Get to Know Las Vegas, NM

Situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains is a small town with a unique culture and beautiful landscapes. This small town was once the largest town in the entire southwest and has held its size while the world has grown.

​It is the only one with over 900 historic buildings on the Historic Registry. Las Vegas is also home to the only United World College in the country.

In 1835, Las Vegas was officially founded as Senora de Los Dolores de Las Vegas or Our Lady of Sorrows of the Meadows. Although Las Vegas was considered part of New Mexico following the Mexican war, it had a rich and vast history with the Paleo-Indians and the Anasazi and Mogollon cultures. The town was a thriving farming town which celebrated an annual fiesta honoring saints James and Ann for providing the water needed to feed the community. This celebration became known as the Fourth of July Fiestas in 1888. We continue to celebrate the fiestas every year with food, entertainment, parades and outdoor activities.

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. Later in the years, the Santa Fe Railroad ran tracks through the town, attracting various cultures and making Las Vegas the central location for ice distribution along the Gallinas River in the Montezuma Pond.

Las Vegas was the historic home of many economic and cultural endeavors such as film-making, theater performance, ice distribution, railroad travels, Harvey houses, gold & silver mining, cowboy parades and so much more. The growth created West Las Vegas and East Las Vegas which were later combined and made into one town but still maintaining the East and West division and cultures.


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The Plaza Hotel (featured in the image above) opened in 1882 as “The Belle of the Southwest”, the fanciest hotel in all of New Mexico Territory. Lovingly restored and overlooking beautiful Old Town Plaza Park, your hotel is today a favorite destination for historians, film crews, locals and travelers from near and far. For 125 years the Plaza Hotel and Plaza Park have been the heart of Las Vegas, New Mexico – the original Las Vegas!

Gallinas River

Just like the rest of Las Vegas, New Mexico, the Gallinas River which runs through the middle of the city is steeped in history dating back hundreds of years.