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Las Cruces, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico
View of Las Cruces, NM with the Organ Mountains National Monument
View of Las Cruces, NM with the Organ Mountains National Monument
Nickname(s): The City of the Crosses
Motto: People Helping People
Location of Las Cruces within Doña Ana County and New Mexico
Location of Las Cruces within Doña Ana County and New Mexico

Coordinates: 32°18′52″N 106°46′44″W / 32.31444°N 106.77889°W / 32.31444; -106.77889Coordinates: 32°18′52″N 106°46′44″W / 32.31444°N 106.77889°W / 32.31444; -106.77889{{#coordinates:32|18|52|N|106|46|44|W|type:city_region:US-NM |primary |name=

Country United States
State New Mexico
County Doña Ana
Founded 1849
Incorporated 1907[1]:135
 • Type Council–manager
 • Mayor Ken Miyagishima
 • City Manager Robert Garza
 • City 76.31 sq mi (122.81 km2)
 • Land 76.29 sq mi (122.77 km2)
 • Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 4,000 ft (1,219 m)
Population (2011)[2][3]
 • City 101,324 (US: 285th)
 • Metro 214,700 (US: 199th)
1,045,180 (El Paso–Las Cruces CSA)
Time zone Mountain (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) DST (UTC-6)
Area code(s) 575
FIPS code 35-39380
GNIS feature ID 0899715

Las Cruces, also known as "The City of the Crosses", is the county seat of Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. As of 2013 the population is 101,324[citation needed] making it the second largest city in the state, after Albuquerque. Las Cruces is the largest city in both Doña Ana County and southern New Mexico.[4] It is the principal city of a metropolitan statistical area which encompasses all of Doña Ana County and is part of the larger El Paso–Las Cruces combined statistical area.

Las Cruces is the economic and geographic center of the fertile Mesilla Valley, which is the agricultural region on the flood plain of the Rio Grande which extends from Hatch to the west side of El Paso, Texas. Las Cruces is also the home of New Mexico State University (NMSU), New Mexico's only land grant university. The city's major employer is the federal government on nearby White Sands Test Facility and White Sands Missile Range. The Organ Mountains, Script error: No such module "convert". to the east, are dominant in the city's landscape, along with the Doña Ana Mountains, Robledo Mountains, and Picacho Peak. Las Cruces lies Script error: No such module "convert". south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Script error: No such module "convert". northwest of El Paso, Texas and Script error: No such module "convert". north of the Mexican border.

Spaceport America, which lies Script error: No such module "convert". north of Las Cruces, has seen the completion of several successful manned, suborbital flights. The city is also the headquarters for Virgin Galactic, the world's first company to offer sub-orbital spaceflights.[5]


The area where Las Cruces rose was previously inhabited by the Manso people, with the Mescalero Apache living nearby.[1]:19 The area was later colonized by the Spanish beginning in 1598, when Juan de Oñate claimed all territory north of the Rio Grande for New Spain and later became the first governor of the Spanish territory of New Mexico.[1]:20–21

The area remained under New Spain’s control until September 28, 1821 when the first Mexican Empire claimed ownership. The area was also claimed by the Republic of Texas during this time until the end of the Mexican–American War in 1846–48. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 established the United States as owner of this territory and Las Cruces was founded in 1849 when the US Army laid out the town plans.[1]:36,40

Mesilla became the leading settlement of the area, with more than 2,000 residents in 1860, more than twice what Las Cruces had.[1]:48 When the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway reached the area, the landowners of Mesilla refused to sell it the rights-of-way, and instead residents of Las Cruces donated the rights-of-way and land for a depot in Las Cruces.[1]:58 The first train reached Las Cruces in 1881.[1]:62 Las Cruces was not affected as strongly by the train as some other villages, as it was not a terminus or a crossroads, but the population did grow to 2,300 in the 1880s. Las Cruces was incorporated as a town in 1907.[1]:135[1]:63

Pat Garrett is best known for his involvement in the Lincoln County War, but he also worked in Las Cruces on a famous case, the disappearance of Albert Jennings Fountain in 1896.[1]:68

Growth of Las Cruces has been attributed to the university, government jobs and recent retirees. New Mexico State University was founded in 1888. And it has grown as Las Cruces has grown. The establishment of White Sands Missile Range in 1944 and White Sands Test Facility in 1963 has been integral to population growth. Las Cruces is the nearest city to each, and they provide Las Cruces' work force many high-paying, stable, government jobs. In recent years, the influx of retirees from out of state has also increased Las Cruces’ population.

