Top Spooky Sites in New Mexico, the Southwest's Most Haunted State
With centuries of storied human history, the Land of Enchantment is a paranormal playground.
Photo By: Steve Larese
Photo By: Steve Larese
Photo By: Krause, Johansen
Photo By: Nick Cote
Stay With Julia at La Posada de Santa Fe
Abraham and Julia Stabb were wealthy merchants who made their money importing goods via the Santa Fe Trail in the 1880s. Popular in Santa Fe society, they donated to local causes and threw parties in their stately Victorian mansion. But when one of Julia’s children died, it’s said that she never recovered from the grief and went mad. Some tales have her being chained to the radiator in her room to keep her from hurting herself. Today the Stabb House is La Posada de Santa Fe, an elegant resort and spa just a block from the historic plaza. The original Victorian mansion has been preserved, surrounded by a modern Santa Fe-style architecture. Julia’s room is now 100, and some guests who stay there report feeling her presence and even feeling someone sitting on their bed. Her wispy image is seen in the original building, and glasses will sometimes sail across the bar here for no known reason. In the Rose Room, named for its stained-glass rose and Julia’s love for her rose garden, the scent of roses is sometimes present. Interested in checking it all out for yourself? Book the Julia Stabb American Ghost Package through the resort.
Double Eagle Restaurant, Mesilla
The small town of Mesilla in southern New Mexico west of Las Cruces was part of Mexico until 1853. A wealthy family, the Maeses, had a palatial home here, having made their money importing goods from Mexico City. The matriarch of the family was very proud, and expected her son, Armando, to marry into high-society in Mexico City. But Armando fell for Inez, a beautiful servant of the family’s. Inez fell for Armando as well, and the two kept up a clandestine relationship, protected by other servants and Mesilla townsfolk, who thought Señora Maes snobbish. But Señora Maes eventually found the two in Armando’s room, and she flew into a rage. Grabbing a pair of scissors she stabbed Inez, and when Armando tried to protect her he was stabbed as well. Both died. Realizing what she had done, it’s said that Señora Maes never spoke again and went mad. Today the home is the Double Eagle Restaurant, and Armando’s room is the Carlotta Salon, a private dining room off the main dining room. Two velvet-covered chairs sit in a corner of the room, and though they are roped off to prevent anyone from sitting in them, the velvet inexplicably shows wear. Armando and Inez are believed to be still sitting in the chairs, and are also blamed for pranks around the restaurant such as moving tables and glasses and whispering names. Armando and Inez are just a few of the ghosts believed to haunt Old Mesilla, a storied wild west town where Billy the Kid was once jailed.
Hotel Andaluz, Albuquerque
New Mexican Conrad Hilton of Hilton Hotel fame built Hotel Andaluz in 1939. It was New Mexico’s tallest building at the time, and was the first building in the state to have air conditioning and an elevator. It was only Hilton’s fourth hotel in the nation. Hilton and Zsa Zsa Gabor spent their honeymoon here in 1942, and guests may rent that penthouse suite for themselves. The property became La Posada de Albuquerque in 1984, and was sold, renovated and reopened as Hotel Andaluz in 2009. Hotel Andaluz has 107 rooms, and a ghostly female guest is seen looking for one of those rooms on the seventh floor, dressed in a 1940s party dress. On the fourth floor, an older woman in a pink dress is seen wandering the halls before vanishing.
KiMo Theatre, Albuquerque
The KiMo Theater opened in 1927, and its Pueblo-Deco design and decor still thrills today. Inside, cow skulls with glowing red eyes, funeral canoes and Native American motifs adorn the walls and ceiling of this intimate theater where everything from movies to opera is performed throughout the year. It was in 1951 when a water heater exploded, killing a 6-year-old boy named Bobby Darnall, Jr. Many believe Bobby's playful ghost haunts the KiMo, so much so that it's now tradition for performers to leave out a plate of donuts and trinkets for Bobby. Those who don't risk disastrous performances wrought with technical problems.
