If you’ve ever watched a ghost hunting show you’ve probably thought that the actual process of tracking down restless spirits doesn’t seem that hard. You visit a haunted place (preferably during bad weather), break out some fancy-looking tech, and wait for the creepy stuff to happen. Admittedly, most of us don’t lug around EVP recorders or IR lights. So, it’s pretty much us, a cell phone, and maybe a teddy bear if you suspect things are likely to get terrifying fast. If the idea of conducting a little amateur ghost hunting appeals to you, here are 10 places in New Mexico where you have a better than average chance of spotting a ghost.
1. St. James Hotel (Cimarron)
A staggering 26 people have died at the St. James Hotel. Many of them were shot to death; you can still spy bullet holes in the hotel. The resident ghost, one T.J. Wright, occupies room 18. You can't stay in that room since it's already occupied but when you stay here, know that you're walking in the footsteps of past guests like Billy the Kid, Black Jack Ketchum, Jesse James and more.
2. Dawson Cemetery (Dawson)
The tragic history of Dawson is well known. In 1913, an explosion killed 263 workers in the town's mines. A decade later, in 1923, a second mining accident claimed the lives of 121 people. The cemetery is all that remains of the town and, to this day, Dawson feels decidedly eerie.
3. El Rancho Hotel (Gallup)
This hotel has hosted movie stars galore, from Doris Day to Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, and Katherine Hepburn. But if you're hoping for a ghostly encounter, book the bridal suite, where the doors supposedly open and close on their own. There have also been reports of mysterious footsteps and laughter in the upper lobby.
4. New Mexico State Penitentiary (Santa Fe)
New Mexico State Pen was the site of one of the nation's worst ever prison riots. During this event, which occurred in February 1980, 33 people died under horrendously violent circumstances. No wonder it's supposed to be haunted. To learn about the riot for yourself, sign up for a tour of "Old Main." Bear in mind that this is an operational prison facility and the waiver you must sign to participate might be scarier than any ghostly sightings.
5. Fort Stanton (in Fort Stanton)
Forts are often rumored to be haunted and Fort Stanton is no exception. In 1962, an army doctor and a captain got into a gunfight here, which resulted in the death of both men. Then, in 1899, the fort became a tuberculosis hospital for Merchant Marines. This facility has also been used as an internment camp, women's prison, and rehab treatment center. Given all the pain and suffering of those who lived at Fort Stanton, it's no surprise that restless spirits remain.
6. The Drury Plaza Hotel (Santa Fe)
This hotel was once a hospital. People have reported hearing the sound of a baby crying on the 3rd floor. However, the creepiest part of this establishment relates to rumors that blood has been known to appear on the basement walls!
If you still have an appetite after ghost hunting, there's an excellent restaurant on site, called Eloisa.
7. The Double Eagle Restaurant (Mesilla)
The Double Eagle Restaurant was the site of a double stabbing. When it was a private home belonging to the Maes family, the lady of the house learned that her son was in a relationship with one of their servants. She banned the union but her son, Armando, didn't listen. When Mrs. Maes walked in on the lovers together, she stabbed them with her sewing shears. Both Armando and the servant, Inez, died.
Head to the Carlotta Salon to maximize your chances of seeing the ghosts of these lovers - that was Armando's old bedroom.
8. Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (near Taos)
This bridge affords stunning views of the Rio Grande 800 feet below and it's one of the most incredible sights in New Mexico. However, this structure has been dubbed "suicide bridge" because roughly two people kill themselves here each year. There are now 10 emergency boxes in place along the bridge to connect anyone considering jumping with the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line. Hopefully, these measures will help, but they cannot erase the past tragedies that have occurred here.
One ghost has been spotted several times on the bridge. People claim to have seen a young woman wearing jeans and a white t-shirt walk across the bridge and vanish at the midpoint.
9. The Luna Mansion (Los Lunas)
The Luna Mansion is haunted by the spirit of Josefita Otero, who used to live in this house. The room where she is most commonly seen is now named The Spirit Lounge!
10. Bonito Lake (near Ruidoso)
Typically, this lake near Ruidoso is open from April through November but it will remain closed until the summer of 2018 as a result of damage caused by the Little Bear Fire.
The lake sits on top of what was once Bonito City. This mining settlement was shaken to its core when a man named Martin Nelson, who was interrupted during a robbery, shot his way to freedom. He slaughtered eight people before being killed by law enforcement. Nelson was supposedly buried face down in his coffin and it is his spirit that some believe haunts Bonito Lake.
There is no city to view today. After Bonito City became a ghost town, the whole town was removed and the site flooded to create a lake.
We’d love to hear about any paranormal encounters you’ve had, either at these specific places or anywhere else in New Mexico. Just head over to the Only In New Mexico Facebook Page. For more spooky suggestions, consider taking our scary road trip through Northern New Mexico or through the Southern part of the state.