Las Vegas, New Mexico

A path winds through a grassy park with tall trees.
Las Vegas Plaza, Las Vegas, New Mexico.

NPS Photo

Quick Facts
Situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Northeastern New Mexico along Interstate 25
The "Meadow City" grew from an 1835 Land Grant to become to become the largest city in the Southwest. The town thrived as a major stop on the Santa Fe Trail, a hub for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, and a trade center for several large commercial firms.
Over 900 historic buildings on the Historic Registry

Food/Drink - Restaurant/Table Service, Restroom

Las Vegas, New Mexico, was officially founded as Señora de Los Dolores de Las Vegas (Our Lady of Sorrows of the Meadows). The city grew from an 1835 Land Grant from the Mexican government to become the largest city in the Southwest, at least for a time. Long before, the area had a rich and vast history with the Paleo-Indians and the Anasazi and Mogollon cultures. The Santa Fe Trail went through the old original settlement plaza, in the center of town, which was a key trading spot on the Santa Fe Trail. For eastern traders, Las Vegas was the town toward the end of the Trail. For western traders, it was first town after leaving Santa Fe.

During the 1846 Mexican-American War, General Stephen Watts Kearny, came down the mountain route and marched his army to the central plaza. On top of a flat roof, he announced that Las Vegas was now the property of the United States. Upon becoming part of the United States, Las Vegas also became the largest community in the Southwest and housed some of the most wanted rebels. 
Santa Fe railroad tracks reached Las Vegas on July 1, 1879, and the first train entered the city three days later. Las Vegas served as the railhead (and eastern trail terminus) for the last few months that the Santa Fe Trail served as a long-distance route.  

Today, Las Vegas boasts of more than 900 registered historic structures and many Santa Fe Trail sites. You can have a picnic at the historic Las Vegas Plaza and learn about Santa Fe Trail and local history at the Santa Fe Trail Interpretive Center. Craving even more history? The City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection on Grand Avenue has a wealth of information on local topics and features artifacts and archives on Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. For a taste of railroad history, visit the 19th century Train Depot on Railroad Avenue. The station also serves as the City of Las Vegas Visitor Center and offers a full range of local and regional information.

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Location (Las Vegas, New Mexico; east of Santa Fe, New Mexico on Interstate 25)

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Santa Fe National Historic Trail

Santa Fe National Historic Trail

Last updated: March 11, 2024