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Las Cruces, New Mexico
City of Las Cruces
View of Las Cruces with the Organ Mountains to the east
View of Las Cruces with the Organ Mountains to the east
Flag of Las Cruces, New Mexico
Official seal of Las Cruces, New Mexico
The City of the Crosses
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
Las Cruces, New Mexico is located in New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Location in New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico is located in the United States
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  New Mexico
County Doña Ana
Founded 1849
Incorporated 1907
 • Type Council–manager
 • City 77.03 sq mi (199.51 km2)
 • Land 76.93 sq mi (199.26 km2)
 • Water 0.10 sq mi (0.25 km2)
3,900 ft (1,200 m)
 • City 111,385
 • Density 1,344.43/sq mi (519.09/km2)
 • Metro
217,522 (US: 208th)
1,058,667 (El Paso–Las Cruces CSA)
Time zone UTC−07:00 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−06:00 (DST)
ZIP Codes
88001, 88003-88007, 88011-88013
Area code(s) 575
FIPS code 35-39380
GNIS feature ID 0899715

Las Cruces ( "the crosses") is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of New Mexico and the seat of Doña Ana County. As of the 2020 census the population was 111,385. Las Cruces is the largest city in both Doña Ana County and southern New Mexico. The Las Cruces metropolitan area had an estimated population of 213,849 in 2017. 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 Mesilla Valley, the agricultural region on the floodplain of the Rio Grande which extends from Hatch to the west side of El Paso, Texas. Las Cruces is 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, 10 miles (16 km) to the east, are dominant in the city's landscape, along with the Doña Ana Mountains, Robledo Mountains, and Picacho Peak. Las Cruces lies 225 miles (362 km) south of Albuquerque, 42 miles (68 km) northwest of El Paso, Texas and 41 miles (66 km) north of the Mexican border at Sunland Park.

Spaceport America, which has corporate offices in Las Cruces, operates from 55 miles (89 km) to the north, and has completed several successful crewed, suborbital flights. The city is also the headquarters for Virgin Galactic, the world's first company to offer sub-orbital spaceflights.


The area where Las Cruces rose was previously inhabited by the Manso people, with the Mescalero Apache living nearby. 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.

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.

Mesilla became the leading settlement of the area, with more than 2,000 residents in 1860, more than twice what Las Cruces had. 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. The first train reached Las Cruces in 1881. 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.

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.

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.

Dona Ana County New Mexico Courthouse
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. As part of this, St. Genevieve's Catholic Church, built in 1859, was razed to make way for a downtown pedestrian mall. 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 "Los Hermanos". In Spanish Las Cruces means "the crosses."


LasCruces NewMexico ISS011-E-8410
Las Cruces as seen from space

The approximate elevation of Las Cruces is 3,908 feet (1,191 m) above sea level.

Rio Grande river
The Rio Grande flowing through Las Cruces

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 76.6 square miles (198.5 km2), of which 76.5 square miles (198.1 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.18%, is water.

Las Cruces is the center of the Organ Caldera; the Doña Ana Mountains to the north and the Organ Mountains to the east are its margins. Its major eruption was 32 Ma.

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).

Picacho peak with cotton
Picacho Peak northwest of Las Cruces with fields of cotton, which is grown in abundance in the Mesilla Valley

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

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, 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.


Organ Mountains Near Del Rey Blvd
The eastern Organ Mountains are a prominent sight throughout the city.
LasCrucesNM WellsFargoTower
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 an 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 east side. Las Cruces' shopping mall and a variety of retail stores and restaurants are located in this area.

Downtown Las Cruces
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 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 (280 ha) park in the area behind the Las Cruces Dam was under construction, in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers. The area features trails through restored wetlands and serves as a major refuge for migratory birds and a key recreational area for the city.


Portion of reopened Main Street

Las Cruces has an arid climate (Köppen BWk). Winters alternate between colder and windier weather following trough and frontal passages, and warmer, sunnier periods; light frosts occur many nights. Spring months can be windy, particularly in the afternoons, sometimes causing periods of blowing dust and short-lived dust storms. Summers begin with the hottest weather of the year, with some extended periods of over 100 °F or 37.8 °C weather not uncommon, while the latter half of the summer seeing increased humidity and frequent afternoon thunderstorms, with slightly lower daytime temperatures. Autumns feature decreasing temperatures and precipitation.

Precipitation is very light from October to June, with only occasional 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.

