Massive Abandoned Truck Stop, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Weary travelers passing through Southwestern New Mexico can no longer find respite in the tiny community of Road Forks. An oasis once stood at the intersection of I-10 and Highway 80, where you could pull off the freeway for fuel, lodging, and a hearty meal. The structures remain, but people no longer stop there, except to marvel at what has been left behind. 

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

After exploring the desolate town of Willcox, Arizona, I thought I'd seen enough abandoned places for one day. I was mistaken.

I happened upon a fantastic cluster of abandoned businesses purely by accident. Five miles after crossing into New Mexico from Arizona, I exited the freeway, and there they were in all their abandoned glory: a massive USA Gas Station, Road Forks Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel. I'd hit the jackpot. 

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

The only business in the vicinity that was still open was a little fireworks shop. 

A thick chain held the mini mart doors closed, so I pressed my camera against the glass and captured a few pictures.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

The fueling area was quite large with plenty of gas pumps in various states of disrepair. I imagine it was bustling with traffic in its heyday. 

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Shady Grove Restaurant was also sealed up tight. The windows were filthy, but I managed to get a few shots of the inside.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

In the back of the property a little car sat rusting.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

I'm not sure what the purpose of this contraption was.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

I can't say for certain when the USA Gas station / Road Forks Mini Mart / Shady Grove Restaurant closed, but this blogger mentions stopping at the mini mart for a cappuccino in November of 2010.

Directly across the street sits the abandoned Desert West Motel. The front door was wide open and nothing was locked, so I walked right in. 

Abandoned Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

The main building was a lot of fun to explore. The reception desk still had quite a few artifacts.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Furniture remained in the dining area.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

The syrup for the soda fountain hadn't even been removed.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

A bathroom contained holiday decorations, which is appropriate because I'm posting this on Christmas Eve :)

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

The back office still contained security equipment and files. 

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

There was also a large suite, where I assume the manager stayed. 

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Out back is a lovely courtyard featuring a pool collecting tumbleweed.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

The other buildings were mostly guest rooms, which were fairly trashed. It looked like some effort had been made to clean things up, or at least consolidate items in the unused guest rooms. 

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

The business license hanging in the lobby was valid through 2013, but I can't say for sure whether or not they stayed open until the end of the year.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

They must not have updated their reading material very often because the magazine rack in the lobby contained an issue of El Paso Magazine dated fall/winter 2011.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Oddly enough, the website for Desert West Motel is still up. According to the "About us" section:
The Desert West Motel and Starvin Marvin's Restaurant and Grill was open March 2009 under new management. We have newly remodeled rooms with amenities to include free hi-speed internet, microwave, fridge and a beautiful outdoor swimming pool.
The few reviews I found online were mostly negative, and the most recent was from 2013. Several guests said there were no other visitors at the time of their stay. Some also reported that the above mentioned Starvin Marvin's Restaurant was closed. With so few guests it must have been difficult for management to justify the cost of keeping the restaurant open.

It is sad to think about the shattered hopes the new management had for the place.

Abandoned USA Gas Station and truck stop, Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel in Road Forks, New Mexico

Thank you for reading, and please come back next week to see and hear about New Mexico's incredible Pueblo ruins and a few other more recently abandoned places.


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23 comments :

  1. I'm always struck with the sadness of these places that people pinned their hopes on. Must be extremely difficult--pouring your money into a place and then watching it all collapse around you.

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    1. So true. It must be devastating. I often wonder what the people are doing now and whether they went on to pursue other business ventures, or if they are still buried in debt and crushed by the trauma of disappointment.

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  2. I used to live there years ago when it was booming truckstop my dad had a shop there

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    1. Do you have any interesting stories from when you lived there? It must have changed quite a bit since then.

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  3. And I have a "vase" for a Person that used to live there. I was to hold it for her until she returned to Mesquite Texas. Have had it since 1988 and I have had not luck finding her, I wonder where the county seat is and then they might be able to locate her.

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    1. Any leads can be sent to wilsonperformanceparts@hotmail.com family or person will know the trucking company which no longer exists today.

