• Area: 1.58 square miles
  • Incorporated: 1921
  • Location: 35-miles east of Belen at the southern edge of the Manzano Mountains
  • Population, 2015: 878
Mountainair Mainstreet


Mountainair sits near the geographic center of New Mexico. The town, gateway to the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, is a center for tourism and the arts. The picturesque downtown has also drawn the interest of movie makers. The local economy is based on agriculture, trade and tourism.


  • Major private employers: P&M Signs, Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative, High Lonesome Wind Ranch (electricity generation).


Mountainair was founded in 1903 at Abo Pass, a long gentle rise between the Rio Grande and the Estancia Valley. Three men from Kansas decided that their town site should be on the Santa Fe Railway's Belen cut-off. This was a route east from Belen that would save 10-hours on the run to Chicago. When the cut-off was completed in 1906, homesteaders began to arrive and the town boomed. In 1923, folk artist Clem "Pop" Shaffer built a hotel and in 1932 added a dining room, which is itself a work of art. Once known as the "Pinto Bean Capital of the World," Mountainair had the world's largest pinto bean processing center. A drought in the 1940's ended bean farming, and ranching quickly took its place.



Mountainair Population Graph

More Information

The Historic Shaffer Hotel


  • Four councilors, elected to four-year staggered terms
  • Mayor, elected every four years


  • Electric: Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative
  • Natural Gas: Town of Mountainair
  • Sewer: Town of Mountainair
  • Solid Waste: Town of Mountainair
  • Source: Ground water
  • Telephone: CenturyLink or Plateau
  • Water: Town of Mountainair


  • Air: Mountainair Municipal Airport (general aviation)
  • Highways: U.S. 60 and New Mexico State Road 55
  • Train, Freight: Burlington Northern and Santa Fe


  • Kindergarten to 12th grade: Mountainair School District


  • Entertainment: The Mountainair Activity Center has a 300-seat indoor concert hall, a full-service kitchen and dining room, a small chapel, bunk houses, a basketball gym, and an indoor swimming pool. Outside are a baseball diamond, basketball court, horseshoe rings and volleyball court.
  • Hiking: The Manzano Mountains lie to the west. In the Mountainair Ranger District are eight campgrounds and many trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding. Hawkwatch International uses Capilla Peak to watch hawk and eagle migrations.
  • National monument: Salinas National Monument preserves ruins of Indian pueblos and churches at three sites - Abo, Quarai, and Gran Quivira.
  • Rodeo: The Mountainair Rodeo Grounds hosts events from March to September, including a PRCA rodeo in June.
  • State parks: Manzano State Park, 13-miles northwest of Mountainair, offers trout fishing and camping. One of the oldest apple orchards in the United States overlooks Manzano Lake. ("Manzano" means "apple" in Spanish.)