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Roswell, New Mexico

Not just a UFO site

If you’ve moved to New Mexico from another part of the country or even just visited here, it’s a safe bet that you’ve been asked by friends back home whether “you went to that place where they found the UFOs.” Roswell is arguably the most famous place in New Mexico with name recognition all over the world. There’s even a Sci-Fi TV show about it.

There is, however, much more to Roswell than a UFO crash site. The fifth largest city in New Mexico, its people and places exert influence well outside of its High Plains city limits. 

Roswell was the location of more conventional developments in space travel. In the 1930’s, Robert H. Goddard, known as the Godfather of Rocketry, conducted test launches of rockets in the Roswell area. None of his rockets went that high, but the main focus of his research was gyroscopic guidance systems…something that became critically important in the Space Race of the 1960’s. Unfortunately, during his lifetime, the frail and shy Goddard was not taken seriously, and his ideas of possible space travel were deemed fanciful by the press. Recognized today as being way ahead of his time, there is much to honor him in Roswell, including an exhibit about his life and work at the Roswell Museum and Art Center. 

The New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, established in 1891, is a coeducational high school and junior college that enrolls about 1,000 cadets annually. Known for its demanding academic and physical requirements, it promotes a character-building Cadet Honor Code. The list of distinguished alumni is long…high-ranking military officers, politicians, professional athletes, and journalists. Its graduates include hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, news anchor Sam Donaldson, and actor Owen Wilson. 

During WWII there was a prisoner-of-war camp where German POWs were used to complete infrastructure projects for the town. The prisoners constructed an Iron Cross, a German military symbol, that was eventually covered in concrete. In the 1980s, the symbol was uncovered and in 1996 the park was revitalized and named POW/MIA Park which now displays a piece of the Berlin Wall presented by the German Air Force.  

Roswell seems to have produced an unusually high number of famous people for a relatively small town; singer John Denver, sheriff Pat Garrett, actress Demi Moore, businesswoman Priscilla Presley, cowboy star Roy Rogers, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, as well as many other historic figures in the American West.

Roswell has several aviation manufacturing facilities, but its main economic resource is agriculture. It is situated on a large aquifer and utilizes irrigated farming for pecans, cotton, beef, wool, and dairies.

Of course, the stories of the alleged UFO crash in 1947 are what brings most tourists to Roswell. An annual UFO festival has been held since 1995. Juanita Jennings, who’s in charge of public affairs for the city told us “We embrace the UFO tourists because it adds to the local economy. The hotels, restaurants, and shops benefit from the global interest in Roswell.”

Whether you’re a UFO believer or think it’s just kitsch for tourists, Roswell is definitely worth a visit, and is a nice day trip from Albuquerque. There’s plenty of good restaurants and a lot of interesting things to see and do. 

Their website is

  • Roswell International UFO Museum and Research Center
  • Visitors in cosplay attire
  • The Diva Plavalaguna from "The 5th Element"
  • "The Predator"
  • Statue of Robert H. Goddard at the Roswell Museum and Art Center
  • The New Mexico Military Institute