Roswell in New Mexico was once a small and quiet town until the Roswell Incident happened. Allegedly, a UFO crash landed in the area in 1947. From then on, the city became widely popular as the UFO capital of America.
With the tourists’ curiosity and the hyped-up news about the sighting, it became a quirky tourist destination in which the residents warmly embraced the city’s newfound persona. The local government, business owners, and members of the community supported the transformation of the city, and that is evident from the various alien-inspired establishments, International UFO museum, display centers, and figured caricatures adorning the streets and public areas.
Aside from different eccentric UFO-inspired museums and tourist sites, Roswell is abundant in natural geographical beauty from its stunning lakes, wildlife refuge, marvelous state parks, and historical buildings.
The city is also home to an internationally renowned community of artists hence your visit will never be complete without checking the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art.
Eager to visit the city but don’t know what places to go? Wondering what’s good in Roswell, New Mexico things to do? Worry no more because we have it all covered with our recommendation of the best things to do in Roswell, New Mexico.
Roswell Alien Tourist Attractions
Roswell UFO Spacewalk
Being known for a purported alien crash sighting, Roswell established an interactive art exhibit and amusement center called the Roswell UFO Spacewalk where you will get a realistic experience of walking through a UFO and flying through space. It’s not just your average space-themed park adventure because the center is equipped with the most recent technologies used in their interactive displays and stunning lights.
Located at 166 E. 2nd Street in Roswell, Roswell Spacewalk is also a great outdoor adventure alternative during unfavorable weather conditions where you cant venture on sightseeing and city strolls. It’s a perfect place to go if you’re traveling with kids and even with adults because the out-of-this-world adventures and displays will keep your eyes and curiosity entertained.
Alien Zone in Area 51
Talks about aliens and UFOs have undeniably taken a huge part in the history and tourism development of Roswell. To make the whole travel experience complete, you need to check Alien Zone Area 51 where the allegedly Roswell Incident transpired.
Founded in 1998, Alien Zone Area 51 houses more than a dozen life-sized alien dioramas built by Randy Reeves who is a known commercial artist. You will also find different rooms designed with space-like setups that are perfect for selfies and groufies. Alien dioramas depict different scenarios such as jailed alien, an alien in an upside-down room, an alien in an autopsy setting, and a crashed UFO scene.
International UFO Museum and Research Center
Extraterrestrial enthusiast or not, you would want to visit the quirky International UFO Museum and Research Center. The museum, located at the heart of the city at 114 N. Maine street, contains various outer-space-themed exhibits related to the 1947 Roswell UFO crash.
The International UFO Museum and Research Center were established in 1991 in a former 1930s movie house to serve as the base for further study and exploration of the 1947 Roswell Crash Incident and the phenomenon surrounding it and other reported UFO sightings in the US and around the world.
The historical extraterrestrial sighting happened in the summer of 1947 when a rancher found metal debris and a gigantic trench that spans around a hundred feet. People believed that it was debris from a UFO or a flying saucer that crash-landed in the area. Thus, the International UFO museum was erected to commemorate the incident and to establish the fact of its occurrence
The International UFO museum houses over 55,000 documents such as audio recordings, newspaper clippings, pictures, autopsy reports, exhibits, dioramas, displays, information revolving around UFOs, and human encounters with aliens, and a vast library containing books that discuss extraterrestrials, aliens, and UFOs. The UFO museum and research also has a gift shop store where you can buy UFO-themed memorabilia.
Roswell UFO Festival
The Roswell UFO Festival is held every year in July to celebrate the famous Roswell UFO incident. The festival, which is held at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center, features a variety of events such as a parade, concerts, workshops, and speakers.
The Roswell UFO Festival is the perfect place to go if you want to learn more about the famous UFO incident and celebrate all the best things alien.
