IN 1881, THE LAST SPIKE needed to complete America’s second transcontinental railroad found its home in Deming, a southwestern New Mexico city where the past shines straight through to the modern era.
The Deming Visitor Center, a replica of a historic train depot, sits in front of a restored steam engine with “Southern Pacific” painted on the side. “It’s probably the best place to go for visitors,” says Christie Ann Harvey, executive director for the Greater Luna County Economic Opportunity Council. “They have all kinds of information—maps, trips that you can take, the state parks we have here, the mountain ranges, as well as local businesses.”
While Deming’s railroad history stretches back over a century, the Mimbres people lived throughout the Mimbres Basin before the 1300s. Their pottery and artifacts are highlights of the collection at the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum, situated in a historic downtown that includes four buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
Originally a National Guard armory, the 1916 red-brick museum building houses over 40 exhibits, ranging from cowboy hats from Luna County’s ranching past and fluorescent minerals with a black-light display to a huge chuck wagon from the Diamond A Ranch. “It’s one of the hidden secrets of New Mexico,” says Marilyn Goble, president of the Deming Art Council.
Located just two blocks from the museum, the Deming Arts Center hosts rotating exhibitions that feature artists from Deming and Luna County. Past shows include works by the Quilting B (a local quilting club), art created from recycled objects, and a Christmas boutique.
Locals will direct you to Irma’s Restaurant for favorites like a carne asada burrito and huevos con chorizo. Si Señor, another Deming staple, dishes up selections like stuffed sopaipillas and a chile relleno plate.
For a taste of New Mexico’s rich winemaking history, the D.H. Lescombes Winery & Tasting Room pours a variety of award-winning vintages and hosts local musicians every Friday. (Splurge with a behind-the-scenes tour of the family winery, which includes a tasting experience.)
In the summertime, Deming holds the Great American Duck Race, now in its 44th year. The festivities draw visitors from all over for carnival rides, games, food, and a chance to see the fastest duck in town. Whatever the season, Deming has much to offer. “We have a rich, diverse culture,” Harvey says. “We love to show off our thriving desert metropolis.”
A variety of excellent parks with camping, desert trails, and wildflowers can be found just outside Deming.
Rockhound State Park, in the foothills of the Little Florida Mountains, is a gem for collectors, birders, hikers, and campers.
Pancho Villa State Park, a 30-minute drive south of Deming, features a museum as well as tent and RV camping and opportunities for bird-watching and hiking.
At City of Rocks State Park, northwest of Deming, the towering volcanic rock formations create a backdrop for epic stargazing, biking, hiking, and camping.