This is where the aliens landed ... maybe. Some believe it started in 1947, when the U.S. military recovered unusual wreckage on a ranch near Roswell. Though the official report later claimed it was the remnants of a weather balloon, others maintain that it was a crashed UFO with the bodies of space aliens inside. Whatever it was, it has given people a better reason to journey to this medium-sized agricultural town in southeastern New Mexico.
The principal stop on the extraterrestrial tour is at the UFO Museum and Research Center, right on Main Street in the middle of downtown. It relates the story of the Roswell incident, but the exhibits are confusing and full of wordy signs: Unless you have a lot of time to read all the verbiage, you may not learn much. We did like the dioramas of the crash site, though. Probably the best thing about the museum is the gift shop, which is a treasure trove of kitschy souvenirs, including alien dolls, alien Frisbees and alien can holders. (If the museum's gift selection isn't enough for you, there are lots of other extraterrestrial-themed shops nearby.) Admission to the museum is free, though you'll be strongly encouraged to make a donation. If the museum convinces you that the truth is out there, you may want to go look for it at the site where the UFO may have crashed, northwest of town. Tours are available.
The town's other museum of note—the Roswell Museum and Art Center—is quite straightforward when compared with the UFO Museum. It has a large collection of historical artifacts from the region as well as a comprehensive collection of Southwestern art. Each summer more than 20,000 visitors descend on the city for its UFO festival, usually held the first four days in July. 170 mi/275 km southeast of Albuquerque.
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