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Socorro Travel Guide: 61 reviews and 129 photos

San Miguel Church

Socorro means to give aid or succour; this town in the heart of New Mexico’s central plains was named for the help given to early Spanish settlers by the inhabitants of what was then the Teypana Pueblo.

The Spanish arrived in 1598, travelling north from Mexico and led by Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar. He recorded in his log that these locals welcomed the scouting party and showed no fear of the strangers. Instead they communicated with them in hand signals, telling them what to expect on the road ahead, and gave them a gift of corn.

Two Franciscan priests who were travelling with the party stayed behind with the Indians to do missionary work, and one of them, Father Benavidez, renamed the pueblo “Nuestra Señora de Perpetuo Socorro” (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) to commemorate the help that the settlers had received there.

Today’s Socorro is still offering help to travellers, in the form of access to the essential services of lodging, food, gas etc. But you have to work a little harder to see that its history lies in more than just its name. If you pass by on I25, or even if you leave the Interstate and drive through on the main thoroughfare, California Street, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is nothing to the town apart from chain motels, fast food restaurants, supermarkets, shopping plazas and gas stations.

Certainly you are unlikely to realise from this superficial glance that there is any real history to the town, let alone that some of this history is on show just a block behind the modern face that it turns to the highway.

But so it is. One block west of California Street is Socorro’s Plaza, and in its immediate surroundings you can get a sense of the small pueblo it once was. The old adobe church and some other historic buildings seem a worls away from the traffic on the main road just a short distance away.

But really Socorro is all about location, and the small bit of history at its heart is only part of the story. To the south is one of the most interesting bird-watching venues in New Mexico, and to the west one of its most striking images, the massive white dishes of the Very Large Array (VLA) rising from the flat Plain of San Augustin.

So while Socorro might not have the allure of Taos or the culture of Santa Fe, you could do worse than plan a stop here on any driving tour of New Mexico. We were very pleased that we included it on our route.

And to continue with us on our road trip through New Mexico, please visit my Pie Town page

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Useful base for some fascinating sightseeing
  • Cons:Need to look carefully to unearth its character
  • Last visit to Socorro: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated Dec 24, 2011
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Reviews (8)

Comments (12)

  • giampiero6's Profile Photo
    Aug 22, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    Wow, what a brilliant page!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Outstanding intro photo. Another briliant page about your New Mexico trip. The Socorro Springs Brewery with pizza and beer would be my kind of thing.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    The San Miguel Church looks beautiful (too bad it was closed) and it sounds like you had a nice afternoon and evening in Socorro.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jan 20, 2012 at 1:20 AM

    Lovely page Sarah! Love the Church and the sign's and the Wheel of History is intersting. Good to see they haven't demolished the old buillding's or sign's!

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Dec 19, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Yummy sounding pizza. Especially enjoyed reading the "Very Large Array" tip. Powerful photographs.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Nov 26, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    Great tips on the Very Large Array and the town of Magdalena, especially. It’s a relief to learn that Socorro itself does not consist exclusively of chain motels, fast food restaurants, supermarkets, shopping plazas and gas stations, but that there is a nice plaza just a block away.

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    Awesome page Sarah! Love the earth color structures and San Miguel Church is enchanting. These are some of the best places to explore!

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Nov 7, 2011 at 3:35 AM

    Another small town America gem. Beer and Pizza sounds good too!

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Nov 6, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Too bad about the birds, they are all still up here due to the unseasonably warm October we had. And you're right, you can never go wrong with pizza!

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    Nov 3, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Great photo of San Miguel! I too, really liked Magdalena.


“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust (Joni Mitchell, "Amelia")”

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