Communities in the Southwest Set Along Water or Mountains

America’s Southwest is unique for its otherworldly environments. States like Arizona and New Mexico provide a one-of-a-kind setting, with everything from lakes, deserts, mountains, and forests. These states are unique and beautiful, and there is something for every taste, from Farmington and Raton to Cerillos. Let’s explore some Southwest towns with picturesque locations either near bodies of water or alongside mountains.


While America’s Southwest certainly isn’t known for its water, as it is more of a dry landscape, that doesn’t mean there aren’t communities throughout that provide access to natural waterfronts. Let’s explore some of these towns and cities set along the water.

Firstly, we have Abiquiu, Albuquerque, and Aztec. Abiquiu is a tiny community home to a permanent population under 300, located in New Mexico’s north. This community is situated alongside the Abiquiu Reservoir, a popular destination for swimmers. The waters from this reservoir wind throughout the town in skinny streams called the Rio Chama.

Albuquerque is New Mexico’s biggest city, a major metropolis located in a desert setting. In the early 18th century, the city was founded and had a unique past as a Spanish colony and tribal destination. The Rio Grande winds through this town, and numerous homes and sites in the city are set along this long body of water. Aztec is a small town based on the Animas River. It is located only a short drive from the nearby Colorado border and houses the famed Aztec Ruins National Monument.

Elephant Butte, Red River, and Truth or Consequences are three more southwest waterfront towns. Elephant Butte is a small town alongside the Elephant Butte Reservoir and Elephant Butte Lake State Park. This is one of the more picturesque settings in the state, with deep blue waters located on a dramatic rocky backdrop.

Red River is a town incredibly popular amongst tourists, with the river it is named for winding through the town. It is a popular destination for hiking, as its mountain setting combines both waterfront living and mountain views. Truth or Consequences is a town noted for its strange name, but there is more to it than that. It is set only a short distance from Elephant Butte Reservoir and situated near hot springs and spas that draw many to the area.


The mountain ranges in the Southwest are some of the most famed in the United States, offering gorgeous panoramas of desert landscapes. Let’s look at some towns set alongside major mountains.

Santa Fe, Taos, and Cloudcroft are all famed for their picturesque settings. Santa Fe is New Mexico’s capital, located in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. It has a unique history that can be traced back to the early 1600s; with stunning architecture and mountains like Lake Peak and Thompson Peak nearby, it is no wonder Santa Fe is a tourism hotspot.

Taos is located Northeast of Santa Fe in the heart of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Taos is unique for its standing as an artist colony, with incredible galleries and top-notch museums. It also has a historic Pueblo past and incredible hiking trails that leave from the city. Cloudcroft is a small community famed for its skiing and open forest. It is a year-round destination for mountain biking, hiking, and more.

Lastly, we have Ruidoso, Los Alamos, and Silver City. Ruidoso is a popular village set in the Sierra Blanca Mountain Range. If you are a lover of skiing, this is a great place to go, as there are nearby resorts that are some of the best in the state. There are also mountain trails and waterfalls that make this village ideal for nature lovers.

Los Alamos is set near several mountains, including Caballo Mountain, Shell Mountain, and Pajarito Mountain, with a top-notch ski area. It is well-known as the site of the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear bomb, but this unpleasant history doesn’t impact the town’s present beauty. Silver City is a small town near Gila National Forest, surrounded by mountains and woods. Bear Mountain is a tall peak nearby that provides great hiking, and Gila National Forest is a beautiful destination to explore.