I was on a four-month road trip across America when I first breached New Mexico’s southern flank. Being Canadian, I knew next to nothing about the state before I arrived outside its location and its inextricable ties to alien conspiracy theories and Breaking Bad. But as I rolled over the frontier, seemingly endless desert and shrubs out my window, I felt a lightness and thirst for adventure wash over my body. Either that, or I was feeling light-headed and thirsty from a long sunny day on the road. One thing's for sure: it took me no time at all to realize New Mexico is a very different place.
Young and old have been cast under New Mexico’s charming and laid-back vibe, artists Georgia O’Keeffe, George R.R. Martin, and Ken Price among them. I felt myself under the same hypnotizing allure, particularly due to the extreme other-wordly landscapes I saw on my road trip. From cave cities to strange hoodoos with hats to a city in the sky, no wonder aliens (allegedly) landed here. Add in a unique convergence of cultures -- Native American, Mexican and Anglo-American -- that have weaved a fascinating web of history that dates back thousands of years, and New Mexico reveals itself to be a singular, breathtaking destination. The green chiles help. Here are the places you need to experience.