Whether you're an adult or a child, the wonder of nature in this part of the world will inspire you. Here you'll find Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument, whose immensity and intricate beauty speak in unique ways to each.

Running east of the Rio Grande (the I-25 corridor) and south of I-40, southeastern New Mexico has other sites as well. Along with the natural wonders, this is the home of the fierce Mescalero Apaches and the world's richest quarter-horse race. Billy the Kid lived and died in southeastern New Mexico in the 19th century, and the world's first atomic bomb was exploded here in the 20th. From west to east, barren desert gives way to high, forested peaks, snow-covered in winter; to the fertile valley of the Pecos River; and to plains beloved by ranchers along the Texas border.

The main population center in this section of the state is Roswell (pop. 45,500), famous as the purported landing place of an unidentified flying object (UFO). Ruidoso (pop. 10,000), in the mountains between Alamogordo and Roswell, is a booming resort town. Carlsbad (pop. 25,500), 76 miles south of Roswell, and Alamogordo (pop. 36,000), 117 miles west of Roswell, are of more immediate interest to tourists. Other sizable towns are Clovis (pop. 33,000) and Hobbs (pop. 32,000), both on the Texas border, and Artesia (pop. 10,500), between Roswell and Carlsbad, has a pretty restored historic district.