File:Dona Ana County New Mexico Courthouse.jpg
Former Doña Ana County courthouse in Las Cruces

In the 1960s Las Cruces undertook a large urban renewal project, intended to convert the old downtown into a modern city center.[1]:115 As part of this, St. Genevieve's Catholic Church, built in 1859, was razed to make way for a Downtown Pedestrian Mall.[1]:44,75,115 The original covered walkways are now being removed in favor of a more traditional main street thoroughfare.

The exact origin of the city's name is unknown. It is told that it was named after three crosses on a hillside marking the graves of bandits, echoing an old tale of the valley of the 'Los Hermanos'. In Spanish "Las Cruces" means "the crosses." (Some have claimed an alternative meaning of "the crossroads" but this is grammatically implausible, as "cruce", the singular form of crossroad, is masculine and the phrase would be "Los Cruces".)

Both the Las Cruces Bowling Alley Massacre and the film A Nightmare In Las Cruces occurred in Las Cruces.


File:LasCruces NewMexico ISS011-E-8410.jpg
Las Cruces as seen from space

The approximate elevation of Las Cruces is Script error: No such module "convert". above sea level.

File:Rio Grande river.jpeg
The Rio Grande flowing through Las Cruces

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of Script error: No such module "convert"., of which Script error: No such module "convert". is land and Script error: No such module "convert". (0.25%) is water.

Las Cruces is the center of the Organ Caldera, the Doña Ana Mountains and the Organ Mountains are its margins.[6] Its major eruption was 32 Ma.[7]

Doña Ana County lies within the Chihuahuan Desert ecoregion, and the vegetation surrounding the built portions of the city are typical of this setting; it includes Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), Soaptree (Yucca elata), Tarbush (Flourensia cernua), Broom Dalea (Psorothamnus scoparius), and various desert grasses such as Tobosa (Hilaria mutica or Pleuraphis mutica) and Black Grama (Bouteloua eriopoda).

File:Picacho peak with cotton.jpg
Picacho Peak northwest of Las Cruces with cotton fields which are grown in abundance in the Mesilla Valley

The Rio Grande bisects the Mesilla Valley and Las Cruces proper, supplying irrigation water for the intensive agriculture surrounding the city.[8] However, the Rio Grande fills its banks only when water is released from upstream dams, which is seldom, due to continuing drought.[9]

Prior to farming and ranching, desert shrub vegetation extended into the valley from the adjacent deserts, including extensive stands of Tornillo (Prosopis pubescens) and Catclaw Acacia (Acacia greggii). Desert grasslands extend in large part between the edges of Las Cruces and the lower slopes of the nearby Organ and Robledo Mountains, where grasses and assorted shrubs and cacti dominate large areas of this mostly rangeland as well as the occasional large-lot subdivision housing.

The desert and desert grassland uplands surrounding both sides of the Mesilla Valley are often dissected with arroyos, which are dry streams that often carry water following heavy thunderstorms. These arroyos often contain scattered small trees, and they serve as wildlife corridors between Las Cruces' urban areas and adjacent deserts or mountains.


File:Organ Mountains Near Del Rey Blvd.jpg
The eastern Organ Mountains are a prominent sight throughout the city.
File:LasCrucesNM WellsFargoTower.jpg
The 10 story Wells Fargo Tower, tallest building in downtown Las Cruces, originally the First National Bank Tower

Unlike many cities its size, Las Cruces lacks a true central business district. This is because in the 1960s a large urban renewal project tore down a large part of the original downtown. Most Las Crucens would agree that the modern "heart" of the city, where most stores and restaurants are located, is the rapidly developing eastside area. Las Cruces' shopping mall and a vast variety of retail stores and restaurants are located in this area.

File:Downtown Las Cruces.jpg
Downtown Las Cruces district at night

However, the historic downtown of the city is the area around Main Street, a six-block stretch of which was closed off in 1973 to form the "Downtown Mall", a pedestrianized shopping area. The downtown mall has an extensive farmers market each Wednesday and Saturday morning, where a variety of foods and cultural items can be purchased from numerous small stands that are set up by local farmers, artists, and craftspeople. It also contains museums, businesses, restaurants, churches, art galleries and theaters, which add a great deal to the changing character of Las Cruces' historic downtown.

In August 2005, a master plan was adopted, the centerpiece of which was the restoration of narrow lanes of two-way traffic on this model portion of Main Street shown to the right. Main Street was reopened to vehicular traffic in 2012.

In February 2013, Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, announced during his State of the City Address that a 700-acre park in the area behind the Las Cruces Dam, is under construction, in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers. The area features trails through restored wetlands and serve as a major refuge for migratory birds, and a key recreational area for the city.[10]


Portion of reopened Main Street

Las Cruces has an arid climate. Winters alternate between cool and windy weather following trough and frontal passages, with warm, sunny periods in between; light frosts occur many nights. Spring months are warm and can be windy, particularly in the afternoons, sometimes causing periods of blowing dust and short-lived dust storms. Summers begin with hot weather, with some extended periods of over Script error: No such module "convert". weather not uncommon, while the latter half of the summer seeing increased humidity and frequent afternoon thunderstorms, with slightly lower daytime temperatures. Autumns quickly cool into warm to mild weather, and precipitation decreases.

Precipitation is often light from fall to spring, with some winter storm systems bringing steady precipitation to the Las Cruces area. Most winter moisture is in the form of rain, though some light snow falls most winters, usually enough to accumulate and stay on the ground for a few hours, at most. Warm season precipitation is often from heavy showers, especially from the late summer monsoon weather pattern.

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This page is a soft redirect. Climate data for State Univ, Las Cruces, New Mexico (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

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This page is a soft redirect.Source: NOAA [11]


Census 2010 data

As of the 2010 census Las Cruces had a population of 97,621. The ethnic and racial makeup of the population was:[12]

Census 2000 data

Historical population
Census Pop.

<tr><td style="text-align:center">1910</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">3,836</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">—</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">1920</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">3,989</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">1930</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">5,811</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">1940</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">8,385</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">1950</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">12,325</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">1960</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">29,387</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">1970</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">37,857</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">1980</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">43,377</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">1990</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">57,866</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">2000</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">74,267</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">2010</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">97,618</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center">Est. 2011</td><td style="padding-left:8px; ">99,665</td><td style="font-size:85%"></td><td style="padding-left:8px; text-align: center;">Lua error in Module:Math at line 495: attempt to index field 'ParserFunctions' (a nil value).%</td></tr><tr><td colspan=4 style="border-top:1px solid black; font-size:85%; text-align:center">U.S. Decennial Census
2011 estimate</td></tr>

As of the census of 2000, there were 74,267 people, 29,184 households, and 18,123 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,425.7 people per square mile (550.5/km²). There were 31,682 housing units at an average density of 608.2 per square mile (234.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.01% White, 2.34% African American, 1.74% Native American, 1.16% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 21.59% from other races, and 4.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 51.73% of the population.

File:LasCrucesNM EastMesa.jpg
New development on Las Cruces' east mesa.

There were 29,184 households out of which 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.3% were married couples living together, 15.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.1% under the age of 18, 16.0% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,375, and the median income for a family was $37,670. Males had a median income of $30,923 versus $21,759 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,704. About 17.2% of families and 23.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.7% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.

2011 estimates

Las Cruces and the Las Cruces Metropolitan Statistical Area's July 1, 2011 populations were estimated at 99,665 and 213,598 respectively by the United States Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program.[13][14]


Major employers in Las Cruces are New Mexico State University, Las Cruces Public Schools, the City of Las Cruces, Memorial Medical Center, Walmart, MountainView Regional Medical Center, Doña Ana County, Doña Ana Community College, Addus HealthCare, and NASA.

Film and television shoots

Movies and TV series shot in Las Cruces include:

