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Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Aerial view of suburban Rio Rancho
Aerial view of suburban Rio Rancho
Official seal of Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Nickname(s): "The City of Vision"
Location in New Mexico
Location in New Mexico
Rio Rancho, New Mexico is located in USA
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Location in the United States
Country United States
State New Mexico
Counties Sandoval, Bernalillo
Founded 1961
Incorporated 1981
 • Mayor Gregg Hull
 • City 103.7 sq mi (268.5 km2)
 • Land 103.4 sq mi (267.7 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.8 km2)
Elevation 5,282 ft (1,610 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 • City 87,521
 • Estimate (2012) 90,818
 • Density 847/sq mi (327.0/km2)
 • Metro 907,755 (MSA)
Time zone Mountain (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) Mountain (UTC-6)
ZIP codes 87124, 87144, 87174
Area code(s) 505
FIPS code 35-63460
GNIS feature ID 1699884

Rio Rancho (Spanish: Río Rancho) is the largest city and economic hub of Sandoval County in the U.S. state of New Mexico. A small portion of the city extends into northern Bernalillo County. It is the third-largest and also one of the fastest expanding cities in New Mexico. As of the 2010 census, Rio Rancho had a population of 87,521,[1] a 69% rise from 2000. In 2012, the city had an estimated population of 90,818.[2]

Rio Rancho is part of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Statistical Area.


  • History 1
  • Demographics 2
  • Geography 3
    • Climate 3.1
  • Economy 4
    • New projects 4.1
    • Taxation 4.2
    • 2000s housing bubble 4.3
  • Government 5
    • Elected officials 5.1
    • Politics 5.2
  • Schools 6
  • Media 7
  • Transportation 8
  • Sports 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Rio Rancho Estates in 1970

The Rio Rancho area was originally part of the Alameda Grant, which was founded by the Spanish in 1710. By the early twentieth century, much of the land grant had been sold to land investment companies. Amrep Corporation purchased 55,000 acres (22,000 ha) in 1961 and turned the land into a housing development called "Rio Rancho Estates" with the first families moving in the early 1960s. Most of these early residents were New Yorkers, as the developers advertised heavily in New York media. The population grew tenfold between 1970 and 1980, and the City of Rio Rancho was incorporated in 1981. The opening of a large Intel Corporation plant in 1981 had a major economic impact on the city.

Since the 1990s, Rio Rancho has taken steps to become more independent from neighboring Albuquerque, including the establishment of separate school and library systems and attempts to attract businesses to the area. The city's latest project is the Downtown City Centre development that includes a new city hall building, a new UNM West and CNM campus as well as the Santa Ana Star Center. The arena opened in October 2006. City Hall opened in September 2007.


Census data and expectations

There were 18,995 households out of which 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 non-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 spread out with 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 the median income 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.

Hispanics or Latinos of any race made up 37.74% of the city’s population


Rio Rancho is located at 35°17'10" North, 106°40'14" West (35.286185, -106.670660).[5] It lies in the Albuquerque Basin to the west of the Rio Grande, which bounds the northeast corner of the city. There is an escarpment to the west of the city limit.

Rio Rancho is bordered by Albuquerque to the south, the Santa Ana Indian Reservation to the north, and Bernalillo and 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 water.[1]


Rio Rancho is in an arid climate.[6]

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 although many of its residents complained that the service did not live up to their expectations.

Several call centers call Rio Rancho home. Walmart opened up in early summer of 2006 in Rio Rancho thus sparking several new commercial retailers to locate nearby.

New projects

Rust Medical center opened in 2011.

New construction of large facilities include[8]:3:

  • City Centre Development
  • Loma Colorado Development
  • Mariposa a 6,500-acre (26 km2) Development,
  • A new UNM West Campus.
  • Hewlett Packard and expansions[9]
  • Central New Mexico Community College (CNM)Construction now complete.
  • A new 75-acre (300,000 m2) development on Unser Boulevard in the southwestern part of the city including a new location for Presbyterian Hospital, Opened October 17, 2011, surrounded by planned office and retail space, a hotel, and a 12-screen Century-branded Cinemark movie theater with Cinemark XD theater. Construction will consist of three phases originally planned between 2010 and 2013, but little has been developed as of late 2012.[10]
  • A new 14-screen Premiere Cinemas theater at the corner of Southern Boulevard and Unser Boulevard.


