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Montezuma Castle - United World College-USA - 1 member in 3 triplogs has rated this an average 4 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Aug 02 2017
AZLumberjack
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 Guides 4
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 Triplogs 466

79 male
 Joined Feb 17 2010
 Apache Junction,
Montezuma Castle - United World College-USANortheast, NM
Northeast, NM
Walk / Tour avatar Aug 02 2017
AZLumberjack
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rwstorm
As we traveled from Minnesota back to Arizona this past week, our second night was spent in historic Las Vegas, New Mexico. "Roadtrip" Randy (rwstorm) had recommended the old restored Plaza Hotel in the center of Old Las Vegas and even traveled from his home in Tucson to meet us at the hotel. Randy is intimately familiar with the area as he's an old railroad buff and a history buff and travels to the area frequently.

Once we got settled in our room, we met Randy in the Saloon and had some cold refreshing beverages while we talked about his plans to take us on a tour of the town. Las Vegas, at one time was the largest town in New Mexico due to its location along the Santa Fe Trail and as a major hub on the railroads. During the later part of the eighteen hundreds, there was a lot of money in Las Vegas and the rich town's people spent their money on elaborate homes, mansions and other buildings to show off their town. Today, there are more than 900 buildings in Las Vegas on the national historic register and many have been restored for viewing.

Randy drove us through the streets of town pointing out some of the more unique homes along the way. We then went to the outskirts of town where we saw the old Montezuma Castle that has now been converted into the United World College. We were unable to enter the grounds though, as it's only open to scheduled tours as it still houses students. Then it was a short drive down to the railroad station and one of the first Harvey Hotels along the ATSF Railroad. The old hotel was recently purchased by the same person who owns the Plaza Hotel and is in the process of restoring it into another hotel.

Las Vegas, NM is ignored by most travelers because of its proximity to Santa Fe and all the excitement going on in that area, but once here, it's easy to find anyone willing to brag up their town. Hollywood knows the Las Vegas area very well and has made several films within the area including Walker Texas Ranger, North Country, No Country for Old Men, and many more. Some of the rooms at the Plaza Hotel have a framed photo of the movie stars that have stayed in that room. Overall, its a pretty amazing town and I don't know why I wasn't aware of it until now. Guess I'll have to return again when I can spend a little more time hiking exploring.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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On every trip into the Superstitions, I find another Gold Mine. Today the mine was filled with Memories. I can not wait for the next trip.
Jun 27 2017
rwstorm
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 Guides 1
 Routes 125
 Photos 19,963
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72 male
 Joined Feb 28 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Montezuma Castle - United World College-USANortheast, NM
Northeast, NM
Walk / Tour avatar Jun 27 2017
rwstorm
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I have always enjoyed my visits to Las Vegas, New Mexico, starting with the first time in 1993. I camped at El Porvenir Campground with my mother in late September that year after riding the steam train at Chama (this was part of a long road trip). It was then that I became aware of the Hermit Peak Trail, that starts right at the campground. From that my interest in the amazing story of the Hermit (Giovanni Maria de Agostini) began. Anyway, over the years I have camped there and done that hike on several occasions. The drive from Las Vegas to Porvenir (SR 65) is one of my New Mexico favorites and it passes by this imposing specimen of architecture known as Montezuma Castle Hotel, though it hasn't been operated as a hotel since 1903! :o It is along the Gallinas Creek and there are free public hot springs adjacent (which was the basis for Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad building this their first resort hotel there in 1881, complete with a spur line to bring passengers to this luxury destination. The first two structures burned down in the space of about 5 years, and the current one dates to 1886.

I had wanted to get a tour of this historic gem for a long time and finally got one in 2006 or 2007. (I don't recall the exact date because I lost my photos from that trip! ](*,) ) Since it is on a college campus you could only get student led tours several times per year. That option has opened up a bit since about 2014 when Allan Affeldt (of wonderfully restored La Posada in Winslow fame), purchased by the historic Plaza Hotel and the long abandoned La Castaneda (another former Harvey House) in Las Vegas, with the intent to upgrade and restore both. All I can say is wonderful! :y: A local tour group has been formed to promote the history of the city and its ties to the Harvey Houses and and Harvey Girls (Southwest Detours). I wasn't aware of this until June 2015, when I took the train from Winslow to Las Vegas for one night in the Plaza before heading back to Winslow the next day (my first Amtrak trip since 1988 :D ). Anyway, The Castaneda is next door to the train station, and when I found out my train was running a couple hours late, I was able to join Kathy Hendrickson on her tour of the abandoned property that Mr. Affeldt is set to restore! :)

So, I coordinated with Kathy about when to come up for a tour of the Montezuma Castle, and once the date was set I booked two nights at the Plaza. Her tours convene in the lobby, so I was right there...very convenient! :D (Losing those photos had bugged me for about 10 years, so it was nice to finally get that accomplished)

There is so much to see and such rich history in the Las Vegas area that you can't go wrong visiting in my opinion. It is along the Santa Fe Trail, that was the dominant wagon trading route from the Midwest dating to 1820, before the coming of the railroad in 1880 made it obsolete. It boomed into one of the largest cities in the Southwest during the heyday years of 1890-1910. It contains a treasure trove of fantastic and varied architectural styles, with over 900 buildings on the national historic registry.
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Oct 25 2008
rwstorm
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 Guides 1
 Routes 125
 Photos 19,963
 Triplogs 900

72 male
 Joined Feb 28 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Montezuma Castle - United World College-USANortheast, NM
Northeast, NM
Walk / Tour avatar Oct 25 2008
rwstorm
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While going through my digital photo archives recently I found the pictures of my first tour there, that I thought I had lost. Turns out I visited in 2008, not 2006 or 2007 that I had stated in my other triplog. Anyway, I am glad I found the photos. :)

I have been a long time subscriber to New Mexico Magazine, and was aware of a coffee table book they published about the restoration of the Montezuma. ("Montezuma - Castle in the West" published April 2002). I should have purchased it then, but didn't. Then in 2003, I started having a renewed interest in the Las Vegas area and subsequently drove by the place numerous times on trips over that way. I decided to buy the book in 2007, but by then found it was out of print and hard to find. I was able to locate a copy through an Amazon vendor for $60 (you can find them for less these days).

I enjoyed seeing this grand structure via the student guided tour in 2008. When the tour was over, we were taken to the school gift shop, where lo and behold there were copies of the book for sale at the original price of $20, if I remember right. Turns out the school purchased the entire inventory of books from the magazine for sale on campus. That is why it was so hard to find in the 2007-2008 time period. Wouldn't you know. :lol:
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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