Visitors to Albuquerque’s high-end Hotel Parq Central and its Instagram-worthy rooftop cocktail lounge, Apothecary, might not be aware of its history as a location for haunted happenings. Before it was overhauled and made into luxe accommodations, the building spent decades as a hospital and psychiatric facility. It’s not just recent visitors who’ve seen ghostly apparitions, either. Former patients of the hospital claim that during their stays, they experienced disembodied voices, objects being moved by unseen forces, and a feeling of constantly being watched. To this day, visitors often have the feeling of being watched, too, and a group of ghost hunters supposedly communicated with the spirit of a former patient using a flashlight. Grab a drink, book a room, and keep your eyes and ears peeled!
One of the state’s most famous haunted locations, the story of the ghost that supposedly dwells in the KiMo Theater reads like something straight out of a scary movie. In 1951, a water heater exploded in the theater, killing several people, including a six-year-old named Bobby. His ghost is a poltergeist, a spirit that likes to cause mischief. It’s tradition for performers at the KiMo to leave Bobby a small gift or treat — often donuts — to earn his affection and trust so he doesn’t interfere with their performance. He supposedly messes with the electricity, opens and closes doors repeatedly, and drops cables and other equipment from the ceiling in order to distract the performers and make them forget their lines. Are these stories true, and is there really a poltergeist that haunts the historic theater? We chatted with Larry Parker, the general manager of the KiMo Theater, to hear his take — spoiler alert: He’s not a believer.
Built by Henry Lambert in 1872, the St. James Hotel was the backdrop for numerous shootouts during its Wild West days — it still boasts the evidence in its dining room ceiling where 22 bullets are still wedged. It's located in the heart of Cimarron, 40 miles south of Ratón on N.M. 62. Train robber Blackjack Ketchum, and outlaws Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Billy the Kid stayed in the hotel during its heyday, and today, you can stay in rooms named for these famous guests. It is said to be the location of more than 26 murders, and the victims supposedly wander the hotel. In fact, room 18 — supposedly haunted by the spirit of T.J. Wright, a gambler who was murdered after a winning hand — remains un-booked as though he, or his ghost, were still staying there today.
The Wild West is still alive and well through the wanderings of three ghosts said to frequent this rugged hotel, saloon, and restaurant in Chama. Guests have reported hearing the sound of a woman — said to be a frontier judge who was poisoned in the hotel when several local men took offense to her leadership position — choking and gasping for breath. Across the hall, hotel staff has heard a small girl's cries. They believe they are from the ghost of a youth who died there of an illness more than 100 years ago. The specter of a cowboy is also said to wander the hotel's halls. Pair these events with other mysterious sightings, and this hotel, which is located directly across the street from the famed Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, and you'll have plenty to investigate during your next ghost hunt.
A visit to northeastern New Mexico is a must for amateur ghost hunters. Free of charge and open Tuesday through Saturday as well as by appointment, the Herzstein Museum is a must-see for history buffs, with exhibits focusing on the Santa Fe Trail and the Dust Bowl as well as rooms restored to look how they did in eras gone by. Even more intriguing? Confirmed ghost activity! In March of 2018, a crew of paranormal research investigators spent time in town and discovered strange, unexplained noises such as stairs rattling with no one walking on them and poltergeists knocking objects over. In addition to the museum, the group also noted ghost activity at the town’s movie theater and courthouse. If you’re in town, the museum proprietors will give you a personalized tour.
Next on the list? The Hotel Eklund. Experience paranormal activity for yourself if you stay in room 307, which according to local legend is haunted by the ghost of a maid named Irene. Visitors claim to hear creaking floorboards and that faces are visible in the wallpaper. Even if you’re not interested in the creepy aspects of the hotel, you won’t be disappointed if you stay. Authentic and traditional architecture, especially present in the old dining room and saloon, will transport you straight back in time to the Wild West.
