When you’re driving through New Mexico, you pass countless small towns. Few of us are able to explore them all. As a town’s sign shrinks in your rearview mirror, only curiosity remains. Well, wonder no more. Here’s a sneak peek at 11 teeny tiny New Mexico towns.
1. Cliff, Grant County
The bridge pictured spans the Gila River, close to the town of Cliff – population 293. The town hosts the annual Grant County Fair and is convenient to the stunning Gila Wilderness.
2. Grady, Curry County
Established as a farming and ranching village, Grady has seen more than its share of disasters, from a fire in 1925 to a tornado in 1952. However, this teeny Curry County village is still home to 107 residents.
3. Mosquero, Harding and San Miguel Counties
Mosquero got its start as a railroad, farming, and ranching town. It hasn’t grown all that much – according to the last census, the population was 93. Despite its diminutive size, Mosquero straddles two counties and is actually the county seat of Harding County.
4. Datil, Catron County
While Datil might seem a mere speck on the map, this community of 54 people is close to the Very Large Array, Cibola National Forest, and Enchanted Tower, which is popular with rock climbers. You’ll also find some of the finest steaks in New Mexico at Eagle Guest Ranch in Datil!
5. Des Moines, Union County
Only 143 people live in Des Moines, which was named after the Iowa capital. The town is close to an extinct shield volcano called Sierra Grande; you’ll find a yummy local restaurant with the same name here. The abandoned building pictured was once a Freedom School. These schools for African American students – predominantly in Mississippi – taught Black history and about the Civil Rights Movement.
6. Orogrande, Otero County
A mere 52 people now live in Orogrande. However, the town experienced a gold rush in 1905 (that’s why its name is Big Gold in Spanish) and the population swelled to around 2000 citizens. At that time Orogrande had a hotel, newspaper, and hospital. Now, abandoned mines still dot the area as a reminder of the town’s past.
7. El Rito, Rio Arriba County
Scenic little El Rito (population 808) is surrounded by the Carson National Forest. In addition to lovely surroundings, you’ll also find El Farolito, a hidden gem of a restaurant that dishes up delectable chile rellenos.
8. Timberon, Otero County
The tiny resort town of Timberon lies on the edge of the Lincoln National Forest. It has
309 residents. Weird fact: In 1976, a missile from White Sands Missile Range went astray and landed in Timberon!
9. Fence Lake, Cibola County
Given that Fence Lake has a population of 42, you wouldn’t expect this community to host many events. However, there is actually an annual 4th July parade (pictured).
10. Elida, Roosevelt County
You’ll find Elida close to the Texas border. This town of 183 people used to serve as a trading hub for local ranchers. Then, later, the railroad arrived. Bizarrely, in 1913, what amounted to a plague of grasshoppers took over the town, making it impossible for the trains to run!
11. Reserve, Catron County
Flickr/Jimmy Emerson, DVM
Considering its size (289 people live here), Reserve is something of a culinary oasis in the middle of nowhere. Both Ella’s Café and the Adobe Café and Bakery are well worth a visit. The town is also known for being the place where local hero Elfago Baca survived 80 Texan cowboys firing 4000 rounds at him!