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New Mexico is not only an excellent state for hiking; it’s a state of hikers. A recent survey showed that hiking was named as the No. 1 form of recreation here. That’s not surprising since all the elements of a superior hiking experience come together in Mexico.

Here are some suggestions for some peak hiking experiences in the state whose nickname is “The Land of Enchantment.”

Top Hiking Trails in New Mexico

Rio Grande Gorge

Approaching the 50-mile-long Rio Grande Gorge as you head north from Taos delivers a sudden “Whoa!” moment quite unlike any other landscape in America. You get a breathtaking view of mountains and valleys interspersed with gorgeous pine forests. Radical canyon walls of this geologic region’s famous brown and red hues are a wonder to be immersed within as you hike.

An excellent place to start is at the Wild Rivers Recreation Area near Questa. You’ll be directed to trails that traverse a sagebrush strewn mesa and navigate switchback pathways through sections of ponderosa pine and juniper forest areas. You’ll come out at the riparian areas, which have been described as an “inverted world.” The only way to understand what that means is to go there and see it yourself.

 

Pueblo Alto Trail

Ancient history fans will be thrilled as this path leads to views of the Chacoan culture. This pathway climbs a narrow trail to the rim of the canyon. It affords a panoramic view of the territory and structure of the Chaco culture, which flourished in the 11th and 12 centuries.

 

Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is 3,100 miles that span the distance between New Mexico and Canada. You can hike the whole thing, although not in a single day. About 770 of these miles are strewn with mesa tops, colorful desert landscapes, lava flows, and grand views of mountains, sometimes in the distance and sometimes right on top of you!

 

Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness

This amazing place can easily be described as “otherworldly.” The hiking trails in Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness feature rolling hills and weathered sandstone hoodoos, tent rocks, and fairy chimneys that could pass for the set of an alien planet in one of the Star Wars movies. If you hike the trails here, you’ll be there for real. This is New Mexico at its most austere, unusual, and intensely beautiful best.