When you hear of Roswell, New Mexico, you may be thinking of a town filled with aliens. After all, Roswell became a town many wanted to visit after a now-famous incident in 1947 led many to believe a UFO crashed here.
The crash of the UFO — I mean, weather balloon, — at a local ranch has kept conspiracy theorists, tourists, and everyone in between, coming to this quiet city in the desert for years. Attractions in Roswell have now popped up all around the area, and the town has grown to be so much more than an alien fan club.
In Roswell, you’ll find incredible art museums, historical sites, recreational parks — and maybe, the occasional alien. This awesome town is a great place to stop for a little extraterrestrial fun.
Looking for things to do in Roswell NM? Here are 13 great places you need to make sure you visit.
BOTTOMLESS LAKES STATE PARK
Just 14 miles south of Roswell is Bottomless Lake State Park. The park sits at an impressive elevation of 3,617 feet and features a stunning greenish-blue watercolor due to its unique aquatic plants. These plants create an illusion of a bottomless lake! Within the lake are sinkholes that range from 17 to 90 feet deep.
In addition to its stunning appearance, guests can enjoy its picnic areas, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, birding, and more! Hikers have 4.53 miles of trails to choose from. An accessible and interpretive trail is available, in addition to three short hiking trails.
Additionally, guests can utilize a 3.13-mile long mountain bike trail for those seeking more adrenaline. Finally, those looking to sleep under the stars can reserve a camping spot at one of the 32 hook-up lots. Campers have access to sand volleyball courts, restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic shelters, and more.
It is an excellent place for families, couples, and solo travelers alike to enjoy New Mexico’s great outdoors.
Details: 545A Bottomless Lakes Rd, Roswell, NM 88201 | Website
INTERNATIONAL UFO MUSEUM AND RESEARCH CENTER
Do you want to believe? If yes, this museum is the place for you!
In 1947, an unidentified flying object crashed on a ranch in Roswell. Since then, the town has been notorious for UFO sightings and research. The International UFO Museum & Research Center is dedicated to collecting and preserving artifacts related to this crash.
The museum’s goal, as a certified 501c nonprofit, is not to convince the visitor of the existence of extraterrestrial beings but encourage them to ask questions. (Although…it is pretty convincing!)
In addition to the Roswell Incident, the museum offers exhibits on Area 51, crop circles, general UFOs, and ancient astronauts. If you have any interest in aliens, this is the museum for you.
Details: 114 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88203 | Website
The Roswell Museum is one of few Federal Art Centers that remain in operation today. It opened in 1937 as part of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration (WAP) to promote public art centers throughout the United States. Set up as part of the Second New Deal, WAP looked to employ millions of job seekers who had been out of work since the Great Depression.
The Roswell Museum has expanded to a 55,000 square-foot facility with twelve galleries, an education center, and a planetarium. The Roswell Museum’s permanent collection features over 11,000 pieces of art and historical artifacts that reflect the cultural changes of the American Southwest.
The Robert H. Goddard Planetarium is a state-of-the-art immersive theater experience. The full-dome digital theater system presents a captivating performance on earth’s origins from conception through today. Each film lasts about 45 minutes, and group viewings are available. Examples of titles played in the planetarium are: Natural Selection, The Mayans: Cosmic Planners, Destination Mars: The New Frontier, and kids’ program One World, One Sky.
Additionally, the museum presents many special events throughout the year, classes and workshops, and offers a research library. The Roswell Museum is a great spot to get acquainted with the city and do your homework on the American Southwest!
Details: 114 N Main St. Roswell, NM 88203 | Website
ANDERSON MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
In 1967, the Roswell Artist in Residence Program began. This program allowed gifted studio artists to spend one year refining their craft in a supportive, collegiate environment. With a monthly living stipend, artists can focus all of their energy on creating art and improving their craft.
The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 1994 to showcase the art created by the former artists in residence. Today, the museum holds 500 pieces of art across its 12 galleries. The collection has expanded to photography, sculpting, paintings, prints, and more. It is a renowned program that is consistently producing meaningful art.
Details: 409 E College Blvd, Roswell, NM 88201 | Website
DOWNTOWN HISTORIC DISTRICT
Roswell officially became a town in 1872. In its early days, structures were made with sod, as the nearest forest was 75 miles away in the mountains. However, the railroad’s arrival in 1894 allowed the town to expand using materials like brick, glass, and lumber for its structures. These materials allowed the citizens of Roswell to produce Queen Anne, Prairie, Bungalow, Victorian, Italianate, and Tudor-style homes that were formerly impossible.
While Roswell is a sleepy town, there are a few buildings of note to visit in the Historic District. The City Hall was completed in 1939. It was dedicated to their former mayor, James W. Stockard, who invented the world’s first motorized mail delivery route.
If you are interested in genealogy, stop by the Wilson-Cobb History and Genealogy Research Library. The Library contains information on families across the United States but pays particular interest to families in the Southwest.
Finally, of course, be sure to grab lunch at the iconic UFO McDonalds!