  • The two-hour pilot episode for the TV series Cannon was shot in and around Las Cruces.
  • In 1970 the movie Up in the Cellar was shot in and around Las Cruces and New Mexico State University. The film features scenes where buildings were destroyed and a radio station transmitter tower is destroyed. (This was actually part of an urban renewal project that removed a large part of "Old" Downtown Las Cruces.) The film stars Larry Hagman.
  • The 1964 pilot, Calhoun: County Agent, starring Jackie Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, was filmed in and around Las Cruces, but never aired.[15] The process of writing and shooting the pilot is the subject of Merle Miller and Evan Rhodes's book Only You, Dick Daring![16]
  • A scene for the movie Twins was filmed at Las Cruces International Airport, where Arnold Schwarzenegger's character catches a flight to try to catch up to his twin brother, played by Danny DeVito.
  • Several scenes from the movie Traffic were filmed outside the Las Cruces International Airport.
  • The 1984 movie Raw Courage (Ronny Cox, Art Hindle, and M. Emmet Walsh) was filmed in and around Las Cruces.
  • In 2007–08, the movie The Burning Plain by Guillermo Arriaga was filmed in and around Las Cruces.
  • In October 2009, Due Date with Robert Downey, Jr. filmed the car crash scene off the Rinconada bridge; and the overpass of I-25 and Highway 70 for the escape from Mexico. The Organ Mountains immediately east of Las Cruces were used extensively as a backdrop for the movie, once being incorrectly cited as mountains in Dallas, Texas, where there are no mountains.
  • The 1968 Clint Eastwood movie Hang 'Em High was filmed entirely in the desert surrounding Las Cruces. In several scenes, the Rio Grande River and the Organ Mountains can be seen in the background.

Arts and culture

Annual events

Most of Las Cruces's cultural events occur late in the year.[17][18]

The Border Book Festival occurs the last weekend in April. It features a trade show, readings, film festival, workshops lead by local artists and writers, and discussion panels.[19][20] The festival was founded in 1994 by authors Denise Chávez and Susan Tweit, and Chávez is the Executive Director of the festival.[21]

The city hosts two wine festivals annually. The Harvest Wine Festival is held over Labor Day weekend, and features wines from New Mexico wineries; a grape stomping contest; several concerts throughout the weekend; food from several local vendors; and related shopping.[22] The Southern New Mexico Wine Festival is held over Memorial Day weekend and also exclusively features New Mexico wines, local foods, and live music. Additionally, the Southern New Mexico Wine Festival features the University of Wine, short educational sessions which teach patrons about proper food and wine pairings.[23] Both festivals are held at the fairgrounds just west of the city.

The Whole Enchilada Fiesta is held the last weekend in September. It attracts roughly 50,000 attendees each year. The centerpiece is the making of a large flat enchilada. The fiesta started in 1980 with a Script error: No such module "convert". diameter enchilada, and it has grown over the years. In 2000 the fiesta's Script error: No such module "convert". enchilada was certified by Guinness World Records as the world's largest. After the enchilada is assembled it is cut into many pieces and is distributed free of charge to the fiesta attendees. The enchilada is the brainchild of local restaurant owner Roberto V. Estrada, who directs its preparation each year. The celebration also features a parade, the Whole Enchilada Fiesta Queen competition, a huachas[24] tournament, activities for kids, live music, an enchilada eating contest, a 5 kilometer road race, a one mile race, and a car and motorcycle show.[25][26][27]

The Southern New Mexico State Fair, usually held the first week in October at the fairgrounds west of Las Cruces, promotes traditional agriculture. Boasting one of the largest Junior Livestock Shows in the state, the fair invites youth from six counties in New Mexico and Texas to participate.

Another popular fall event, the Hatch Chile Festival in nearby Hatch, NM, is held Labor Day Weekend to celebrate the new chile crop. The event includes music, food booths, chile cook-offs, chile eating contests, and a carnival.[28]

The local Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) originated in Mexico, and is a celebration of the lives of those now dead. It is held November 1–2 by The Calavera Coalition,[29] a nonprofit organization. The event is held at the plaza in Mesilla, and the Branigan Cultural Center[30] in downtown Las Cruces.

Every year in October, Las Cruces holds a pumpkin harvest festival in Mesilla for the whole month of October. On Halloween, The Mesilla Valley Mall holds day of the walking dead where zombies walk around the mall.[31]

The Renaissance ArtsFaire, founded in 1971, includes a juried art show and is put on the by the Doña Ana Arts Council each year in November. It is held at Young Park.[32][33][34]

Cowboy days is another event held in Las Cruces at the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. The event is one of the largest events at the museum. The event is held March 8–9 which are two days of family fun. Some of the fun includes "children’s activities, cowboy food and music, cowboy mounted shooting, horseback and stagecoach rides, living history, gunfight re-enactments, arts and crafts vendors, roping, horseshoeing and many other demonstrations." [35]

Cinco de Mayo celebration is held May 3–4. "Fifth of May" is Spanish for Cinco de Mayo which is the celebration of Mexican Heritage and pride that is celebrated in the United States and Mexico Held in Mesilla, NM. This event provides arts and crafts, and food vendors, Mexican music which brightens the night with fun.[35]

