Having traveled numerous times through NM, Arizona, and southern Colorado I must say it contains some of the most beautiful canyons and such, but overall I got the weirdest claustrophobic feeling out in the middle of nothing, and I think it is because it is visually clear that one is driving around on the bottom of what was once a giant ocean, complete with bathtub rings on all the hills! My id kicks in with afraid-of-the-dark images of all that water suddenly returning. (If I had a phobia, closest would be fear of tidal waves or tsunami - and I don’t think a very logical fear is phobic; have no associated symptoms other than DO. NOT. WANT.) It’s very nice on the high ground where Lake Bonneville or whatever once was, Sedona and Flagstaff are both lovely. (If you like dry and pine-y.)
Don’t know how long ago you lived in NM, Robert (I bet it’s a while), but one factor is interesting. I’ve noticed - mostly in SW Colorado - a bigger media presence for our Native Americans. Hopefully quietly (they do not need to draw the attention of this Administration) there are short films, even features, with native tongues and dubbing/captions. Despite the neglect and suppression this strength is growing again. Yet, most popular media still presents their life as uneducated hangers-on. Archaic and hopefully obsolete stereotyping, if you ask me.