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Rio Arriba County, New Mexico

Rio Arriba County, New Mexico
Rio Arriba County Courthouse, Isaac Rapp, architect, 1916-17
Seal of Rio Arriba County, New Mexico
Map of New Mexico highlighting Rio Arriba County
Location in the state of New Mexico
Map of the United States highlighting New Mexico
New Mexico's location in the U.S.
Founded 1852
Seat Tierra Amarilla
Largest city Española
 • Total 5,896 sq mi (15,271 km2)
 • Land 5,861 sq mi (15,180 km2)
 • Water 35 sq mi (91 km2), 0.6%
 • (2010) 40,246
 • Density 6.9/sq mi (3/km²)
Congressional district 3rd
Time zone Mountain: UTC-7/-6

Rio Arriba County is a county located in the U.S. state of New Mexico. As of the 2010 census, the population was 40,246.[1] Its county seat is Tierra Amarilla.[2] Its northern border is the Colorado state line.

Rio Arriba County comprises the Española, NM Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, NM Combined Statistical Area.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • National protected areas 2.2
  • Demographics 3
    • 2010 3.1
    • 2000 3.2
  • Politics 4
  • Education 5
    • School districts 5.1
    • Colleges 5.2
  • Points of interest 6
  • Communities 7
    • City 7.1
    • Town 7.2
    • Villages 7.3
    • Census-designated places 7.4
    • Other communities 7.5
    • Ghost towns 7.6
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11


The county was one of nine originally created for the Territory of New Mexico in 1852. Originally extending west to the California line, it included the site of present day Las Vegas, Nevada.[3] The county seat was initially sited at San Pedro de Chamita, and shortly afterwards at Los Luceros. In 1860 the seat was moved to Plaza del Alcalde. Since 1880 Tierra Amarilla has been the county seat.[4]

The Battle of Embudo Pass took place in the southern part of the county during the American invasion in January 1847.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 5,896 square miles (15,270 km2), of which 5,861 square miles (15,180 km2) is land and 35 square miles (91 km2) (0.6%) is water.[5] It is the fifth-largest county in New Mexico by area. The highest point in the county is the summit of Truchas Peak at 13,102 feet (3,993 m).

The county acquired its present proportions after the creation of San Juan County and other adjustments.[4]

Adjacent counties

National protected areas



Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:


As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 41,190 people, 15,044 households, and 10,816 families residing in the county. The population density was 7 people per square mile (3/km²). There were 18,016 housing units at an average density of 3 per square mile (1/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 56.62% White, 0.35% Black or African American, 13.88% Native American, 0.14% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 25.62% from other races, and 3.28% from two or more races. 72.89% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 15,044 households out of which 36.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.80% were married couples living together, 15.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.10% were non-families. 23.50% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.80% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the county the population was spread out with 28.60% under the age of 18, 8.90% from 18 to 24, 28.80% from 25 to 44, 22.90% from 45 to 64, and 10.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 98.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $29,429, and the median income for a family was $32,901. Males had a median income of $26,897 versus $22,223 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,263. About 16.60% of families and 20.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.30% of those under age 18 and 22.90% of those age 65 or over.


Since New Mexico's statehood to the early 1940s Rio Arriba county was a traditional republican county. That would later change as the county would change to a democratic stronghold from the 1960s to present day. The last Republican Presidential candidate to carry the county was Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956.[12] Since, at least, 1990 no Republican candidate for governor has won the county.[13]

It is located in New Mexico's 3rd congressional district, which has a Cook Partisan Voting Index rating of D+7 and is represented by Democrat Ben R. Luján. In the New Mexico legislature it is entirely represented by Democratic politicians.[14]

Current commissioners are:

District Name Party First elected Term ends
District 1 Barney Trujillo Democratic 2010 2018
District 2 Alex Naranjo Democratic 2014 2018
District 3 Danny Garcia Democratic 2012 2016


Ghost Ranch rainbow

School districts

Rio Arriba County has 6 public school districts. Española Public Schools is the largest.

  • Chama Valley Independent Schools
  • Jemez Mountain Public Schools
  • Dulce Independent Schools
  • Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools
  • Espanola Public Schools
  • Penasco Independent Schools


Points of interest


Trick Rider, Rio Arriba Rodeo, 2013
Truchas Peaks in winter, viewed from Espanola




Census-designated places

Other communities

Ghost towns

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  3. ^ David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
  4. ^ a b Twitchell, Ralph Emerson (1911–1917). The leading facts of New Mexican history. Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press. pp. 538–539.  
  5. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  11. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  12. ^ Geographie Electorale
  13. ^ David Leip's US Election Atlas
  14. ^ New Mexico Legislature site

Further reading

  • Dethier, D.P. (2004). Geologic map of the Puye quadrangle, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and Santa Fe Counties, New Mexico [Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-2419)]. Reston, Va.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.
  • Maldonado, F. (2008). Geologic map of the Abiquiu quadrangle, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico [Scientific Investigations Map 2998]. Reston, Va.: U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey.

External links

  • Rio Arriba County website
  • - Serving the Northern New Mexico AreaAbiquiu Online
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