Springer is a very small town, surrounded by a lot of empty New Mexico space. The town itself feels somewhat like a ghost town, even though it still has an official population of more than a thousand folks. If you end up here, it’s probably because you’re driving to some other place on I-25 — but the town does provide an interesting stretch-your-legs opportunity.
I certainly was not visiting Springer, New Mexico during its most busy time of the week. I was driving through, on my way back to Colorado, around midday on a Sunday. It’s no surprise that the place felt abandoned, but I suspect it’s not much different, on any other day of the week.
Springer’s downtown district is about a block away from the Interstate. You can take the business loop off I-25 to see everything. As you drive through the big intersection, you’ll be crossing New Mexico Route 21, and you’ll pass the western end of US 412 — an odd U.S. highway that breaks the typical numbering scheme (it’s nowhere near the road that should be its ‘parent’ — US 12).
I parked near that intersection and started exploring.
The most interesting-looking store in town was closed for the day, which was no surprise, given that it was Sunday. The signs promised “antiques” and “cowboy stuff”, and the junk was piled up in the windows. It would have been fun to rummage through it all.
A short walk away, I found the R. H. Cowan Livery Stable…
… which apparently dates back to 1880.
Its old front door fit right in with the rest of the town.
The Brown Hotel and Cafe appears to still be in business, and may be your best choice for lunch or dinner in town.
Unfortunately, the Cactus Cafe across the street is no longer in business. I’m pretty sure it was originally the Cactus Club, before the awkward paint job on the old ghost sign.
Just in case you’re interested in resurrecting the Cactus Cafe, good news — the building is for sale. “Historic” is code for “very old and needs a lot of work.”
Many of Springer’s other downtown businesses are also closed…
… while the Cozy Motel takes ‘abandoned’ to a whole new level. The overgrown neon sign is your first clue…
… and the debris built up on the roof is your second.
The motel’s courtyard looks post-apocalyptic.
Just a block away from Maxwell Avenue (Main Street), the Zia Theater stands along Colbert Avenue. It’s now used as a church, but the marquee is still there — and it appears to be in surprisingly good shape, compared to everything else in town.
I continued to make a loop as I wandered down Colbert Avenue, and spotted the Springer Tribune Press — another venture which appears to have a lot of history, but is probably no longer in business.
In the cul-de-sac next to the Tribune Press building, I found this numbered circle painted on the pavement. I have no idea what it’s for.
There’s also a car wash nearby.
No one was rushing to remove this downed tree from the roof of a two-story building, next to the car wash.
Back out on Maxwell Avenue, I found the town’s only signs of life — a small grocery store that appeared to still be in business.
I think this sums up the Springer experience. This tumbleweed got lodged in my bumper, somewhere between Las Vegas and Springer. I didn’t realize it was nearly permanently attached until I noticed it again, at a rest area up the road.
The Bottom Line
By the time you arrive at Springer, you’ll probably need to get out of the car and stretch your legs. This near-ghost town provides a good opportunity to see a place that time has forgotten.
Springer is located on Interstate 25, about an hour north of Las Vegas, New Mexico, and 30 minutes south of Raton. Taos is to the west, about 90 minutes away. You could also get to the Oklahoma panhandle in about 90 minutes, if you wanted to do that for some reason.
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Las Vegas to Springer, New Mexico:…
… and Springer to Raton: