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100 New Mexico Trivia Questions, Answers, and Fun Facts

How much do you know about New Mexico? This category is for trivia questions and answers related to New Mexico (Geography). Each one is filled with fun facts and interesting information.
1 A major event occurred near Alamogordo in 1945. What was it?
Answer: First atomic device exploded

The Manhattan Project was the World War II program to develop an atomic bomb. Much of the work was conducted at Los Alamos, New Mexico, though other important parts of the project were developed in Tennessee, Washington State and elsewhere. The site of the first detonation, known as Trinity Site, is located on the White Sands Test Range. It may be visited on only two days each year, one each in April and October.
  From Quiz: All about New Mexico
2 What was the principal color of New Mexico's original flag?
Answer: blue

  From Quiz: New Mexico for Experts
3 Rockhound State Park is located on the flanks of the Little Florida Mountains near which city?
Answer: Deming

Rockhounds visit this park to gather agate, quartz crystals, opal, and other collectibles that were created during the formation of the volcanic mountains. It is one of the few state parks in the nation where you are allowed to take home what you find!
For more information on New Mexico's State Parks, visit
    Your options: [ Deming ] [ Chloride ] [ Silver City ] [ Magdelena ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico Geology
4 The first nuclear weapon of any kind was detonated in New Mexico. What was the date that this occurred?
Answer: July 16 1945

The first nuclear bomb was tested at the Trinity site south east of Socorro, New Mexico, it was developed in the Los Alamos Laboratories and White Sands Missile Range as well as other key areas in the US. When they inquired about the blast, many people were told that it was a large ammunitions dump had exploded.
  From Quiz: New Mexico is Important!
5 Which major river flows through the center of New Mexico?
Answer: Rio Grande

The Rio Grande is the largest river in New Mexico. This river rises in Colorado and empties in the Gulf of Mexico. The Rio Grande River is 1885 miles long.
    Your options: [ Rio Puerco ] [ Mississippi ] [ Gasconade ] [ Rio Grande ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico
6 What vegetable is Hatch, New Mexico famous for?
Answer: Green Chile

Every year, Hatch has their annual Green Chile Festival.
  From Quiz: The Real Land of Enchantment
7 State legislatures, sometimes having little else of importance to do, define certain things as representative of their state. New Mexico's legislature has defined the "state question". What is it?
Answer: Red or green?

Red and green are two stages of growth of chili. In restaurants that serve chili with, on or over nearly anything, you will be asked if you want red or green (chili). If you want both, the appropriate response is "Christmas". My favorite use of green chili is mixed in with scrambled eggs.
  From Quiz: All about New Mexico
8 The eastern border of New Mexico has an irregularity in the northern corner with Oklahoma. How many miles further east is New Mexico's eastern border with Oklahoma compared to Texas?
Answer: About 2 miles

There's an interesting story here. When Texas was being surveyed, its western border with New Mexico was to be the 103rd meridian. Well, Texan surveyors headed by John H. Clark started from the south and north, and didn't meet in the middle. They settled what they thought was the 103rd meridian and that became the border.

In 1911 this error was realized. It was found that they were off by about two miles west at Texas's northern border with Oklahoma, but the border was confirmed by the United States Congress anyway. Oklahoma's eastern border with New Mexico (the Cimarron meridian) conforms to a truer representation of the 103rd meridian (it's really about one tenth of a mile too far west), and therein lies the two mile difference.

