The southwestern state of New Mexico is nicknamed the “Land of Enchantment”. Between its diverse landscapes and rich cultural history, there’s plenty to do when visiting New Mexico. But what can you do when visiting New Mexico with a dog? Check out these suggestions for dog-friendly sightseeing in New Mexico…
#1 Stroll Around Santa Fe
Recommended by Eleanor of Elevate Your Escapes
Santa Fe is a fantastic place to visit with your pup. The capital of New Mexico, founded as a Spanish colony in 1610, has a rich history, interesting pueblo architecture, a thriving arts scene, and delicious food to experience.
Santa Fe has a walkable Old Town downtown with hotels, museums, art galleries, shops, restaurants, and spas within just a few blocks. It’s very easy to navigate by foot and enjoy a nice walk with your dog. You can walk your dog all around downtown, stopping by sights such as Santa Fe Plaza, the New Mexico history museum, The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and the historic La Fonda on the Plaza.
You can also take your pup to over look the city at Cross of the Martyr or to explore outdoor art exhibits on Canon Road. Santa Fe also has a bustling Farmers Market on Tuesday and Saturday, where you can explore not only fresh food but beautiful Native American handicrafts. Dogs are required to be leashed in the city.
#2 Follow the Santa Fe Margarita Trail
Recommended by Ada of Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: A Travel Blog
Santa Fe is known for serving up delicious New Mexico fare and one of the best things to do in Santa Fe if you’re traveling with your dog is the Santa Fe Margarita Trail. This playful pub-crawl style challenge allows you to sample Santa Fe’s best margaritas while earning prizes.
Fifty different restaurants – located in downtown Santa Fe, greater Santa Fe, and even a couple restaurants in Chimayo – participate in the Santa Fe Margarita Trail. Happily, since almost every Santa Fe restaurant welcomes dogs to their outdoor patios, it’s easy to take your dog along on this tequila-fueled adventure. Some favorite margaritas at dog-friendly establishments can be found at the Shed, Joe’s Tequila Bar, and The Pink Adobe.
To get started, just download the Santa Fe Margarita Trail app, order the restaurant’s signature margarita, and you’ll earn stamps in your margarita passport that you can redeem at the Santa Fe Tourist Information center for prizes like t-shirts and cocktail shakers.
#3 Hunt for Aliens in Roswell
Recommended by Jordan of The Homebody Tourist
When visiting New Mexico with your furry best friend, a stop in Roswell is a must. Roswell is located in southeastern New Mexico, just three hours south of Albuquerque. The town is known for its quirky attractions, underrated outdoor adventures, and of course, aliens.
Roswell is said to be the location of the famous 1947 UFO crash. Today, alien-enthusiasts can explore the UFO Museum to learn all about it. The entire museum is dog-friendly so your dog can meet the extra-terrestrials too!
After a visit to the museum, you and your pup can walk down main street to the colorful UFO Spacewalk. If you still have time in your itinerary, be sure to make a trip to Bottomless Lake State Park for some fun in the sun.
#4 Admire the Rio Grande Gorge
Recommended by Staci of Gator and Nuthin
The Rio Grande Gorge is located in northern New Mexico near Taos. It is beautiful canyon spanning approximately 50 miles in length and in some places reaches depths of over 800 feet. The canyon is known for its sheer cliffs and stunning vistas along with the big horn sheep that frequent the area.
Within the Rio Grande Gorge area, there are several recreational opportunities including whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping and natural hot springs to enjoy. There are established campgrounds along with dispersed camping surrounding the area, making for great opportunities to tailor your camping experience. Our recommendation is dispersed camping along the rim of the Gorge.
One iconic feature of the Rio Grande Gorge is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, which spans the canyon at a height of over 650 feet. It offers stunning views of the canyon and the river below. The visitor center has a nice dog-friendly walk along the Gorge to view the bridge.
#5 Soak in Natural Hot Springs
Recommended by Devon of Say Yes to the Trip
One of the best dog-friendly things to do in New Mexico is to visit the natural hot springs in the area. You and your four-legged friend(s) can keep each other company on picturesque hikes that lead to these healing and soothing waters.
While each hot spring has its own set of rules and regulations regarding pets, well-behaved dogs on a leash are welcomed at many of the popular spots including Black Rock Hot Springs, San Antonio Hot Springs, and Spence Hot Springs.
Black Rock Hot Springs is located 30 minutes outside of Taos, New Mexico, and can be accessed via a 0.3-mile (rocky) trail near the John Dunn Bridge. Admission is free, and dogs must be on a leash.
(Just given the temperatures of the springs range from 95°F to 105°F, the geothermal water can burn your pet’s skin and feet, so make sure they don’t join you for a soak.)
San Antonio Hot Springs, situated in the Santa Fe National Forest, can be reached by a short (yet steep) 0.7-mile hike or a 10-mile trek during winter when the gate is closed. When the gate is open, you’ll need to drive on a rough, rocky 5-mile road, preferably with a 4×4 vehicle. Admission is free, and dogs must be on a leash.
Spence Hot Springs consists of two pools that are open year-round (though the temperatures of the springs have cooled in recent years, so I would suggest visiting in the summer). It’s accessible via a 0.7-mile walk from the parking lot. Admission is free, and dogs must be on a leash.