Roswell UFO Tours
Are you itching to know the details of the alleged 1947 UFO crash in Roswell? Then join the fully guided and private Roswell UFO tours. Managed by Roswell’s top UFO researcher, Dennis Balthaser, the tour involves bringing the tourists into 20 different locations all throughout Roswell where the crash, retrieval, and coverup transpired.
The tour includes visiting the former homes of the witnesses, museums where the evidence and documents were kept for safekeeping, the Roswell Army Airfield where the debris and torn UFO parts were displayed, and the former Roswell Army Airfield Fire Station where records and other data were preserved.
Learn more about the facts, myths, and legends of the UFO incident as Dennis Balthaser shares his knowledge regarding the incident. Guests are comfortably transported from one location to another in an air-conditioned vehicle. They also offer pickup and drop-off services to the guests’ hotel.
Hidden Gems in Roswell
Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Roswell is not just about aliens and spaceships, it is also home to different natural geographical wonders such as the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
The Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 to provide a habitat for migratory birds such as sandhill cranes and waterfowl. It is a haven for different bird species such as ibises, herons, ducks, and geese. It is also a great place for bird watching, hiking, fishing, and picnicking.
The refuge, located at 13095 Spring River Road, sits on the Pecos River banks where the border of Chihuahuan dessert and Southern Plain lies. It occupies two (2) regions of central Chaves County and is known as one of the most significant biological wetlands in the area.
Due to its peculiar location, the Bitter Lake National Wildlife refuge is home to a plethora of unique plants and animals. Among the more than 80 rare surviving species of flora and fauna in the refuge includes Pecos pupfish, green throat darter, Roswell spring snails, and Noel’s amphipod.
The refuge is composed of different ecosystems such as playa lakes, woodlands, and wetlands. It is also home to different animals such as the pronghorn antelope, mule deer, coyotes, and javelinas.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place for you.
Bottomless Lakes State Park
The Bottomless Lakes State Park, lining along the eastern slope of the Pecos River just 14 miles Southeast of Roswell, is composed of nine small but deep lakes that were formed by the collapse of ancient limestone caves. The state park, located at 7201 East US Highway 380, is a great place for swimming, hiking, picnicking, and camping.
The 9 different lakes at the Bottomless Lakes State Park were a result of the incessant erosion of the limestone cliff in the nearby mountain. Seven of these lakes are nestled between high escarpments.
The western region of Lea Lake, on the other hand, flaunts a sandy shoreline. The cliff that surrounds the Lazy Lagoon has completely shed off forming a series of cenotes or deep circular lakes. These cenotes became tourists’ favorite venues for various Roswell activities such as wildlife observation.
The Bottomless Lakes State Park is the result of the incessant erosion of the limestone cliff in the nearby mountain. Seven of these lakes are nestled between high escarpments. The western region of Lea Lake, on the other hand, flaunts a sandy shoreline. The cliff that surrounds the Lazy Lagoon has completely shed off forming a series of cenotes or deep circular lakes. These cenotes became tourists’ favorite venues for various activities such as wildlife observation.
The lakes at the Bottomless Lakes state park are up to 140 feet deep and are one of the biggest attractions in Roswell. The state park also has a visitor center where you can learn more about the history and geology of the area.
The Bottomless Lakes State Park is the perfect place to spend a day out in nature. Whether you want to take a dip in the lakes or go on a hike, there is something for everyone at the state park.
Pecos River Village Conference Center
The Pecos River Village Conference Center is located at 3451 West 2nd Street and is one of the best places to go if you want to learn more about the history and culture of Roswell.
The conference center is home to the Robert H. Goddard Planetarium, which is named after the man who invented the rocket fuel that was used in the Apollo Moon missions. The planetarium offers different shows and programs that are perfect for kids and adults alike.
The conference center also has a museum that contains different exhibits about the history of Roswell. You will also find a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs and gifts.
The Pecos River Village Conference Center is the perfect place to go if you want to learn more about the history of Roswell and the surrounding area.
