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Most Haunted Locations in New Mexico

haunted room at Double Eagle in Las Cruces

New Mexico’s protected history and well-preserved historic sites come with some paranormal territory. Here you will find eight of the most haunted locations in New Mexico.


St. James motel sign through an inside window.

St. James Hotel in Cimarron has been operating for over a century. Many famous western figures like Billy the Kid, Annie Oakley, and Black Jack Ketchum have stayed at this hotel. It was originally known as the Lambert Inn and was considered one of the finest inns on the Santa Fe Trail during the time of the Wild West. The inn’s saloon flourished with business, but it attracted some violent characters. Thus, 26 people were murdered in the hotel, and it is thought that some of their spirits are still haunting the place today.Some modern-day visitors of the hotel attest to its spookiness as they have felt the presence of spirits. Other visitors have claimed to see ghostly figures during their stay. According to one of the former owners, she witnessed a cowboy reflected in the bar mirror behind her, even though no one was there.

Many speculate that one of the spirits is that of Thomas James Wright. During a poker game, Thomas won the entire inn. As he was walking back to his room, he was shot in the back. He died in his room, and some say he never left. Thomas’ former room, number 18 to be exact, is padlocked and guests cannot stay there. Staff members, in fact, rarely go into the room after a previous owner experienced paranormal activity in it. She said she was pushed down to the floor by a spirit and, during a separate occurrence, she saw a strange orange light floating through the room.

Though frightening, the St. James Hotel is teeming with Old West charm and is a thrilling place to stay. The walls in the hotel are adorned with interesting historic pictures and artifacts for visitors to learn from and the saloon downstairs has been converted to a restaurant for guests to enjoy. Visit the St. James Hotel website for more information on this spooky place.


The KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque was founded by Oreste Bachechi in 1927. Oreste’s sons took over the theatre shortly after it opened, and all seemed well until a tragedy occurred.

A 6-year-old boy, Bobby Darnell, was killed when the boiler in the basement exploded. The little boy is said to have haunted the theatre from that point forward. Performers claim that Bobby’s ghost tries to play tricks on them while they’re performing and some have seen him playing on the steps of the lobby. Another ghostly figure is often seen peacefully walking through the halls of the theatre.


hotel park central with hot air baloons

Hotel Parq Central in Albuquerque was once a hospital before being transformed into a chic hotel. It was originally Santa Fe Hospital and was later renamed Memorial Hospital after a group of psychiatrists acquired the building. People were treated at the hospital until it was turned into a hotel in 2010.

Before the hospital was converted, employees would often hear strange voices and see floating objects. More than ten years later, guests at Hotel Parq Central have had similar frightening experiences.

The hotel’s haunted reputation brought Ghost Hunters to investigate the mysterious building. The Ghost Hunters show hosts claims they were able to have a former patient communicate with a spirit via flashlight.

If you’re looking for a spooky adventure, check out the hotel’s website.


Clayton, New Mexico, is notorious for being haunted, including the Union County Courthouse. While the courthouse deals with its jurisdictive responsibilities, it also deals with ongoing hauntings.

Outlaw Tom Ketchum, better known as Black Jack, was hung outside the courthouse for robbing trains. His hanging was executed incorrectly, resulting in his decapitation. Some speculate that his spirit is angry with how his hanging was carried out and still haunts the courthouse, despite it being rebuilt in 1909.

Employees report seeing apparition-like figures in the halls of the courthouse and have even felt Black Jack’s spirit follow them through the building. In addition, the jail cell where he was kept until his execution is said to be exceptionally cold.

Clayton’s other haunted locations also include Hotel Eklund and the Herzstein Museum. It’s no wonder Clayton has a haunted reputation.


The abandoned Doña Ana County Courthouse and jail was built in 1937. Since its abandonment, it has become quite an attraction in Las Cruces. Part of its appeal lies in its eerie halls.

The old courthouse is said to be haunted by various spirits, some of which are considered to be malevolent. People say that the building is mysterious and most experience strange things while visiting. Unknown voices, walking sounds, and slamming jail cell doors have been heard.

This haunted site has garnered the attention of several paranormal investigators including the television show Ghost Adventures. If you are interested in conducting your own paranormal investigation, contact Southwest Expeditions.


La fonds in Santa Fe

On the Plaza in Santa Fe, you can find La Fonda Hotel. La Fonda Hotel was built in 1922 and before that, other inns existed in the same location. Before La Fonda was built, several people had already died at the site. The first reported death was that of an unknown person who was hung outside by a lynch mob. Later, John Slough, a former chief justice of New Mexico territory, was shot and killed in the hotel lobby. Guests at La Fonda have often heard mysterious footsteps during the quiet hours of the night, believed to be John’s spirit.

Other guests have reported seeing an apparition disappear into the floor. Some think this spirit is that of a businessman who committed suicide after losing all his company’s money in a card game. He fell to his death in the hotel’s well which might explain why some see a ghostly figure disappear into the floor.

Check out the La Fonda website to learn more about its fascinating history!


In the center of historic Old Mesilla, just south of Las Cruces, is The Double Eagle Restaurant. Rumors of its haunting is just one of the many reasons for its popularity. Double Eagle’s reputation for being haunted led paranormal investigators from the television show Ghost Hunters to visit the hotel in 2017.

Before being transformed into the fine dining experience it is today, it was a home belonging to a prominent family. It is said that the mother killed her eldest son and their family servant after becoming aware of their forbidden romantic entanglement. Their spirits are thought to roam the halls together to this day.

The spookiest representation of their presence can be seen on two chairs. The chairs are in the Carlotta Salon, the son’s old bedroom, and they appear to be worn from human bodies though they are sparingly used. Many guests have described the salon to be very cold, perhaps because the teenagers’ spirits never left. Some visitors report having nightmares after sitting the chairs. You can request the Carlotta Salon when making dinner reservations but just remember that a few extra guests might be joining you! To access more information about this iconic haunted location, visit the Double Eagle website.


The Old State Penitentiary in Santa Fe County is yet another haunted location in New Mexico. One of the worst prison riots in American history occurred at this very location in 1980 and it’s presumed to be the reason behind its haunting. Several inmates initiated the riot and gained control over the prison for a day and a half. They tortured 12 prison guards and brutally murdered 33 inmates. On the concrete floor are some hash marks where inmates were decapitated during the riot.

As if that is not creepy enough, the prison is also rumored to host a plethora of spirits. Dark ghostly shadows, unexplainable slamming of cell doors, and strange noises can all be experienced in this building.

Most Haunted Places in New Mexico

New Mexico is one state that has more than its fair share of creepy locations!

Whatever the reason, hidden among the mountains and the deserts there are various haunted locations each with their own spooky tales to tell.

1. Dawson Cemetery, Cimarron

Dawson Cemetery in Cimarron, New Mexico

Dawson Cemetery in Cimarron, New Mexico

Dawson is a ghost town close to Cimarron, but there is very little left now, well apart from the cemetery which also just so happens to be one of the most haunted places in New Mexico!

Dawson originally sprang up around the large coal mining operation that was run by the Phelps Dodge Corporation.

However, the town and the mine were shrouded in death and destruction, so much so that it almost seems fitting that only the cemetery remains!

In 1913, a massive explosion killed 263 men going down in history as one of the worst coal mining tragedies in American history.

As if that was not bad enough, in 1923 disaster struck once more at the mine and claimed the lives of all 121 remaining miners!

With such massive tragedy, it is no surprise that there are ghost stories here!

Common reports include spectral lights believed to be the miners’ helmet lights and various apparitions wandering among the graves.

2. LaPosada Hotel, Santa Fe STAY HERE

LaPosada Hotel in Sante Fe, New Mexico

LaPosada Hotel in Sante Fe, New Mexico

Located in one of the most haunted cities in America, La Posada Hotel is said to be haunted by the ghost of Julia Staab, the former mistress of the house which is now part of the hotel.

It is said that Julia fell into a deep depression following multiple miscarriages and the death of her only child. This led her to become a shut-in and she not only lived the remainder of her life inside the house, but she also died there.

It is thought that this has tethered her to the property even in death and many staff and guests have reported seeing her spirit in the hotel, usually crying in a corner, or simply looking forlorn.

3. KiMo Theater, Albuquerque

KiMo Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico

KiMo Theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Not only is Albuquerque’s Kimo Theater a stunning building to look at, but it is also considered to be one of the most haunted places in the state.

The resident ghost is believed to be a young boy named Bobby who died in the building back in 1951.

During a movie screening, the water heater in the lobby exploded killing the youngster instantly.

He is now said to roam the theater causing all sorts of mischief! In fact, performers have taken to leaving him small gifts and toys to try and occupy him so that his tricks do not interfere with the performances!

However, if he is not impressed by the offerings he likes to mess with the electronics and distract the actors making them fluff their lines!

4. Atoka School, Artesia

One of the creepiest things about Atoka School is that it more or less just closed overnight and to this day nobody actually seems to know why!

Did something terrible happen there? Is that why it is so haunted? Nobody knows!

In fact, the school is not the only establishment to close down rapidly in this building…

Over the years it has served a number of purposes and every single time the business has closed more or less overnight with little or no warning.

These days it is a popular place for teenagers to hang out and try to scare each other.

They usually do not have to try very hard since most who have visited said that there is a dark energy that lives in the walls and many reports having heard groans, snarls and what can only be described as demonic voices.

5. Luna Mansion, Los Lunas

Luna Mansion Los Lunas, New Mexico

Luna Mansion Los Lunas, New Mexico

Luna Mansion is said to be haunted by Josefita Otero who died in 1951 at the age of 77. She was responsible for overseeing renovations to the mansion which could be why she is still hanging around!

The location is fairly pleased that she has remained and gone out of their way to embrace their paranormal reputation.

They have even gone so far as to rename the room in which Josefita appears ‘The Spirit Lounge’! Josefita is frequently seen walking the staircase or sitting in her rocking chair in the Spirit Lounge!

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6. Old Bernalillo County Courthouse, Albuquerque

Old Bernalillo County Courthouse, Albuquerque

Old Bernalillo County Courthouse, Albuquerque

Old Bernalillo County Courthouse was built in 1926 and over the years it has garnered a reputation as one of the most haunted places in the Land of Enchantment.

In particular, it is the basement of the building which is said to be extremely haunted.

Witnesses have reported seeing flickering lights, encountering cold spots, and mysterious gusts of wind.

In fact, the courthouse has such a reputation for being a paranormal hotspot that has also been used as a haunted house attraction at Halloween!

7. Shaffer Hotel, Mountainair

Shaffer Hotel in Mountainair, New Mexico

Shaffer Hotel in Mountainair, New Mexico

Many people are put off of the Shaffer Hotel in Mountainair because of the swastikas carved into the facade.

However, it is important to remember that the symbol is 3000 years old and this building was constructed long before World War II when it came to symbolize such horror and atrocity.

If anything should put guests off spending the night it is not the swastikas, but rather the fact that this is one of the most haunted locations in New Mexico.

The Shaffer Hotel is so haunted that it has actually hosted paranormal conferences in the past!

Guests often report seeing flashing lights and strange shapes and shadows flitting around inside!

8. Urraca Mesa, Angel Fire

Urraca Mesa in Angel Fire, New Mexico

Urraca Mesa in Angel Fire, New Mexico

Urraca Mesa is found on the Philmont Scout Ranch – a property near Angel Fire that is owned by the Boy Scouts of America.

However, the legend that is linked to this location is much more than a campfire ghost story!

The land was originally occupied by Native American tribes who believed that Urraca Mesa is actually a gateway to the demon realm, or to put it in more simple terms – the mouth of Hell!

9. Albuquerque Press Club, Albuquerque

Albuquerque Press Club in Albuquerque New Mexico

Albuquerque Press Club in Albuquerque New Mexico

Albuquerque Press Club is housed in what was formerly The Whittlesey House. The property was built in 1903 as a family residence.

It is a three-storey property built in the same manner as a Norwegian Villa with low pitch roofs, exposed log fronting, and rough cut log facades.

It is a very rustic look and was far removed from the family’s previous residence in Chicago!

When it was first built it stood on its own since the town had not yet grown out towards that area. There would not have been any vegetation or trees in the area either which gave the property fantastic views of the Sandias, the river, and the volcanoes.

In short – the location is pretty picturesque, which seems at odds with the fact that the building is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the state.

The house is now a private club – the Albuquerque Press Club – and it is said to be haunted by a spirit known as ‘Mrs M’.

The ghost is said to appear in the form of a woman in a black shawl.

Regulars have reported hearing the sound of her high heels on the floor and say that the piano can often be heard playing on its own!

10. Santa Fe State Penitentiary, Santa Fe

Santa Fe Penitentiary in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe Penitentiary in Santa Fe, New Mexico

While it was in operation, Santa Fe Penitentiary housed some of the very worst criminals in New Mexico!

It was also the site of the most violent prison riot in the history of the United States. Records indicate that during this riot there were 33 people killed and more than 200 inmates were treated for serious injuries.

During the riot alone people were burned alive, brutally attacked and murdered in cold blood and that is before we even take into consideration the deaths that would have occurred during everyday prison life outside of the riot!

To say that this place has some bad juju associated with it would probably be something of an understatement!

Tours are available in both standard and paranormal formats and many visitors say that they have been followed home by some of the dark spirits that reside here at Santa Fe State Penitentiary!

15 Scariest Haunted Places in New Mexico for Ghost-Spotting

How fun is ghost hunting? Extremely fun! One of the best ways to face your mortality is by encountering ghosts who haven’t moved on. They will remind you that no one lives forever. Although, anyone has the potential to haunt forever. With the Halloween season among us, what better way to celebrate than to experience the mysteries of the dead? This Halloween, even if you can’t visit these ghostly places, you can at least have some new ghost stories to tell others and keep you up at night. Here are 15 of the most haunted places in New Mexico.

1) Philmont Scout Ranch – Clayton, New Mexico


Hanged/Decapitated “Black Jack” Ketchum

The area around Clayton has seen its fair share of bloodshed and horror. It’s no surprise that it makes it on this list of haunted places in New Mexico.

Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum was the only person ever hanged in Clayton, New Mexico. He was executed for the crime of train robbery. One thing that makes Black Jack Ketchum really unlucky is that he was also the only person ever hanged in the state of New Mexico for train robbery. The law was found to be unconstitutional shortly after his hanging.

Encounter With The Ghost

One camper recounts his experience of running into the ghost of Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum. He had a run-in with the legendary train robber while camping. It was near the Philmont Scout Ranch in the nearby mountains with other boy scouts. One area they decided to camp near was an abandoned gold mine that served as Ketchum’s hideout. The hideout was a large rock overhang. The scouts thought it would be fun to camp there for the night. However, their leader insisted that they stay at a nearby-designated site. Disappointed, several of the scouts set their tents up several hundred feet away from the leader’s tent.

Suddenly, one of the rogue campers was awakened by a noise in the bushes. He said that he felt paralyzed, unable to move and tried to call out to the others. Then he saw a cowboy, dressed all in black come running out of the bushes toward the hideout. He said the man was mostly solid but some parts of him appeared translucent. He described the man as filthy dirty, with a tattered hat, clothes from the 1800s, and terribly yellowed teeth. His face was very red, glistening with sweat, with lots of facial hair and the apparition held a revolver.

The cowboy was apparently unaware of the scout, but the boy was very scared. A strange fog emanated from the tree line across from a small stream and he could hear men yelling, and then muffled gunfire. The cowboy turned and fired his revolver six times into the trees and then ran and stood right over the scout. The cowboy was wounded in the shoulder and discharged six bullets from his revolver right on top of him.

As he watched, the bullets disappeared as they fell onto his sleeping bag. The cowboy then reloaded his revolver, fired additional shots into the trees, and suddenly the cowboy saw the scout. The expression on the cowboy’s face indicated that the scout had just suddenly appeared before his eyes. He seemed to be confused and confounded, while the scout was terrified. Then, the cowboy un-cocked his pistol, looking at the scout very closely, and said, “You’re not supposed to be here,” and then just disappeared into thin air.

2) Fort Union, New Mexico

Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico. One of the original haunted places in New Mexico. Photo by Gary Tucker

Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico – Photo by Gary Tucker

Back in the days of the Wild West frontier (arguably these days are still here), Fort Union was one of the last spots of white civilization. One would have to travel many miles to find any other place where one could partake in social life. Among the ladies at the post was a young woman who happened to be the sister-in-law of a captain. She loved the variety and spice of adventure to be found there. She also loved the attention that the young officers paid to her. A young lieutenant proved especially susceptible to her charms and devoted himself to her in the hope that he should ultimately win her hand.

One day messengers came dashing into the fort with news of an Apache outbreak. The lieutenant was put in command of the expedition, but before starting he confided his love to the young woman, who not only acknowledged that she returned his affection, but promised that if the fortune of war deprived him of life she would never marry another. As he bade her farewell, he said he’ll come back to her no matter what happens.

In a few days, the detachment came back, but the lieutenant was missing. It was noticed that the woman didn’t seem to grieve much for him, and nobody was surprised when she announced her intention of marrying a young man from the East. On the eve of her wedding, a dance was arranged. As the dance was in full swing a door flew open with a bang. A loud cry was heard throughout the dancehall. In the doorway stood the body of a dead man dressed in the stained uniform of an officer. His temple was marked by a hatchet-gash, his scalp was gone, and his eyes were wide open.

The Start of the Death-Waltz

He walked to the bride and took her from the arms of her husband. Then he began to waltz with her. The musicians, who afterward declared that they did not know what they were doing, played as though bewitched. The couple spun around and around, the woman growing paler and paler until at last, she died in his arms. The dead man allowed her to sink to the floor, stood over her for a moment, wrung his hands as he sounded his fearful cry again, then vanished through the door. A few days after, a troop of soldiers who had been to the scene of the Apache encounter returned with the body of the lieutenant.

This legendary death-waltz is an eerie tale. It could simply be a great ghost story told by the soldiers to pass the time. Though maybe, just maybe, this eerie event did occur and you might be able to witness it during a visit to one of the most haunted places in New Mexico – the Fort Union National Monument.

3) The Luna-Otero Mansion – Los Lunas, New Mexico

Luna-Otero Mansion in Los Lunas, New Mexico. One of the haunted places in New Mexico. Photo by Graham Tiller

Luna-Otero Mansion in Los Lunas, New Mexico – Photo by Graham Tiller

In 1692 Domingo de Luna was granted land by the King of Spain in what would later become Los Lunas, New Mexico. A few years later, Don Pedro Otero arrived under similar circumstances. Over the years, the two families added to their fortunes through livestock and additional land acquisitions. Both families became extremely powerful and were involved in politics. The marriages of Solomon Luna to Adelaida Otero and Manuel A. Otero to Eloisa Luna in the late 1800s united these two families into what became known as the Luna-Otero Dynasty.

When the Santa Fe Railroad wanted a right-of-way through the Luna property in 1880, the proposed railroad tracks were planned directly through the Luna hacienda. The railroad agreed to build a new home for Antonio Jose Luna and his family according to their specifications. Before long, a southern colonial-style mansion, built with adobe materials of the southwest was completed for the family. However, Antonio Jose died in 1881, the same year that the house was completed. As a result, his oldest son, Tranquilino and his family were the first to live in a luxurious home. When Tranquilino died in 1892, his younger brother Solomon took the reins of the empire and moved into the spacious mansion.

The Ghostly Manifestations

Over the years the mansion changed hands several times before it was purchased and renovated as a fine dining establishment in the 1970s. It was then that the ghost of Josefina began to appear. Dressed in 1920s period clothing, she has been described by employees as appearing very real. Most often she is seen in two former bedrooms on the second floor, an attic storeroom, and at the top of the stairs leading to the second-floor bar.

At the top of the stairs sits an old rocking chair which she has often been seen sitting in and rocking slowly. On one occasion when an employee approached the ghostly apparition, she simply stood up then slowly vanished. More often she is seen walking up and down the stairs, a habit that has been so commonplace that employees barely notice anymore.

Another famous ghost is said to roam the mansion. A former servant named Cruz, who was thought to have been a groundskeeper. Most often seen on the main level, he is said to be friendly to women and children and likes to play practical jokes on the employees and patrons. On one occasion he was seen sitting on a sofa dressed in vintage attire, the man was relaxing patiently when a waitress asked another staff member why he hadn’t been served. However, the response was “What man?” and when the waitress looked back to the sofa, the ghost of Cruz was no longer there.

Today the staff claim that other spirits also roam this historic mansion making it one of the most haunted places in New Mexico.

4) The Laguna Vista Hotel – Eagle Nest, New Mexico

Laguna Vista Lodge in Eagle Nest, New Mexico. One of the haunted places in New Mexico.

Laguna Vista Lodge in Eagle Nest, New Mexico

Laguna Vista Saloon in Eagle Nest, New Mexico. One of the haunted places in New Mexico.

Laguna Vista Saloon in Eagle Nest, New Mexico

Locals call the Laguna Vista Saloon, built-in 1896, the “Guney”. The El Monte, as it was originally called, was allegedly built with stolen railroad ties, which are still visible in some of the rooms. A would-be innkeeper transported the petrified railroad ties from Ute Park to Elizabethtown for two summers, but when he returned after the winter, the railroad ties were missing and a new hotel had been built in Therma, which later changed its name to Eagle Nest. Behind the original saloon were a 17-foot deep hand-dug well and several icehouses.

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The El Monte was one of the busiest saloons in the 1920s and 30’s when the politicians stopped over on their way to the horse races in Raton, New Mexico to partake of the many roulette wheels, gaming tables and slot machines offered in the saloons, inns, and businesses of Eagle Nest. It was sometime during this period that the El Monte’s name was changed to the Laguna Vista Lodge and was operated by a couple named Gene and Pearl Wilson. At this time, the Wilson’s often had to protect their gambling profits when transporting them from the saloon to their living quarters, by arming themselves with guns.

The First Hauntings

In 1964, the “new” hotel was built next to the original hotel for additional guests. In 1971, Bert Clemens bought the property and continues to operate it to this day. At one point, a psychic visited the property who counted at least 22 spirits lingering around the place. One employee reported to Mr. Clemens, that while she was in the kitchen she heard the vacuum running in the dining room, but when she went to investigate no one was there and the vacuum was sitting still and silent.

A former manager, Jim, also claims that eerie things happen, such as the piano in the dining room sometimes plays when no one is there, and a dining table chair is pulled up next to the piano. The staff will replace the chair next to one of the dining tables only to find it later back in front of the piano again.

The Hauntings Continue

Customers and staff have reported that a woman in dance-hall dress often appears, then vanishes toward the site of the hidden staircase. This spirit is said to be that of a woman on her honeymoon with her husband, enjoying a stay at the hotel. Her husband ventured out one day to go hunting and never returned. The distraught young woman was left stuck and destitute. She was said to have become a saloon girl in order to provide for herself. Supposedly, it is her spirit that lingers at the hotel in search of her long lost husband.

A former employee of the Laguna Vista, Kristi Dukes, who was a cook in the restaurant in 1999, stated that she encountered several spooky visits from a spirit that is said to have once been a saloon girl in the old lodge.

According to Kristi, both her and her mother Jane, who also worked in the restaurant, would often encounter these visits whenever the music they were listening to in the kitchen was anything other than classic rock or country music. When Kristi would change the music, strange things would occur. On one such occasion, a marble rolling pin was thrown at Kristi, on other occasions pots and pans would fall off of the walls. Once, when odd things were happening, Jane asked Kristi to turn off the music but when she switched off the stereo, the music continued to play. She then unplugged the stereo and the music played on. Frightened, the two left at the end of the evening only to return the following day to a silent stereo.

It is in the Laguna Vista Restaurant Dining Room, which was once the hotel lobby that held the hidden staircase to the upstairs rooms, that the ghost is most often encountered.

Most Recent and Most Frightening Haunting

The spookiest story actually occurred when Kristi brought her 2-year-old daughter to work one day. She had put bells on her daughter’s shoes so that she could keep track of her while she was working. Her daughter walked into the kitchen very gently and slowly. Kristi said she looked very odd and when she asked her what was wrong, her daughter replied, “the lady told me to stop making noise”. When Kristi asked her where the lady was, she led her mother into the dining room and pointed at “someone” saying “that lady.” Kristi saw no one but her daughter insisted that her mother remove the bells from her shoes.

Laguna Vista Lodge has seen its fair share of frightening paranormal activity. It is easily one of the most haunted places in New Mexico.

5) La Fonda Hotel – Santa Fe, New Mexico

La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of the haunted places in New Mexico. Photo by Randy Stewart

The La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico – Photo by Randy Stewart

La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is a postcard. One of the haunted places in New Mexico. Photo provided by Jasperdo

La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is a postcard. – Photo provided by Jasperdo

At 100 E. San Francisco Street, in the historic district of Santa Fe, sits the historic La Fonda Hotel. This old hotel has been providing a pillow for weary travelers since 1922. However, the location itself has been called home to some kind of inn or “La Fonda” since Santa Fe’s earliest days. Records show when Santa Fe was founded in 1607, an inn on this location was one of the first businesses established in the new settlement. According to local lore, the court was held in the original adobe hotel, as well as executions, when guilty offenders were hanged in the lobby.

The First Deaths

The hotel was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the years. In 1821, when Captain William Becknell blazed the path of what would become known as the Santa Fe Trail. He stayed at a La Fonda where the trail terminated at the town’s central plaza. As more and more pioneers traveled the Santa Fe Trail, the La Fonda became a popular destination for trappers, traders, mountain men, soldiers, politicians and the like. Soon after New Mexico became a U.S. Territory in 1848, the inn was purchased by Anglo-American owners who changed its name to the U.S. Hotel. The gambling Hall continued to be a major feature, however, providing entertainment for military officers and the occasional professional gambler.

Many people made their fortunes here. Many also lost their fortunes. But one unfortunate person lost his life in 1857 at the end of a rope strung up in the hotel’s backyard by a lynch mob.

Ten years later, in 1867, the Honorable John P. Slough, Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was shot to death in the hotel lobby. Slough was in a dispute with Captain Rynerson, a member of the Territorial Legislature representing Dona Ana County when he Slough called Rynerson a liar and a thief. The offended Rynerson then shot Slough, who died of his wounds. Though Rynerson was tried, he was later acquitted. Around this same time, the hotel was sold again and became The Exchange Hotel, the name under which it operated for nearly six decades.

The Hauntings Begin

More than 100 years ago, a distraught salesman who lost his company’s money in a card game, leaped to his death down a deep well that was located just outside the gambling hall of the Exchange Hotel.

Today the La Fonda Hotel is said to host not only travelers visiting Santa Fe but also several ghosts. Some people believe that the Honorable Judge Slough continues to walk its hallways. However, more often reported, is the ghost of the distraught salesman who jumped into the well after losing all of his company’s money. The hotel’s dining room is situated directly over the old well. Both guests and staff alike have reported the sight of a ghostly figure that walks to the center of the room, then seemingly jumps into the floor and disappears.

Other reported phenomena include an apparition that haunts the Santa Fe Room. As well as a spirit that walks the hallways near La Terraza, a restaurant located on the east side of the hotel’s third floor.

In the 1970s, a guest reportedly called the front desk to complain that someone was walking up and down the hallway in front of his room. When an employee was sent to investigate, he saw a tall man in a long, black coat disappear into a stairwell. However, when he followed him to the stairs, there was no sign of the mysterious visitor.

The hauntings continue at La Fonda today. It is one of the perfect Wild West haunted places in New Mexico.

6) The St. James Hotel – Cimarron, New Mexico

The St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico. One of the haunted places in New Mexico. Photo by Jason Ryan

The St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico – Photo by Jason Ryan

The St James Hotel was built in 1872 by Henri Lambert and was originally called Lambert’s Inn. Its saloon, restaurant and 43 rooms were witnesses to at least 26 murders during Cimarron’s wilder days. Clay Allison, Black Jack Ketchum, Jesse James, and Buffalo Bill Cody have all left their mark on the St. James, as attested by the numerous bullet holes in the ceiling of the main dining room.

The St. James Hotel stairwell. One of the haunted places in New Mexico. Photo by Gary Tucker

The St. James Hotel stairwell – Photo by Gary Tucker

Before Henry made his way to New Mexico, he was the personal chef to President Lincoln. He continued to hold the position until the president was assassinated in 1865. Before long, Henry made his way west in search of gold. Finally settling in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, he opened a saloon and restaurant.

At this time Elizabethtown, Cimarron, and much of the surroundings were owned by Lucien B. Maxwell. The Maxwell Land Grant was the largest land grant ever made in the United States. When Maxwell sold the grant in 1870, the new Land Grant Company men discovered that Henry Lambert was working in Elizabethtown. They then enticed him to come to Cimarron.

The Murder Saloon

The Lambert Inn, as it was called at the time, opened for business in 1872. Built during a time when law and order were non-existent, the saloon quickly gained a reputation as a place of violence. It is said that 26 men were shot and killed. The first question usually asked around Cimarron in the morning was, “Who was killed at Lambert’s last night?” Another favorite expression following a killing was, “It appears Lambert had himself another man for breakfast.”

The saloon was wildly popular with cowboys, traders, miners and the many travelers of the Santa Fe Trail. The saloon did so well that Henry added guest rooms in 1880, and the hotel was soon considered to be one of the most elegant hotels west of the Mississippi River

Famous Guests Arrive

Many well-known people stayed there over the years. Wyatt Earp, his brother Morgan, and their wives spent three nights at the St. James on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. Jesse James stayed there several times, always in room 14, signing the registry with his alias, R.H. Howard.

Jesse James’ nemesis and would-be killer, Bob Ford, also stayed at the St. James. As well as the legendary Wild West showman, Buffalo Bill Cody met Annie Oakley at the hotel and began to plan and rehearse their Wild West Show. As Fred Lambert grew older, Buffalo Bill would be one of the first to give him instruction in the use of guns. Fred Lambert would spend his entire life upholding the law as a Cimarron Sheriff, a member of the tribal police and a territorial marshal. When Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley left Cimarron to take their show on the road, they took an entire village of Indians from the Cimarron area with them.

Other notables who have stayed at the historic inn include Bat Masterson, train robber Black Jack Tom Ketchum, General Sheridan, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Clay Allison,Pat Garret, artist Fredrick Remington, Governor Lew Wallace, and writer Zane Grey. The Hotel was later renamed St. James and continues to cater to travelers today.

The Almost End of One of the Most Haunted Places in New Mexico

When the railroads came through, the Santa Fe Trail died, and soon after, the gold in the area began to play out. Cimarron’s population began to dwindle and the elegant St. James Hotel fell into disrepair.

When Henry Lambert’s sons, Fred and Gene, replaced the roof of the Lambert Inn in 1901, they found more than 400 bullet holes in the ceiling above the bar. A double layer of heavy wood prevented anyone from sleeping upstairs from being killed. Today, the ceiling of the dining room still holds 22 bullet holes.

Henri Lambert died in 1913. His wife, Mary E. Lambert died in 1926. Through the years, the old hotel was, at many times, uninhabited and passed from owner to owner. However, in 1985 the St. James Hotel was restored to its former luxury.

The Hauntings

The St. James Hotel is said to remain host to several restless spirits. Both the owners and the guests of the hotel will tell you that it is haunted by many unexplained events. Several psychics have visited the hotel and identified three specific spirits, as well as many others who just pass through to relive their experiences. Making this one of the most haunted places in New Mexico.

7) Santa Fe River – Santa Fe, New Mexico (And Vicinity)

La Llorona near the Santa Fe River. One of the haunted places in New Mexico.

La Llorona?

Saving my favorite for last! The legend of La Llorona, Spanish for the Weeping Woman, has been a part of Hispanic culture in the Southwest since the days of the conquistadores. The tall, thin spirit is said to be blessed with natural beauty and long flowing black hair. Wearing a white gown, she roams the rivers and creeks, wailing into the night and searching for children to drag, screaming to a watery grave.

No one really knows when the legend of La Llorona began or, from where it originated. Though the tales vary from source to source, the one common thread is that she is the spirit is of a doomed mother who drowned her children and now spends eternity searching for them in rivers and lakes.

The Life of Maria

La Llorona, christened “Maria”, was born to a peasant family in a humble village. Her startling beauty captured the attention of both the rich and the poor men of the area. She was said to have spent her days in her humble peasant surroundings, but in the evenings, she would don her best white gown and thrill the men who admired her in the local fandangos.

La Llorona. haunted places in New Mexico.

La Llorona?

The young men anxiously waited for her arrival and she reveled in the attention that she received. However, La Llorona had two small sons who made it difficult for her to spend her evenings out, and often, she left them alone while she cavorted with the gentlemen during the evenings. One day the two small boys were found drowned in the river. Some say they drowned through her neglect, but others say that they may have died by her own hand.