#6 Hike the Bisti Badlands Wilderness
Recommended by Agnes from The Van Escape
Nestled in the heart of New Mexico, the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness offers a surreal landscape for hikers. This wilderness, with its remarkable rock formations and ancient fossil beds, is a perfect spot for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.
If you’re planning to hike with your dog, remember a few important tips. Always keep your dog on a leash to protect the delicate hoodoos and local wildlife. Since the shade is scarce, try to hike in the cooler parts of the day to keep your dog from overheating. And don’t forget to bring plenty of water for both of you, as there are no water sources out in the wilderness. Also, pack a first-aid kit and doggy bags. The rough terrain can be tough on paws. Consider dog booties for comfort, especially in summer.
The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness lacks marked trails, making it a true adventure. However, this also means you need to be vigilant about navigation. Use GPS or a map and compass to keep track of your route.
The unique formations in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness are incredibly delicate. It’s crucial to prevent any damage to these natural wonders. Ensure your four-legged friend refrains from digging holes or disturbing the soft badland formations, preserving this extraordinary landscape for future generations to admire.
As a photography enthusiast, you’ll find endless opportunities to capture the unique beauty of the Bisti Wilderness. From the “Cracked Eggs” formation to the “Wings” area, each turn offers a new perspective.
Getting to Bisti from Farmington is straightforward. Head south on NM-371 for about 36 miles. You’ll find a parking area with picnic tables and primitive restrooms. A BLM manages this wilderness. This is your starting point for the adventure.
#7 Explore White Sands National Park
Recommended by Catherine Xu of Day Trip Nomad
White Sands National Park, located in the Tularosa Basin of New Mexico, is where you’ll find the world’s biggest gypsum dune field. It’s waves of glistening white sands covering almost 275 square miles. And the best thing is, it’s totally dog-friendly!
In White Sands National Park, pets are allowed in most parts of the park as long as they are well-behaved and on a leash no longer than six feet. Anywhere on the dunes or the trails, your dog can join you on these adventures. Just keep an eye on your pet if their curiosity leads them to hazards like rattlesnakes and cacti.
After a day at White Sands filled with adventurous dune climbing and sledding, relax in the shaded picnic areas. Find a spot to watch the sinking sun paint the sky while changing the color of the sand from gold to purple to deep blue.
As usual, always clean up after your pet, and carry enough water for you and your furry companion. The desert environment can be harsh, especially in the summer months.
#8 Hike at Gila National Forest
Recommended by Staci of Gator and Nuthin
The Gila National Forest is in southwest New Mexico covering approximately 3.3 million acres with diverse landscapes, including mountains and canyons. There are countless dog-friendly activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and numerous hot springs.
Don’t miss the Jordan Hot Springs Trail, a scenic 6.2 mile out and back hike and chance to relax in the natural hot springs. The Continental Divide Trail also passes through the Gila attracting many backpackers and long-distance hikers.
While in the Gila National Forest, make sure to stop by to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument perched within the rugged canyons of the Gila. They were inhabited by the Mogollon people over seven centuries ago. Dogs aren’t permitted at the cliff dwellings due to archaeological sensitivity, but complimentary kennels are available on a first-come first-served basis near the trailhead’s vault toilets.
#9 Spot Ancient Rock Carvings
Recommended by Nikki of Inspired Routes
Albuquerque, New Mexico is a major city within the state, but what lies within it is an underrated gem! Petroglyph National Monument is protected and run by the National Park Service, and is one of the most dog-friendly national monuments in the US. I took my dogs here during a Denver to Albuquerque road trip, which they loved!
Petroglyph National Monument has one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in the world, with over 24,000 in the park. The Piedras Marcadas Canyon and Volcanoes Day Use Area are both dog-friendly. Or, take your dog on the central valley of the Rinconada Canyon Trail. This 2.2 mile hike is mostly flat and takes you through a valley of ancient rock carvings.
Dogs are allowed on a 6-foot leash and must be picked up after. Parking lot hours are somewhat limited in many areas of the park because it is so close to urban development. Due to this, these hikes are best done between 9:00am and 5:00pm daily. Be sure to bring water for yourself and your dog while hiking these trails, especially during the summer months.
Afterwards, you can head down to the dog-friendly ABQ Biopark, which is nestled along the Rio Grande River in Albuquerque!
Are Dogs Allowed to Visit Carlsbad Caverns?
New Mexico is also home to a second national park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park. While dogs are welcome to join you in visiting the national park, I wouldn’t call it dog-friendly.
When I visited the park a number of years ago, I thought that pet dogs were allowed on the hiking trails on the surface of the park, traversing the wonderful desert landscape. However, looking at the latest rules for pets, they are no longer permitted on the unpaved hiking trails.
In any case, the park is best known for its vast underground network of caves, the reason that it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. And pets are definitely not allow to join you in the caverns, as well as at the Bat Flight program and inside the visitors centre.
Luckily, there is a handy onsite kennel, located in the same building as the visitors centre. Pets can stay during the day for $15 per day. Note that proof of a rabies vaccination is required, no advance bookings are taken and the kennel closes at 3:30pm – pick up your pup by this time.
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About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.
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