Since records began in 1892, the lowest temperature recorded at State University has been −10 °F or −23.3 °C on January 11, 1962 – though only ten nights have ever fallen to or below 0 °F or −17.8 °C – and the highest 110 °F or 43.3 °C on June 28, 1994. The lowest maximum on record is 16 °F or −8.9 °C on January 28, 1948 and the highest minimum 80 °F or 26.7 °C on July 5, 1920. The wettest calendar year has been 1941 with 19.60 inches or 497.8 millimetres, although 1905 with 17.09 inches or 434.1 millimetres is the only other year to exceed 15 inches (380 mm). The only months to exceed 6 inches (150 mm) have been September 1941 with 7.53 inches or 191.3 millimetres and August 1935 with 7.41 inches or 188.2 millimetres. The wettest single day has been August 30, 1935 with 6.49 inches or 164.8 millimetres and the driest calendar year 1970 with 3.44 inches or 87.4 millimetres.

Climate data for State Univ, Las Cruces, New Mexico (1981–2010 normals; extremes since 1892)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Average high °F (°C) 58.6
Average low °F (°C) 29.1
Record low °F (°C) −10
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.51
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.01 in) 3.6 2.8 2.2 1.9 2.4 3.6 8.3 9.4 5.9 4.8 3.1 3.7 51.7
Source: NOAA


Census 2020 data and 2019 estimates

As of the 2020 census Las Cruces had a population of 111,385.

Estimates for 2019 say that Las Cruces had a population of 103,432. Its demographics were 32.5% Non-Hispanic White, 2.8% African American or Black, 1.4% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.0% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 2.9% Two or more races, 60.5% Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 39,925 households with an average household size of 2.51 people per household. Median household income was $43,022, and the percentage of people in poverty was 23.6%.

Census 2010 data

As of the 2010 census Las Cruces had a population of 97,618. The ethnic and racial makeup of the population was:

Arts and culture

Annual events

Most of Las Cruces's cultural events are held late in the calendar year.

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

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. 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. 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 6-foot-diameter (1.8 m) enchilada, and it has grown over the years. In 2000, the fiesta's 10 12-foot-diameter (3.2 m) enchilada was certified by Guinness World Records as the world's largest. After the enchilada is assembled, it is cut into many pieces and 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 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. After 34 years, The Whole Enchilada Fiesta's final event occurred in 2014 after Estrada had retired.

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.

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, a nonprofit organization. The event is held at the plaza in Mesilla, and at the Branigan Cultural Center 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 a "day of the walking dead", where zombies walk around the mall.

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

Cowboy Days is an event held in Las Cruces at the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum. It is one of the largest events at the museum, and it is held over two days in early March. 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."

A Cinco de Mayo celebration is held May 3–4. Cinco de Mayo ("Fifth of May") is the celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. The event is held in Mesilla and provides arts and crafts, food vendors, and Mexican music.

Another major event is the annual 4th of 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 held at the Field of Dreams Football Stadium.

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

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 locals and tourists.



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.

The New Mexico State University Arthropod Museum and Collection contains approximately 500,000 arthropod specimens. 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.

The Zuhl Museum (located in the Alumni and Visitors' Center) at New Mexico State University focuses on geologic collections, including the finest collection of petrified wood on display and a large fossil and mineral collection.

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. The 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. The Las Cruces Railroad Museum is in the historic Santa Fe Railroad station. It exhibits the impact of the railroads on the local area.

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


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

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. Multimedia artist group Keep Adding have a large mural titled Wave Nest on Picacho Avenue at the Lion's Park.

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

Nearby points of interest

San Albino Church Mesilla
Basilica of San Albino in nearby Mesilla
Sugarloaf Peak, Organ Mountains, New Mexico (2007)
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, located 3 miles (5 km) to the southwest, is a suburb of Las Cruces. It avoided the urban renewal that Las Cruces went through in the 1960s 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. 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.

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

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, 13 miles (21 km) north of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. There is a visitor center.

White Sands Missile Range, 25 miles (40 km) 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.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is a hiking area in the Organ Mountains. The entrance is on U.S. Highway 70 on the east side of the mountains, 17 miles (27 km) east of Las Cruces. 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.

Parks and recreation

Las Cruces operates 87 city parks, 18 tennis courts, and four golf courses. A list of parks, with facilities and maps, is available.

Las Cruces holds a Ciclovía, a citywide event featuring exercise and physical activities, on the last Sunday of each month at Meerscheidt Recreation Center.

Sister cities

  • Mexico Ciudad Lerdo, Mexico
  • Germany Nienburg, Germany

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

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


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 2018 film, The Mule, written, produced, directed by, and starring Clint Eastwood, filmed for 6 days in and around Las Cruces.
  • The 1964 pilot, Calhoun: County Agent, starring Jackie Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, was filmed in and around Las Cruces, but never aired. The process of writing and shooting the pilot is the subject of Merle Miller and Evan Rhodes's book Only You, Dick Daring!


