Where the Great Plains meet the Mighty Rockies
Geography: The "orginal” Las Vegas, in New Mexico, is about an hour east of Santa Fe on Interstate 25 North. It is the county seat of San Miguel County, which includes one other incorporated community, Pecos. The terrain of San Miguel County varies widely from 11,800-foot peaks in the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the western portion to broad flat plains of less than 4,000 feet in the east. Between mountains and the plains is another distinct region known as the Las Vegas Plateau. Las Vegas’ elevation is 6,470 feet. Las Vegas is 64 miles from Santa Fe, 123 miles from Albuquerque, 258 miles from Denver, 369 miles from El Paso and 579 miles from Phoenix. Las Vegas is accessed by Interstate 25 from the northeast and southwest, N.M. Highway 518 from the north and N.M. highways 84 and 3 from the east.
Weather: Las Vegas has a semi-arid climate. There is sunshine for 70 percent of daytime hours. The average high temperatures in the summer are in the 80s, and the average low temperatures in the winter are in the 20s. Average annual rainfall is 15.1 inches, and annual average snowfall is 35 inches.
Economy: Las Vegas’ largest employer is the New Mexico Behavioral Institute (formerly Las Vegas Medical Center), with 1,050 employees. The second largest employer is Highlands University, a four-year institution. At the time of the 2000 census, the per capita income in Las Vegas was $13,250, compared to $21,587 nationally. Nearly a quarter of the population lives below the poverty level. Las Vegas is served by Alta Vista Regional Hospital, a full-service center.
Population: Las Vegas' population is 20,375, while San Miguel County’s stands at 30,126, according to the 2000 census. The population of Las Vegas has been stable through the years, while San Miguel County’s population jumped by 17 percent from 1990 to 2000. Las Vegas is 81.5 percent Hispanic.
Education: The community is served by two public school districts, Las Vegas City Schools and West Las Vegas, and two colleges, New Mexico Highlands University and Luna Community College. A third school, Armand Hammer United World College, attracts high school students from around the globe.