Union County, located in the northeastern corner of New Mexico, covers 3,817 square miles. The majority of the county has broad rolling grasslands which allows visibility of up to 50 miles. The northwest portion is dotted with dormant volcanic cones and mountains. Elevation ranges from 4,440 feet tin the southeast corner to 8,732 feet at the top of Sierra Grande Mountain in the northwest.
The principal industry in the county is agriculture. Union County produces almost twice as many cattle as any other county in New Mexico. Some 1,884,278 acres are used to produce cattle and other livestock. Five feedlots in the county have a maximum capacity of 70,300 head of cattle. There are 60,476 acres of irrigated cropland and 66,506 acres of dryland farming. Farmland raises corn, grain sorghum, wheat, alfalfa, and potatoes. Tourism and carbon dioxide production are other industries.
U.S. Highways 56/ 412, 64, 87 and State Highway 402 intersect in Clayton, the county seat. The five-state location utilizes tourism as a prime industry. Union County’s eastern and southern areas have rich farming soil which produces corn, wheat and sorghum rains, mostly by irrigation. Union county is noted as beef ranching country with vast rangeland and several cattle feedlots; sheep, swine and quarter horses are also raised here. It is also the home of the Bravo Dome Carbon dioxide field, the world’s largest and purest known natural deposit of CO2 gas.
Slightly over half, or 2484 Union County residents, name Clayton as “home”, and the rest of the population lives in outlying areas of the county. Students enrolled in the Clayton schools travel by bus up to 65 miles one-way to arrive at school, and come from as far away as ranches on the Oklahoma border, since Clayton is closer than their nearest Oklahoma school system.
Clayton sits a few miles south of Rabbit Ear Mountain at an altitude of 5,050 feet. This famous mountain heralded the beginning of the Rocky Mountains for Santa Fe Trail wagon train travelers. A wide variety of goods and services are available in Clayton. Services range from motels, and restaurants, to welding shops, auto repair, hospital, medical offices, office supply, builder’s supply, hardware, and a good deal more. We have many ranch related businesses as well as a variety of retail merchants. While we have some branded businesses, almost all are family owned, independent businesses.
The climate in the Clayton area is mild with wide daily fluctuations. Because of our elevation, the daytime highs and lows usually vary by twenty to thirty degrees F. Summer highs average 74.5 degrees F. Winter lows average 33.2 degrees F. Average rainfall is 14 to 19 inches annually. With 75% of our days sunny, and humidity usually less than 50%, our climate can best be described as pleasant.
Clayton’s near neighbors include Texline, Texas, just 10 miles southeast (population 459); Boise City, Oklahoma, 45 miles northeast (population 1345); Springer, New Mexico, 82 miles southwest (population 1485); and the village of Des Moines, New Mexico, 45 miles northwest (population 177). The nearest metropolitan area is Amarillo, Texas, 120 miles southeast.
Northeast Corner of New Mexico
Clayton, NM – Union County Seat
Union County Roads
Class IV winds of New Mexico