If New Mexico were a quilt, then small towns would form the bulk of the fabric holding our state together. Life there is vastly different than it is in the city. There’s a stronger sense of community and things move at a slower pace. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or you want to move someplace less hectic, these 15 small towns might provide the solution you’re seeking.
1. High Rolls
While farmers and homesteaders were the earliest settlers in High Rolls, the arrival of the railroad kept this unincorporated community chugging along – at a sedate pace of course! Nowadays, the population of this Otero County town is 834. High Rolls hosts an annual cherry festival in June and an apple one in October.
Vaughn is another New Mexico town that was shaped by the railroad. The population of this town in Guadalupe County is 446, and life here happens at a mosey!
There’s more going on in this town of roughly 1200 people than you might expect. The vibrant building pictured above houses the Peñasco Theatre Collective, known for circus arts, and also Sugar Nymphs Bistro, a restaurant that prides itself on using local produce. Additionally, several galleries can be found in this town located on the High Road to Taos.
4. Wagon Mound
Wagon Mound, located in Mora County, is home to 314 people. In September, the village hosts a Bean Day Celebration. This includes a mud bog race, a rodeo, and a free beans and barbecue lunch!
Tohatchi, located in McKinley County, has 1037 residents. This census designated area boasts Chuska Lake, a good spot to unwind with a little fishing.
Texico, in Curry County, has a population of 1130. Its name – a blend of the words "Texas" and "New Mexico" speaks to its location on the border with those two states. Farwell is on the Texas side.
7. Tierra Amarilla
The unincorporated community of Tierra Amarilla lies in Rio Arriba County and has a population of 382. The area lends itself to a slower pace of life because recreation opportunities and natural beauty abound. Tierra Amarilla is close to the gorgeous Brazos Cliffs and also to Heron Lake and El Vado Lake.
A mere 75 people live in this teeny unincorporated community in Otero County. The number of vacation homes in the area attest to Mayhill’s relaxed vibe.
The 314 residents of Gila, in Grant County, have access to Silver City, which is 30 miles away. But Gila’s remote location ensures that there is enough peace and quiet to go around.
Logan, in Quay County, is conveniently close to Ute Lake State Park. That gives its 1042 residents a peaceful place to chill out if they’re feeling stressed. Popular park activities include boating, fishing, birding, and swimming.
11. La Luz
La Luz is a town of 1697 people, between Tularosa and Alamogordo, in Otero County. It has a reputation as a fruit-growing region. Maybe that explains why local restaurant, Nuckleweed Place, is such a delicious spot to savor breakfast.
Despite having a small airport, Tatum, in Lea County, remains a place where life trundles rather than speeds along. It’s home to 798 residents and a great burger joint called Tiny’s Burger Barn.
Only 651 people live in Melrose, in County Curry. Its most famous resident was William Hanna (the animator who partnered with Barbera).
On edge of Cibola National Forest, teeny Tajique has a population of 130. A community with so few residents has to be close-knit.
Today, you’d never guess that Cimarron once supported 15 saloons and had a reputation as a raucous place that attracted some of the most dangerous outlaws in the Wild West. In fact, at least 26 murders took place in the haunted St. James Hotel. Nowadays, this town of 1021 people, in Colfax County, is better known for its natural beauty and for being next to Philmont Scout Ranch.
Have you visited or resided in any of these places? What’s your favorite of New Mexico’s many small towns?
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