New Mexico enjoys a diversity of landscapes that offer endless opportunities for natural areas research. While outsiders may think New Mexico is primarily desert, the Rio Grande runs the length of the this state which has more named peaks than Colorado. The area around Socorro boasts the confluence of the Colorado Plateau, Great Plains, Conifer systems at higher elevation and the northern limit of the Chihuahuan Desert (image to left from Sevilleta LTER).
Within 30 minutes of Socorro, you can be in ponderosa pine forest, desert grassland, Rio Grande-irrigated farmland or pinon-juniper woodland. This diversity of ecosytems, coupled with extremely low population density, makes this part of New Mexico incredible for outdoor recreation and field research.
Socorro is perhaps the least pretensions town in the mountain west. But the benefits of living in a remote place constitute drawbacks for other people. The population of Socorro is ~8000. There is only one, small grocery other than Wal-Mart. The town offers several good Mexican restaurants, one brewery, one coffee shop, and a legit cowboy bar on the plaza. For touring music acts, museums and fine arts, Albuquerque is an hour away...
For potential graduate students, I assume that if you have more than a casual interest (or hope to cultivate one) in rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and camping, you will find your time in Socorro to be thoroughly enjoyable. We have beautiful and remote field sites in mountain and grassland areas, in addition to the agricultural work which has its own beauty. Also, the cost of living is incredibly reasonable. If you are not (or do not plan on becoming) interested in outdoor recreation, or need livelier night-life than talking about pick-up trucks, rattlesnakes and baling hay at the Capitol Bar, this town is not going to work for you. But this is only my opinion, and while I do love it here, I would encourage you to visit before making any decision about relocating here.
Watershed nutrient cycling field site with Sierra Ladrones in background.
Rock spire in the Monzano Mountains ~1.5hrs east of Socorro