Julia Minamata juliaminamata.com
The “Worth Waiting For” signs along I-40 that tout Clines Corners are accurate only if you have reached the absolutely-
The Trinity Site
New Mexico is the proud owner of the Trinity Site—the location of the first-ever atomic explosion in human history. Located about 35 miles southeast of Socorro, you too can visit this historic pile of sand twice a year (on the first Saturday of April and October). It’s not free ($25 per car, $100 per bus, $10 per motorcycle), and after an hour staring at the Trinity Site Obelisk erected on the explosion's hypocenter, you'll leave with a half-day’s worth of low-grade radiation exposure. There isn't even any trinitite left at the site, so no luck in pocketing a piece of the mildly radioactive glass residue created by the bomb. But at least you can say you've been there. (Amy Dalness)
The Continental Divide
West of Albuquerque lies the wondrously invisible Continental Divide. The drainage ridge indicates where water runs into the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans instead of the Pacific. Have you ever driven on I-40 to Gallup? Then you've seen the Divide. Yup, right there after Thoreau. No, you didn't miss it. If you're really excited by the Continental Divide, there is a trail to venture along. Take an extra water bottle, hike to the peak and find out for yourself which way the continent is aqua-ly divided. (Amy Dalness)
Imagine you’re a lovely small town nestled into a lush agricultural valley amid towering mountain peaks and endless desert expanses. You’ve got it all: scenery, historical importance and Wild West lore. Sure, you’re not as important as you were back in the latter half of the 19th century, but you’re more than happy to enjoy being known for your village feel and architectural charm, right? Of course not. You want the fame and glory of the good ol’ days—and those big tourist bucks. And so we have Mesilla Plaza: A one-block square on the outskirts of Las Cruces lined with old adobe buildings clinging to their once-important place in the world. That building proudly proclaiming to have housed Billy the Kid? A gift shop. Those other buildings once host to Pat Garrett and Pancho Villa? Gift shops. But at least you can purchase items relevant to, say, Mesilla’s involvement in the Civil War, or perhaps its role as a destination on two stagecoach lines. Good luck. About halfway through endless hot sauce choices and cellophane bags of pinto beans labeled “Mexican bubble bath” you’ve likely forgotten Mesilla’s rich history and the reason you pulled off the highway in the first place. (Maren Tarro)
It’s a big rock—or, really, a collection of rocks—that kinda looks like a camel, and that’s pretty much it. You’ll find it on the Frontage Road outside Santa Fe in Tesuque, across from Camel Rock Casino. You can make up for the lack of excitement with poker chips and slots. (Christie Chisholm)
The Four Corners
New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona all meet at one point due to Congress deciding long ago that it would define these boundaries with the stroke of a line instead of through latitude and longitude, like it normally did. We won’t tell you any more, because it’s boring, and honestly, so is the Four Corners itself. When you arrive at your destination, you’re greeted by a stone plaque on the ground marking the borders of each state. If you want to get wild, you can place each of your feet and hands in a different state. (Christie Chisholm)
The Roswell UFO Crash Sites
According to the Roswell Daily Record, something crashed into Mac Brazel's ranch on July 8, 1947. The site, near Corona, is now on public land, but it’s surrounded by private property and difficult to reach. Not to worry. At least one other site has cropped up, claiming to be the "real" crash site. Known as the Ragsdale Site, it's owned by Hub Corn, who'll charge you $15 to check it out. Visit either one (tours are frequently available during the Roswell UFO festival)—both involve a long, hot drive and an empty patch of desert. (Devin O’Leary)
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