Details: 200 N. Lea Roswell, New Mexico 88201 | Website
BITTER LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Established in 1937, the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge was created to provide migrating birds a safe, sanctuary space. Since then, it has become one of the most biologically significant areas of the Pecos River and plays a vital role in the conservation of the Southwest’s wetlands.
Today the refuge is home to some of New Mexico’s most important wildlife, including the North American Least shrew, Noel’s Amphipod, Least Tern, Pecos Sunflower, and Roswell Spring Snail. Additionally, over 100 species of dragonflies have been recorded at the refuge, making it one of the most diverse populations in all of North America.
Visitors can enjoy hiking, photography, special events, and seasonal hunting. Head to where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Southern Plain to view this incredible wildlife refuge.
Details: 4200 E Pine Lodge Rd, Roswell, NM 88201 | Website
ROSWELL UFO SPACEWALK
Artists Larry and Sharon Welz built the Spacewalk at Roswell Space Center in 2006. It began as a walk-thru blacklight experience that took guests from the Atomic Age to an idea of the future. It closed in 2018 and was reopened as the Roswell UFO Spacewalk by Bryan Ward.
With the addition of animatronics and special effects, the walk now takes on a more adventurous storyline. First, guests are “picked up” by an alien light beam and thrown in a wormhole. From there, guests follow a path through 1950s-esque illustrations. This spacewalk is plenty silly and just plain roadside fun!
Details: 116 E 2nd St, Roswell, NM 88201 | Website
ROSWELL VISITORS CENTER
The Roswell Visitor Center is a great starting point for getting acquainted with this UFO City. The Visitor Center guides can provide you with information on sites related to cowboys, aliens, art, and everything in-between. Plus, you can pick up some great UFO swag!
Of course, the Visitor Center likes to remind guests that there is much more to their city than aliens. With an average temperature of 60 degrees in the winter, and 90 degrees in the summer, Roswell is a great place for snowbirds. Roswell has a golf course, cinemas, local parks, and good eats. The center is a great place to start your trip to learn more about the town.
Details: 426 N Main St, Roswell, NM 88201 | Website
HISTORICAL CENTER FOR SOUTHEAST NEW MEXICO
The Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico is inside the beautiful estate of James Phelps White. It is an excellent depiction of architect Frank Llyod Wright’s prairie-style homes.
The structure was completed in 1912 and now houses over 14,000 photos, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, and more. These items document typical life during the turn of the century for southeast New Mexico.
Details: 200 N Lea Ave, Roswell, NM 88201 | Website
SPRING RIVER PARK & ZOO
Spring River Park & Zoo is an intimate yet modern recreational area that spans 34 acres. It is separated into five sections: The Captain Trail, Around the World, Ranching Heritage, Mountain Habitat, and the Carousel and Train Rides area.
The zoo is best known for its solid presentation of native New Mexican animals. It is home to cougars, bears, bald eagles, wolves, bison, and more. There is a small concession and play area for breaks between animal viewing. This is an enjoyable and quick zoo to visit that the kids will love. Tickets range from $2-$10.
Details: 1306 E College Blvd, Roswell, NM 88201 | Website
WALKER AVIATION MUSEUM
The Walker Aviation Museum celebrates the Roswell Army Air Field and Walker Air Force Base. This base was home to the United States’ most vital Strategic Air Command force.
Its current display, “Peace Through Strength,” showcases historical artifacts and memorabilia from the Walker Air Force Base from December 1, 1945, through November 23, 1955. During this period, the Walker Air Force Base played an essential role in keeping the peace during the Cold War.
The physical museum space is not yet complete, and in the meantime, artifacts are being housed in the Roswell International Air Center Terminal.
Details: 1 Jerry Smith Cir, Roswell, NM 88203 | Website
ALIEN ZONE AREA 51
You have likely heard of the infamous Area 51 conspiracy theory. Many people around the United States, and the world, believe that a remote desert town in Nevada is home to government secrets.
Since the first media frenzy over 30 years ago, Area 51 has drawn visitors looking for clues of alien life. It is believed, by some, that the United States government has a secret underground lab housing vital information regarding UFOs and potentially…aliens themselves.
It is highly ill-advised — and illegal — to trespass on this land. That being said, many folks like to drive by and take a look through the fence.
ROSWELL UFO TOURS
Roswell UFO Tours is a highly-rated, small group tour experience. The tours include a local guide and hand-picked, expert guest speakers. UFO tours are for those exceptionally interested in the possibility of extraterrestrial life and learning about government secrets.
The introductory tour is two hours long and covers downtown Roswell and Roswell Army Air Field. Custom group full-day excursions are available with transportation service to the perimeter of Area 51. The lead tour guide, Dennis Balthaser, is a Certified UFO Investigator with MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), and a member of the advisory board for the Great Pyramid of Giza Research Association. He has been researching the Roswell Incident for over twenty-five years. Whatever questions you might have about the unknown – Dennis is the guide to ask!
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