Official Scenic Historic Markers

How They got Started

When Americans took to the road, many states devised ways to attract motorists off the highway, explore, and invest some time and money learning about local cultures and landmarks. In 1935, New Mexico—no stranger to promoting tourism with its history—began installing those signature big, brown, log-hewn signs to inform travelers about the landscapes and the people who inhabited them.

Official Scenic Historic Markers explain land formations, public archaeological sites, important buildings, historic travel routes, places, and events. They mark locations of geologic, cultural, economic, political, scientific, and artistic significance to New Mexico, the Southwest, and the nation.

From El Camino Real to Route 66, from record producers to recording stars, from prehistoric civilizations to the first atom bomb, historic markers cover the broad and diverse history of the Land of Enchantment.

Markers memorialize Native American warriors, Spanish conquerors, and some outlaws. Women’s role in history was seldom mentioned until 2007, and now is illustrated on 75 historic markers. Travelers will discover ghost towns, battlegrounds, and utopian settlements no longer inhabited by a soul.

To get an idea of what New Mexico’s approximately 650 historic markers are all about and where to find them, use the Official Scenic Historic Marker Guide, the most complete database available of New Mexcio's markers. Many of the markers are also found on websites and smartphone apps.

New Mexico is vast and often remote. If you find a marker that time and the elements have rendered illegible, or is significantly damaged, please contact the historic marker coordinator. Please send GPS coordinates if you can.

Nominations Accepted

Most markers originate with the public or an organization. The attachments on this page tell you how to get involved.

Keep in in mind that writing short, informative histories is challenging. Marker subjects are outlined in state law. Generally, they are most effective when the subject relates to their location, and prompts readers to think about their immediate surroundings.

HPD reviews nominations and texts, forwards them for review by the Cultural Properties Review Committee, which approves them. The New Mexico Department of Transportation builds and installs the signs, basing final locations on safety, highway right-of-way, and space needs.

To submit an application, please review the guidelines and rules, download the form and return it by e-mail to the historic marker coordinator. Place matters, so be sure to provide a suggested one that relates to the history being told.


Questions? Please contact Jeff Pappas at