Haunting, Santa Fe Style

Michelle Laflamme-Childs - October 14, 2015

Your guide to the creepy side of Santa Fe

It’s that time of year again, when our minds turn to all things creepy and scary. Our historic city certainly has her fair share of spookiness, and at over 400 years old and the oldest capital city in the United States, Santa Fe has had plenty of time to acquire a host of unexplained happenings, ghost sightings, and mysterious apparitions.

If you want to kick up your fright factor this Halloween, consider starting with one or more of Santa Fe’s Ghost Tours.

The Original Santa Fe Ghost Tour is led by the inimitable and irascible Peter Sinclaire. It’s a walking tour and, in addition to an incredibly in-depth knowledge of the famous and infamous ghosts of Santa Fe, Peter offers a wealth of information about the history of Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Ghost and History Tours offer ghost, history, and spirit walks in downtown Santa Fe either during the day or at twilight. Your guide, Allan, has written numerous books about the paranormal and promises an informative and creepy history of one of the oldest cities in the US.

The Old Main Prison Tour is one of the most disturbing and fascinating tours you’ll ever do. Although the 2015 tours have already happened and the 2016 dates haven’t been set yet, keep your eyes peeled for the next available tour of the now closed prison where one of the most violent and brutal prison riots in US history occurred in 1980.

If an organized tour isn’t your bag, there are plenty of locations in Santa Fe that are reportedly frequented by otherworldly spirits.

The most famous is probably La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa, now a luxury resort hotel, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of the former lady of the mansion, Julia Staab, who died under mysterious circumstances when she fell into a deep depression following the death of one of her children.

The old hospital in downtown Santa Fe, recently renovated into the gorgeous and upscale Drury Plaza Hotel, is home to many ghostly sightings and weird happenings. Originally a hospital, the building has been a nursing home, state government offices, and the basement served as a storage place for ancient Indian artifacts for a time. There are many scary stories about different areas of the building, but the basement, in particular, has a history of people seeing apparitions, hearing disembodied voices, loud banging noises, and being touched by unseen hands. 

Yet another purportedly haunted hotel in Santa Fe is the beautiful and historic La Fonda on the Plaza. There have been many sightings of a variety of sprits and ghosts, including a man who allegedly walks through the dining room then jumps into a hole in the floor and disappears. The hole, it is said, is where the original well of the square used to be.

The Alto Street area, just south of St. Francis Drive to the west of Cerrillos Road, is home to frequent sightings of a headless horseman riding with sword in hand down to the Santa Fe River.

Many New Mexico State employees work in the old PERA building on Paseo de Peralta, which apparently sits on top of an old burial ground where, in an effort to speed up building construction, legend says some of the bodies were not removed and simply built, or paved (in the case of the parking lot) over. Legend has it that people flatly refuse to spend time in the PERA building's basement and sub-basement (just the phrase sub-basement is insanely creepy) after dark. Unseen hands are said to reach out and trip people as they walk down the staircases that lead to the basements. It is even said that the famous La LLorona, or Weeping Woman, haunts the site, since it is so close to the Santa Fe River.

The Coronado Building on Marcy Street was built in the late 1800s and at one time served as a courthouse and the first meeting place for the city of Santa Fe. Hangings were carried out in the tree in front of the building, and people have reported hearing screams, moans, and maniacal laughter, as well as terrifying apparitions that follow people around the building.

This is but a small list of the numerous haunted and spooky places in Santa Fe. The links below offer more information about these sites and many more. The tradition of haunting in Santa Fe is long and storied, and this is the prefect time of year to “bone-up” on your paranormal history.