Spring River Park and Zoo
Located at 1306 E. College Blvd in Roswell, Spring River Park and Zoo is the perfect hideaway if you want to take a breath of fresh air and a break from all the UFO-related stuff of the city. Lying in the heart of the city, the 34 acres of spring river park and a modern zoo is home to pristine and diverse flora and fauna.
The Spring River Park and Zoo are divided into five (5) sections. Capitan Trail boasts a wide array of indigenous animals of New Mexico. The Children’s Zoo allows kids to get up close with various highly trained and friendly animals. It also flaunts an adventure-filled World Safari Exotics section, an engaging ranching heritage exhibit, a visitor’s service area equipped with a miniature train, and an ancient wooden horse carousel that was strategically placed at the center of the park as an added attraction.
The Spring River Park and the zoo also feature the River Bottom Exhibit complete with raccoons, bobcats, and foxes. It also flaunts the Mountain Habitat exhibit where you can find black bears and mountain lions.
After a tiring day of adventure, sightseeing, and animal observation, you can enjoy some snacks and drinks in the park’s designated shady picnic area. Children can roam freely in the children’s playground while adults can enjoy the magnificent view of beautiful old trees and the small lake.
J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center
Be one with nature and appreciate the wonders that birds can bring through J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center. Located at 401 N. Sycamore Avenue in Roswell, the 15-acre sanctuary houses diverse and unique migratory and exotic birds. The sanctuary and nature center are strategically built along the paved pathway of the Spring River route making it accessible to everyone even by-passers, runners, and cyclists. It also has a shaded picnic area where visitors can enjoy their snacks and drinks.
You can find Canadian goose, scaled quail, black-chinned hummingbird, and many more. The sanctuary opened its door to public viewing in 2005 and since then, they have been dedicated to spreading awareness to young children, adults, and the community through its Nature Center where they share information about migratory birds, the importance of maintaining their undisturbed habitat, and the sensitive ecosystem of birds.
Roswell Tourist Attractions
Roswell Visitors Center
If you want to get the best from your quick getaway, make sure to check the Roswell Visitors Center located on N. Main Street. to get the best and most accurate information on what sites and top attractions to check out.
The visitors center is a facility intended in helping guests and tourists who seek information about the best tourist spots and historical wonders in the city. The center is staffed with friendly and knowledgeable experts who know the best place to dine, the most attractive places to visit, the shopping best districts with great deals, where to go, and what to o while in Roswell.
Roswell visitors center also has a gift shop selling memorabilia and other caricatures related to Roswell.
Roswell Museum Art Center
The Roswell Museum Art Center was founded in 1935 through a joint effort of the citizens of Roswell and the Works Progress Administration. The museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the arts, culture, and history of the American Southwest through its various exhibits, educational programs, and events.
The 50,000 square-foot museum has 12 different permanent galleries that focus on contemporary Southwest art, historical Navajo rugs and pottery, global cultures, American fine art, and a hands-on Discovery Gallery for kids. You will also find a planetarium where you can get an up-close experience of the night sky as well as an art studio where you can try your hand at different art forms.
Aside from the various significant paintings, sculptures, artifacts, prints, drawings, and other historical pieces, the center also houses Patricia Lubben Bassett’s Art Education Center, Dr. Robert Goddard’s Planetarium, and an extensive research library. In addition, it also provides different educational classes for children of various ages.
Roswell Museum Art Center is worth visiting. It’s one of Southern New Mexico’s pride for it has been acknowledged as one of the most excellent museums by the American Association of Museums for its top-quality exhibits, collections, and programs
Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art
Art enthusiast or not, you should include the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art in your travel itinerary. Founded in 1994, this 22,000-square-foot museum was erected to showcase the amazing works of its former artists who completed the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program (AmoCA) program. The museum also aims to inspire would-be artists to pursue their dreams and to encourage the local community.
The Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art houses nine (9) galleries that showcase more than 400 unique masterpieces such as paintings, photographs, drawings, prints, sculptures, and other forms of artwork.
