Established in the 1800s, irrigation has made agriculture the major industry. Peanuts are a leading crop along with cotton, wheat, corn, milo, hay and potatoes. The dairy industry is also a part of the local economy. Cannon Air Force Base is located fifteen miles north of the city.
The third largest university in the state, Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is located on a 400 acre campus in the southwestern quarter of Portales. The almost 4,000 students come from the region, all 50 states and 16 foreign countries. Many Cannon Air Force personnel partake in the broad curricula of the classes. Blackwater Draw Museum, under the auspices of the University and seven miles northeast of Portales, features artifacts and mastodon skeletons found in the archeological digs at the Blackwater Site, located ten miles from the Museum on State Highway 467.
Portales is on U. S. Highway 70 where State Highways 88, 167 and 235 converge. The 12,000 people who live there enjoy the 4,000 foot elevation and sunny, mild climate of 58 degree average temperature and rainfall of 18 1/4 inches per year.
The annual Peanut Valley Festival brings visitors to the city, as does its Living History Pageant. The College of Fine Arts at ENMU presents many musical and dramatic programs. A symphony orchestra provides additional culture.
Recreational activities include swimming, tennis, golf, baseball, softball, rodeos, bowling and hunting. Oasis State Park, just a short distance outside the city on State Highway 467, offers fishing, hiking, picnicking, camping and play in the sand dunes.
Portales is located 18 miles from the Texas border, 19 miles from Clovis, 90 miles from Roswell and 165 miles from the mountain community of Ruidoso, places to explore when adventure calls.