Aliens and a UFO Crash: Things to Do in Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico is one of those small towns that has ALWAYS been on my bucket list. Since I was a kid watching Roswell the TV show (which is now getting remade and I’m not happy about it) and The X-Files, I’ve believed in aliens. Government conspiracies are a fascinating topic and I would not be surprised if a bunch of little green men landed on Earth decades ago and their bodies are being dissected in some underground laboratory right now. This little alien obsession of mine has finally led me to visit this town, where in July of 1947, an alleged massive coverup ensued in what became an infamous UFO crash known as the Roswell Incident. Debris was collected from the crash site by locals and was supposedly made of an unknown silver material that didn’t match any of the properties of a metal from Earth: “as thin as tin foil but indestructible”. After that the wreckage disappeared, people involved disappeared and the government claimed it was simply a weather balloon that had crashed from the sky….sounds pretty fishy to me.
Roswell is pretty far out of the way from many common destinations in New Mexico. We ended up driving into town from the west en route from the White Sands/Las Cruces area. Despite being on the road for a few hours, this route was probably the most scenic way you can take to Roswell as the road winds through the gorgeous Lincoln National Forest. Taking our trip in December, we were greeted with snowcapped trees and blue skies as we traveled past small mountain towns, and even the legendary spot where Billy the Kid was shot in the 1800s. Approaching Roswell from any other direction, the most common being from the north coming from Albuquerque, you'll be driving in fairly flat desert for most of your trip.
Get Informed at the International UFO Museum and Research Center
As soon as you enter Roswell and turn onto Main Street, you will come across the International UFO Museum and Research Center. You honestly can't miss it. Visiting in the colder months on a weekday, I fully expected to be one of the few people arriving to learn more about aliens and spacecraft and who who felt this museum was actually worth a look. Boy was I wrong. As we walked in and paid the $5 admission fee (which gives you unlimited museum access for the day, in case you want to return and see it again lol), we found the museum to be PACKED with believers and skeptics alike, all stopping through this tiny town in the middle of the New Mexico desert either for kicks or to try to understand what actually happened in 1947.
I will warn you, don't expect much from the UFO Museum. Even reading every piece of info, we got through all the small exhibits within an hour. I think they can only claim its an "International" museum because they talk about possible UFO sightings from around the world. The whole museum feels like one big science fair project with info simply typed out on sheets of paper, laminated and adhered to the walls (with some spelling mistakes here and there). However, if you go in with a positive attitude, it's still a super fun experience and the shabby look only adds to the museum’s charm. Was it a UFO that crashed outside of Roswell or was it just a weather balloon like the government and U. S. Army claimed? Maybe this museum will help you decide (or make you even more unsure).
Spot the Aliens Throughout Town
The aspect about Roswell I was most excited about was the cheesy way in which I read this town takes it's alien-related history to heart. Driving through the streets quickly became a fun game of "spot the alien". The most popular alien-themed stop is the Flying Saucer McDonald's, where the fast food joint has been built to look like a bright aluminum spaceship that glows with neon red lights at night. Next door is the Dunkin' sign, held up by an extra-large extraterrestrial. Other notable alien statues and scenes we found were ones greeting you at the gas station, out front of hotels, and even one that worked for Domino's pizza.
One of the most amusing alien sightings can be found along Main Street. Look up and you'll see that the streetlights of Roswell aren't a normal lightbulb shape, but instead are designed to look like alien heads. At night these lights glow brightly so that the light outlines their eyes.
Seek out the Iconic Roswell Welcome Signs
I have read that there are four different Roswell welcome signs each on roads leading into town from the north, south, east and west. However, I’m thinking the truth to this info could be a conspiracy itself because we were only able to find two of these signs. Each was designed by a well-known artist and pays homage to the town's alien heritage in different ways. The one on the north end of town feels similar to the "Welcome to Las Vegas Sign" (except with cows getting sucked up into a spaceship) and the one on the south end of town depicts aliens and humans alike with “car” trouble.
Overall, Roswell is a kitschy place to stop while on a road trip through the Southwest. It's perfect for a day trip but staying longer or overnight will leave you without many options for activities. On Main Street near the many alien souvenir shops is also the Alien Zone, which provides many wacky alien scenes you can step into for fun photos. For lunch or dinner I would recommend stopping at Big D's Downtown Dive (also on Main Street) for AMAZING burgers and some of the best chicken tortilla soup I’ve ever had. If there’s a bit of space nerd in you, this town will not disappoint (make sure you also check out the Very Large Array outside of Socorro, New Mexico for more space-related awesomeness). If you're a skeptic to the idea of aliens, enter the town with an open mind and maybe the people of Roswell will convince you to believe.