Another major fun event is the annual 4 July Electric Light Parade, Celebration and Fireworks display held July 3 and 4th. The celebration begins with a parade and ends with a firework display. This event is held is downtown at the Meerscheidt Center. The celebration day begins with an Electric Light Parade and ends with a fantastic fireworks display. Held downtown at the Meerscheidt Center Complex. You don't need to go to the actual grounds, any high spot in view of the complex will provide a nice view of the fireworks, minus the huge crowd problems.[35]

The Last Cruces Game Convention now known as CrucesCon, is an annual event where gamers compete in high level tournaments and free play games. The LCGC is a non-profit event with 100% of the proceeds going towards the community, equipment, and future events.[36]

One last major event held annually in the Las Cruces area is the lighting of the Mesilla Plaza. Every Christmas Eve, the historic plaza of Mesilla is lined with thousands of luminarias, which are brown bags containing candles and weighted sand. The evening consistently attracts both locals and tourists.[37]



The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum is state-operated and shows the history of farming and ranching in New Mexico. It is located just east of New Mexico State University.[38]

The University Museum (Kent Hall) at New Mexico State University focuses on archeological and ethnographic collections and also has some history and natural science collections.[39]

The Zuhl Museum (Located in the Alumni and Visitor's Center) at New Mexico State University focuses on geologic and collections including the finest collection of petrified wood on display and a large fossil and mineral collection.[40]

There are four city-owned museums. The Branigan Cultural Center examines local history through photographs, sculpture, paintings, and poetry. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Las Cruces Museum of Art offers art exhibits and classes. Las Cruces Museum of Natural History makes science and natural history more accessible to the general public and has an emphasis on local animals and plants. Las Cruces Railroad Museum is in the historic Santa Fe Railroad station. It exhibits the impact of the railroads on the local area.[41]

The New Mexico Veterans Museum, a new state-owned museum, was announced in August 2008 and is planned to be constructed in Las Cruces.[42][43]


The Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra is an 80-member orchestra, conducted by Dr. Lonnie Klein[44] The orchestra consists of 47% students, 17% NMSU faculty, 20% other local musicians, and 16% professionals from outside Las Cruces.[45] The venue of the orchestra is the NMSU Music Center Recital Hall.[45] The orchestra received some notoriety with the world premiere of Bill McGlaughlin's Remembering Icarus, a tribute to local radio pioneer Ralph Willis Goddard, was performed by the LCSO on October 1, 2005.[46] The performance was taped and broadcast nationally on NPR's Performance Today on December 9, 2005[47] and on July 4, 2007 on Performance Today and on Sirius Satellite Radio.[48]

Other points of interest

Several water tanks in Las Cruces have been painted with murals by Tony Pennock, including one at the intersection of Triviz Drive and Griggs Avenue.[49][50] Also multimedia artist group Keep Adding have a large mural on Picacho Ave at the Lion's Park titled, Wave Nest.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the motherchurch of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces.

Nearby points of interest

File:Sugarloaf Peak, Organ Mountains, New Mexico (2007).jpg
Sugarloaf Peak is an interesting feature on the East side of the Organ Mountains

The following points of interest are within a few miles of Las Cruces:

The town of Mesilla is a suburb of Las Cruces. It avoided the urban renewal that Las Cruces went through in the 1960s[1]:115 and still has its historic downtown plaza. The Basilica of San Albino and many shops and restaurants are on the town plaza. The Gadsden Museum is dedicated to the family of Albert Jennings Fountain and includes artifacts from the time of the Gadsden Purchase, which made Mesilla a US possession. There is a Visitor Center inside the Town Hall.[51] The Shalem Colony and Oahspe Museum commemorates the utopian Shalem Colony that existed near Las Cruces from 1884 to 1907 and the Oahspe bible that they used.[52][53]

The Space Murals Museum in Organ has scale models of the Space Shuttle and Space Station Freedom and some relics of the Space Age.[54][55]

Fort Selden State Monument is a former United States Army post, active from 1865 to 1891. Buffalo soldiers were stationed here. Douglas MacArthur lived here as a boy (his father was post commander). The fort is located in Radium Springs, New Mexico, Script error: No such module "convert". north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. There is a visitor center.[56]