Interestingly, when the different surveyors did their work, they left behind monuments at important points. The Macomb Monument is the tristate corner of New Mexico, Colorado and Oklahoma. It is about two miles west of the Preston Monument, the tristate corner of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.
  From Quiz: New Mexico for Experts
9 Many, many years passed. Flowing water easily carved caves and canyons in the soft volcanic rock that coated the surrounding mesas. What is the name for this type of rock, made up of compacted ash?
Answer: tuff

The cliffsides made of tuff have so many small, natural caves that they resemble Swiss cheese. Many of these caves were later enlarged by the Anasazi to make their vertiginous cliffside dwellings.
  From Quiz: The Jemez Mountains
10 One of the world's best preserved volcanic calderas is the Valles Caldera, located in which mountains?
Answer: Jemez

A caldera is essentially a volcanic crater that has collapsed. The Valles Caldera was formed by a large eruption - about 100 times as large as the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The Valles Caldera is roughly circular and is over 15 miles across.
For more information on the Valles Caldera visit
    Your options: [ Jemez ] [ Zuni ] [ Black ] [ Sacramento ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico Geology
11 Santa Fe is the capital of New Mexico, and it is the oldest capital in the United States. What year was Santa Fe established?
Answer: 1610

When it was established, Santa Fe was part of the growing Spanish colony of Mexico. Now Santa Fe is known for its art galleries and architecture as well as for its beautiful mountains and climate.
  From Quiz: New Mexico is Important!
12 What two colors make up the New Mexican flag?
Answer: Red/Yellow

The red and yellow are the colors of Isabel of Castilla which the Spanish Conquistadors brought to the New World.
  From Quiz: New Mexico
13 What is Roswell best-known for?
Answer: Aliens

You hardly can't look around without seeing one somewhere.
  From Quiz: The Real Land of Enchantment
14 Where does the Rio Grande originate?
Answer: Colorado

The Rio Grande (big or great river) runs from southern Colorado southward through the middle of New Mexico, entering far western Texas near El Paso. It the forms the entire border between Texas and Mexico. It is redundant to refer to it as the Rio Grande River.
  From Quiz: All about New Mexico
15 In the eastern part of the Jemez Mountains, one of the mightiest Western rivers flows through a deep rift valley. What is the U.S. name of this river, which begins in Colorado and forms the border between Texas and Mexico?
Answer: Rio Grande

In Mexico, this river is known as Río Bravo del Norte. Nineteen hundred miles long, flowing through a canyon that's 800 feet deep in places, it's truly a "grand" river, even if it runs a bit dry most of the year by east-coast standards.

The Rio Grande Rift Valley is a popular destination for fishers, whitewater rafters (during the spring and summer months when the snowmelt swells the river), and hikers. There's an incredible view from the mesas above the valley.
    Your options: [ Pecos River ] [ Jemez River ] [ Rio Grande ] [ Colorado River ]
  From Quiz: The Jemez Mountains
16 Lots of dinosaur fossils are found in which wilderness area?
Answer: Bisti

    Your options: [ Bisti ] [ Pecos ] [ Gila ] [ Aldo Leopold ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico Geology
17 Carlsbad Caverns is one of the largest cave systems in the world, and may become the largest cave system as new connecting caves are found frequently in the area. At the edge of what mountain range does Carlsbad Caverns lie?
Answer: Guadalupe mountains

Visitors to Carlsbad Caverns in the earlier days of its discovery were lowered down into the big room by guano buckets...yum! The big room in Carlsbad Caverns is tall enough to house a 30 story building and ten football fields. The Guadalupe Mountains are part of a range that runs into Texas and hold Texas's highest point.
  From Quiz: New Mexico is Important!
18 Which National Monument is located close to Los Alamos and White Rock?
Answer: Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier is within close driving distance from the communities of Los Alamos, White Rock, Espanola, and Santa Fe.
    Your options: [ Yellowstone National monument ] [ Carlsbad Caverns ] [ White Sands National Monument ] [ Bandelier National Monument ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico
19 What animal is Capitan best known for?
Answer: A bear

Smokey the Bear to be exact. Yes, the original Smokey the Bear was born and raised here in New Mexico. He is buried under a rock in the Smokey Bear Historical State Park in Capitan.
  From Quiz: The Real Land of Enchantment
20 Who was New Mexico's first United States senator?
Answer: Thomas Catron

Catron was a territorial politician and in 1894 was New Mexico's Congressional delegate. He was a crucial force for statehood and was elected by a wide margin to be the first senator. He took the oath of office on March 27, 1912.

