on private, state, and tribal lands – and gain insights into archaeological and Pueblo perspectives on the past.
The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center can be contacted at: www.crowcanyon.org