"Would you make this place the state capital?" Cerrillos by toonsarah

Cerrillos Travel Guide: 3 reviews and 14 photos

Los Cerrillos is the place that gave the Turquoise Trail its name, but in the past its mines have yielded treasures of many kinds.

Los Cerrillos means Little Hills, and in the hills surrounding this once prosperous town were found not just turquoise, in a distinctive green-tinged variety, but also gold, silver, lead and zinc. At the peak of all this activity, in the mid 1880s, there were roughly 3,000 prospectors working these hills and at the heart of them Los Cerrillos provided for all their needs, with 21 saloons, five brothels, four hotels, and several newspapers. The town became so well known that it was seriously considered as a possible capitol for New Mexico – hard to believe when you look around today.

Most of the mines closed before the end of the 19th century, although American Turquoise Company, a subsidiary of Tiffany’s, continued to mine here until the First World War. Today, just a few small private mines remain, but even so the majority of turquoise mined in New Mexico still comes from these beautiful hills.

If Madrid with all its bustle seems something of a half-hearted attempt at a ghost-town, Los Cerrillos is much closer to the real deal. Sure, people live here, but the sleepy dirt streets and decidedly run-down bar give it something of a forgotten look, although perhaps surprisingly this is more peaceful and friendly than sad. Maybe there is just enough life left here after all to make you feel welcomed? Or maybe the presence of the attractive 1920s church makes the place seem more cared for than it at first appears?

Whatever the reason, Los Cerrillos is well worth turning away briefly from the Turquoise Trail for. And if you should get the feeling that you are in a movie set, well ... you are! Los Cerrillos has been the location for some 13 movies, including Young Guns, Young Guns II, Shoot Out (with Gregory Peck) and John Wayne’s 1972 movie, The Cowboys.

Welcome to the Wild West!

And to continue with us on our road trip through New Mexico, please visit my Santa Fe page.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:This place IS the Wild West!
  • Last visit to Cerrillos: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated Dec 28, 2011
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Reviews (3)

Comments (5)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    May 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Hello, Sarah! I am sure it would a fun visit there.... Have a great stay in Bergamo!~

  • painterdave's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    I can't wait to tell you stories of this place when you come to Bergamo.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    I love the weathered sign on the What Not Shop. I see there is also a railroad crossing right next to it. Do they still run trains there, or is that just another prop?

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Dec 6, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    What a very strange thing in that shop, rather freaky me thinks.

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Nov 22, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    Oh gorgeous, I learned two words: thingamajigs & thingamabobs :-) Haha, I was wondering if the Scottish priest maybe was name giver for the shop? Monty Python's "How not to be seen" came to my mind immediately when I saw your tip title :) And yes, I can assure you: listening to the old gang who used to were around film crews IS interesting! My old friend Earl used to fly the material from Utah to Hollywood and had zillions of stories to tell :-) Fantastic place, Los Cerrillos :-)


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