Catron made a strategic alliance with Albert Fall, and got him elected as the second senator from New Mexico. Fall turned out to be extremely corrupt and resigned in the wake of the Teapot Dome scandal when he was Secretary of the Interior. Catron's fortunes, and those of the New Mexico Republican party, mirrored that of Fall. Catron was asked not to seek re-election by the Republican Party, who despised Fall and held Catron partially responsible for his election and conduct.

All of the other choices were indeed New Mexico senators. Catron County is named for Thomas Catron. Interestingly, the name is really pronounced CAT-ron with emphasis on the first syllable, although most people pronounce it cat-RONE.
  From Quiz: New Mexico for Experts
21 White Sands National Monument encompasses miles and miles of pure white gypsum sand dunes. How many square miles is it?
Answer: 275

That's right, 275 square miles of white sand dunes. It was once part of a large lake, and it is the largest collection of gypsum sand in the world. Many of the creatures that live there are pure white as they have adapted to the color of the sand.
  From Quiz: New Mexico is Important!
22 Which month does the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta take place?
Answer: October

The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is always held the first week of October. Over 600 balloons from all over the world take place at this event. It is the number one photographed event in the world.
    Your options: [ November ] [ August ] [ January ] [ October ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico
23 What is New Mexico's state tree?
Answer: Pinon

Pinon soup is an Indian favorite, made from nuts from the state tree. (Although a there should be a tilde over the first "n" it is not possible to use one here, for technical reasons. - ed.)
  From Quiz: New Mexico--Land of Enchantment
24 What is Ruidoso Downs famous for?
Answer: Horse races

Horse races start Memorial Day and end Labor Day. And if you just CAN'T get enough gambling, Billy the Kid Casino is right next to it and two locations of Casino Apache are just a short drive away! :)
  From Quiz: The Real Land of Enchantment
25 Many cities across America have particular names attached to them: some complimentary and others less so; some self-proclaimed, others not. Santa Fe is one such and calls itself what?
Answer: The City Different

Santa Fe is geographically the highest state capital in the US (7200 feet above sea level), is known as a center of many forms of art and has a substantial Native American population, but it proudly advertises itself as the City Different. Due to its sometimes quirky politics and even quirkier population, others in the state have been heard to refer to it as "The City VERY Different".
  From Quiz: All about New Mexico
26 What is the scientific name of New Mexico's state bird?
Answer: Geococcyx californianus

The greater roadrunner is Geococcyx californianus.

Coelophysis bauri is New Mexico's state fossil, a small dinosaur.

Campephilus principalis is the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.

Sorex neomexicanus is a shrewd shrew that lives in New Mexico.
  From Quiz: New Mexico for Experts
27 Smokey Bear is a native New Mexican. He was found in a mountain range that is unique in New Mexico because it trends east-west instead of north-south. Which mountain range is this?
Answer: Capitan

Smokey Bear was found injured, clinging to the remains of a charred tree after a forest fire raged through the area. The Capitan Mountains lie along the Capitan Lineament, a major structural weakness in the Earth's crust that extends east-west through southern New Mexico.
For more information on Smokey Bear visit
    Your options: [ Capitan ] [ Sacramento ] [ Black ] [ Chuska ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico Geology
28 The first area in the world to be designated a wilderness area was in New Mexico. What is the area that holds this honor?
Answer: The Gila mountains

The Gila Wilderness was established in 1960. It was the first in the world to allow no roads or houses to penetrate its lush forests, which protected them and its many animal inhabitants for many year to come.
  From Quiz: New Mexico is Important!
29 What were the first Indians to occupy the land which is now New Mexico?
Answer: Folsom Paleo-Indians

Folsom people flourish throughout Southwest at the end of the last Ice Age between 9000-8000 B.C.
    Your options: [ Aztec ] [ Anasazi ] [ Navajo ] [ Folsom Paleo-Indians ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico
30 What is the state animal?
Answer: Black Bear

