As with any trip, a little preparation is essential before you start your journey to New Mexico. This chapter provides a variety of planning tools, including information on when to go and how to get there.

Warning: A trip to New Mexico can give you an attitude problem. You may return home and find that your response to the world is completely different from the way it used to be. (That is, if you return at all.) When you enter the Land of Enchantment, you find few customary points of reference. Rather than sharp-cornered buildings, you find more rounded ones made of adobe bricks. Rather than hearing a single language on the street, you hear many, from Navajo and the Pueblo Tiwa and Tewa to Spanish and English. The pace here is slow and the objectives are less obvious than in most places.

And the northern part of the state has its own unique qualities as well. Travelers often think that since this is the desert, it should have saguaro cactus and always be warm. Think again. Much of the area lies upwards of 5,000 feet in elevation, which means that four full seasons act upon the land. So, when you're planning, be sure to take a look at the "When to Go" section so you can be prepared.

That said, preparation to come here is simple. Even though many people mistake New Mexico for our lovely neighbor to the south, really, traveling here is much like anywhere in the U.S. You can drink the water and eat all the food you care to eat, except you'll want to take care, as some of the chile can be very hot. The sun at these elevations can also be scorching, so come prepared with a hat and plenty of sunscreen. In fact, the elements here may present the greatest challenge, so be sure to review the section on health later.

Another point to be aware of are the distances between cities. Your best bet is to travel by car here, as many of the "must see" attractions are located off the main thoroughfares traversed by the few public transportation options available here. Besides, there are few enjoyments so great as driving in the sparkling light through crooked farming villages and past ancient ruins, around plazas and over mountain passes, finding your own road to nowhere, and then taking that attitude home.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.