Las Vegas — the older, Coen Brothers’ film set one in New Mexico and The Raton Pass/pronghorns in Colorado


On our long drive home from Albuquerque to Iowa (16 hours), we stopped early on (after two hours) in rough-around-the edges but coolin-pockets Las Vegas, NM home to almost 1,000 historic buildings, most 19th century. Several overlook the city’s plaza and, next to the railroad tracks, the fantastic recently restored and reopened Castaneda Hotel, formerly one of the famous Harvey Houses that served passengers on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Opened in 1899, the Castañeda is a Mission Revival building designed by a prominent Pasadena architect. Here’s a good 2019 story on its rebirth in the Los Angeles Times https://www.latimes.com/travel/story/2019-08-30/new-mexico-hotels-las-vegas-castaneda

Las Vegas Plaza

In the plaza, we stopped briefly at the dog-friendly (thank you!) also recently restored (by the same brave souls) 1882 Victorian Plaza Hotel, where we got excellent baked goods at a little cafe in the lobby and posed in front of the staircase where the character played by Woody Harrelson was killed in the film “No Country for Old Men.” Other films and movies have been shot in town including the series Longmire.

At the Castaneda Hotel beside the railroad tracks, (also dog friendly) a nice woman who gladly showed us around, said actor Josh Brolin and other cast and crew from an upcoming Amazon series “Outer Range” rented out the hotel and The Plaza for seven months in 2021 while filming. Reopened in 2019 after it closed 70 years earlier, the hotel is a massive red brick structure with a cool courtyard facing the railroad tracks. The same folks who fixed up Las Vegas’s hotels also revived La Posada, another former Harvey House in Winslow, Arizona that has long been on my to-visit list.

The infamous staircase from “No country for old men”

We caught a quick view of the stunning snow-capped Rockies as we drove through the dramatic Raton Pass from northern New Mexico into Colorado but after that the land soon became wide open flat yellow ranch land. With the temps in the high 40s, we pulled off another (quick) picnic in the LaJunta town park. Amazed we could do this in February! A highlight: we spotted some strange unknown animals in the field that looked like a large tan and red dog with antlers. Google informed me they are pronghorns, not technically an antelope but comparable., resembling a cross between a goat and Antelope with 2-pronged antlers.

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