Ghost Stories: Albuquerque’s Desert Sands Motel

Built back in the 1950’s on iconic Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Desert Sands Motel was a popular overnight stopover for travelers for many years. As time passed and as interstate highways diverted drivers from old US highways such as Route 66, motels along with so many other businesses began a long and painful decline. Such was the case with the Desert Sands, which became first a super low priced discount establishment catering to strangling travelers who needed a night’s sleep but could afford only a minimal charge, and then became long-term residential housing, filled with “tenants” who could ill afford the longer term costs, and credit checks, of apartment living. And along the way, perhaps some other elements also took up residence at the Desert Sands?

Various accounts have circulated from a stay at the motel in February of 2001, where two young women, aged 19 and 20, spent an unforgettable night. On their way to Phoenix, they needed a cheap place to stay for one night, and room 109 of the Desert Sands fit the bill.

The ladies recounted, however, how upon entering the room and attempting to settle in for the evening, their peace and serenity was disturbed by the television, and they did not mean by the quality of local programming. No, what there were referring to was the TV

Ghost Stories: Albuquerque’s Desert Sands Motel
turning on by itself. Over and over again. Then the channels began changing, from one to another, back and forth, up and down. And then the sound would get louder and louder and softer and softer, and louder and louder. So, they did the sane and rational thing - they unplugged the television and ran out and sat in their car, which had been parked right outside the door of room 109.

After awhile, they figured it was time to see what was going on, and they returned to the room, where they saw that the TV was plugged back in to the outlet. And then it came back on again and the room lights began to flicker - four separate lamps in different parts of the room.
Did I mention that they said that they also felt, throughout this ordeal, the they were being watched?

Eventually, they decided to try to get some sleep, but when closing their eyes, the lights and TV would start up again, and after a while they heard noises coming from the bathroom, noises that one of the ladies thought reminiscent of the sound of a rabid dog she had heard as a child.

They slept in the car that night.

But, in the morning, thinking that nothing bad ever happens in daylight, they went back to the room, with the thoughts of showering. Good idea or bad idea? Bad idea.

They decided one of them would shower first, with the other guarding the open bathroom door. A minute or two into her shower, the younger of the two women ran from the bathroom, naked and screaming. It seems that her shampoo bottle, that she had placed on the
shower floor, and hit her in the head, and she had the welt to prove it. Thinking that this was a bit hard to accept, even given the events of the past several hours, the older one decided to test the shower herself. Another great idea.

Her shower experience, while different, was perhaps even more scary - she felt her long hair
Ghost Stories: Albuquerque’s Desert Sands Motel
being twisted and pulled, and hard enough for a few hairs to be ripped from her scalp. She also ran from the bathroom, naked and screaming. Stopping only to pull on her clothes, she and her roomie then ran to the car and never looked back as they raced out of Albuquerque and out of New Mexico.

But the story of the Desert Sands Motel does not end there.

While no actual ghost sightings have been reported at the Desert Sands, and while no additional paranormal activities have been described, other recent events give pause to those who believe in spirits and ghosts and the like. This past year, not one, not two, but there separate fires have occurred at the Desert Sands. The easy explanation is of course, as the model continues in decline, that mentally disturbed or just plain unsatisfied customers have taken out their frustrations on the building, with a match here and some gasoline there. Or, the owners, unable to keep up the good name of the establishment, just might have sought to take matters into their own hands, and rid themselves of the burden of keeping the Desert Sands an ongoing business. But three fires in only a few months? Do ghosts set things on fire?

This past week, following the third fire, the City of Albuquerque has stepped in, and their Safe City Task Force has taken control of the property. They have given the owner until the first of October to demolish the property or begin rebuilding the damaged motel. If no action is taken by then, they can begin the demolition process, at the owner’s expense, or even bring criminal charges.

So, if the Desert Sands Motel is demolished, to where will its haunted spirits turn - which Albuquerque property will they next call home?

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