Skip to Content

Why Is New Mexico the Land of Enchantment?

Why Is New Mexico the Land of Enchantment?

New Mexico is known as the “Land of Enchantment.” But why do they call it that?

It’s not just something people say, either. Land of Enchantment is the official state nickname. 

So, let’s dig in a little and find out why and when New Mexico became the Land of Enchantment.

About New Mexico

New Mexico is the 47th state admitted to the US. It could have been a state much earlier. However, it took time to sort out citizenship issues with formerly Mexican individuals. 

As a state, New Mexico certainly wasn’t the Land of Enchantment as it got off to a rough start. While trying to assimilate the Mexican people, the government also had to consider indigenous people. Several tribes lived on reservations there.

It proved challenging to find harmony among so many populations, especially in the age of Jim Crow laws. 

New Mexico is also famous for its role in developing the atomic bomb, which the government manufactured and tested in Los Alamos. The military is still one of the top industries in the state. New Mexico is also the nation’s third-largest producer of oil.

Finally, tourism brings in a lot of money. People are drawn to the arts culture in cities like Santa Fe, the alien-related lore of Roswell, and the new age community of Taos, to name three. They also enjoy the Carlsbad Canyons and White Sands National Parks. 

New Mexico remains a culturally eclectic state. Its population is around 2,000,000. 

Pro Tip: Traveling through Roswell and feeling hungry? This Extraterrestrial McDonald’s is a Road Trip Must-See!

Welcome to New Mexico sign.
From Pike’s Peak to the Pacific, New Mexico is sure to enchant you.

Why Is New Mexico the Land of Enchantment?

The name comes from a 1906 travel guide. Lilian Whiting wrote “Land of Enchantment: From Pike’s Peak to the Pacific.” Her book encompassed other southwestern states. Yet, the nickname only stuck for New Mexico.

In 1935, the tourism bureau used the phrase “land of enchantment” in its promotional brochure. In 1941, the slogan had become widespread and was added to license plates. 

It took some time to become the motto, though. New Mexico had tried “The Sunshine State” but abandoned it after Florida chose it too.

The state tried out other nicknames such as The Land of Opportunity, the Land of the Heart’s Desire, the Cactus State, and the Spanish State.

View from inside tent looking out at New Mexico desert.
New Mexico is an enchanting place for hiking, camping and adventuring.

When Did New Mexico Officially Receive Its Nickname?

Despite heavy usage of “Land of Enchantment,” it didn’t become the state’s official nickname until 1999. That was ten years after choosing a new state ballad, “Land of Enchantment” by Michael Martin Murphey. 

(Did you know that a state ballad is not the same as a state song? New Mexico’s state song remains “O Fair New Mexico.”

On a similar note, “Land of Enchantment” is the state nickname. The motto, however, is Crescit Eundo, translated as “It Grows as it Goes.”

Pro Tip: Need a place to stay while exploring New Mexico? Check out these 7 Best Sites for Free Camping in New Mexico.

How Did New Mexico Get Its Name?

Here’s some wild trivia for you: New Mexico was named 223 years before Mexico got its name! Spaniards founded New Mexico in 1598. They named it Nuevo México after the Aztec Valley of the Rio Grande.

Discover the Land of Enchantment

New Mexico was known as the Land of Enchantment long before it was their state nickname. Over the years, the state’s marvels and history have grown.

The vast desert landscapes are indeed enchanting, as is the beautiful space that can only emerge when cultures co-exist. Have you visited New Mexico? What was your favorite experience?

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *