New Mexico, colonized by Spain prior to becoming a part of the U.S. territory in 1912, has over 500 years of Hispanic culture as well as over 2,500 years of Native American history under its belt. Dwellings in Taos Pueblo, which are still occupied, have been traced back 900 years making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas of America. The physical features of New Mexico offer a wide variety of outdoor educational experiences and exploration through its national parks, monuments, fossil sites, ancient lava flows and unique geology. The great gold rush attracted a wave of the American population to the New Mexico when a gold vein was discovered in Delores. Today, points of interest throughout New Mexico echo its past and invite you to travel through the annals of time by visiting one of its many historic hotels.
One such hotel in New Mexico to spend an evening is the La Fonda of Santa Fe. In 1607 when Santa Fe was being established, an inn was built. This Inn, a favorite among gold miners, soldiers, fur trappers, politicians and gamblers, grew in popularity as the Santa Fe Trail became more travelled. In 1937 at the location of this inn the La Fonda was constructed. Today it boasts 180 guest rooms, original artwork and is the only hotel situated on Santa Fe’s historic plaza. The Hotel’s restaurant is an excellent choice to enjoy authentic New Mexican cuisine and live entertainment. Resting atop of the Hotel is the Bell Tower Bar an exquisite place to enjoy the New Mexico sunset.
Rich in history, the Plaza Hotel – also called “The Belle of the Southwest”, was built in 1882 as an upmarket hotel in the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The town was large and vibrant with a beautiful plaza park. In 1846 after the Mexican-American War, it was in this plaza that Stephen W. Kearny gave a speech that proclaimed that New Mexico was part of the United States. The Victorian-style hotel with its large windows overlooks the plaza park below. Its original design held a saloon, dance hall and restaurants. Famous visitors such as Doc Holiday and the first reunion of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders frequented the Hotel. In addition, this New Mexico Hotel has been featured in many movies. After a series of owners and restoration projects the Hotel still holds much of the same charm it had when it attracted visitors in the 1800s.
Another grand hotel, located in the historic town of Cimarron, New Mexico, along the Santa Fe Trail, is the St. James. The town of Cimarron was a stage stop on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail and attracted lawmen and outlaws a like. Built in 1872 at the recommendation of President Ulysses S. Grant, many famous people have spent time in the hotel including Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, Billie the Kid and Annie Oakley. The dining room of the hotel still contains twenty-some bullet holes in the ceiling from the many guns fights that ensued. Luckily the double layer of hardwood flooring stopped those sleeping on the second floor from being killed from a gunshot. Famous rooms you can overnight in are #14 – Jesse James’s room, #17 – Mary Lambert’s room and one you cannot stay in – #18, which is pad locked and is rumored to hold the ghost of Thomas James Wright. If you are a fan of ghost stories this is one hotel in New Mexico you won’t want to miss!