Portales, New Mexico, is the county seat and business hub for Roosevelt County and a retail trade area of 23,675. Portales is an historic town with its roots in the territorial days of New Mexico that blends the past with modern developments to create a unique place to live. This community provides an exceptional quality of life and a safe area for families. Portales is located on the high plains of eastern New Mexico, in the heart of a major agricultural region. Farming, ranching and the dairy industry are all important components of the community’s economic base. Agriculture is the major industry of Roosevelt County. The leading crops are peanuts, cotton, wheat, corn, sorghum and hay, with a growing niche market for chile. Livestock feeding and dairy farming are also important to the local economy. Industrial enterprises include soft drink canners, an ethanol production facility, grain storage and shipping, trucking and milk processing.
With a population over 12,500, Portales is also home to numerous families associated with Cannon Air Force Base, which is located 11 miles northeast of the city. The Special Operations base adds a very important dimension to the community’s economy and available labor force and a community pride in our military.
Eastern New Mexico University is the third-largest university in New Mexico with a growing enrollment of over 5,000 in 2011. The four-year college offers more than 50 areas of undergraduate studies and 15 majors for master’s degrees. The campus, which spans more than 400 acres, offers a tree-studded landscape with many historic buildings and sites.
The name “Portales” fits this charming university town even more today than it did when it was coined in the 1800s. It is named for a nearby campsite where spring waters gushed from a series of caves that resembled the porches (portales in Spanish) of a pueblo-styled home. Portales Springs is the most famous watering hole on the Old Fort Sumner Trail and often welcomed Billy the Kid and his pals when they rustled stock during the Lincoln County War. Situated on its eastern border, Portales is New Mexico’s front porch to the east.
Portales sits at just above 4,000 feet with a mild daytime climate and low humidity that offers year-round comfort. This small, friendly town has a welcoming atmosphere with a mixed culture of local, Cannon Air Force Base and Eastern New Mexico University residents. The mild winters, cool summers and friendly people offer an excellent atmosphere for individuals looking for a place to retire – or just a slower pace.