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  4. Hey Jim, that little car is Renault Dauphine and it was the best-selling import car of 1959. They were pretty cheap and comfortable but very unreliable. In fact, so many of them were breaking down so often, that the manufacturer was apologizing for this whole model line a few years later. The glass bottle you see in its trunk (the engine sat in the back) is a brake fluid reservoir.
    Keep up the great job!

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  5. I used to stop there on my way to Texas in the mid to late '90s, but haven't been by there in years. I was stationed in Arizona at the time. Maybe the Love's truck stop in Lordsburg was too much competition. BTW, the motel still has an operating website.

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  6. I used to live in Road Forks with family who owned a portion of the truck stop, bar and motel. It was a fun place to live. I swam in that pool as a kid, hung out in the bar and worked shortly as a waitress. I still have a Shady Grove Restaurant Menu I saved. Inside the truck stop was an arcade, gift shop, salon (for a bit), shoe shine, post office, store in the back for truckers and of course the restaurant. I loved their salsa and chips and they had great corn bread. Last time I visited there back in 1999, I stayed at the Desert West. I had fond memories of that place. It was a bustling back in the 90's. I will miss you Road Forks.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your memories of Road Forks. I wish I could have seen it during its heyday. It sounds like such a nice place. I'm glad you held on to a menu from Shady Grove Restaurant. It's nice to know that you're helping to preserve its memory.

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  7. I've been there. I remember when it was still a functioning restaurant.

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    1. Nice! I would like to have seen it when it was still open.

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  8. I was stationed with the border patrol in the national guard that area 2006-7 timeframe. It was still open and doing a good business in those years. Oversize /permit loads may not take the interstate accross there to or from El Paso, so they have to detour down state route 80 thru the backwoods desert. So that's a natural stopping/ fueling point. Also at that time the deeming truck terminal in deming was still open and doing a good business.( halfway point between El Paso and Tucson supposedly) when the new petro travel plaza/ stopping center opened up just outside of deming, it put both of these older more traditional/ independent truck stops out of business.

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    1. Thanks for the info. I wasn't sure what might have caused this place to close. It's sad when big businesses come in and out-compete independent businesses.

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  9. I lived there from 1970-1973 the owners. Were the grahams i remember my brothers worked on the fuel. Side my parents worked in the restaurant

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    1. Cool! Thanks for sharing your memories.

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  10. It used to be a "goin' jessie" for a while. People would holler "Watch out the cow haulers are comin' in".
    Get 3 or 4 us together & it was a wild time in Shady Grove.

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    1. I'd never heard "goin' Jessie" before. What a fun expression :)

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  11. I stopped at this exit to visit the phantom fire work shop and immediately noticed the abandoned motel and is gas station. I love places like this. I wondered what the history of this place was and I googled the name and found this site. After reading the posts in here I was able to learn the history and read lovely stories about this place. Thank you all for the history and unforgettable memories you share with people like me. I do have one question: on my way back into new Mexico I wanted to roam around and maybe go into the motel and motel tavern to take pictures. Is this illegal to do and could I get in trouble if I entered the buildings. For some reason I feel connected with this place. Thank you for your time.

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  12. I lived and grew up in cotton city about 14 or so miles from road forks. I remember my mother worked at the restaurant as a waitress. Oh my the fun those waitresses had.. I remember Freda another lady waitress they all joked around it was constantly hopping back in the days. With the arcade game room, shoe shine, hair cuts, gift store, big place where it was a truckers dream to go buy everything it had anything they ever wanted, a radio shop and of course the wonderful restaurant. They had a bar across the road didnt ever seem it was empty either. Constant semis gasing up and convenience store there on site plus another store across the road. Semis and cars parked everywhere people sleeping or enjoying the views. Not far away is the beautiful mountains. Had a tire shop also... What a dream it would be to reopen it.... Love it back then.

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    1. Sounds like it was a great place very full of life. Thanks so much for sharing your memories!

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  13. Stopped there in April 2017 and took pictures outside, didn't take any inside. Nice to hear some of the history from people that were there when everything was still open.

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