Northwestern New Mexico: Places to Explore

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Farmington

A rough-and-tumble, unpretentious town full of pickup trucks whose radio dials are programmed with country-and-western stations, Farmington sits in the heart of the Four Corners region (so called because four different states intersect here at one point). Archaeological, recreational, and scenic wonders are within easy driving distance, and its reasonable prices and friendly ways make it an ideal base for exploring the area. (Farmington is also big for the energy biz and major summertime events like the Connie Mack World Series and the National High School Rodeo finals; book ahead accordingly.)

The Navajo gave the name Totah ("Among the Waters") to the land around what is now Farmington, which lies at the confluence of three rivers—the Animas, La Plata, and San Juan. For travelers and locals the presence of these flowing waters gives welcome respite from the surrounding region's dry mesas. Homesteaders began planting farms and orchards on the fertile land in 1879, and the "farming town" eventually became Farmington.

The agricultural economy shifted to one based on oil and gas in the early 1920s, beginning a boom-and-bust cycle tied to the fluctuation of fuel prices. Diversification didn't come until the past decade or so, when Farmington began promoting its historic past with more gusto. Even more revitalizing overall—though it's had a mixed effect on the fortunes of the historic Downtown—was the creation of a regional shopping center, which swells the population by thousands on weekends. People from miles around make their weekly or monthly trip to town to stock up on supplies.

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