The loop takes 9 hours and 23 mins to drive (not including stops) and covers 492 miles. Many of the locations on this journey are haunted hotels so there are plenty of places to stay along the way.
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll encounter ghosts, you will definitely find gorgeous scenery, scrumptious food, hotels with a long and often bloody history, and perhaps that certain prickling feeling on the back of your neck.
1. KiMo Theatre, 421 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Technically, Albuquerque is in Central New Mexico, but we’ll start here because it’s a geographically convenient city in which to begin and end our loop. Plus there’s no shortage of ghosts in Duke City. So let's head to the KiMo Theatre.
This stellar piece of Pueblo Deco architecture opened in 1927. Sadly, a 1951 boiler explosion at the theatre claimed the life of a boy named Bobby Darnall. His spirit remains at the KiMo, where he enjoys playing tricks on performers. To increase your odds of spotting Bobby, check out the lobby and its staircase, where he has most often been sighted.
2. Hotel Parq Central, 806 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Even when this building functioned as a psychiatric hospital, patients believed it to be haunted. Apparently, the spirits here liked to pull patients’ bed sheets off during the night. It has since become the Hotel Parq Central but the odds are good that ghosts are still in residence.
(This shot shows the building before it became a hotel.)
3. La Fonda on the Plaza, 100 E. San Francisco Street, Santa Fe
Drive north along I-25 toward Santa Fe, which boasts three more haunted hotels.
Multiple restless spirits roam La Fonda including a judge, a slain bride, and a cowboy. But if you’re hungry, grab a bite at La Plazuela. The hotel’s restaurant is located in a lovely courtyard, which is now enclosed.
When it was still open to the elements, a failed salesman allegedly committed suicide by leaping into the courtyard’s well. His ghost has been sighted disappearing into the floor in that same spot - very Willy Loman.
4. Drury Plaza Hotel, 828 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Once the Old Saint Vincent Hospital, this hotel is super creepy - as in people claim blood appears on the basement walls creepy. If that’s not enough to give you chills, there have also ben several reports of mysterious crying on the third floor, which is believed to be coming from the spirit of a baby.
5. La Posada de Santa Fe, 330 E Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501
This hotel grew to encompass the old Staab House and it is that building that people believe is haunted. The spirit in question belongs to the lady of the house, Julia Staab. In fact, the hotel named its restaurant, “Julia: a Spirited Restaurant and Bar,” after her.
Optional stop: Fairview Cemetery, 1134 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Although Julia Staab is buried here, this cemetery is unnerving for a whole other reason. Until the recent construction of a subterranean wall, prairie dogs that had invaded the cemetery repeatedly unearthed human remains here.
6. Doc Martin Restaurant, 125 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM 87571
Refuel at the Doc Martin Restaurant, located inside the Taos Inn.
This restaurant is frequented by the ghost of Arthur Manby, a controversial land speculator who arrived in New Mexico in 1883. In 1929, a headless corpse was discovered in his home (next door to the Taos Inn). Some thought the body was Manby’s, while others believed he had staged his death and used someone else’s body in place of his own. The truth was never discovered, but a spectre that resembles Manby has been spied in the kitchen at the Doc Martin Restaurant.
7. Elizabethtown, New Mexico
Continue on to this Northern New Mexican ghost town. While it’s not haunted, it was home to a serial killer. A man named Charles Kennedy used to rent rooms in his home to weary travelers. He then robbed and murdered them.
8. St. James Hotel, 617 S. Collison Avenue, Cimarron
Retrace your steps and continue on to Cimarron.
The list of guests who’ve stayed at the St. James Hotel reads like a Who’s Who of the Wild West. Billy the Kid, Black Jack Ketchum, Jesse James, the Earp brothers…
At least 26 people died here over the years and not all of them from natural causes. Bullet holes are still visible in the hotel. Room 18 is permanently out of commission because it belongs to a spirit named T. J. Wright and he doesn’t like to share!
9. Dawson, New Mexico, 87740
When you arrive in the ghost town of Dawson, turn when you see a sign for the cemetery. That’s pretty much all that remains of this haunted town. It’s the location of two massive mining disasters. The first explosion, in 1913, killed 263 miners, while 121 people lost their lives in a second accident, in 1923. This place feels decidedly spooky.
10. Shuler Theater, 131 N 2nd St, Raton, NM 87740
The Shuler Theater, now a state landmark, opened in 1915. The first performance was a musical comedy. Less amusing are the mysterious noises and cold spots reported here.
11. Plaza Hotel, 230 Plaza Street, Las Vegas
The Plaza Hotel, constructed in 1882, has an impressive façade and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its interior certainly takes you back in time. Be sure to check out the lobby bar, which is called Byron T’s. Byron T. Mills once owned the hotel and he apparently decided to continuing occupying his property even after death!
Head south, back down I-25. At the far edge of Santa Fe, veer off onto Highway 14, also known as the Turquoise Trail. There are plenty of pseudo ghost towns along this route: Los Cerrillos, Madrid (which was once a ghost town) and Golden.
12. Los Cerrillos, New Mexico
Although this is often classified as a ghost town, a few residents remain in Los Cerrillos. As you pull into this historic town, you may be tempted to check whether you’re driving a DeLorean, because it certainly feels like traveling back in time. Whether or not this Wild West town contains actual ghosts is unclear, but paranormal activity wouldn’t seem out of place here.
Rejoin I-40 and return to Albuquerque to complete your trip.
Have you had a paranormal encounter at any of these places? Are you bold enough to take this drive? Let us know.