Albuquerque's Haunted Old Town
Albuquerque’s Old Town is where New Mexico’s largest city was settled in 1706 and the ghosts of many of their original home- and business-owners are believed to still occupy them. One building notable for its paranormal activities is the Bottger Mansion which is now a bed and breakfast. Originally built in the 1700s, this once 40-room adobe house served as the governor's mansion in territorial New Mexico until 1845. Charles Bottger purchased the building in 1893 and in 1910 built the current American Foursquare-style home that's there today. It’s said that Charles Bottger never left his home and haunts its halls. There’s also the ghost of a woman who is known for sighing, and a ghost called “the Lover” that sits on the bed of sleeping women. Nearby, La Placita Restaurant was originally the home of the Armijo family. It was turned into a restaurant in the 1930s and has been so ever since. Employees speak of four ghosts that still call La Placita home, including one of a little girl who died in a bedroom here in the late 1880s. Employees hear their names called only to find no one is there, and feel unexplained cold spots. Customers have reported seeing a misty, odorless smoke over their table that dissipates with no explanation. The local favorite Church Street Café was built in the early 1700s by the Ruiz family, which owned the building until the last family member, Rufina G. Ruiz, passed away at 91. When current owner Marie Coleman purchased the property and began renovating the building as a restaurant, she began hearing a disembodied voice scream at her to get rid of the contractor, and items would be found in disarray. It was determined that the voice was that of Rufina's mother, Sara. Marie began speaking to the ghost and assured her she has the best intentions for Sara's home. Things calmed down, but employees over the years have seen the image of a woman in a long black dress disappear in the dining room after hours, and customers have reported feeling her presence as well. High Noon Restaurant & Saloon is now best known for its steaks, but employees speak of the Lady in the White Dress who is seen in the Santos Room, and also of a variety of unexplained sounds heard in the restaurant. Bartenders attest to glasses sliding across the bar and floating through the air at night. This particular building was constructed in the 1750s and served as a brothel at one point. Hunt for more of Old Town’s ghosts and history with Tours of Old Town and Albucreepy Tours.
St. James Hotel, Cimarron
St. James Hotel, tucked in the northeast corner of New Mexico in the small town of Cimarron, was opened in 1872 by Henri and Mary Lambert. Henri had been President Lincoln’s chef, and opened a saloon along the Santa Fe Trail that traveled from St. Louis to Santa Fe, transporting goods and all manner of travelers including Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Doc Holliday, Kit Carson, Pat Garrett and possibly Jesse James under an assumed name. A fair number of outlaws stopped here for whiskey and a room, and between their surly dispositions, gambling and free-flowing alcohol, many a gunfight broke out here. Several bullet holes can still be seen in the ceiling of the lower floor. In all, 26 murders occurred here, and it’s believed some of the victims never checked out. Mary Lambert herself, who died of natural causes in the hotel in 1926, is believed by some to still be present here, with her perfume still being detected. Other spirits have been detected, but it’s Room 18 that attracts most ghost hunters. In 1881, James “TJ” Wright was shot and killed in this room, and poltergeist activity was so bad that the room was eventually sealed off. Guests and ghost hunters are welcome to explore the property, but the owners today have a strict no-Ouija board policy in the hotel.
In Taos, meet at the historic plaza at dusk with Ghosts of Taos Tours to explore the city's ancient streets in search of the head of Arthur Manby, a wealthy man so hated that he was murdered and his head never found, and La Llorona, a woman who searches the irrigation ditches throughout New Mexico looking for her drowned children. Included on the tour are strolls through Kit Carson Cemetery and past haunted buildings and other historic sites with ghostly tales.
The Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas
The Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, built in 1882, offers Victorian charm and fine dining especially for I-25 travelers. Attorney Byron T. Mills purchased the hotel in 1918 and ran it successfully and happily until his natural death in 1947. Some say Mills so loved his hotel that he never left. Room 310 is especially active, with guests reporting his presence at the foot of their bed. In his namesake bar off the lobby, Byron’s, staff say they sometimes catch a glimpse of him in the doorway, only to vanish. The current owner of the Plaza Hotel has recently refurbished and reopened another Las Vegas Hotel, La Castañeda, near the still-active Las Vegas train depot. Closed and all but abandoned for 70, La Castañeda reopened in 2019. Staff are already reporting strange occurrences there as well, and it’s sure to attract plenty of ghost hunters in the near future. In the meantime, you can check in and check it out yourself, and enjoy dinner and drinks at its fine-dining restaurant, Kin.
The Luna Mansion, Los Lunas
Just a quick 20-mile drive south of Albuquerque in Los Lunas, the Luna Mansion today is a popular restaurant. It was built in the 1880s by the Santa Fe Railway to thank the Luna-Otero family for granting a right-of-way through their extensive property. The building's Victorian Southern Colonial style and adobe construction, are unique to New Mexico. Josefita Otero so loved her home that when she passed away in 1951, many believe she never left. By all accounts she was a kind woman in life, and her ghost has been seen on the stairs and in two rooms upstairs that were once bedrooms. One of those rooms is now called Spirit Lounge as a nod to Josefita. Both staff and guests have seen her dressed in 1920s finery, only to vanish. A young man dressed in period clothes has also been seen sitting by staff members.
The Haunted Hill, Albuquerque
The east end of Menaul Boulevard ends at a parking lot in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, a popular hiking and mountain biking area. Just beyond the parking lot and trailhead is a juniper-covered hill. Over the years, Albuquerqueans hanging out here at night have been scared off by the disembodied sounds of screaming, thrown rocks and the sounds of something heavy being dragged through the gravel. As the story goes, an insane hermit lived in a cave nearby and would lure and murder prostitutes here. True or not, plenty of people attest to something dark in this area.