Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado is said to have settled the quaint village of Puerto de Luna, 10 mi south of Santa Rosa on NM 91, back in 1541, and the area has been a crossroads of settlers, travelers, and the railroad ever since. The bypassing of Santa Rosa, when Route 66 was replaced by I–40, has clearly impacted the town, although it maintains more vitality and economic activity than many of the towns along the route in this part of the state. There
is a real pride among Santa Rosa's residents, and traditions of the town's deep Hispanic roots are still apparent.
Santa Rosa, United States