The Rio Rancho City Council recently passed tax increases that raised gross receipts taxes that are higher than Albuquerque. The City Council also passed an automatic annual increase in water rate equivalent to 25% over a five year period.[11] Recent bond measures have seen significant increases in property taxes. Recent updates from the City of Rio Rancho Finance department indicate that the only increase in revenue has been from property taxes.

2000s housing bubble

Rio Rancho has seen a significant increase in foreclosure activity. Sandoval, Bernalillo and Valencia counties were some of the worst-affected by the late 2000s recession.[12]


The new city hall

Elected officials

Name Position Party reg. Took office Up for
Greggory Hull Mayor Republican 2014 2018
Chuck Wilkins District 1 Republican 2012 2016
Dawnn Robinson District 2 Republican 2014 2018
Cheryl Everett District 3 Republican 2014 2018
Mark Scott District 4 Republican 2012 2016
Shelby Smith District 5 Republican 2014 2018
Lonnie Clayton District 6 Republican 2012 2016
Robert Cook Municipal Court Republican 2010 2018


Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of June 1, 2015[13]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 14,567 25.31%
  Republican 27,884 48.46%
  Unaffiliated/Minor Parties 15,095 26.23%
Total 57,546 100%


Rio Rancho Public Schools serve students in Rio Rancho.

Rio Rancho has two major public high schools:

In addition, Rio Rancho has one public charter school called The ASK Academy. The ASK academy focuses on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) education, and currently serves grades 7-12.


The weekly Rio Rancho Observer is the local newspaper, while Rio Ranchoans also have access to television and radio broadcasts from Albuquerque as well as the daily newspaper Albuquerque Journal, along with its localized semi-weekly version the Rio Rancho Journal."

Rio Rancho is also served by a government-access television (GATV) channel, that is available only through the city's only cable television provider Cable ONE. This channel shows all of the government meetings on multiple showings.


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. There is a proposed regional transportation taxing district.

In late January 2011, ABQ RIDE extended two additional routes (96 Crosstown Commuter and 155 Coors Blvd), as well as introducing an additional route (551 Jefferson/Paseo Del Norte Express) into Rio Rancho. The northern terminus of these routes are at Southern Blvd and Unser Blvd. Other than these few extensions from the Albuquerque Transit system, there is no public transportation in Rio Rancho. Also, the city is so poorly planned that there are miles of empty space between major destinations in the city.

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 out of the Meadowlark Senior Center, and provides service Monday-Friday from 730am to 300pm. Riders must register with the service prior to using it. 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. However, they only 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.[14] The New Mexico Thunderbirds announced in July 2011 that the team was sold to the Cleveland Cavaliers and will be moved to Canton, OH for the upcoming season.

The Blades Multiplex Arena is home to the New Mexico Renegades of the Western States Hockey League. The team is entering its 4th year in existence and 2nd year under new ownership. Blades Multiplex also hosts an indoor soccer league and an indoor flag football league.

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.

New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch is from Rio Rancho.


  1. ^ a b c "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Rio Rancho city, New Mexico". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012: 2012 Population Estimates (PEPANNRES): New Mexico". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Rio Rancho Profile". City of Rio Rancho. Archived from the original on 2008-06-23. Retrieved 2008-09-18. 
  5. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Average Weather for Rio Rancho, New Mexico".  
  8. ^ "Community Overview – Rio Rancho, New Mexico" (PDF). Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation. January 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  9. ^ Mexico, New (2009-01-08). "HP breaks ground on Rio Rancho center". 
  10. ^ [2] Archived July 13, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Utilities Commission – May 18th, 2010. Retrieved on 2013-08-15.
  12. ^ Interactive Map: The Economy Where You Live, from NPR.
  13. ^ "The City of Rio Rancho, Office of the City Clerk: Enrollment Breakdown as of 05/01/2015" (PDF). Rio Rancho Elections. June 1, 2015. p. 16. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  14. ^ Richfield, Minnesota team granted membership to NAHL | North American Hockey League. NAHL (2012-12-21). Retrieved on 2013-08-15.

External links

  • City of Rio Rancho official website
  • Rio Rancho Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation
  • Rio Rancho Journal
  • Rio Rancho Observer
  • Fall 2011 City of Rio Rancho Development Video
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