6. EL MALPAIS NATIONAL MONUMENTLocated near Grants, El Malpais consists of a jagged landscape poured out of the earth over a million years. Molten lava created an eerie world of lava tubes, cinder cones, pressure ridges, and even an ice cave. El Malpais offers everything from easy drives, scenic overlooks, and short walks, to strenuous trails and rugged caving. Learn more at www.nps.gov/elma.
7. BANDERA VOLCANO AND ICE CAVEFor a real experience in contrast, visit Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave. Situated on the Continental Divide, visitors experience twisted, old-growth juniper, fir and ponderosa pine trees. The Ice Cave. The Ice Cave has a temperature that never rises above 31 degrees F. Another trail winds around Bandera Volcano and offers one of the best examples of a volcanic eruption in the country. Learn more at www.icecaves.com.
8. EL MORRO NATIONAL MONUMENTLocated west of Grants, El Morro ("the headland") appears suddenly on the horizon, like a grounded ship. A waterhole hidden at the base of the sandstone bluff made it a popular campsite among ancestral Puebloans, Spanish, and American travelers, who carved over 2,000 names, dates, messages, and petroglyphs over hundreds of years. Learn more at www.nps.gov/elmo.
9. ZUNIThe six original Zuni pueblos were the legendary "Cities of Gold" sought be Vasquez de Coronado. The present Pueblo was settled in 1699 and is the largest of the nineteen New Mexican Pueblos, with more than 700 square miles and a population of over 10,000. Zuni is considered the most traditional of all the New Mexico Pueblos, with a unique language, culture, and history that resulted in part from extreme geographic isolation. About 80% of Zuni families are involved in making art, including inlay silver jewelry, stone fetishes, and pottery. The murals in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission (guided tours available) offer insights on Zuni's religious observances and culture. Learn more at www.ashiwi.org.
10. GALLUPGallup is famed for its connection to Native American culture, the old West, and its role in transporting people westward, whether by railroad or Route 66. Trading companies and pawn shops line Gallup's main streets, offering a wealth of Indian art and crafts. The annual Inter-Tribal Ceremonial celebration in mid-August is among the premier Native American events, with parades, dances, marketplace, contest powwow, rodeo, and Native foods. Architecturally, the post office and McKinley County Courthouse are both showplaces from the WPA era, and the delightful El Rancho Hotel housed many a movie star during the heyday of western films, in particular. Photos of western actors line the hotel's public areas. Learn more at www.ci.gallup.nm.us.
11. TWO GREY HILLS TRADING POST (TOHATCHI)Two Grey Hills Trading Post is one of the few remaining historic posts on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Still constructed of original stone and adobe, it remains today as the primary source of authentic regional rugs known as "Two Grey Hills" style. Made of hand-spun yarn from the fleece of naturally colored local churro sheep in shades of gray, brown, black and white, they are known around the world as the finest in Navajo weaving. Learn more at www.twogreyhills.com.
12. TOADLENA TRADING POST (NEWCOMB)Located 34 miles further north of Tohatchi and in the community of Newcomb is another traditional trading post known as Toadlena Trading Post. Toadlena is run like an old-time trading post, supplying cash, services, and goods for about 1,500 Navajos living in and around Newcomb and exchanging such services and goods for rugs. Learn more at www.toadlenatradingpost.com.
13. SHIPROCKThe most prominent landmark in northwest New Mexico, Shiprock rises 1,800 feet above the desert plain on the Navajo Nation. A remnant of volcanic activity millions of years ago, Shiprock plays a significant role in Navajo religion, mythology, and tradition. It too is a point of interest for photographers, and has been featured in several film productions and novels. Near the rock formation is the community of Shiprock, named for the landmark. It is home to the Northern Navajo Fair, the oldest and most traditional of the Nation's fairs, held every October. Learn more at www.discovernavajo.com.
14. FARMINGTONFarmington is surrounded by world-class cultural treasures, magnificent landscapes, and thrilling river sports. Stop in one of the several local museums highlighting everything from fish and game to developments in electrical history to children's activities. The namesake Farmington Museum and Visitors' Center at Gateway Park offers exhibits about the city's history, oil and gas industry, and a trading post reproduction, along with rotating art exhibitions. Learn more at www.farmingtonnm.org.
15. BISTI / DE-NA-ZIN WILDERNESSA federal wilderness area, the Bisti / De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a remote desolate area of eroded badlands which offers some of the most unusual scenery found in the Four Corners region. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations. It is an environment that offers the visitor a remote and solitude wilderness experience.
Learn more at www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/wilderness/bisti.html.