White Sands Missile Range, about Script error: No such module "convert". east of Las Cruces on U.S. Highway 70, offers tourists a museum and a missile park. There is a refurbished V-2 rocket on exhibit.[57]

Aguirre Springs Campground is a hiking area in the Organ Mountains. The entrance is on U.S. Highway 70 on the east side of the mountains. Dripping Springs Natural Area is another hiking area, located farther south and on the west side of the mountains. Both areas are owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Prehistoric Trackways National Monument is the nation's newest national monument and is currently being developed just northwest of Las Cruces in the Robledo Mountains. This national monument protects 280-million-year-old fossil footprints and trackways discovered by Jerry P. MacDonald. These trackways include tracks from numerous extinct animals such as: Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus.


At the university level, the New Mexico State Aggies, compete in the Western Athletic Conference for Men's and Woman's Basketball, as well as in the Sun Belt Conference for Football. Aggies Men's basketball has had a rich history of success, in recent years the Aggies have made the Ncaa tournament 4 of the last 5 years. The 2014-15 NMSU women's basketball team reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1988 when it won both the WAC regular season and tournament championships.

The Las Cruces Kings have been a long running semi-professional football team in Las Cruces.

Beginning in the 2010 season, the Las Cruces Vaqueros[58] were the first ever professional Sports Team in Las Cruces. In the 2011 season the Vaqueros joined the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs[59] against White Sands Pupfish, Roswell Invaders, Ruidoso Osos, Alpine Cowboys and Carlsbad Bats. [60] The Vaqueros played in the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs for the 2011–2013 seasons. After three years, the Pecos League pulled the Vaqueros from Las Cruces – team officials blamed tepid support; some local baseball fans weren't thrilled by the product offered – making way, just weeks later, for the arrival of the Las Cruces Sun Rays, a team with the start-up American West Baseball League. The Sun Rays will continue playing in Apodoca Park at 801 East Madrid in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Parks and recreation

City of Las Cruces operates 87 city parks, 18 tennis courts, and 4 golf courses.[61]:41 A list of parks, with facilities and maps, is available.[61]:8 [62]

Las Cruces holds a Ciclovía, a city-wide event featuring exercise and physical activities, on the last Sunday of each month at Meerscheidt Recreation Center.[63]


File:New Las Cruces city hall.jpg
The new Las Cruces City Hall opened in April 2010
File:LC Federal Courthouse Night.jpg
Completed federal courthouse at night

Las Cruces is a charter city[64] (also called a home rule city) and has a council-manager form of government.[65] The City Council consists of six City Councilors and one Mayor, who chairs the meetings.[64]:Article II The Mayor is elected at-large and each of the City Councilors represents one neighborhood district within the City.[64]:Article II Each resident of Las Cruces is thus represented by the Mayor and by one City Councilor. The Mayor and City Council members serve staggered four-year terms. As of the 2013–2015 term, the Mayor is Ken Miyagishima. Councilors are: Miguel G. Silva, Dist. 1; Greg Smith, Mayor Pro-Tem, Dist. 2; Olga Pedroza, Dist. 3; Nathan P. Small, Dist. 4; Gill M. Sorg, Dist. 5; Cecilia "Ceil" Levatino, Dist. 6. Live and archived video of City Council meetings available anytime at CLCTV.COM.[66] Other city officials are: City Manager, Robert Garza; Assistant City Manager/Chief Operating Officer, Brian Denmark; Assistant City Manager/Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Winson; Director of Communications, Udell Vigil; City Attorney, William Babington; Police Chief, Jaime Montoya; Fire Chief, Travis Brown.[citation needed]


Public schools

Public schools are in the Las Cruces Public School District. The District covers the city of Las Cruces as well as White Sands Missile Range, the settlement of Doña Ana, and the town of Mesilla. The system has 26 elementary schools, 9 middle schools, and 6 high schools. Of the high schools, Rio Grande Preparatory is an alternative high school.[67]

There are also four charter schools within the Las Cruces Public Schools. Alma d'arte is a high school with a focus on an integrated arts curriculum. Las Montañas a charter high school that opened in Fall 2007 and caters to at-risk students. New America high school which offers schooling for young and older adults who are wanting to go back to school for their diploma or GED, Academia Dolores Huerta Middle School is the only recognized dual language program in the state.[68][69]

High schools

Private schools

There are four private Christian schools.[76] College Heights Kindergarten is a private Christian kindergarten, founded in 1954.[77] Desert Springs Christian Academy, Las Cruces Catholic School[78] and Mesilla Valley Christian School are the other three Christian schools in the area. Also, a small independent Baptist Christian school called the Cornerstone Christian Academy located at the Cornerstone Baptist Church was established in 2005.