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Another legend says that La Llorona was a caring woman full of life and love who married a wealthy man who lavished her with gifts and attention. However, after she bore him two sons, he began to change, returning to a life of womanizing and alcohol, often leaving her for months at a time. He seemingly no longer cared for the beautiful Maria. When he did return home, it was only to visit his children and the devastated Maria began to feel resentment toward the boys. One evening, as Maria was strolling with her two children on a shady pathway near the river, her husband came by in a carriage with an elegant lady beside him. He stopped and spoke to his children, but ignored Maria. Then drove the carriage down the road without looking back.

After seeing this Maria went into a terrible rage, and turning against her children, she seized them and threw them into the river. As they disappeared downstream, she realized what she had done and ran down the bank to save them, but it was too late. Maria broke down into inconsolable grief, running down the streets screaming and wailing.

La Llorona and the children. Haunted places in New Mexico

La Llorona and the children

Maria Mourns

The beautiful La Llorona mourned them day and night. During this time, she would not eat and walked along the river in her white gown searching for her boys — hoping they would come back to her. She cried endlessly as she roamed the riverbanks and her gown became soiled and torn. When she continued to refuse to eat, she grew thinner and appeared taller until she looked like a walking skeleton. Still a young woman, she finally died on the banks of the river.

Not long after her death, her restless spirit began to appear, walking the banks of the Santa Fe River when darkness fell. Her weeping and wailing became a curse of the night and people began to be afraid to go out after dark. She was said to have been seen drifting between the trees along the shoreline or floating on the current with her long white gown spread out upon the waters. On many a dark night, people would see her walking along the riverbank and crying for her children. And so, they no longer spoke of her as Maria, but rather, La Llorona, the weeping woman. Children are warned not to go out in the dark, for La Llorona might snatch them, throwing them to their deaths in the flowing waters.

More Legends

Though the legends vary, the apparition is said to act without hesitation or mercy. The tales of her cruelty depends on the version of the legend you hear. Some say that she kills indiscriminately, taking men, women, and children — whoever is foolish enough to get close enough to her. Others say that she is very barbaric and kills only children, dragging them screaming to a watery grave.

When Patricio Lugan was a boy, he and his family saw her on a creek between Mora and Guadalupita, New Mexico. As the family was sitting outside talking, they saw a tall, thin woman walking along the creek. She then seemed to float over the water, started up the hill, and vanished. However, just moments later she reappeared much closer to them and then disappeared again. The family looked for footprints and finding none, they had no doubt that the woman they had seen was La Llorona.

Still More Legends

She has been seen along many rivers across the entire Southwest. Her legend has become part of Hispanic culture everywhere. Part of the legend is that those who do not treat their families well will see her. And then she will teach them a lesson.

Another story involved a man by the name of Epifanio Garcia. He was said to be an outspoken boy who often argued with his mother and his father. After a heated argument, Epifanio, along with his brothers, Carlos and Augustine decided to leave their ranch in Ojo de La Vaca. They decided to head toward the Villa Real de Santa Fe. However, when they were along their way, they were visited by a tall woman wearing a black cloak and a black net over her face. Two of the boys were riding in the front of the wagon when the spirit appeared on the seat between them. She was silent and continued to sit there until Epifanio finally turned the horses around and headed back home. After turning to go home she said: “I will visit you again someday when you argue with your mother.”

The Wailing Legends Continue

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the tall wailing spirit has been seen repeatedly in the PERA Building. It was built on land that was once an old Spanish-Indian graveyard near the Santa Fe River. Many people who have been employed there tell of frightening experiences. They hear cries echoing through the halls and feel unseen hands pushing them while on the stairways.

Many have heard La Llorona in the night. One can hear her wailing next to rivers. Her wanderings have grown wider, following Hispanic people wherever they go. Many appearances of La Lorona have been reported throughout the Southwest. Even as far north as Montana on the banks of the Yellowstone River. La Llorona makes these rivers some of the most haunted places in New Mexico.

The Hispanic people believe that the Weeping Woman will always be with them. She will continue to follow the rivers looking for her children. And, for this reason, many of them fear the dark as they pass the legend to the next generations

8. El Rancho Hotel – Gallup, New Mexico

El Rancho Hotel

El Rancho Hotel – Photo by Tim Anderson

Built in 1937 by famous movie producer D.W. Griffith’s brother, R.E. Griffith. At one time it was a hot-spot for celebrities to stay at and party while on location for movies they were starring in. A few on this list included Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Kirk Douglas. Gallup provided a lot of great scenery for westerns filmed from the 1940s-1960s.

Haunted Happenings

Many claims by hotel guests over the years include sounds of footsteps and laughter in the lobby when no one was there, doors opening and closing, objects flying around and feelings of unexplained cold spots.

9. KiMo Theatre – Albuquerque, New Mexico

KiMo Theatre n Albuquerque, New Mexico.

KiMo Theatre – Photo by Daniel Jeffries

The Pueblo-Deco KiMo Theatre was built in 1927. The innovative Oreste Bachechi wanted a Southwestern style theatre. Customers can see movies, plays, musicals, as well as musical performances at the theatre throughout the year. It is truly a genuine Albuquerque landmark.

Haunted Happenings

Employees and customers have seen an apparition of a lady wearing a bonnet roaming the hallways. Though the most active haunting is believed to be by a boy named Bobby Darnall. Bobby died in the theatre when a boiler exploded. Employees claim that Bobby’s ghost is mischievous. He likes to play pranks on the crew. Often the theatre performers will leave out donuts for him so he’ll not interfere with their show.

10. Sierra Vista Hospital – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Sierra Vista Hospital in New Mexico.

Sierra Vista Hospital

The Sierra Vista Hospital is located in the brilliantly named city of Truth or Consequences. It is old but is still an operational hospital today. And it has a dark side!

