Grants, New Mexico

Grants is a city in Cibola County, New Mexico, United States. It is located about 78 miles (126 km) west of Albuquerque. The population was 9,182 at the 2010 Census.[3] It is the county seat of Cibola County.[4]

Grants, New Mexico
Uranium Capital of the World
"City of Spirit"
Location of Grants, New Mexico
Grants, New Mexico
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 35°9′19″N 107°50′32″W
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
  MayorMartin "Modey" Hicks[1]
  Total14.9 sq mi (38.5 km2)
  Land14.9 sq mi (38.5 km2)
  Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
6,460 ft (1,969 m)
  Density620/sq mi (240/km2)
Time zoneUTC−7 (Mountain (MST))
  Summer (DST)UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)505
FIPS code35-30490
GNIS feature ID0933386

It is on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, one of the designated New Mexico Scenic Byways.[5]


Grants began as a railroad camp in the 1880s, when three Canadian brothers – Angus A. Grant, John R. Grant, and Lewis A. Grant – were awarded a contract to build a section of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad through the region. The Grant brothers' camp was first called Grants Camp, then Grants Station, and finally Grants. The new city enveloped the existing colonial New Mexican settlement of Los Alamitos and grew along the tracks of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad.

The town prospered as a result of railroad logging in the nearby Zuni Mountains, and it served as a section point for the Atlantic and Pacific, which became part of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The Zuni Mountain Railroad short line had a roundhouse in town (near present-day Exit 81 off Interstate 40) and housed workers in a small community named Breecetown. Timber from the Zuni Mountains was shipped to Albuquerque, where a large sawmill converted the timber to wood products that were sold around the west.

After the decline of logging in the 1930s, Grants-Milan gained fame as the "carrot capital" of the United States. Agriculture was aided by the creation of Bluewater Reservoir, and the region's volcanic soils provided ideal conditions for farming. Grants also benefited from its location, both being an airway beacon and later by U.S. Route 66, which brought travelers and tourists and the businesses that catered to them. Today the beacon and FSS building on the airport (KGNT) is being restored as museum.[6]

Perhaps the most memorable boom in the town's history occurred when Paddy Martinez, a Navajo shepherd, discovered uranium ore near Haystack Mesa, sparking a mining boom that lasted until the 1980s (see Uranium mining in New Mexico). The collapse of mining pulled the town into a depression, but the town has enjoyed a resurgence based on interest in tourism and the scenic beauty of the region. Recent interest in nuclear power has revived the possibility of more uranium mining in the area, and energy companies still own viable mining properties and claims in the area.


Grants is located in north-central Cibola County at 35°9′19″N 107°50′32″W (35.155269, -107.842099).[7] Santa Fe Avenue (former Route 66) is the main road through the city, while Interstate 40 passes through the south side of the city, with access from exits 81 and 85. I-40 leads 78 miles (126 km) east to Albuquerque and west 61 miles (98 km) to Gallup. The town of Milan borders the northwest end of Grants.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.9 square miles (38.5 km2), all of it land. Grants is on the north end of the large and recent (youngest flows around 3,000 years old) lava field known as El Malpais ("the badlands"), part of which is preserved as El Malpais National Monument. To the northeast of town are the San Mateo Mountains and Mount Taylor, at 11,301 feet (3,445 m) the highest peak in the region. West of the city is the Continental Divide and the Zuni Mountains, an eroded anticline with 2-billion-year-old Precambrian granites and metamorphic rocks at its core. The region is primarily high desert country, dominated by sandstones and lava flows.


Grants has a typical New Mexico cool semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk). Located in one of the driest areas in the United States, Grants receives about 11 inches or 280 millimetres of precipitation annually. The three wettest months are July, August and September, during the monsoon season. The wettest month on record has been July 2015 with 5.59 inches (142.0 mm), and the wettest day August 25, 1972 with 1.91 inches or 48.5 millimetres. The wettest calendar year since 1948 has been 1965 with 17.11 inches (434.6 mm) and the driest 1956 with 4.41 inches (112.0 mm). Even during the monsoon season, diurnal temperature ranges are very large, being at or above 35 °F or 19.4 °C almost year-round.