A secular non-profit private school, Las Cruces Academy, aimed at gifted and academically advanced students, is offering grades K-5 with plans to eventually enroll grades K–12.[76][79][80]

Colleges and universities


File:NMSU Skeen Hall 2008.jpg
Las Cruces hosts the main campus of the New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University, or NMSU, is a land-grant university that has its main campus in Las Cruces, New Mexico.[81] The school was founded in 1888 as Las Cruces College, an agricultural college, and in 1889 the school became New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. It received its present name, New Mexico State University in 1960. The NMSU Las Cruces campus had approximately 18,500 students enrolled as of Fall 2012, and had a faculty-to-student ratio of about 1 to 19. NMSU offers a wide range of programs and awards associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees through its main campus and four community colleges. For 10 consecutive years, NMSU has been rated as one of America's 100 Best College Buys for offering "the very highest quality education at the lowest cost" by Institutional Research & Evaluation Inc., an independent research and consulting organization for higher education. NMSU is one of only two land-grant institutions classified as Hispanic-serving by the federal government. The university is home to New Mexico's NASA Space Grant Program and is one of 52 institutions in the United States to be designated a Space Grant College. During its most recent review by NASA, NMSU was one of only 12 space grant programs in the country to receive an excellent rating.


Doña Ana Community College is a branch of New Mexico State University. When it first opened in 1973 it had 500 students in six programs.[82] In 2008, there were 4,607 full-Time equivalent credit enrollments and 7,401 non-credit students served by 133 full-time faculty, 360 part-time instructors, and 155 part-time non-credit teachers together with 227 full-time staff and 131 part-time staff.[83]

DACC operates centers in Anthony, Sunland Park, Chaparral, and White Sands Missile Range.[84] In Las Cruces, its Central Campus is at 3400 S. Espina Street and its East Mesa Campus is at 2800 N. Sonoma Ranch Blvd. Community Education is available at all centers and campuses and also in Las Cruces at the Mesquite Neighborhood Learning Center at 804 N. Tornillo, and Workforce Center at 2345 E. Nevada St.[85]


Thomas Branigan Memorial Library is the city's public library. It was constructed in 1979[86]:93 and has a collection of about 185,000 items.[87] The previous library building, also called Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, opened in 1935.[86]:68–69 That building is now the Branigan Cultural Center.[86]:8 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The two university libraries at the New Mexico State University campus, Branson Library and Zuhl Library, are open to the public. Any New Mexico resident can check out items from these libraries.[88]


The metro area has TV broadcasting stations that serve the El Paso – Las Cruces Designated Market Area (DMA) as defined by Nielsen Media Research. The City of Las Cruces operates CLC-TV cable channel 20, an Emmy award-winning 24-hour Government-access television (GATV) and Educational-access television channel on Comcast cable TV in Las Cruces. CLC-TV televises live and recorded Las Cruces city council meetings, Doña Ana County commission meetings and Las Cruces School board meetings. The channel also televises City Beat, a monthly news magazine, hosted by Jennifer Martinez, with information directly related to the City of Las Cruces. Also available for viewing is health news and other government/education related programming, as well as current weather reports and road and traffic information. CLC-TV is not a Public-access television cable TV channel. In addition to a 2009 Emmy Award by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, CLC-TV received a 1st and 3rd place award by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) and five national Telly Awards, four platinum and one gold. All CLC-TV programming is available for viewing online at

Las Cruces Sun-News is a daily newspaper published in Las Cruces by MediaNews Group. Las Cruces Bulletin is a weekly community newspaper published in Las Cruces by FIG Publications, LLC. It is tabloid size and covers local news, business, arts, sports, and homes. The Round Up is the student newspaper at New Mexico State University. It is tabloid size and published twice weekly. The Ink is a monthly tabloid published in Las Cruces, covering the arts and community events in southern New Mexico and west Texas.

Las Cruces has one television station, the PBS outlet KRWG-TV, operated by New Mexico State University. The Telemundo outlet KTDO-TV is licensed in Las Cruces but serves El Paso. The city also receives several Albuquerque, El Paso, and Ciudad Juárez stations. Las Cruces is in Nielsen Media Research's El Paso/Las Cruces television media market.