The museum of contemporary art also has an in-house shop where you can purchase art-based memorabilia. It also hosts various events throughout the year. Open from Monday to Sunday, the Anderson Museum is one of the best places to be when the weather is not suitable for outdoor activities.
Downtown Historic District
The Downtown Historic District holds secrets to the vibrant history of Roswell’s human settlement and the evolution of its society. Being at the junction of the Spring, Hindi, and the Pecos River, the district served as the original homeland to the Mescalero Apaches and the hunting grounds for the Comanches tribes.
The Anglo ranchers who originally came from Texas first settled in the district in 1867. They were the ones who founded and introduced the ranching industry to Southeastern New Mexico. From then on, the population grew into what we know today.
At the beginning of the mid-1890s, railroads were built to boost transportation. Along with this development, various architectural styles were introduced to the downtown district including Queen Anne, Bungalow, Tudor, Prairie, Victorian, Italianate, Hipped Box, Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, and Spanish Pueblo Revival.
You can witness all these magnificent ancient architectural styles through the free walking tour brochure offered by the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico. Some of Roswell’s public buildings are still adorned in significant ancient architectural design such as the First Presbyterian church embellished in Gothic revival style, the New Mexico Military Institute designed in Military Gothic, and Chaves Country Courthouse in Neoclassic style.
Walker Aviation Museum
The Roswell Army Air Field and Walker Air Force Base used to serve as the headquarters of the fiercest fighting squad in the Strategic Air Command organization.
The Walker Aviation Museum, nestled inside of what used to be the Walker Air Force Base, was erected in dedication to all the men and women who courageously served the military base in New Mexico and to share factual and valuable information about the base including its history.
The Walker Air Force Base is also home to the popular Atlas Missile, the original predecessor of US missiles and space launch vehicles that was developed in 1945. It made history being the first functional Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICMB) of the US Air Force.
The base was also the site of the famous Enola Gay which was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber. It was the first aircraft to launch an atomic bomb in battle. Used during the end of World War II, Enola Gay was piloted by Tibbets and Lewis in 1945 when they dropped the atomic bomb code-named “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan. Wondering where the name, Enola Gay, came from? It was named after the mother of Colonel Paul Tibbets.
The Walker Air Force Base was transformed into Roswell International Airport and in the present time, the Walker Aviation Museum safely keeps an extensive display related to the old air force base including the 579th Missile Squadron Reunion Group, artifacts from World War II, and a wide range of Russian, German, and Japanese bayonets and rifles.
Admission to the museum is free and there’s a lot of learning and realization that only a vibrant history like this can impart.
Pecos Flavors Winery
A wine tour is also a popular thing in Roswell, New Mexico. Pecos Flavors Winery manufactures different local wines such as the Compadres. Owned and established by Paul and Cindy Ragsdale, the Pecos Flavors Winery has been providing the locals and tourists with some of the best-tasting wines in the region since its inception in 2004.
The winery set up a tasting room in the downtown area of Roswell making it accessible to everyone. The tasting room of the Pecos Flavors Winery is meticulously designed using a Southern New Mexico ranch theme accented with farm decors giving visitors the laidback estate vibe.
Additional fixtures were also added such as the 100-year-old bar from Hondo Valley and Billy the Kid statue which perfectly accentuates the antique & rugged theme.
Aside from showcasing New Mexico’s wines and vintage products, the Pecos Flavors Winery’s tasting room also features wines of different labels, more than 80 blends, and a comprehensive picked selection of New Mexican brewed beers. New Mexican treats are also available such as nuts, chocolates, a variety of cheese, coffees, and sauces.
Roswell is a city with a rich history and culture. From art galleries to national parks, there is something for everyone in Roswell. Whether you want to learn about the history of the area or just take a dip in one of the many lakes, Roswell has something for you.
So, what are you waiting for? There are tons of fun weird things to do in Roswell that are the perfect excuse for your visit.