NMSU AggiesFootballGame
Division 1 football game at Aggie Memorial Stadium

At the university level, the New Mexico State Aggies compete in the Western Athletic Conference for men's and women's basketball, and as an independent team for football. Aggies men's basketball has had a rich history of success. Between 2010 and 2019, the Aggies made the NCAA Tournament eight times. The team also reached the Final Four of the tournament in 1970. 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 the city.

Beginning in the 2010 season, the Las Cruces Vaqueros were the first ever professional sports team in Las Cruces. In the 2011 season the Vaqueros joined the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs against the White Sands Pupfish, Roswell Invaders, Ruidoso Osos, Alpine Cowboys and Carlsbad Bats. The Vaqueros played in the Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs for the 2011–2013 seasons. The team returned for the 2015 season, but structural damage to their home ballpark in January 2016 forced them to sit out the 2016 season. They plan to return for the 2017 season.


Public schools

Public schools are in the Las Cruces Public School District, which 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, nine middle schools, and six high schools. Of the high schools, Rio Grande Preparatory is an alternative high school.

There are 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 is a charter high school that opened in fall 2007 and caters to at-risk students. New America High School offers schooling for young and older adults who want 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.

New Mexico School for the Deaf operates a preschool facility in Las Cruces.

High schools

Las Cruces High School
Las Cruces High School campus
  • Arrowhead Park Early College High School
  • Centennial High School
  • Las Cruces High School
  • Mayfield High School
  • Oñate High School
  • Alma d'arte Charter High School

Private schools

There are five private Christian schools in Las Cruces. College Heights Kindergarten is a private Christian kindergarten, founded in 1954. Desert Springs Christian Academy, Las Cruces Catholic School, Mesilla Valley Christian School, and a small independent Baptist school called Cornerstone Christian Academy are other Christian schools in the area.

A secular non-profit private school, Las Cruces Academy offers grades K-5 with plans to eventually enroll grades K–12.

Colleges and universities


NMSU Skeen Hall 2008
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. 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.

The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM), a private osteopathic medical school, opened on the campus of NMSU in 2013. The first class began instruction in August 2016.


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. In the 2015–2016 school year, there were 4,997 full-time equivalent credit enrollments and 4,246 non-credit students, served by 136 full-time faculty, 401 part-time instructors, together with 225 full-time staff and 55 part-time staff.

DACC operates centers in Anthony, Sunland Park, Chaparral, and White Sands Missile Range. In Las Cruces, its central campus is at 3400 S. Espina Street, and its East Mesa campus is at 2800 Sonoma Ranch Boulevard. 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 Street.


Branigan Library Las Cruces
Thomas Branigan Memorial Library

Thomas Branigan Memorial Library is the city's public library. It was constructed in 1979 and has a collection of about 185,000 items. The previous library building, also called Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, opened in 1935. That building is now the Branigan Cultural Center. 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.




  • Las Cruces International Airport – No current regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights since July 25, 2005, when Westward Airways ceased operations. General aviation, New Mexico Army National Guard (4 UH-72 Lakota Helicopters), private charters and CAP use the airport, among others.
  • El Paso International Airport – Nearest airport with regularly scheduled commercial flights.

Major highways

  • Interstate 10, east–west travel: south-southeast to El Paso, Texas; west to Tucson, Arizona.
  • Interstate 25, north–south travel: north to Albuquerque. Las Cruces is the southern terminus for Interstate 25 where it intersects Interstate 10.
  • U.S. Route 70, east–west travel: northeast to Alamogordo; to the west it is merged with Interstate 10.
  • U.S. Route 180
  • NM 28
  • NM 101
  • NM 185
  • NM 188
  • NM 292
  • NM 320
  • NM 373
  • NM 478


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 eight routes, and two Aggie routes running Mondays through Saturdays. There is no Sunday service. An adult fare (ages 19–59) is $1.00. Youth (ages 6–18), senior citizens (60+), people with disabilities, medicare holders, and students pay $0.50. Children age 5 and younger do not pay. 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 35 feet (11 m) 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.

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, Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Diego.


