“Around here, the Old West hasn’t died,” says Keith Barras, one of the owners and managers of the Eklund Hotel, in Clayton. Swedish immigrant Carl Eklund opened the inn in 1894, and it quickly drew cowboys from near and far. The 24-room hotel has wild tales to tell, including that of a gambling debt settled only when a horse was ridden upstairs for safekeeping, and a cowboy who enthusiastically celebrated the 1920 election of President Warren G. Harding by leaving bullet holes that can still be seen in the saloon’s ceiling. Don’t miss: Look for spur scuffs that cowboys left on the saloon’s floor.
The St. James Hotel
The St. James Hotel, in Cimarrón, also boasts bullet holes—26 of them—in its bar’s pressed-tin ceiling. A few date to a shootout during the 1873–88 Colfax County War, between locals and politicians affiliated with the heavy-handed Santa Fe Ring. Period details abound in the 1872 hotel, from the original piano and roulette table in the saloon to the lobby furniture, 90 percent of which is original. Don’t miss: During the pandemic, the hotel’s exterior was restored to its original white and a new front porch was built.
Lodge Resort & Spa
The bar from one of gangster Al Capone’s speakeasies landed in Cloudcroft’s Lodge Resort & Spa, high in the Sacramento Mountains. The retreat owes its 1899 start to the Alamogordo & Sacramento Mountain Railway. A devastating fire leveled the original; it was rebuilt in 1911. It’s partway through a refresh that will restore the original Craftsman style and enlarge the guest rooms. Don’t miss: The construction unearthed a museum-like collection stashed in the walls, including liquor bottles and a World War I–era military jacket.