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Raton, New Mexico
Downtown Raton (2010)
Downtown Raton (2010)
Location within Colfax County and New Mexico
Location within Colfax County and New Mexico
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Colfax
 • Total 7.96 sq mi (20.62 km2)
 • Land 7.96 sq mi (20.62 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
6,680 ft (2,036 m)
 • Total 6,041
 • Estimate 
 • Density 755.13/sq mi (292.96/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain (MST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code 575
FIPS code 35-62060
GNIS feature ID 0902335

Raton ( -tone) is a city and the county seat of Colfax County in northeastern New Mexico. The city is located just south of Raton Pass. The city is also located about 6.5 miles south of the New Mexico–Colorado border and 85 miles west of Texas.


Revised Santa Fe Trail photo (Raton, NM) IMG 4971
Santa Fe Trail in Raton
Amtrak station

Ratón is the Spanish term for "mouse" (literally "small rat"). The Raton Range and Raton Peak are located immediately north of the town. The Raton Range is a 75-mile-long (121 km) ridge that extends east from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Raton Pass and the Raton Basin are also named for the Raton Range.

Raton Pass had been used by Spanish explorers and Indians for centuries to cut through the rugged Rocky Mountains, but the trail was too rough for wagons on the Santa Fe Trail.

The post office at this location was named Willow Springs from 1877 to 1879, Otero from 1879 to 1880, then renamed Raton in 1880.

Raton was founded at the site of Willow Springs, a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. The original 320 acres (129.5 ha) for the Raton townsite were purchased from the Maxwell Land Grant in 1880. In 1879, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway bought a local toll road and established a busy rail line. Raton quickly developed as a railroad, mining and ranching center for the northeast part of the New Mexico territory, as well as the county seat and principal trading center of the area.

The city is mentioned in Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road.


Raton is located at 36°53′49″N 104°26′24″W / 36.89694°N 104.44000°W / 36.89694; -104.44000 (36.897082, -104.439912). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.0 square miles (20.6 km2), all land.


Iridium Layer sign at the rocks of the K-T Boundary, in Climax Canyon Park, City of Raton.
Solano's Boot & Western Wear, Raton, NM IMG 4995
Solano's Boot & Western Wear, a family-owned enterprise at 101 South Second Street in Raton, began in 1956 as a small boot repair business operated by Andy Solano.
First Christian Church, Raton, NM, IMG 4978
First Christian Church, in dark pink adobe architecture, is located near the municipal building in Raton; pastor Cleve Bishop (2010).
Goat Hill, Raton, NM, IMG 4985
Raton sign located on a hill above the city (summer 2010)
Raton, NM in 1972
Downtown Raton (1972)

Raton is one of the famous sites for viewing the K-T Boundary, also known as the K-Pg Boundary or Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary, or the Iridium Layer. There is a well-preserved sequence of rocks spanning the CretaceousPaleogene boundary in Climax Canyon Park, a Raton city park to the west of town. Geographic Coordinates: 36°54′13.99″N 104°27′0.75″W / 36.9038861°N 104.4502083°W / 36.9038861; -104.4502083

The rocks have been studied for evidence of the iridium anomaly cited as evidence of a large meteorite impact at the end of the Cretaceous. It is interpreted to have caused the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event which killed off non-avian dinosaurs, as well as many other species of flora and fauna 65 million years ago. The K-T Boundary is represented in the rock strata by a 1-cm thick tonstein clay layer which has been found to contain anomalously high concentrations of iridium.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,255
1900 3,540 182.1%
1910 4,539 28.2%
1920 5,544 22.1%
1930 6,090 9.8%
1940 7,607 24.9%
1950 8,241 8.3%
1960 8,146 −1.2%
1970 6,962 −14.5%
1980 8,225 18.1%
1990 7,372 −10.4%
2000 7,282 −1.2%
2010 6,885 −5.5%
2020 6,041 −12.3%
2019 (est.) 5,938 −13.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the United States Census of 2000, 7,282 people, 3,035 households, and 1,981 families were residing in the city. The population density was 992.4 people per square mile (383.1/km2). The 3,472 housing units averaged of 473.2 per square mile (182.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.04% White, 0.23% African American, 1.59% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 16.20% from other races, and 3.53% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 56.96% of the population.

Of the 3,035 households, 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 12.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were not families. About 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35, and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city, the population was distributed as 25.1% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 24.9% from 25 to 44, 23.9% from 45 to 64, and 18.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,028, and for a family was $31,762. Males had a median income of $24,946 versus $18,433 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,223. About 14.8% of families and 17.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.2% of those under age 18 and 10.4% of those age 65 or over.

In the United States Census of 2010, the population of Raton had dropped to 6,885, and was estimated to have dropped to 6,066 by July 1, 2018.

In the United States Census of 2020, the population of Raton had dropped to 6,041.



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  • US 64.svg US 64
  • US 87.svg US 87



  • Raton Municipal Airport


Sugarite Canyon State Park is located 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Raton at an elevation of 8,800 feet (2,700 m). Activities there include camping, fishing, and hiking.

The NRA Whittington Center is located 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Raton. It is the largest NRA shooting range in the US. It hosts national competitions. High-powered rifle and skeet shooting are possible.

Raton was the site of New Mexico's first horse racetrack, La Mesa Park, which closed in 1992.

Notable people

  • Tom W. Blackburn, writer who also wrote the lyrics to "The Ballad of Davy Crockett"
  • Edwin Fullinwider, Olympic fencer
  • Noel Mazzone, former offensive coordinator for the University of Arizona football team, current offensive coordinator for New Orleans Breakers of the new USFL
  • Paul L. Modrich received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2015
  • John Morrow, United States Representative from New Mexico
  • John R. Sinnock, United States Mint engraver known for work on the FDR dime
  • Petro Vlahos, three-time Academy Award-winning Hollywood special-effects pioneer
  • Robert W. Warren, attorney general of Wisconsin
  • Bennie L. Woolley, Jr., racehorse trainer who won the 2009 Kentucky Derby
Notable group
  • The Fireballs, rock and roll group known for "Sugar Shack" and "Bottle of Wine".
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