Most rural counties in New Mexico

Written by:
May 2, 2022
Peter Potrowl // Wikimedia Commons

Most rural counties in New Mexico

A surprising number of U.S. counties have 100% rural land-702, in fact. Stacker compiled a list of the most rural counties in New Mexico using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the percent of land area that is rural, as of the 2010 Census, with ties broken by residents per square mile, according to 2019 5-year population estimates.

According to the Census Bureau, rural land encompasses any land that isn't an urban area. To be considered an urban area, a place has to have a densely settled core of census tracts or blocks and count at least 2,500 people, at least 1,500 of whom must be residents of non-institutional buildings. Areas with 50,000 people or more are considered urbanized areas, while areas with between 2,500 and 50,000 people are considered urban clusters.

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M.Bucka // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Bernalillo County

- Rural area: 83.2% (966 square miles)
- Urban area: 16.8% (195 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,161 square miles
--- #31 largest county in state, #531 nationwide

- Population density: 583.9 people / square mile (677,858 residents)
--- #33 lowest density county in state, #2,917 nationwide

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#32. Los Alamos County

- Rural area: 90.9% (99 square miles)
- Urban area: 9.2% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 109 square miles
--- #33 largest county in state, #3,079 nationwide

- Population density: 170.6 people / square mile (18,625 residents)
--- #32 lowest density county in state, #2,541 nationwide

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Drmccreedy // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Valencia County

- Rural area: 93.5% (997 square miles)
- Urban area: 6.5% (69 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,066 square miles
--- #32 largest county in state, #606 nationwide

- Population density: 71.3 people / square mile (76,027 residents)
--- #30 lowest density county in state, #1,998 nationwide

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Asaavedra32 // Wikimedia

#30. Santa Fe County

- Rural area: 96.0% (1,833 square miles)
- Urban area: 4.0% (77 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,909 square miles
--- #29 largest county in state, #299 nationwide

- Population density: 78.2 people / square mile (149,293 residents)
--- #31 lowest density county in state, #2,081 nationwide

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#29. Doña Ana County

- Rural area: 97.6% (3,717 square miles)
- Urban area: 2.4% (91 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,808 square miles
--- #16 largest county in state, #130 nationwide

- Population density: 56.7 people / square mile (216,069 residents)
--- #29 lowest density county in state, #1,800 nationwide

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Billy Hathorn // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Curry County

- Rural area: 98.4% (1,382 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.6% (23 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,405 square miles
--- #30 largest county in state, #427 nationwide

- Population density: 35.4 people / square mile (49,732 residents)
--- #27 lowest density county in state, #1,347 nationwide

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#27. Sandoval County

- Rural area: 98.5% (3,654 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.5% (56 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,711 square miles
--- #18 largest county in state, #135 nationwide

- Population density: 38.5 people / square mile (142,704 residents)
--- #28 lowest density county in state, #1,436 nationwide

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#26. San Juan County

- Rural area: 98.9% (5,450 square miles)
- Urban area: 1.1% (63 square miles)
- Total land area: 5,513 square miles
--- #6 largest county in state, #66 nationwide

- Population density: 22.9 people / square mile (126,515 residents)
--- #26 lowest density county in state, #995 nationwide

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Lochaven // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Taos County

- Rural area: 99.3% (2,187 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (16 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,203 square miles
--- #26 largest county in state, #255 nationwide

- Population density: 14.9 people / square mile (32,786 residents)
--- #24 lowest density county in state, #730 nationwide

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#24. Eddy County

- Rural area: 99.3% (4,147 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (28 square miles)
- Total land area: 4,176 square miles
--- #13 largest county in state, #112 nationwide

- Population density: 13.8 people / square mile (57,732 residents)
--- #23 lowest density county in state, #703 nationwide

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AllenS // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Lea County

- Rural area: 99.4% (4,362 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.7% (29 square miles)
- Total land area: 4,391 square miles
--- #11 largest county in state, #102 nationwide

- Population density: 16.0 people / square mile (70,277 residents)
--- #25 lowest density county in state, #768 nationwide

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#22. Chaves County

- Rural area: 99.6% (6,038 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.5% (27 square miles)
- Total land area: 6,065 square miles
--- #4 largest county in state, #57 nationwide

- Population density: 10.7 people / square mile (65,144 residents)
--- #21 lowest density county in state, #597 nationwide

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#21. Rio Arriba County

- Rural area: 99.6% (5,837 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (24 square miles)
- Total land area: 5,861 square miles
--- #5 largest county in state, #62 nationwide

- Population density: 6.7 people / square mile (39,159 residents)
--- #16 lowest density county in state, #439 nationwide

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#20. Otero County

- Rural area: 99.6% (6,588 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.4% (26 square miles)
- Total land area: 6,613 square miles
--- #3 largest county in state, #49 nationwide

- Population density: 10.0 people / square mile (66,137 residents)
--- #20 lowest density county in state, #579 nationwide

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#19. McKinley County

- Rural area: 99.7% (5,432 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (17 square miles)
- Total land area: 5,450 square miles
--- #7 largest county in state, #68 nationwide