Black bears are omnivorous. They eat animals ranging in size from insects to large mammals, as well as on plant life, carrion, and garbage.
  From Quiz: New Mexico--Land of Enchantment
31 What is Carlsbad famous for?
Answer: Caverns

One of the world's largest cave systems.
  From Quiz: The Real Land of Enchantment
32 Carlsbad is a small city in the southeastern part of New Mexico. What is it most widely known for?
Answer: Underground caves

Carlsbad Caverns is one of the most visited cave complexes in the world. First discovered in 1898 by a teenager, portions of its underground beauty have yet to be explored. Its nearest community is not Carlsbad but a smaller town called White City, a few miles southwest of Carlsbad.
  From Quiz: All about New Mexico
33 Who designed the present New Mexico State capitol (a.k.a. The Roundhouse)?
Answer: W.C. Kruger

New Mexico's capitol building is the second newest - finished in 1966 - and was designed by W.C. Kruger. It's a mix of several different architectural styles including New Mexico territorial, Greek revival, and Pueblo Indian. It's shaped roughly like the Zia sun symbol on New Mexico's present flag.
  From Quiz: New Mexico for Experts
34 Turquoise is a semi-precious stone that has been mined for centuries in New Mexico. One of the chief turquoise producing areas in North America is outside what town?
Answer: Cerrillos

Cerrillos turquoise was traded heavily by the Anasazi people as early as the year 800, and probably earlier. It has been found as far away as the Toltec ruins of central Mexico. Cultures of New Mexico used turquoise as currency through the 16th century. Cerrillos lies on NM highway 14 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, which has been designated as a scenic and historic route and is known as the "Turquoise Trail."
For more information on this area visit
  From Quiz: New Mexico Geology
35 One very important stone tool in the Western Hemisphere is named for where it was first discovered in New Mexico, what is the town name?
Answer: Clovis

The Clovis point was first discovered near Clovis in 1932. It has been dated to as far back as 14,000 years and is the oldest and first point to appear in North America. The Folsom point was also discovered in New Mexico, making New Mexico one of the most important archaeological sites in North America.
  From Quiz: New Mexico is Important!
36 Governor Lew Wallace wrote which famous novel?
Answer: Ben Hur

The year after Ben Hur was published in 1880, Wallace began a four-year term as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, The last years of his life Wallace spent as a public lecturer.
    Your options: [ Life and Times of Billy the Kid ] [ The Ten Commandments ] [ The ChisumTrail ] [ Ben Hur ]
  From Quiz: New Mexico
37 What is the state gem?
Answer: Turquoise

Turquoise is often found in Native American jewelry.
  From Quiz: New Mexico--Land of Enchantment
38 What year was New Mexico admitted to the Union?
Answer: 1912

It was admitted January 6, 1912 as the 47th state.
  From Quiz: The Real Land of Enchantment
39 In 1947 a famous event was reported to have occurred in Roswell. What was it?
Answer: Crash landing of a UFO

Many theories abound about what happened in "The Roswell Incident". While no evidence exists that it was, in fact, an alien spaceship, the public relations and commercial value of the story are unquestionably great.
  From Quiz: All about New Mexico
40 Where were the words "I am become death, the shatterer of worlds" most famously uttered in New Mexico?
Answer: Jornada del Muerto Valley

Reportedly J. Robert Oppenheimer uttered this phrase from the Hindu scripture "The Bhagavad Gita" after watching detonation of the first atomic device near Alamogordo.

Fittingly enough, Jornada del Muerto translates from Spanish as Journey of the Deadman. The Trinity site, where the detonation took place, is in the northeastern part of the valley.

Who Knew: The nickname of the first nuclear device detonated was "the gadget"? (The second and third were "Fat Man" and "Little Boy".)
  From Quiz: New Mexico for Experts
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