Clayton’s other claim to fame? It’s the final resting place of New Mexico’s other famous outlaw, Blackjack Ketchum. If you’ve already visited Billy the Kid’s gravesite in Fort Sumner, you’ll want to cross this one off your Wild West bucket list: A famous train robber, he was hanged in 1901 – the last official hanging in New Mexico (it occurred before New Mexico became a state). Legend has it that during the hanging, he was decapitated. If you visit the local cemetery, it’s easy to find his grave. At the time, the cemetery was divided between Catholics and Protestants, and neither group wanted to Blackjack’s remains in their half… so he’s buried in a median on the dirt path that snakes its way through the cemetery.
Union County Courthouse
Reconstructed in 1909 after a tornado tore through the original courthouse, Union County Courthouse today is said to be a hotspot for many cold spots – lingering spirits. Before the new courthouse was built, Blackjack Ketchum's hanging was right in front of the original courthouse. Today, legend has it that Black Jack Ketchum haunts the halls, headless or not. The jailhouse where he was kept until his meeting his fate is said to be ice cold, even to this day. Other reported sightings have spooked those who still work in the 1909 courthouse. Some say they have seen full silhouettes — others have only been able to capture orbs surrounding and constantly following them.
Originally constructed as a stopover for the Alamogordo and Sacramento Mountain Railway, The Lodge burned to the ground in the early 1900s. During the quaint chalet's heyday, Rebecca, a strikingly beautiful chambermaid with red hair, was murdered when her jealousy-stricken lumberjack suitor found her in the arms of another man. Today, The Lodge's "friendly," though mischievous, ghost has been said to wander the halls: moving furniture, flicking lights on and off, and spontaneously igniting fires in fireplaces. Some believe Rebecca is searching for a new lover or friend who would appreciate her playful nature. The cozy mountain retreat, located 20 miles east of Alamogordo, is ideal for curling up with a book by the fire during the winter, and striking out for a golf game at The Lodge's course during the summer. During your visit, don't miss a hearty meal at their restaurant — named after their favorite friendly ghost.
Dawson was once a coal mining town close to Cimarron, and throughout the beginning of the 20th century, it prospered. Sadly, an accident led to its tragic end. In 1913, an explosion at the mine killed more than 250 men, making it one of the worst coal mining disasters in American history. Another disaster took the lives of 123 miners in 1923, and now all that remains of the town is a cemetery. It’s got a reputation as one of the most haunted places in New Mexico, and for good reason. Visitors who are brave enough to explore the cemetery at night have reported back with strange findings. Some have seen lights, reminiscent of those on the front of mining helmets, and some have even seen ghostly apparitions wandering among the headstones.
The story of Dawson has gotten the Hollywood treatment: Netflix's Emmy-winning show Godless was filmed in New Mexico and based on the mining accident.
Ghost Adventures, a popular paranormal show on the Travel Channel, helped put this southern New Mexico building in the national spotlight where paranormal activity is concerned. Built in 1937, this courthouse is no longer in use, but remains an attraction due to its reputation as a hotbed of paranormal happenings. The location of many deaths over the years, the building has been unused since 2008. Ghost hunters and paranormal investigators have made a point to stop in, and some say they’ve encountered an unknown, violent entity. In addition, shadowy apparitions have been seen, and people have also reported feeling cold spots in the building, a surefire sign of ghost activity according to believers. Other creepy occurrences? A repeat visitor to the site states that he has been scratched by an invisible hand and has witnessed a jail cell door closing on its own.
Built in 1866, the Amador Hotel is a popular Las Cruces ghost tour stop. During tours, guests have reported seeing shadowy figures lurking in the hallways, flashlights turning on and off mysteriously and having their arms scratched. Some say it’s the work of the ghost of a little girl named Annie, who frequents the rooms on the second floor.
Nestled in the lush green forests and fields about an hour north of Santa Fe, Las Vegas is a picturesque town that’s been featured in movies and TV shows like Red Dawn, No Country for Old Men, Easy Rider, and Longmire. It also boasts another claim to fame, one that’s a bit creepier and one you can experience for yourself if you book a room. The Plaza Hotel, built in 1882, has an illustrious history with a dash of the paranormal. It’s said to be haunted by the ghost of its past owner, Byron T. Wells. The hotel’s restaurant and bar is even named after him! If you’re feeling especially brave, book Room 310. It was Byron’s office, and to this day, hotel guests sometimes claim to feel his presence.
A visit to Valencia County just isn’t complete without a tour of the Luna Mansion. Built in the 1880s, it’s a unique building, being the only known Victorian-style structure made of traditional adobe. It was built as a gift from the Santa Fe Railway in exchange for access through the extensive land holdings of the Luna and Otero families, and visitors today, who often come to experience the site’s rich history and delicious restaurant, are surprised by the sight of a ghost. The ghost is supposedly that of Josefita Otero, who died during renovations to the mansion in 1951. Since she left so much unfinished business, she’s said to still be hanging around. Her spirit is often seen sitting in her rocking chair or walking up and down the mansion’s expansive staircase.
Built in 1849, the location has seen its fair share of unfortunate events over the years. It was the site of a brutal double homicide in the 19th century, and supposedly the ghosts of the victims still reside inside the room in which they were killed. Known today as the Carlotta Room, visitors today can see it for themselves, although they’re encouraged not to sit in the corner chairs so that they don’t upset the ghosts. Those who’ve encountered the ghosts say that they’re not malevolent spirits, but instead are similar to mischievous, prankster-esque poltergeists. They’re fond of moving tables and chairs and breaking wine glasses. Not into the paranormal? No problem. The Double Eagle is worth a visit for the food alone. Top-quality steaks and must-try margaritas are on the menu.
With a history that dates back almost to the City Different's founding 400 years ago, it's no wonder that the inn is fraught with tales of the paranormal. In 1857, an unfortunate gambler found himself truly out of luck when a lynch mob took him from the gambling hall and hung him in the hotel's backyard. Today, this patio has been enclosed and is the site of the hotel’s La Plazuela restaurant. Rumor has it that guests have seen what appears to be the shadow of a man swinging from a tree while dining there. Ten years later, territorial justice was transplanted from the courthouse to La Fonda's lobby when the Honorable John P. Slough, Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was shot there. Guests claim they have sighted the judge, in his long black coat, wandering the hotel today. A young bride, who was murdered on her wedding night by a jealous ex-lover, is also said to haunt the wedding suite. The hotel, which is located at the end of the Santa Fe Trail, is an icon of Santa Fe-style inside and out, with its Southwestern décor and multi-tiered adobe exterior. During your stay, stop in the hotel bar for a late-night drink—the ghost of a cowboy might just pull up a barstool next to you.
In 1882, a prosperous merchant named Abraham Staab built his three-story brick mansion in the French Second Empire-style on property that now belongs to La Posada. Abraham and his wife, Julia, entertained Santa Fe society in the grand residence decorated with the finest European materials. Legend has it that Julia Staab has never left it. Julia has most often appeared at the top of the grand staircase in the original building in the main complex of the inn. However, she has also been seen in the Nason Room, a small alcove built upon the old formal gardens of the original structure. So, why does Julia Staab linger? Some say that ghosts appear when death occurs in a state of turmoil and anxiety, such as the circumstances that seemed to attend Mrs. Staab’s final years. Depressed over the loss of a child and other unsuccessful pregnancies, Julia Staab was rumored to have gone mad, retreating to her bedroom until her death at age 52. In recent years, her alleged spirit has been the subject of many ghost tours, an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, and Weird Travels. The Staab House stands today in the form of a bar, where guests of La Posada enjoy cocktails and light Southwestern fare. Some have even reported meeting the grand lady.