State Sign Challenge: New Mexico

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Ten years ago, on my first road trip across the USA (map), I wanted to snap a photo of each state sign.  The first few times, I did so as I zoomed across the state line.  Naturally, the photo was little to be desired.  By the fourth state that I visited, I forgot to capture an image, and soon became less enamored with the idea.

Now, on my second road trip, I’ve decided to give it another go.  Only this time, I’m making it more fun by dressing myself and Annie in costume.  I hope that my fellow readers will play along and submit their photos of signs for me to feature.

That said, please do not stop on a busy highway and endanger yourself.  Find a quieter road or in some cases visitor centers that also have the state sign.

New Mexico State Sign

While I planned to do my first state sign post once I got to Arizona, where I will be spending a few weeks, I couldn’t resist missing the chance to document some signage on my first day in VANgo.  As a result, I’m here in New Mexico posing by the sign, as I will be overnighting at my friend Tina’s in Albuquerque.

Did you know the state bird of New Mexico is the Greater Roadrunner?  If not, I bet you won’t forget after seeing us in this silly costume.  Annie thought her ACME dynamite stick was a toy.  She snuck it off the table so many times to play with it, that I had to hide it until we left on our adventure.  Luckily, it survived for the photo and now she can chew it to shreds.  I’m glad it has a dual function, as this costume effort could get pricey in long run!

Roadrunner and acme dynamite posing at New Mexico Welcome Sign for State Sign Challenge

In the meantime, not only would I love to see other people’s photos at state signs, I’d appreciate some affordable ideas for other state costumes.  I’ve got Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, California, and Colorado covered, but that leaves many undecided.

While I’m on the topic of state signs, I thought it would be fun to also include other trivia about each state. 

A Few Historical and Fun Facts About New Mexico

  • The origin of the name New Mexico came from the Spanish who called the region north of the Rio Grande, Nuevo Mexico as early as 1581.  Mexico is an Aztec word, meaning place of Mexitli, an Aztec God.  The name was anglicized and applied to the land that Mexico ceded to the USA after the Mexican American War.
  • New Mexico became the 47th state in January 6, 1812 and is nicknamed the Land of Enchantment which can be found on the state quarter.
  • New Mexico’s state vegetables are chiles and frijoles.  I’ve certainly had both while visiting previously, but I learned the hard way about serrano peppers, as did everyone at our table.  It’s a funny story really.
  • The state aircraft is the hot air balloon.  That’s not surprising with the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta Albuquerque holds each year.  I went to the festival in 2014 at the last minute with my friend Kristin.  Sadly, Albuquerque’s average October rainfall of 0.59” definitely fell during the weekend we were there, but we still got to see some cool balloons.
Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
  • The state butterfly is the Sandia Hairstreak.  I don’t remember seeing that one the last time I visited New Mexico, but I saw a lot of the Great Spangled Fritillary on the Clear Creek Trail.
great spangled fritillary in new mexico

Roadside Attractions

Since I was driving from Colorado to New Mexico and needed to let Annie out occasionally, it seemed like it would be fun to do so at unique roadside attractions that can be found on Roadside America.  I didn’t want to detour too far, as we had dinner plans for the evening, but my quest was a bit of a bust.

While I skipped Colorado attractions, I aimed for a few in Santa Fe.  First, we stopped to see a 30-foot tall robot.  It stands outside Meow Wolf, a 20,000 square foot sci-fi fun house.  I suspect this would be fun for the kids to see, but the detour through the outskirts of Santa Fe during rush hour wasn’t worth it to me.  Especially, since the other nearby attraction of a hand mailbox was now the site of a construction zone!

30 foot robot at meow wolf in new mexico

There was more interesting artwork on scenic Highway 14, also known as the Turquoise Trail.  This pleasant two lane road led me straight to Tina’s in Sandia Park.  Unfortunately, there were not any pullouts to safely snap photos of iron fish and other modern art pieces raised above the juniper covered hills.

Cute Towns Along Highway 285 Between Denver and New Mexico

While taking I-25 is a faster way to New Mexico, I took Highway 285 for a few reasons.  First, at least in Colorado, I’m very familiar with the surrounding towns and gas station stops, as I driven it many times.  Second, it is more scenic.  And third, I felt like it would be safe enough for a photo at the welcome sign.

There are a several cute towns along the way which are worth a visit.  Buena Vista and Salida are gateways to outdoor recreation in Colorado.  They are located near the Collegiate Peaks which feature many popular 14ers. Here is post my on Things to Do in Buena Vista

Alamosa is situated near Great Sand Dunes National Park, Zapata Falls, the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, and the Colorado Gators Reptile Park. Here are some things we did when in the area.

Further south is Antonito, just north of the Colorado/New Mexico border.  I was so focused on the state sign that I forgot Cano’s Castle is located here.  The house is decorated in wire, hubcaps, grills, screen doors and countless beer cans!  I wanted to see it.  Perhaps I’ll make the detour on my return home as Colorado’s oldest church is also nearby.

Of course, popular cities like Taos and Santa Fe are on the way, and driving the High Road between through the spiritual towns is worth a day on its own.  I really loved this road trip.

I was surprised, however, by the town of Madrid.  I hadn’t heard of it.  Less than an hour northeast of Albuquerque, this artist community with galleries is adorable.  I will definitely be making a visit here in the future. My photo doesn’t do it justice.

Madrid, New Mexico

Anyway, it was a good first day in VANgo, and I hope to see your fun photos by signs in your area.  ETB

Other Articles About New Mexico You May Like


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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

11 thoughts on “State Sign Challenge: New Mexico

  1. Wow, lots of fun facts I didn’t know here, and also some fun little stops to add to my future road trips down south! Love the sign costume idea. I grew up in Montana and the first costume idea that comes to mind is a dinosaur, since some of the most complete dinosaur remains have been discovered in the state!

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