Rio Rancho, New Mexico

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Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Aerial view of suburban Rio Rancho
Aerial view of suburban Rio Rancho
Official seal of Rio Rancho, New Mexico
"The City of Vision"
Location within Sandoval County
Location within Sandoval County
Rio Rancho is located in New Mexico
Rio Rancho
Rio Rancho
Location within New Mexico
Rio Rancho is located in the United States
Rio Rancho
Rio Rancho
Location within the United States
Coordinates: 35°17′10″N 106°40′14″W / 35.28611°N 106.67056°W / 35.28611; -106.67056Coordinates: 35°17′10″N 106°40′14″W / 35.28611°N 106.67056°W / 35.28611; -106.67056
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
CountiesSandoval, Bernalillo
 • MayorGregg Hull (R)
 • City103.69 sq mi (268.56 km2)
 • Land103.42 sq mi (267.86 km2)
 • Water0.27 sq mi (0.71 km2)
5,282 ft (1,610 m)
 • City87,521
 • Estimate 
 • Density958.97/sq mi (370.26/km2)
 • Metro
907,755 (MSA)
Time zoneUTC−07:00 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−06:00 (Mountain)
ZIP Codes
87124, 87144, 87174[4]
Area code(s)505
FIPS code35-63460
GNIS feature ID1699884
Primary AirportAlbuquerque International Sunport
ABQ (Major/International)
Secondary AirportDouble Eagle II Airport
KAEG (Public)

Rio Rancho (Spanish: Río Rancho) is the largest and only city in Sandoval County, part of the expansive Albuquerque metropolitan area, in the U.S. state of New Mexico. A small portion of the city extends into northern Bernalillo County.

It is the third-largest city in New Mexico, and one of the most rapidly growing. As of the 2010 census, Rio Rancho had a population of 87,521. The name Rio Rancho derives from Los Ranchos, the Spanish colonial ranches established along the Rio Grande in the Albuquerque Basin, and throughout historic Nuevo México. There were large ranches also in neighboring Corrales. Since the late 20th century, it has developed as a suburb of Albuquerque.


Rio Rancho Estates in 1970, with the Sandia Mountains in the background

The great majority of the territory of Rio Rancho was originally part of the Town of Alameda Grant, which was founded by Spanish colonial settlers in 1710. It was acquired by the United States in 1848, after it defeated Mexico in the Mexican-American War. (Mexico had been independent of Spain since 1821.) The ranches were used for cattle and sheep.

By the early 20th century, much of the land grant had been divided and sold to land investment companies. Its proximity to the city of Albuquerque made it a prime area for suburban development in the post-World War II period. In 1961 Amrep Corporation purchased 55,000 acres (22,000 ha) and created a housing development called "Rio Rancho Estates". The first families moved into this development in the early 1960s.

Amrep contracted with Ezio Valentini, one of the original developers of Cape Coral, Florida, to design and implement a marketing plan to encourage land sales. He organized dinner-parties for prospective customers in northern states through offices in 14 states. Migrants were attracted to this area, and the population grew ten-fold between 1970 and 1980. The City of Rio Rancho was incorporated in 1981. The opening of a large Intel Corporation plant in 1981 generated numerous jobs and had positive economic effects for the city.

Since the 1990s, Rio Rancho has taken steps to become more independent from neighboring Albuquerque. It established a separate public unified school district and library system. It is seeking to attract more businesses to the area, so that residents might live and work here.

In the early 21st century, the city worked to create a center: the Downtown City Centre development included a new city hall, a new University of New Mexico West and Central New Mexico Community College campus, and the Santa Ana Star Center. The sports and live event arena opened in October 2006. City Hall opened in September 2007.


Census data and expectations
Historical population
Census Pop.
2019 (est.)99,178[3]13.3%
Sources: 1980–2000[5]

Of 18,995 households, 40.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.4% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.7% were not families; 20.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the city, the population was distributed as 29.2% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.

The median income for city was $47,169, and for a family was $52,233. Males had a median income of $39,162 versus $27,385 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,322. About 3.7% of families and 5.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.1% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.


Rio Rancho is located at 35°17'10" North, 106°40'14" West (35.286185, -106.670660).[6] It lies in the Albuquerque Basin to the west of the Rio Grande, which is a boundary on the northeast corner of the city. An escarpment lies to the west of the city limit.

Rio Rancho is bordered by Albuquerque to the south, the Santa Ana Pueblo to the north, with the town of Bernalillo and village of Corrales to the east.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 103.7 sq mi (268.5 km2), of which 103.4 square miles (267.7 km2) is land and 0.31 sq mi (0.8 km2), or 0.31%, is covered by water.[2]


Rio Rancho is in an arid climate due to its location in the rain shadow of the Sandia Mountains to the east and the Continental Divide to the west. Rio Rancho receives 8.90 inches of precipitation annually on average. The western portion of the city receives slightly more rain and snowfall due to its higher elevation than that of the more densely developed eastern portion of Rio Rancho.

