On the road again

Find a Good Time—and Maybe Aliens—in Roswell

Proof of (eccentric) life exists in New Mexico.

By Denise Cathey Published in the Fall issue of Houstonia Magazine

Roswell, New Mexico, is a great trip if you want that out-of-this-world vacation without the hassle of kitting out your RV for spaceflight every time you want to leave the Milky Way Galaxy. Just a 10-hour drive from Houston, this desert town promises a unique getaway unlike any other—on this planet, at least.

The city had been around since the mid-19th century, but it only got its claim to fame in 1947, when a UFO allegedly crash-landed nearby in what became known as the “Roswell Incident.” While the truth is still out there, the town has embraced its notoriety with enthusiasm; from the one-of-a-kind, UFO-centric McDonald’s to alien-themed playgrounds and buses, aliens are everywhere in Roswell.

For Juanita Jennings, public affairs director for the City of Roswell, it’s one of the things that make a visit to Roswell unlike any other. “It is fun and it’s quirky, but it’s also what makes us who we are,” she says.

And if you’re not into exploring the outer limits, you’re still in luck here. The town also boasts a thriving arts scene, beautiful nature areas, and deep ties to the history of the Wild West. 


Just outside downtown, the Red Barn RV Park (redbarnrvparkroswellnm.com, from $30 per night) offers a peaceful place for intergalactic travelers, and their furry friends, to rest for the night. This cozy park prides itself on being your home away from home and offers free Wi-Fi, restrooms and showers, a laundry facility, and other creature comforts to make your stay a relaxing one.


The International UFO Museum and Research Center

For the believers out there, the International UFO Museum and Research Center (roswellufomuseum.com) offers a dedicated look at the Roswell Incident and other unexplained events surrounding UFOs worldwide. The museum also features a dedicated research library if you want to take a deep dive into findings on extraterrestrial activity.

To get in touch with life on planet Earth, Spring River Zoo (roswell-nm.gov/279/Spring-River-Zoo) is the perfect place to make new animal friends while learning about local wildlife conservation. This 34-acre wildlife preserve features trails showcasing native animals like foxes, bison, and black bears.


Camarones a la Diabla at Los Cerritos Mexican Kitchen

Los Cerritos Mexican Kitchen (loscerritosmk.com) is the perfect spot in town to start your night out right. This local Mexican eatery on North Main Street offers chilaquiles, chimichangas, and more favorites alongside unexpected delights like Camarones a la Diabla—spicy shrimp sautéed in the restaurant’s authentic homemade diabla sauce.

If you are seeking a more Southern flair, the Cowboy Cafe (thecowboy.cafe) offers a taste of the Wild West with cowboy-size portions. Enjoy tackling the Haystack—a pile of fresh biscuits and hash browns smothered in gravy—or their chicken fried steak, the Hen House Steak.

For a little libation, stop by Pecos Flavors Winery & Bistro (pecosflavorswinery.com) for a glass of locally grown “Compadres” label cabernet/syrah blend sourced from two vineyards in Chavez County, while nibbling a tasty cheese plate.


Scaled Quail at Bitter Lake National Refuge

The Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge (fws.gov/refuge/bitter_lake) offers a great escape for the hiking and birdwatching enthusiast. With four short trails and two longer hiking paths, whatever your fitness level you can be sure to see local native plants, reptiles, and birds as you walk or drive through this beautiful preserve. The public areas of the park are open from one hour before sunset to an hour after sunset.

Roswell, New Mexico

Distance from Houston: 680 miles 

Drive time: 10.5 hours


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