THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
The colors on New Mexico's state flag are the red and yellow of old Spain. The simple, elegant center design is the ancient Zia sun symbol, which represents the unique character of New Mexico.
New Mexico designated the blossom of the desert yucca plant (pronounced “yuh-ka”) as the state flower in 1927. The yucca flower was selected by the schoolchildren of New Mexico.
The roots of yucca were found to be an excellent substitute for soap and shampoo.
Many yuccas have edible parts, including fruits, seeds, flowers, stems, and sometimes the roots. Dried yucca wood has the lowest ignition temperature of any wood, which makes it desirable for starting fires.
The roadrunner was designated the official state bird of New Mexico in 1949. The roadrunner inhabits desert and shrubby country in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
Although a roadrunner is capable of flight, it spends most of the time on the ground, running at speeds of 15 miles per hour (or more) to catch its prey (insects, small reptiles, rodents, tarantulas, scorpions and small birds).
New Mexico designated the piñon pine, or nut pine as the official state tree in 1948. Sometimes called two-needle piñon, it is found mostly in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. The piñon pine grows very slowly and reaches 15-35 feet when mature.
The seeds of the piñon pine tree (pine nuts) were collected by native Americans for centuries. Piñon wood gives off a distinctive and very pleasant incense smell when burned
THINGS TO DO
The history of the Carlsbad Caverns, like most stories, can be understood from different perspectives. The modern history of the caves starts with them being set aside as national treasures and as part of the National Park system in the early 20th Century. Prior to that era, the Mexicans and, before them, the Spanish ruled the area. The Native Americans left their mark, as well, with some of the artifacts found in the area dating back as far as 14,000 years. If one takes the geological perspective, the history of these caves spans back as far as 280 million years, when New Mexico looked more like the coastal US. The Carlsbad Caverns National Park was set aside in 1930. Prior to that, it was made a National Monument in 1923. The caverns were known to locals for quite a long time before they were officially set aside. The caves were used as a source of bat guano early in the 20th Century. The first person to explore these caverns extensively in the modern age was Jim White, a local of the area. He used homemade tools and engaged in extensive spelunking of the caverns. It is from White that most of the cave features received their present names. The Carlsbad Caverns, however, were around long before humans ever set eyes upon them. These caves are part of a geological feature called the Delaware Basin. This area is not only known for its caverns but for being a huge oil field. This area is interesting for the way in which the caves characteristic of the basin formed. While most limestone caves, such as Carlsbad Caverns, are formed by groundwater, there were very acidic conditions that helped form these caverns. Geological activity freed brine that mixed with other elements to form sulfuric acid, one of the most powerful acids commonly seen, which formed the caves. Some of the most striking features in the caverns wouldn’t be possible without the corrosive action of this acid. Native American artifacts have been found scattered around the caves and the local environs. Presently, the park has 1,000,000 cultural resources—items which were used or manufactured by ancient peoples—in storage and being preserved for the future.. Even though the caves had been in existence for hundreds of millions of years before their exploration, Jim White actually had trouble convincing people they existed!
The Rio Grande Botanic Garden at the ABQ BioPark is located on 52 acres of land, nestled between the Rio Grande River and the Albuquerque Aquarium. It includes a 10,000 square-foot glass conservatory, a 10-acre Heritage Farm, the PNM Butterfly Pavilion, a Japanese Garden, a model train display, and a whimsical Children’s Fantasy Garden. The Botanic Garden embraces the BioPark’s mission to demonstrate and celebrate the horticultural and agricultural traditions of the Rio Grande Valley.
A trip on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway transports you above deep canyons and breathtaking terrain a distance of 2.7 miles. See some of nature’s more dramatic beauty unfold before you. At sunset the desert skies produce a spectacular array of color, and your vantage point from the observation deck atop 10,378 foot Sandia Peak in the Cibola National Forest affords an 11,000 square-mile panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment. Located on the eastern edge of Albuquerque in the Sandia Foothills at the end of Tramway Road.