Mean annual temperatures range from 64o F in the extreme southeast (Division 1) to 40o F or lower in high mountains and valleys of the north (division 2); elevation is a greater factor in determining the temperature of any specific locality than its latitude. This is shown by only a 3o F difference in mean temperature between stations at similar elevations, one in the extreme northeast and the other in the extreme southwest; however, at two stations only 15 miles apart, but differing in elevation by 4,700 feet, the mean annual temperatures are 61o and 45o F—a difference of 16 o F or a little more than 3o decrease in temperature for each 1,000-foot increase in elevation. During the summer months, individual daytime temperatures quite often exceed 100o F at elevations below 5,000 feet (division 8); but the average monthly maximum temperatures during July, the warmest month, range from slightly above 90o F at the lower elevations to the upper 70’s at high elevations.
The climate in New Mexico is varied based on changes in topographic features. New Mexico, fifth largest State in the Union, with a total area of 121,412 square miles, is approximately 350 miles square, and lies mostly between latitudes 32o and 37o and longitudes 103o and 109 o W. The State’s topography consists mainly of high plateaus or mesas, with numerous mountain ranges, canyons, valleys, and normally dry arroyos. Average elevation is about 4,700 feet above sea level. The lowest point is just above the Red Bluff Reservoir at 2,817 feet where the Pecos River flows into Texas. The highest point is Wheeler Peak at 13,161 feet.
The "Land of Enchantment" describes New Mexico's scenic beauty and its rich history. This legend was placed on New Mexico license plates in 1941. This nickname became the official State Nickname of New Mexico on April 8, 1999.
Nowhere else in the United States are you likely to see such extremes of architectural style as in New Mexico. The state's distinctive architecture reflects the diversity of cultures that have left their imprint on the region. The first people in the area were the ancestral Puebloans, the Anasazi, who build stone and mud homes at the bottom of canyons and inside caves. Pueblo-style adobe architecture evolved and became the basis for traditional New Mexican homes: sun-dried clay bricks mixed with grass for strength, mud-mortared, and covered with additional protective layers of mud.
The coming of the railroad stimulated settlement in eastern and southern New Mexico. Conflicting land claims led to disputes among ranchers, homesteaders, and the old Spanish families. The claims were finally settled in 1904.
Finally, in 1910 Congress acted. It passed an enabling act telling New Mexicans to draw up a constitution. They could do so knowing that Congress was ready to grant statehood. The constitution would outline state government. Then, it would go to the voters for approval. It would also have to be approved by Congress and the president. Only then could New Mexico become a state. The voters and Congress approved, and on January 6, 1912, President William Howard Taft made it official. He declared New Mexico to be the forty-seventh state. The many years of waiting for statehood had ended.
American forces quickly conquered Mexico's northernmost provinces. In less than two months, Colonel Stephen Kearny marched his 1,700-man army more than a thousand miles, occupied Santa Fe, and declared New Mexico's 80,000 inhabitants American citizens.
Major U.S. offensives, however, took place elsewhere as well. U.S. forces seized New Mexico and encouraged Anglo-American settlers in California to revolt, declare their independence from Mexico and establish a Republic of California ("The Bear Flag Republic").
The United States also offered up to $5 million for the province of New Mexico--which included Nevada and Utah and parts of four other states--and up to $25 million for California. Polk was anxious to acquire California because in mid-October 1845, he had been led to believe that Mexico had agreed to cede California to Britain as payment for debts.
San Juan was founded as the first permanent Spanish colony in New Mexico. The capital was established at Santa Fe in 1610. In 1680 the Pueblo Indians revolted and drove the Spanish out of northern New Mexico to El Paso. In 1692 the Spanish reestablished control. Albuquerque was founded and became a center of settlement. When Mexico achieved independence from Spain, New Mexico became a Mexican province, and trade with the United States was opened over the Santa Fe Trail. Mexico ceded New Mexico to the United States. The Santa Fe Trail soon became a favorite route of those heading to the California gold fields.