New Mexico, United States

About New Mexico

New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the United States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth- most sparsely inhabited U.S. state. As of 2008, the state had the nation's highest poverty rate. The state's total area is 121,412 square miles (314,460 km2). The eastern border of New Mexico lies along 103° W longitude with the state of Oklahoma, and three miles (5 km) west of 103.5° W longitude with Texas. The New Mexican landscape ranges from wide, rose-colored deserts to broken mesas to high, snow-capped peaks. Despite New Mexico's arid image, heavily forested mountain wildernesses cover a significant portion of the state, especially towards the north. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains, run roughly north-south along the east side of the Rio Grande in the rugged, pastoral north. The most important of New Mexico's rivers are the Rio Grande, Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila. The Rio Grande is the eighth longest river in the U.S.

New Mexico Tourism and Recreation

The development of New Mexico's natural recreational resources has made tourism a leading economic activity. About 28.6% of all trips were instate travel by residents. About 53% of visitors came from the following states: Texas, Colorado, California, Arizona, and Oklahoma. The most popular vacation area was the Albuquerque-Sante Fe region (with 22.9% of all visitors), followed by El Paso (10.8%). Shopping, outdoor activities, and historical sites were the most popular attractions.

Hunting, fishing, camping, boating, and skiing are among the many outdoor attractions. The state has a national park—Carlsbad Caverns—and 13 national monuments: Aztec Ruins, Bandelier, Capulin Mountain, Chaco Canyon, El Morro (Inscription Rock), Fort Union, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Gran Quivira, Pecos, and White Sands. In 1984, the US House of Representatives designated 27,840 acres of new wilderness preserves in New Mexico's San Juan basin, including a 2,720-acre fossil forest.

New Mexico Climate

The climate in New Mexico is varied based on changes in topographic features. New Mexico, fifth largest State in the Union, with a total area of 121,412 square miles, is approximately 350 miles square, and lies mostly between latitudes 32o and 37o and longitudes 103o and 109 o W. The State’s topography consists mainly of high plateaus or mesas, with numerous mountain ranges, canyons, valleys, and normally dry arroyos. Average elevation is about 4,700 feet above sea level. The lowest point is just above the Red Bluff Reservoir at 2,817 feet where the Pecos River flows into Texas. The highest point is Wheeler Peak at 13,161 feet. The principal sources of moisture for the scant rains and snows that fall on the State are the Pacific Ocean, 500 miles to the west, and the Gulf of Mexico, 500 miles to the southeast. New Mexico has a mild, arid or semiarid, continental climate characterized by light precipitation totals, abundant sunshine, low relative humidities, and a relatively large annual and diurnal temperature range. The highest mountains have climate characteristics common to the Rocky Mountains.

Mean annual temperatures range from 64o F in the extreme southeast (Division 1) to 40o F or lower in high mountains and valleys of the north (division 2); elevation is a greater factor in determining the temperature of any specific locality than its latitude. This is shown by only a 3o F difference in mean temperature between stations at similar elevations, one in the extreme northeast and the other in the extreme southwest; however, at two stations only 15 miles apart, but differing in elevation by 4,700 feet, the mean annual temperatures are 61o and 45o F—a difference of 16 o F or a little more than 3o decrease in temperature for each 1,000-foot increase in elevation.

Average annual precipitation ranges from less than 10 inches over much of the southern desert and the Rio Grande and San Juan Valleys to more than 20 inches at higher elevations in the State. A wide variation in annual totals is characteristic of arid and semiarid climates as illustrated by annual extremes of 2.95 and 33.94 inches at Carlsbad during a period of more than 71 years.

New Mexico Transportaion

New Mexico has long been an important corridor for trade and migration. The builders of the ruins at Chaco Canyon also created a radiating network of roads from the mysterious settlement. Chaco Canyon's trade function shifted to Casas Grandes in the present-day Mexican state of Chihuahua, however, north-south trade continued. The Santa Fe Trail was the 19th century US territory's vital commercial and military highway link to the Eastern United States. All with termini in Northern New Mexico, the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the Old Spanish Trail are all recognized as National Historic Trails.