Located in one of the most fertile valleys in New Mexico, Farmington is just east of the Navajo Nation Reservation, which stretches into Arizona. The city hosts a huge hot-air balloon fiesta every Memorial Day weekend, and an elaborate outdoor theater stage. The city's Sunray Park and Casino offers quarter horse and Thoroughbred racing September-November and gambling year-round. Farmington also boasts Pinion Hills, an award-winning municipal golf course.
Aztec Ruins National Monument lies 30 mi/50 km northeast of Farmington, the site of well-preserved ruins built circa AD 1100. The Great Kiva, a huge ceremonial building, is the most impressive structure—and it's the only fully restored great kiva built by the Ancestral Puebloans. By the way, the real Aztecs never got near the site of Aztec Ruins National Monument, but the early settlers' misnomer for the pueblos stuck. Aztec also is the site of New Mexico's lesser-known UFO crash and alien recovery, which supposedly took place in 1948. A UFO conference is held in the summer, and tours are available for those who want to see the alleged landing site.
The Salmon Ruins (11 mi/18 km east of Farmington) are another Ancestral Pueblo site. These structures were built by the same group that produced the monumental pueblos at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which lies to the south.
The most visually striking landmark in the area is the sacred Shiprock, a 1,700-ft/530-m eroded volcanic plume known to the Navajos as "Rock With Wings," located 30 mi/50 km west of Farmington off Highway 64 (you will see it long before you get to it). There's also a nearby town called Shiprock, which hosts the Northern Navajo Fair every fall, usually the first weekend in October. Farmington is 150 mi/240 km northwest of Albuquerque.
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