IN ANNOUNCING THE Readers’ Choice Travel Awards last month, we spotlighted a lot of the more conspicuous attractions the state has to offer. So in the natural yin-yang order of things, we’re coming back this month with lots of stuff that’s less well known, either because it’s a tight-focus detail, maybe a bit esoteric, or even downright odd (in a good way). Who knew that Sammy C’s sports bar in Gallup has a memorabilia collection worthy of the Hall of Fame? Or that if you hike the Peñasco Blanco Trail in Chaco Canyon, you can see a pictograph that just might depict a world-historic supernova that lit up the cosmos in 1054? There’s more where these came from.

I think of these Hidden Gems as the kinds of nuggets you tell friends about that will enhance their movements around the state (and make you feel like a savvy insider with cool knowledge to spare). Social media is good for this, and that’s why we imported some of our Facebook community’s top tips into the “Mailbag”.  I love it that J Lo Sanchez’s “favorite spot in all of NM!” is her no-longer-secret Las Huertas Picnic Area, in the Sandías. Why do I love that so much? Because of her personal connection to the discreet spot. Our running theme this year is “The Heart of NM,” and to me that’s often where you find it—in precious, semi-private places that inspire you. Managing editor Kate Nelson has a nose for such finds—in fact, she’s the most genuinely interested person I know. That’s why she gained membership in a very elite and exclusive Super Adventure Club. In Open Secrets she takes us behind closed doors (that aren’t really closed at all) to a handful of Santa Fe’s more sublime-but-subtle sites.

There’s nothing subtle about Tommy Bolack’s museums in Farmington (Wild Turkeys, Thingamabobs & the Rockets’ Red Glare). Dedicated to machinery and wildlife displays, their effect is decidedly Big Boys with Big Toys. But the piece sure proves a point about nosing around in New Mexico: You just never know what you’re going to find.



Dave Herndon