From October, when the monsoon retreats, afternoon temperatures fall from very warm to hot down to comfortable by November and to cool during the winter proper. Mornings typically begin to fall below freezing during October, and over a whole year 177.6 mornings will fall below freezing, although afternoon maxima top freezing on all bar 5.1 afternoons. 0 °F or −17.8 °C is typically reached on 4.6 mornings, and the coldest temperature on record is −33 °F or −36.1 °C on Christmas Day, 1990. The aridity of the winters makes snowfall very light: the median is only 0.5 inches or 0.013 metres and the most snow in one month 25.7 inches (0.65 m) in December 1967,[8] which also saw the snowiest season with 39.6 inches (1.01 m).

During the spring, the weather steadily heats up, with maxima topping 70 °F (21.1 °C) before the end of April and reaching 90 °F or 32.2 °C on 35.6 afternoons – although only five mornings on record have stayed above 68 °F or 20.0 °C. During this early summer period, the weather remains very dry, so that mornings remain cool even into June – as late as June 23, 1964 the temperature fell to freezing. The hottest temperature on record has been 106 °F (41.1 °C) on July 14, 2003 and June 28, 2013.

Climate data for Grants, New Mexico (1971-2000; extremes since 1948)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 71
Average high °F (°C) 48.1
Average low °F (°C) 13.6
Record low °F (°C) −31
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.57
Average snowfall inches (cm) 2.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 4.6 4.1 4.6 2.9 3.5 3.2 7.2 9.2 5.9 4.6 4.4 4.1 58.3
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch) 1.5 1.2 0.3 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.5 1.2 5.1
Source: NOAA [9]


Historical population
Est. 20188,968[2]−2.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 8,806 people, 3,202 households, and 2,321 families residing in the city. The population density was 644.4 people per square mile (248.7/km²). There were 3,626 housing units at an average density of 265.3 per square mile (102.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city among Non-Hispanic groups was 56.18% White, 1.62% African American, 11.97% Native American, 0.92% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 24.80% from other races, and 4.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 52.36% of the population.

There were 3,202 households out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.5% were married couples living together, 17.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.5% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city, the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,652, and the median income for a family was $33,464. Males had a median income of $31,870 versus $20,808 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,053. About 19.4% of families and 21.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.8% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those age 65 or over.


All public schools in the county are operated by Grants/Cibola County Schools. Seven elementary schools, one middle school and two high schools serve Grants and Cibola County. Los Alamitos Middle School and Grants High School serve Grants, and St. Teresa of Avila Catholic School is the only private accredited school in the city and serves grades pre-Kindergarten through eighth grades.

There is a branch of New Mexico State University offering a two-year postsecondary program as well as advanced degrees through distance education.


The National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management operate the El Malpais Visitor Center at Exit 85 off Interstate 40 in Grants. The visitor center highlights the many features of El Malpais National Monument and El Malpais National Conservation Area.

There is a mining museum in town, as well as the Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum at the Grants-Milan Municipal Airport.

On Route 66/Santa Fe Avenue, the Cibola Arts Council runs an art gallery and museum that features the works of local artists and many Route 66 artifacts including a Ford Model T roadster. The museum hosts special events, shows, and openings on a regular basis.

There is a Tibetan Buddhist stupa in the Zuni Mountains west of town, the Zuni Mountain Stupa.




  • KOB-TV (4) (NBC affiliate)
  • KOAT (7) (ABC affiliate)
  • 7 Cities (10)
  • KRQE (13) (CBS affiliate)


  • Cibola Citizen (formerly Cibola Beacon)
  • Gallup Independent

Online Media

  • The Racing Experts
  • Author Robison Wells has stated in his novel On Second Thought that the town of Alamitos is based on Grants, which is the historical name before it was renamed after the mining camp.[12] Wells lived in Grants during the late 1990s.
  • Scenes from the movie 21 Grams starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts were filmed in Grants.
  • In the Louis L'Amour book Flint, Los Alamitos (Grants) and the nearby El Malpais provided some of the settings for the main character in the book.


  1. "Swearing In Grants Officials". Cibola Beacon. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  2. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 18, 2019.
  3. "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Grants city, New Mexico". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
  4. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  5. Trail of the Ancients. Archived 2014-08-21 at the Wayback Machine New Mexico Tourism Department. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2013-10-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  8. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (National Weather Service Forecast Office Albuquerque); NOW Data
  9. "Climatography of the United States No. 20: 1971-2000 – GRANTS MILAN AP, NM" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
  10. "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  11. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  12. Questions about On Second Thought Archived 2005-03-08 at the Wayback Machine
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