Haunted Happenings

Nurses have claimed and continue to claim to hear babies crying when there are no babies around. Doors seem to open and close on their own without anyone close enough to be the cause. Also, electronics often turn off and on their own accord. The scariest hauntings, however, are the sightings of ghostly apparitions of nuns who used to work there long ago. What’s scarier than a ghost of a nun?!

11. United World Colleges / Montezuma Castle – Montezuma, New Mexico

Montezuma Castle in New Mexico.

Montezuma Castle – Photo by Don Baird

Montezuma Castle was built in 1886 by the A T & SF Railroad. The natural hot springs near it were thought to ease the suffering of people with tuberculosis, “chronic rheumatism, gout, biliary, and renal calculi.” It closed on October 31, 1903. After that, it was used as a training center by Jim Flynn for his 1912 boxing match with Jack Johnson. Then it was owned by the YMCA, next to a Baptist college from 1922 until 1931. Then in 1937, it was sold to the Catholic Church when it operated as a seminary for Mexican Jesuits until 1972. It was vacant until 1981 when the castle and the surrounding 100 acres were purchased by industrialist Armand Hammer for use as a United World College campus.

Haunted Happenings

The castle is quite old and even had a few fires. And with age and fire comes hauntings! Ghostly opera music has been heard when no one is performing or playing any music. It is also believed that the ghost of a former owner of the castle roams the halls. Lastly, there have been sightings of a woman’s ghost appearing in the main tower at night.

12. Urraca Mesa – Colfax County

The Urraca Mesa in New Mexico.

The Urraca Mesa

This is the most ancient of all the haunted locations in New Mexico. The Urraca Mesa is in Northern New Mexico. It is a mythological location for the Hopi and Dineh (Navajo). Stories of its evil were orally passed down by the ancient Anasazi. The Hopi and Dineh believe that the Urraca Mesa is a gateway between worlds – specifically our world and the underworld of Hell. The tribes have erected many cat totems to guard the gate. The name “Urraca” means “magpie” in Anasazi. It is believed that a magpie has the power to call out names to inform them of an upcoming horrific event.

When a series of unfortunate events had been occurring to the ancient Navajo, they decided to investigate. The shamans traced the cause of their plight to the Urraca Mesa.

Haunted Happenings

Not necessarily ghostly in nature, but there are odd aspects to the Urraca Mesa that make it a haunted location. Try using a compass here. It won’t work properly. Also, legend has it that the cat totems have been slowly disappearing over the ages. And once they are all gone, the gateway to Hell will be opened for demons to walk freely into our world. In need of a scary hiking trip? I dare you to visit the gateway to Hell!

13. La Posada de Santa Fe – Santa Fe, New Mexico

La Posada de Santa Fe.

La Posada de Santa Fe – Photo by Bill Hammond

Perhaps the most famous of the haunted locations in New Mexico is the La Posada de Santa Fe. It was built on ancient native lands in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1882 by a merchant named Abraham Staab. It originally was a three-story brick mansion in the French Second Empire-style. He and his wife Julia entertained many people in their not-so-humble abode. They also impressed many of the Santa Fe society with their expensive European decorations. It is now an upscale resort and spa.

Haunted Happenings

It is said that Julia Staab suffered from severe depression after one of her children died. Her body passed away after her long bout of depression. However, has her spirit passed onward? Her spirit has been spotted throughout the resort. Several guests have claimed to actually have met her. Besides her ghost appearances, objects have been known to fly around on their own.

14. “Old Main,” New Mexico State Penitentiary

New Mexico State Penitentiary

New Mexico State Penitentiary | Image credit: J. Mulhouse via Flickr

“Old Main” used to be the maximum-security prison of the New Mexico State Penitentiary. It was the site of the bloodiest prison riot in American history. On February 2, 1980, several inmates high on bathtub liquor and prescription meds took over Cellblock 4. Afterward, they went on a vicious 36-hour killing spree using blowtorches, hatchets, and power tools.

Thirty-three people died during the riot, which includes both prisoners and correctional officers. Additionally, over 200 were injured. Records show that some of the victims were burned alive and beheaded. The violent riot permanently changed the New Mexico prison system.

Haunted Happenings

Many vengeful, angry spirits of the dead are said to roam the abandoned prison facilities. Brave travelers report hearing footsteps when no one is around, prison doors being slammed shut, and sounds of men screaming in agony in the distance. With so much carnage committed and hate felt here, it’s no surprise that this prison is one of the most terrifying haunted places in New Mexico.

15. Dawson, Near Cimarron, New Mexico

Dawson Memorial, Cimarron, New Mexico

The Dawson Memorial in Cimarron, New Mexico

Dawson is one of the most tragic and spookiest haunted places in New Mexico. Two major mining disasters happened there. In 1913, 263 miners died in a massive explosion, which went down as one of the worst coal mining disasters in US history. Just ten years later, 121 miners died in another blast. These events led residents to abandon the town, and only old graves are left scattered in Dawson.

Haunted Happenings

Locals report seeing the helmet lights of miners at night as if they’re wandering around aimlessly seeking something they don’t yet understand. Other strange lights, as well as restless apparitions, have been seen wandering the cemetery by many witnesses.

The wild west is still wild in many ways. Because of this, many haunted places in New Mexico exist. And New Mexico is a beautiful state with a lot of great history. It has something for everyone, even aspiring or professional investigators of the paranormal.

With its violent Wild West history, rich Native American roots, and surreal landscapes, New Mexico is infamous for its many spooky attractions and places to see. Do you dare to go off the beaten path? Then take this with you and brace yourself for your visits to the scariest haunted places in New Mexico.




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