New Mexico Counties
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New Mexico Counties

There is thirty-three counties in the state of New Mexico. There were originally nine counties formed in 1852. Santa Ana County, New Mexico Territory, one of the nine original counties, was annexed in 1876 to Bernalillo County, New Mexico.

Rio Arriba County, New Mexico

Rio Arriba County Education, Geography, and HistoryRio Arriba County, New Mexico Courthouse

Rio Arriba County is a county located in the state of New Mexico. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 40,246. The county was one of nine originally created for the Territory of New Mexico in 1852. Originally extending west to the California line, it included the site of present day Las Vegas, Nevada. The county seat was initially sited at San Pedro de Chamita, and shortly afterwards at Los Luceros. In 1860 the seat was moved to Plaza del Alcalde. Since 1880 Tierra Amarilla has been the county seat.

Rio Arriba County comprises the EspaƱola, NM Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, NM Combined Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Rio Arriba County Name

It was named for the Spanish name for "upper river" of the Rio Grande River. This is area is part of the partidos of early Spanish rule.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Rio Arriba County History

Rio Arriba County was created 9 January 1852. It was named for the Spanish name for "upper river" of the Rio Grande River. This is area is part of the partidos of early Spanish rule. The county seat is Tierra Amarilla, and it's the center of outdoor recreation and tourism. The county contains the Jicarilla Apache and the Rio Arriba reservations and the San Juan and Santa Clara Pueblos. Three fresh rivers provide abundant water for agriculture and ranching.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 5,896 square miles (15,270 km2), of which 5,861 square miles (15,180 km2) is land and 35 square miles (91 km2) (0.6%) is water.

It is the fifth-largest county in New Mexico by area. The highest point in the county is the summit of Truchas Peak at 13,102 feet (3,993 m).

The county acquired its present proportions after the creation of San Juan County and other adjustments

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Taos County - east
  • Mora County - southeast
  • Santa Fe County - south
  • Los Alamos County - south
  • Sandoval County - south
  • San Juan County - west
  • Archuleta County, Colorado - north
  • Conejos County, Colorado - north


School districts

Rio Arriba County has 6 public school districts. EspaƱola Public Schools is the largest.

Chama Valley Independent Schools
Jemez Mountain Public Schools
Dulce Independent Schools
Mesa Vista Consolidated Schools
Espanola Public Schools
Penasco Independent Schools


Northern New Mexico College with campuses in Española and El Rito
New Mexico Highlands University campus in Española

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