Back in the 1970s, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta consisted of 13 balloons in a shopping mall parking lot. That was then. Now, it’s huge, huge, huge-a colorful extravaganza featuring nearly 900 balloons that draws more than one million spectators. It is, they say, the most photographed event in the world. Why here? The city’s clear skies, perfect October weather, and a phenomenon called the Albuquerque Box, a combination of weather patterns and geographic landscape that allows balloonists to control and choreograph their flights. It all adds up to an unforgettable experience that no one should miss.
Carlsbad Caverns are often called the “8th wonder of the world,” but it’s the cavern’s famous residents who steal the show. A colony of 300,000 or so Mexican freetail bats inhabit the cave from late spring to early fall. At dusk, they fly out of the cavern to feast on insects, swirling like a plume of smoke, to the delight of visitors who watch from an amphitheater.