The Badlands in Winter/ Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

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Remnants of a forest that is dated back to the Triassic Period, about 225 million years ago, are scattered all over the park. Visitors are strictly prohibited from taking pieces of fossilized wood as souvenirs and are subject to large fines if they do, but park employees estimate that about 12 tons of petrified wood is carried off every year nonetheless. Parts of the park are referred to as “The Painted Desert” because of the bands of colors that display geological eras. 


River of Lights/ Albuquerque, New Mexico

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The River of Lights is a holiday light display that runs at the  Albuquerque BioPark Botanic Garden for the month of December. The event started in 1997 to raise money for the park which has a zoo, aquarium, botanic garden, and beach.

There are nearly 600 individual light displays with millions of twinkling lights, and the park employs three full-time craftsmen year-round to build new exhibits and to maintain the existing ones. It takes about two months to set up the holiday display. One of the crowd favorites is a 63 foot (19 meters) brontosaurus, named “One-Ton” because of the weight of its metal frame. “One-Ton” took nearly 600 hours to build, and has 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) of rope light.


Festival of the Cranes/ Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

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Every November, New Mexico holds the Festival of the Cranes to celebrate the migratory return of Sandhill Cranes to the wetlands along the Rio Grande River. In addition to the cranes, there are tens of thousands of ducks and geese that migrate to the area as well.

The birds come from the northern US and Canada to roost in the shallow waters of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, where they spend the winter months. Some birds come from as far away as the Arctic regions. 

The refuge was created specifically for migratory birds. Corn and wheat are grown for bird food in the fields surrounding  the waters, and several areas are flooded by ground water pumps prior to the arrival of the migratory flocks. Roosting in the shallows helps protect the birds from the numerous predatory animals that live in the Rio Grande Valley; coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. Birders come from around the world to see and photograph the spectacular views of water fowl. Most people come to see the birds leave from their water roost at sunrise or when they return at sundown. The flocks spend the day foraging for grains in the surrounding fields. The mountain vistas seen from the valley and the sounds of thousands of birds are an unforgettable experience.    


Dia de los Muertos/ Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Indigenous Peoples Day/ Albuquerque, New Mexico

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The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

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Climate Change Strike/ Albuquerque, New Mexico

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