New Mexico History

From a land before time to the land of tomorrow

New Mexico is a land of ancient cultures granting us a rich and unique collective story. The history of New Mexico begins over 10,000 years ago when the earliest known inhabitants of this land wandered through the area hunting long-extinct animals and leaving the first human marks on the state’s remarkable landscape. Each Heritage Hotels & Resort tells a unique piece of New Mexico's history through our architecture, design, artwork, decor, cuisine and entertainment.

Two other groups of early residents, the Ancient Pueblo Peoples of the north, and the Mogollon Peoples of the south, farmed the fertile river valleys of state, built homes of stone and adobe out of sheer cliff walls, and created strikingly beautiful pottery, pictographs and petroglyphs.

By the end of the 13th century the descendants of these ancient peoples had completely abandoned their elaborate home sites.  Legend has it that they migrated to areas further south that offered more dependable rainfall and water. Eventually, these early tribes merged into the various Pueblo peoples whose descendants still live in Arizona and New Mexico.

The next wave of influence came from Spain — most notably through conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado y Luján, who came to New Mexico in search of gold. Coronado and his men returned to Spain without their hoped-for treasure, but they opened the door to those who would return to the Land of Enchantment leaving an indelible mark on the land and its people.

The Spanish ruled New Mexico for nearly 130 years until 1821 when Mexico won its independence from Spain. Soon after, the Santa Fe Trail brought new lifestyles, money and settlers to New Mexico. By the 1880s, with the advance of the railroad across the state’s great expanses of mountain and desert, New Mexico was well on its way to statehood.

New Mexico was admitted to the Union as the 47th state on Jan. 6, 1912. Since that time, New Mexico has experienced plenty of growth and change, from the pain of two World Wars and the advent of the nuclear age, to the growth of an elite scientific community exemplified today in the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories.

There’s little doubt that a visit to this unique land will leave you yearning to know more about New Mexico history. Here’s a list of sites to put on your list if you’re ready to experience this remarkable history firsthand during your New Mexico vacation.

New Mexico History Resources:


Santa Fe

Las Cruces