- Population density: 13.3 people / square mile (72,438 residents)
--- #22 lowest density county in state, #681 nationwide

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#18. Grant County

- Rural area: 99.7% (3,949 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (13 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,962 square miles
--- #14 largest county in state, #122 nationwide

- Population density: 7.0 people / square mile (27,669 residents)
--- #17 lowest density county in state, #453 nationwide

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AllenS // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Luna County

- Rural area: 99.7% (2,957 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.3% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,965 square miles
--- #22 largest county in state, #174 nationwide

- Population density: 8.1 people / square mile (24,083 residents)
--- #19 lowest density county in state, #500 nationwide

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#16. Roosevelt County

- Rural area: 99.8% (2,442 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (5 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,447 square miles
--- #24 largest county in state, #222 nationwide

- Population density: 7.7 people / square mile (18,888 residents)
--- #18 lowest density county in state, #480 nationwide

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KeanoManu // Wikimedia Commons

#15. San Miguel County

- Rural area: 99.8% (4,706 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (10 square miles)
- Total land area: 4,716 square miles
--- #9 largest county in state, #90 nationwide

- Population density: 5.9 people / square mile (27,738 residents)
--- #14 lowest density county in state, #405 nationwide

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#14. Cibola County

- Rural area: 99.8% (4,531 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 4,539 square miles
--- #10 largest county in state, #97 nationwide

- Population density: 5.9 people / square mile (26,891 residents)
--- #15 lowest density county in state, #406 nationwide

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#13. Lincoln County

- Rural area: 99.8% (4,822 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (9 square miles)
- Total land area: 4,831 square miles
--- #8 largest county in state, #83 nationwide

- Population density: 4.0 people / square mile (19,461 residents)
--- #12 lowest density county in state, #309 nationwide

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psyberartist // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Sierra County

- Rural area: 99.8% (4,171 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.2% (8 square miles)
- Total land area: 4,179 square miles
--- #12 largest county in state, #110 nationwide

- Population density: 2.6 people / square mile (11,031 residents)
--- #9 lowest density county in state, #210 nationwide

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Billy Hathorn // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Colfax County

- Rural area: 99.9% (3,754 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (4 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,758 square miles
--- #17 largest county in state, #133 nationwide

- Population density: 3.2 people / square mile (12,168 residents)
--- #11 lowest density county in state, #252 nationwide

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#10. Quay County

- Rural area: 99.9% (2,871 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (3 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,874 square miles
--- #23 largest county in state, #179 nationwide

- Population density: 2.9 people / square mile (8,326 residents)
--- #10 lowest density county in state, #225 nationwide

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#9. Socorro County

- Rural area: 99.9% (6,641 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (6 square miles)
- Total land area: 6,647 square miles
--- #2 largest county in state, #48 nationwide

- Population density: 2.5 people / square mile (16,858 residents)
--- #8 lowest density county in state, #197 nationwide

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Guadalupe County

- Rural area: 99.9% (3,028 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.1% (2 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,030 square miles
--- #21 largest county in state, #170 nationwide

- Population density: 1.4 people / square mile (4,353 residents)
--- #6 lowest density county in state, #103 nationwide

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AllenS // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Torrance County

- Rural area: 100.0% (3,345 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,345 square miles
--- #20 largest county in state, #149 nationwide

- Population density: 4.6 people / square mile (15,519 residents)
--- #13 lowest density county in state, #356 nationwide

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AllenS // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Mora County

- Rural area: 100.0% (1,931 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 1,931 square miles
--- #28 largest county in state, #293 nationwide

- Population density: 2.3 people / square mile (4,536 residents)
--- #7 lowest density county in state, #185 nationwide

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Calvin Beale // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Hidalgo County

- Rural area: 100.0% (3,437 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,437 square miles
--- #19 largest county in state, #145 nationwide

- Population density: 1.3 people / square mile (4,297 residents)
--- #5 lowest density county in state, #89 nationwide

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Wordbuilder // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Union County

- Rural area: 100.0% (3,824 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 3,824 square miles
--- #15 largest county in state, #128 nationwide

- Population density: 1.1 people / square mile (4,133 residents)
--- #4 lowest density county in state, #76 nationwide

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#3. De Baca County

- Rural area: 100.0% (2,323 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,323 square miles
--- #25 largest county in state, #238 nationwide

- Population density: 0.9 people / square mile (2,040 residents)
--- #3 lowest density county in state, #54 nationwide

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Peter Potrowl // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Catron County

- Rural area: 100.0% (6,924 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 6,924 square miles
--- #1 largest county in state, #46 nationwide

- Population density: 0.5 people / square mile (3,526 residents)
--- #2 lowest density county in state, #29 nationwide

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Vacaypicts // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Harding County

- Rural area: 100.0% (2,125 square miles)
- Urban area: 0.0% (0 square miles)
- Total land area: 2,125 square miles
--- #27 largest county in state, #261 nationwide

- Population density: 0.2 people / square mile (441 residents)
--- #1 lowest density county in state, #7 nationwide

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