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Feature Stories

A year's worth of quirky things to do in New Mexico

Cindy Richards, Editor

New Mexico might be famous for its UFOs in Roswell, but aliens are not the only oddities to be found in the state. Here's a year's worth of offbeat things to do:

A year's worth of quirky things to do in New MexicoJanuary: Learn to love a bug. The Harrell House of Natural Oddities and Bug Museum in Santa Fe celebrates all things creepy and crawly. Some are dead and displayed on walls. Others are still very much alive and crawling. Call 505-695-8569 or visit harrellhouse.com.

February: Meet a Western legend. Christopher "Kit" Carson is remembered as a trapper, explorer, soldier, and Indian fighter extraordinaire. But it might be less well-known that he also was a husband, rancher, and Freemason, a member of the cryptic fraternal organization. The Masons now own and operate the Kit Carson Home and Museum in Taos, where you can learn about the life and times of this man who couldn't read or write but still managed to become a US Army general. Call 575-758-4945 or visit www.kitcarsonhomeandmuseum.com.

March: Come face-to-face with a rattlesnake. You could do this by hiking through New Mexico's wilds. Or you could do it more safely by walking around the American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque, home to the largest collection of varied live rattlesnake species in the world. Also see an extensive collection of reptile art and artifacts. Call 505-242-6569 or visit www.rattlesnakes.com.

April: Sleep without leaving a carbon footprint. Earthship Biotecture offers nightly rentals in some of its fully sustainable "earthship" buildings outside Taos. The buildings are made of mostly recycled materials and operate completely off the grid, with self-contained heating, cooling, water, electric, and even sewage treatment systems. Nightly rentals include a self-guided tour of the education center. Call 575-751-0462 or visit http://earthship.com.

May: Learn about wildlife. Or electro-mechanics. Or ranching. All are features of B-Square Ranch in Farmington, an experimental ranch and working farm that is home to the Bolack Museum of Fish and Wildlife and the Bolack Electromechanical Museum. Call 505-325-4275 before you go. Tours are free, but by appointment only. www.bolackmuseums.com

June: Celebrate beautiful butterflies. The Bodacious Butterfly Festival, held each year in Sugarite Canyon State Park in Raton, runs June 29-30. Sugarite Canyon is located in a "habitat transition zone" which makes it a popular stop for many butterfly varieties. Visit www.emnrd.state.nm.us.

July: Cheer on your favorite lizard. Aliens in Roswell aren't the only things racing around New Mexico in July. There's also the World's Greatest Lizard Races in Lovington July 4. (Roswell's UFO Festival is July 5-7.)  The lizards race down a 16-foot ramp into a plexiglass container, urged on by their owners, all kids under 16. Call 505-396-5311.

August: Watch ducks race or attend a Duck Dance. It's all part of the Great American Duck Race celebration in Deming, Aug. 24-26. The ducks and their humans compete for prizes on land and in the water. Call 888-345-1125 or visit www.demingduckrace.com.

A year's worth of quirky things to do in New MexicoSeptember: Get a bird's-eye view of the fall colors. Take a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway. At 2.7 miles long, it is the world's longest passenger aerial tramway. The tram offers a view of the Cibola National Forest, which should be in full color toward the end of the month. Call 505-856-7325 or visit www.sandiapeak.com.

October: Celebrate cowboy culture. The annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium in Ruidoso includes cowboy poets, musicians, chuck wagon cooks, Western artists, and, of course, daring displays of cowboy horsemanship. Dates are Oct. 10-12. Call 575-378-4431 or visit www.cowboysymposium.org.

A year's worth of quirky things to do in New MexicoNovember: Go bird watching. The annual Festival of Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge runs Nov 19-24. The festival includes tours of the refuge, workshops on birds, biology, geology, art, and speakers. Call 575-835-2448 or visit www.festivalofthecranes.com.

December: Visit the site where the atomic age was born. The White Sands Missile Range Museum near Las Cruces is the site of the first detonation of a nuclear bomb. The museum is free and open year-round expect for holidays. More than 50 missiles and rockets – from the WAC Corporal and Loon to the Patriot--that were first tested at White Sands are displayed outdoors in the missile park. Call 575-678-8800 or visit www.wsmr-history.org.