Climate data for Rio Rancho, New Mexico (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 74
Average high °F (°C) 53
Average low °F (°C) 30
Record low °F (°C) 5
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.33
Source: Weather Channel [7]


Intel opened in the mid 1980s.
Largest Employers in Rio Rancho
1 Intel Corporation
2 Rio Rancho Public Schools
3 Hewlett-Packard
4 Presbyterian Health Services
5 Sprint Corporation
6 Bank of America
7 Stream Global
8 Alliance Data Inc.
9 U.S. Cotton
10 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The Intel Corporation is by far the largest employer in Rio Rancho. The services, retail, and government sectors are also major components of the local economy.

Rio Rancho is the site of Intel's Intel Fab 11X, one of the largest semiconductor fabrication plants in the world. The fully automated, $2 billion facility opened in 2002 and was the first Intel plant to manufacture 300 mm silicon wafers, which can hold almost twice as many chips as the standard 200 mm wafers. Fab 7, Intel's original Rio Rancho plant, closed in 2002, but is being converted into a test facility.

In 2005, Rio Rancho became the first U.S. city to offer citywide voice-over-WiFi (VoWiFi) service. Many residents complained that the service did not live up to their expectations.[citation needed]

Several call centers are located in Rio Rancho. Walmart opened in early summer of 2006 in Rio Rancho, and was a catalyst for related commercial retailers to locate nearby.

An Albuquerque-based incubator and co-working space "FatPipe" opened a satellite office in Rio Rancho.[8] It is intended to spur business innovation and startups within the city.

New projects[edit]

Rust Medical center opened in 2011.

New construction of large facilities include:[9]: 3 

  • City Centre development
  • Loma Colorado development
  • Mariposa, a 6,500-acre (26 km2) development
  • University of New Mexico West Campus (early 2000s)
  • Hewlett Packard and expansions[10]
  • Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) - Construction now complete.
  • A 75-acre (300,000 m2) development on Unser Boulevard in the southwestern part of the city, including a facility for the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center, opened October 17, 2011. It is part of a planned multi-use development of office and retail space, a hotel, and a 12-screen Century-branded Cinemark movie theater, with Cinemark XD theater. Construction was proposed to take place between 2010 and 2013, but little had been started by late 2012.[11]
  • A 14-screen Premiere Cinemas theater was built at the corner of Southern and Unser boulevards.


In 2010 the City Council passed an automatic annual increase in water rate, equivalent to 25% over a five-year period.[12][verification needed][citation needed]

Housing and development[edit]

In the aftermath of the collapse of the 2008 housing bubble, foreclosure activity increased in the city. The economies of Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Valencia counties suffered markedly in the late 2000s recession.[13]

As of the late 2010s, housing had entirely recovered. A number of new housing developments were restarted. Real estate sales were robust in 2020 in many areas of Rio Rancho, driven by low interest rates and relatively low housing prices ($250,000 - $350,000 for most new construction).[14]


In 2017, Rio Rancho hosted the National Speleological Society's annual convention.

The city constructed A Park Above, a structure in the south of the city for youth recreation.[15][16]


The new city hall

Elected officials[edit]

Mayor Gregory Hull ran at-large for mayor in 2014. He was re-elected in March 2018. The next mayoral election will take place in 2022. City council members are elected from six single-member districts. The judge for the Municipal Court is also elected.

Name Position Party reg. Took office Up for
Greggory D. Hull Mayor Republican 2014 2022
Jim Owen District 1 Republican 2016 2020
Dawnn Robinson District 2 Republican 2014 2022
Bob Tyler District 3 Republican 2018 2022
Marlene Feuer District 4 Republican 2016 2020
Jennifer Flor District 5 Independent 2016 2022
David Bency District 6 Republican 2016 2020
Robert Cook Municipal Court Republican 2010 2018


Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of Feb 1, 2018[17]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
Democratic 9,788 22.06%
Republican 19,674 44.34%
Unaffiliated/Minor Parties 14,913 33.61%
Total 44,375 100%

Rio Rancho is the site of the Sandoval County Municipal Courthouse. It serves as a hub for judicial affairs in the county.


The University of New Mexico has a satellite campus in Rio Rancho devoted to health sciences.[18]

Central New Mexico Community College also has one of its eight campuses in Rio Rancho's downtown area, within walking distance of the UNM campus.[19]

Rio Rancho Public Schools serve students in most of Rio Rancho. Rio Rancho has two major public high schools:

Other schools include:

  • Mountain View Middle School
  • Eagle Ridge Middle School
  • Lincoln Middle School
  • Rio Rancho Middle School
  • Independence High school
  • Vista Grande Elementary School
  • Enchanted Hills Elementary School
  • Cielo Azul Elementary School
  • Colinas Del Norte Elementary School
  • Sandia Vista Elementary School
  • MLK Elementary School
  • Maggie Cordoba Elementary School

Sections of Rio Rancho in most of Bernalillo County are zoned to Albuquerque Public Schools. A portion of the Rio Rancho Public School District extends into Bernalillo County.[20]

In addition, Rio Rancho has two public charter schools called The ASK Academy and Cyber Academy, serving grades 6-12. They both focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.


