Many of these attractions, whether scenic, historic, or of unique interest, are free. There’s the rub: Since they are free, a big advertising budget isn’t included in the package, so sure enough, you can easily miss them.
It would be very easy, for instance, to miss the Luna Mimbres Museum in Deming, New Mexico, which you could sail right by on Interstate 10 on your way to Las Cruces. Run by volunteers with no advertising budget, the museum lives in the old 1916 National Guard Armory and has just about filled its 25,000 square feet documenting life in New Mexico from the early 1800s.
So, since you aren’t going to see lots of advertising, you have to find out about these attractions in another way. One good way is to ask at visitor centers, state welcome centers, chambers of commerce offices, federal agency offices (BLM, NFS, etc.), park entry stations, etc. You could otherwise miss a stunning scenic view or other site worth seeing—as well as missing out on free entertainment.
And often, when you are visiting smaller attractions or local museums that are in small towns or rural areas, they will let you stay overnight in their parking lot–especially when they know you are going to visit their attraction. Not a bad deal, both free camping and a cheap or free attraction.
Story by Bob Difley