New Mexico’s tourist centers are the state’s welcome mat to visitors. They are our first impression and we all know about those.
It is understandable that in the budget crisis the governor continues to consider at her leisure, it would make sense to politicians protecting their turf to close tourist centers, writing them off as frivolous. That is simply not true.
The visitor centers are a mixed bag. The center you encounter when entering New Mexico from Arizona on I-40 is truly a welcome center. It starts with easy ingress, an easy to comprehend parking lot, great landscaping and curb appeal. Once inside, you’re greeted by friendly staff who direct you to your particular need. The tourist information is varied and educational. Bathrooms have running water, are clean, with paper towels and hand driers.
Contrast that to the eyesore heading south on I-25 toward Truth or Consequences. You’re greeted by a sign that states, “Watch out for Rattlesnakes.” A good warning in the desert but not very welcoming. The smell as you approach the center warns you the septic system is not in the best condition, and don’t look for paper products of any kind once you’ve braved entering the bathrooms. We assume the rest of the tourist centers in the state are a similar mix of great and not-so-great experiences.