This story was created in partnership with Visit Farmington.
When you think of Four Corners, impactful history, sweeping landscapes and enduring Indigenous culture probably come to mind. What about water sports like paddle boarding and kayaking? Did you imagine off-roading adventures in a souped-up four-wheel drive? What about adrenaline-packed festivals? Get ready to have everything you thought you knew about the American Southwest turned upside down, because Farmington, New Mexico, isn’t just another sleepy desert town. This gateway to Four Corners has an identity all its own, including unexpected attractions and a never-ending list of outdoor adventures.
1. Ancient Ruins
In Farmington, we take our hikes with a side of ancient ruins. We’re talking prehistoric natural and man-made wonders that you can still explore today near Farmington. Romp around the hoodoo rock formations at the Bisti Badlands, also known as the De-Na-Zin Wilderness. Then, admire ancestral Puebloan and Navajo rock art in Dinetah, the traditional homeland of the Navajo. The Salmon and Aztec Ruins are nearby and deserving of a visit, too. Be sure to review site etiquette and respectfully visit these historic Indigenous landmarks and territories.
2. Water Sports
You might not expect to find water sports in the desert, but here in Farmington there’s no shortage of ways to splash around. Kayak or paddle board along one of the three local rivers or shores of Lake Farmington. For more intense paddlers, head to the Animas River White Water Park in the heart of Farmington for a fast rapids scene. There are also boat and water sport equipment rentals in the area, so you have no excuse not to get on the water while you’re here.
3. Mesmerizing Museums
Museums in Farmington are a great way to learn more about the local Four Corners area. Check out the Navajo Art and Culture Museum to learn about some of the people responsible for those impressive ruins you just hiked. For seasonal rotating exhibits, go to the Farmington Museum located in the heart of Farmington’s recently re-designed downtown area. In addition, a local family owns two of the most unique museums in the area. The Bolack Electromechanical Museum features early examples of planes, trains, automobiles and more, while the Bolack Fish and Wildlife Museum displays over 2,500 species of mounted animals!
4. All-Terrain Adventures
Next, venture off the beaten path—literally—with an off-road adventure! One of the most exhilarating activities in the area, off-roading has gained in popularity in recent years. Equipped four-wheel drive and all-terrain vehicles can take advantage of the surrounding public lands to climb and crawl along precarious paths. For the ultimate experience, visit Farmington during the first week of September for 4×4 Week. During this exciting festival, all-terrain experts and enthusiasts gather from across the country to show off their rides, test their skills and share in the comradery of 4×4 life during a week of special events.
Designated dark sky areas are renowned for their stargazing and receive official accreditation from the International Dark-Sky Association. Did you know you can find one right here in Farmington, New Mexico? Thanks to minimal light pollution, Chaco Culture National Historical Park outside Farmington is one of the best places for stargazing in Four Corners. Whether you capture the magic with a camera or your naked eye, you’ll have a night to remember.