Las Cruces has one local commercial independent cable television station called "The Las Cruces Channel" (LCC98). It can be seen on Comcast cable channel 98. LCC-98 is not a Public-access television channel. The channel airs programs that are produced locally in their studio facility and by outside producers.

There are approximately ten commercial radio stations in the Las Cruces area, running a variety of formats. Four of these stations are owned by Adams Radio Group and four are owned by Bravo Mic Communications, LLC, a Las Cruces company. The local NPR outlet is KRWG-FM, operated by New Mexico State University. NMSU also operates a college radio station, KRUX. KRUC is a Spanish-language station in Las Cruces. Many El Paso stations are received in Las Cruces. See list of radio stations in New Mexico for a complete list of stations. Las Cruces is in Arbitron's Las Cruces media market.




Major highways


Las Cruces is served by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, via a branch line that extends from Belen, New Mexico to El Paso, Texas. Passenger service on this line was discontinued in 1968, due to low ridership numbers on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway's (predecessor to the BNSF) El Pasoan train.

Bus Transit

The city operates a small transit authority known as RoadRUNNER Transit. RoadRUNNER Transit operates a total of nine routes running Mondays through Saturdays. There is no Sunday service. An adult fare is $1.00. The active fleet consists of three Nova Bus RTS (2000 model year) and 11 Gillig Advantage (2004 and 2008 model years) transit buses, all of which are Script error: No such module "convert". long and wheelchair-accessible.

NMDOT Park and Ride's Gold Route connects Las Cruces to El Paso, Texas Monday through Friday during commute hours. The Silver Route connects Las Cruces to White Sands Missile Range. The fare for this service is $3.00.

Ztrans connects Las Cruces with Alamogordo.[89]

Greyhound's Las Cruces stop is located in the nearby unincorporated community of Doña Ana. Buses departing Las Cruces serve El Paso, Amarillo, Denver, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and San Diego.[90]


City of Las Cruces provides water, sewer, natural gas, and solid waste services, including recycling centers.[91] El Paso Electric is the electricity provider,[92] CenturyLink is the telephone land line provider, and Comcast is the cable TV provider.



Memorial Medical Center is a for-profit general hospital operated by LifePoint Hospitals Inc. The physical plant is owned by the City of Las Cruces and the County of Doña Ana, who signed a 40-year, $150 million lease in 2004 with Province HealthCare, since absorbed into LifePoint.[93][94] Prior to 2004 it was leased to and operated by the nonprofit Memorial Medical Center Inc.[95][96] The hospital is a licensed 286-bed acute care facility and is accredited by JCAHO. It offers a wide range of patient services.[97] The University of New Mexico Cancer Center-South opened in 2006 on the MMC campus. It is Script error: No such module "convert". and has 9 exam rooms.[98]

The original facility was called Memorial General Hospital and was opened in April 1950 at South Alameda Boulevard and Lohman Avenue after the city obtained a $250,000 federal grant. In 1971 the city and county joined to build a new hospital on South Telshor Boulevard. In 1990 it was renamed Memorial Medical Center.[99]

MountainView Regional Medical Center is a for-profit general hospital operated by Community Health Systems (formerly Triad Hospitals). It opened for business in August 2002. It is a 168-bed facility with a wide range of patient services.[100]

Mesilla Valley Hospital is a 125-bed private psychiatric hospital operated by Universal Health Services. It is an acute inpatient and residential facility offering a variety of treatments for behavioral health issues.[101]

Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico is a 40-bed rehabilitative care hospital, operated by Ernest Health Inc.. It opened January 2005. It treats patients after they have been cared for at general hospitals for injuries or strokes.[102]

Advanced Care Hospital of Southern New Mexico is a 20-bed long-term acute care facility operated by Ernest Health Inc.. It opened in July 2007.[103]

General clinics

Rio Grande Medical Group[104] Ben Archer Health Centers[105] La Clinica de Familia[106] Pinnacle Family Health Care[107]

Urgent care

Covenant Clinics[108]

Notable people

Sister cities

Las Cruces has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

Las Cruces Sister Cities Foundation[110] is responsible for overseeing sister cities activities on behalf of the citizens of Las Cruces.


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External links

Las Cruces, New Mexico Flag of New Mexico
Doña Ana | Mesilla | University Park
Doña Ana County
New Mexico State University

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