About Mesita, New Mexico
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 5,669 ft (1,728 m). Population: 804 (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).
Mesita is a small village located on Route 66 in Cibola county, NM. Map of Mesita
Owl Rock next to Route 66 in Mesita, NM
The archaeological site of Sandia Cave shows that New Mexico has been inhabited for the last ten thousand years. In more recent times, the Native American people have lived in the valleys of the rivers that flow from the Rocky Mountains into the Rio Grande Basin, using the water to irrigate their crops of maize, squash and beans.
The first Europeans to visit this region were the Spanish of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's expedition in 1540. They visited the nearby Acoma Pueblo. Later, when they finally annexed the area to their American Colonies in 1598, they subjected the Pueblo people by force and established missions to convert them to Catholicism. The Pueblo people expelled the Spaniards in 1680 (Pueblo Revolt), but they were reconquered in 1692.
The nearby Indian pueblo of Laguna was established in 1697. In 1821, after Mexico gained its independence from Spain it took possession of New Mexico, but ceded it to the U.S. after being defeated in the Mexican - American War (1846-48).
Mesita was established on the south bank of the San Jose River (also known as Cubero River), a tributary of the Rio Puerco in the 1870s by a faction that split from the Laguna Pueblo people.
The split was due to the growth of Protestant Christianity in the area after the arrival of the Baptists in 1850 and the Presbyterians in the 1870s.
The town's Native name is "Tsé Ch' ééhii", which means "Red Rocks Pointing out horizontally".
In the 1880s the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reached the area and extended its tracks from Albuquerque towards Gallup. Its station was named "El Rito".
Origin of the name Mesita
The word is Spanish and means "Small Mesa". A "Mesa" is a plateau (the word means "Table" in Spanish).
Rito is a colloquial Spanish word used in New Mexico as a short form for "tiny river" (riito), and basically means "Sping" don't confuse with the correct meaning for rito whic is "rite" (as in ceremony).
The San Jose River was once known as "Arroyo del Rito" or "Spring Stream". And the ranch at El Rito was known as "El Riito del Pino" (Spring of the pine tree).
In 1926, Route 66 was aligned along the "Old National Trails" which linked Gallup, Laguna and Mesita with Los Lunas and Albuquerque. It remained on the alignment and even today the old US 66 can be driven throgh the town. Interstate 40 was built just to the west of Route 66 and you can access the town from Exit 117.
US 66 shield on Route 66 in Mesita, NM
To the east of Mesita is the San Jose River and behind the river rises the Mesa Gigante.
Where to Stay
There is lodging along Route 66 in Mesita:
Lodging Near Mesita along Route 66
>> There are RV campgrounds near Mesita.
The weather in Mesita
Mesita is located just west of the Rio Grande Valley. Its climate is dry and sunny (278 sunny days per year) with a low relative humidity. There are large swings between day and night temperatures, even in summer.
Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures during summer (Jul.) are: 92 ⁄ and 65 °F (33 ⁄ 18 °C) respectively. The average high and low in winter (Jan) are about: 47 ⁄ and 24 °F (8 ⁄ -4 °C)
Summers are hot and winters are cold. Rainfall falls mostly during the summer monsoon season (July through September), and adds up to about 11 in. per year (279 mm). Snowfall is quite low: around 10 inches (25 cm) per year.
The tornado risk in Mesita is nil: Cibola County has no Tornado watches. The area west of this point has no tornado events.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Mesita
To the west is Gallup (97 mi.), to the east is Suwanee, a ghost town, Albuquerque (45 mi), and, along the Santa Fe loop of Route 66 are: Bernalillo, Algodones, Santo Domingo Pueblo and Santa Fe (104 mi.)
Map U.S. 66 in Mesita New Mexico
Display Mesita Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
This map shows the alignment of Route 66 in Mesita. The color key for this town is:
(for the other towns, check their maps - color keys may change)
Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment.
Red line: I-40 & where it overlaps the old alignment.
Green: The 1926 - 1937 alignment through Santa Fe (click button to see it).
Route 66's alignment in New Mexico: the Historic Route 66 through Mesita
Route 66 across New Mexico
Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across New Mexico.
The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)
Our Santa Fe Loop page describes the complete 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque through Pecos, Santa Fe and Bernalillo.
Below is full information on Route 66's 1926 alignment in this town.
Mesita: its Attractions
Landmarks, Route 66 sights
Mesita: Owl Rock, Dead Man's Curve
Small Town on Route 66
Mesita is a small village in Laguna Reservation, on the original Route 66 alignment. Visit its Dead Man's Curve and Owl Rock.
Don't miss the date: August 15 is the Mesita Village Feast.
Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun
Nearby Route 66 Towns
Drive east along Route 66 to visit Albuquerque along the Old 1926 Route 66 alignment or head west into the Pueblo area: Laguna (6.2mi.), Paraje (11.7 mi.), Cubero (19.8 mi.), San Fidel (24.7 mi.) and McCartys (27.9 mi.). Acoma Pueblo is 23 mi. to the SW.
1.7 mi. west of Mesita along Old Route 66 (see this Map and directions).
A rock formation on the eastern side of the road (right side heading from Mesita towards Laguna), that actually looks like an... owl.
Satellite View of the Dead Man's Curve at Mesita.
It has been portrayed on classic Route 66 post cards for decades and, surprisingly has not been removed.
See Photo of the rock above.
Keep on along Route 66 for another 0.7 mi. and drive the "deadly" Dead Man's Curve:
Dead Man's Curve
2.4 mi. west of Mesita along Old Route 66 (see this Map and directions).
The narrow canyon of the river is closed in by red colored sandstone bluffs, and the road runs between the cliff and the river. There are great views of the red sandstone rocks on the sheer walls of the mesa.
At the northern tip of the mesa the river curves sharply around it, and so does the old Route 66. It takes a long curve around switching its south-to-north direction for an east-to-west one, and does so by following a circular curve as can be seen in the image above.
A much cheaper option than cutting through the sandstone. But, as the curve's name shows, a not very safe option for unwary drivers.
Dead Man's Curve between Mesita and Laguna
The Old alignment of Route 66 near Mesita
Route 66 From Albuquerque to Suwanee
From Suwanee through Mesita to Laguna
The image below shows the original road west of Suwanee towards Mesita (we saw a roadrunner here!), it is cracked and needs some repair, but driveable.
The original alignment of Route 66 followed the ancient native trail that went next to the winding course of San Jose River towards Laguna.
The original roadbed: Route 66 just east of Mesita, NM
Head west from Suwanee all the way to Mesita along Route 66 and, after Mesita, all the way to Laguna along the original (since 1926) alignment of Route 66 as shown in the: Suwanee to Laguna Map.
National and State Parks
See the Parks in Albuquerque which are close by.
Banner image: The Dead Man's Curve, Laguna, NM by Perla S. Eichenblat.
Robert Julyan. 1996, The Place Names of New Mexico, UNM Press.