The city of Las Cruces provides water, sewer, natural gas, and solid waste services, including recycling centers. El Paso Electric is the electricity provider, 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. Prior to 2004 it was leased to and operated by the nonprofit Memorial Medical Center Inc. The hospital is a licensed 286-bed acute care facility and is accredited by JCAHO. It offers a wide range of patient services. The University of New Mexico Cancer Center-South opened in 2006 on the MMC campus. It is 5,300 square feet (490 m2) and has 9 exam rooms.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Notable people

  • Richard Artschwager, painter and sculptor, grew up in Las Cruces
  • Anwar al-Awlaki, Alleged Al-Qaeda spokesman and regional leader, born in Las Cruces; killed by the U.S. government in 2011 for his alleged propaganda on behalf of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
  • Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr., career U.S. Army officer and a Confederate States Army general during the American Civil War; spent six years in Las Cruces prior to the war
  • Rich Beem, professional golfer who played high school and college golf at Las Cruces High School and New Mexico State University; winner of the 2002 PGA Championship
  • Joseph Benavidez, Mexican-American mixed martial arts fighter
  • Baxter Black, cowboy, poet, philosopher, former large-animal veterinarian, and radio commentator, who grew up in Las Cruces and attended New Mexico State University
  • Frank Borman, NASA astronaut and engineer, has a home and auto dealership in Las Cruces. Known for Gemini VII, a nearly 14 day low Earth orbital mission (1965) and Apollo 8, the first humans to leave low Earth orbit, reach and orbit the Moon, and return safely (1968)
  • William Bowers, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, born in Las Cruces
  • Randy Brown, professional basketball player for the Chicago Bulls while winning three NBA titles during 1996–98; previously played at New Mexico State University
  • Pamela Burford, novelist, born in Las Cruces
  • Edgar Castillo, Mexican-American association football player
  • Denise Chávez, author, playwright, and stage director
  • Steve Colter, professional basketball player in the NBA, played at New Mexico State University
  • John A.D. Cooper, physician and educator, first president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, grew up in Las Cruces
  • Sharon Douglas, actress, attended Las Cruces Union High School
  • Doug Eddings, Major League umpire, lives in Las Cruces
  • Albert Fall, U.S. Senator from New Mexico and U.S. Secretary of the Interior
  • Richard Farrer, South African–American soccer player, grew up in Las Cruces
  • Albert Jennings Fountain, lawyer, Indian fighter, and Republican politician in Texas and New Mexico whose disappearance remains a mystery
  • Chuck Franco, First Gentleman of New Mexico
  • Pat Garrett, Old West lawman who killed Billy the Kid
  • Mimi Reisel Gladstein, professor of English and Theatre Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso, specialist on authors Ayn Rand and John Steinbeck
  • Lou Henson, basketball coach who coached New Mexico State University and University of Illinois teams to the Final Four
  • Po James, running back who played four seasons for NFL's Philadelphia Eagles; played collegiately at New Mexico State University
  • Charley Johnson, NFL quarterback, professor of chemical engineering at his alma mater, New Mexico State University, resides in Las Cruces
  • Albert Johnson, first black mayor in New Mexico
  • Paul Wilbur Klipsch, engineer and high fidelity audio pioneer, known for developing the high-efficiency folded horn loudspeaker; graduated from New Mexico State University
  • Timothy Kraft, political consultant, 1980 campaign manager for Jimmy Carter, retired in Las Cruces
  • Kiki Lara, soccer player, born in Las Cruces
  • Delano Lewis, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, president and CEO of National Public Radio, resides in Las Cruces
  • Kerry Locklin, football coach, most recently defensive line coach for NFL's New York Jets
  • Mireille Marokvia, French writer best known for two books about her ordeals during World War II in Nazi Germany; lived in Las Cruces later in life until her death in 2008
  • Mark Medoff, Tony Award-winning playwright of Children of a Lesser God
  • Rose Marie Pangborn, scientist, pioneer in the sensory analysis of food, born in Las Cruces
  • Bertha M. Paxton, first woman elected to the New Mexico Legislature
  • Lenny Pickett, the saxophonist and musical director of the Saturday Night Live band was born in Las Cruces
  • Buck Pierce, professional Canadian football quarterback who played for New Mexico State University; lives in Las Cruces during the off-season
  • Bashir Ramzy, long jumper in track and field, won a bronze medal in the 2007 Pan American Games; born in Las Cruces
  • Mai Shanley, beauty queen who was crowned Miss USA in 1984
  • Tom Smith, playwright and director, teaches at New Mexico State University, resides in Las Cruces
  • Clyde Tombaugh, astronomer, discovered Pluto, lived in Las Cruces until his death in 1997
  • Austin Trout, former WBA light-middleweight champion of the world, was born and fights out of Las Cruces
  • Prentiss Walker, member of the United States House of Representatives from Mississippi, lived part of his childhood in Las Cruces
  • Cora Witherspoon, stage and screen character actress, Las Cruces resident along with her sister, Maud Witherspoon
  • Fredd Young, four-time Pro Bowl football player for the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts; played for New Mexico State, lives in Las Cruces
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Las Cruces, New Mexico Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.