Rio Rancho is home to the Albuquerque metro area's only oldies-format radio station, KDSK (AM). It moved into this market in March 2015 and licensed its newest FM signal, 92.9 FM, to Rio Rancho in April 2016. The station is named "Rio Rancho Radio". The station features Rio Rancho area events and airs a weekly talk/discussion show on Sunday mornings with the Mayor of Rio Rancho (now Greg Hull). The station signal, broadcast on three frequencies (92.7 FM, 93.7 FM, and 1240 AM), serves the entire Albuquerque metro area, and six counties in central and western New Mexico. Residents also have access to television and radio broadcasts from Albuquerque.

The weekly Rio Rancho Observer is the local newspaper. Residents may also subscribe to the daily newspaper Albuquerque Journal, which has a localized weekly version called Rio West.

Rio Rancho is served by a government-access television channel available only through the city's only cable television provider Cable ONE. This channel shows all of the government meetings multiple times.


Albuquerque's transit department, ABQ RIDE, operates a bus route (251 Albuquerque-Rio Rancho Rail Runner Connection) connecting Rio Rancho with the New Mexico Rail Runner Express station at Journal Center.

In late January 2011, ABQ RIDE extended two additional routes (96 Crosstown Commuter and 155 Coors Blvd), and introduced an additional route (551 Jefferson/Paseo Del Norte Express) into Rio Rancho. The northern terminus of these routes is at Southern Blvd and Unser Blvd.

The Rio Metro Regional Transportation District operates Rio Transit, a door-to-door paratransit service for senior citizens 55 years of age and older, and disabled adults 18 years of age and older, for residents of Rio Rancho. The service is operated from the Meadowlark Senior Center, and provides service Monday-Friday from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm. Riders must register with the service prior to using it and reserve time slots well in advance.

Rio Metro RTD also operates a commuter bus route serving the Enchanted Hills neighborhood in Rio Rancho. This service connects residents of Enchanted Hills to the US 550 New Mexico Rail Runner station and provides service during the morning and evening commutes. Rio Metro Bus connections are available at the US 550 Rail Runner station for Zia Pueblo, San Ysidro, Canon, and Jemez Springs. A Rio Metro commuter bus route provides service to and from the Cuba NM area, with a Park and Ride designated at Home Depot, which is located near the corner of NM 528, NM 550. Rio Metro's website and schedules may be viewed at:


Santa Ana Star Center

Rio Rancho was home to the New Mexico Scorpions minor-league ice hockey team, which relocated from Albuquerque in 2006, until the team ceased operations in 2009. The Scorpions played at Santa Ana Star Center.

In the spring of 2008, the Star Center became the home of the New Mexico Wildcats indoor football team. They lasted two seasons, folding at the conclusion of 2009.

Starting in fall of 2010, the Star Center was home to the New Mexico Thunderbirds of the NBA Development League and the New Mexico Mustangs of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The Mustangs' NAHL membership was transferred to Richfield, Minnesota, in 2012.[21] The New Mexico Thunderbirds announced in July 2011 that the team was sold to the Cleveland Cavaliers and will be moved to Canton, Ohio, for the upcoming season.

Since February 2012, Rio Rancho has been the location of the New Mexico Stars, a professional indoor football team. They play home games at the Santa Ana Star Center, with whom they signed a five-year contract.

Rio Rancho is also the home city of New Mexico Strongman, an amateur organization dedicated to promoting and hosting strongman competitions in New Mexico.

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Rio Rancho city, New Mexico". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ "Home - City of Vision Civitan Club".
  5. ^ "Rio Rancho Profile". City of Rio Rancho. Archived from the original on June 23, 2008. Retrieved September 18, 2008.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  7. ^ "Average Weather for Rio Rancho, New Mexico". The Weather Channel. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  8. ^ "FatPipe - Rio Rancho". Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  9. ^ "Community Overview – Rio Rancho, New Mexico" (PDF). Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation. January 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 21, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2008.
  10. ^ Mexico, New (January 8, 2009). "HP breaks ground on Rio Rancho center".
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ Utilities Commission – May 18th, 2010. Retrieved on August 15, 2013.
  13. ^ Interactive Map: The Economy Where You Live, from NPR.
  14. ^ NAIOP) speakers: Residential growth exploding in RR, RR Observer
  15. ^ "A Park Above | The Official Site of Rio Rancho, NM". Retrieved October 1, 2019.
  16. ^ "2017 NSS Convention". 2017 NSS Convention. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  17. ^ "The City of Rio Rancho, Office of the City Clerk: Enrollment Breakdown as of 03/01/2018" (PDF). Rio Rancho Elections. February 1, 2018. p. 16. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  18. ^ "Rio Rancho Campus :: UNM Health Sciences Center | The University of New Mexico". Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  19. ^ "Rio Rancho Campus". CNM. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  20. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Bernalillo County, NM" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  21. ^ Richfield, Minnesota team granted membership to NAHL | North American Hockey League. NAHL (December 21, 2012). Retrieved on August 15, 2013.

External links[edit]