Paying Homage to Movie Icon Dennis Hopper

Written by on January 9, 2018 in NM Attractions - Comments Off on Paying Homage to Movie Icon Dennis Hopper

Sometimes travelers or cemetery seekers enjoy pursuing unknown oddities and go on a spiritual quest to locate the grave site of a person of history or a popular celebrity of the past. On an excursion to the northern New Mexico area, the final resting place of actor/director Dennis Hopper was on the “must see” list.

Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) was the co-star of the iconic “Easy Rider” filmed in 1969. Hopper, who played “Billy” in the movie first came to New Mexico to scout locations for the film. He fell in love with the colorful, quaint area and resided in Taos for several years.

After passing by several “Easy Rider” film locations in recent months, including the Route 66 ‘Old Trails Bridge’ at the California/Arizona border, and the old jailhouse in downtown Las Vegas, New Mexico, all minds were set on paying homage to his gravesite at the Jesus Nazareno Cemetery in Rancho de Taos, New Mexico.

Dennis Hopper died of prostate cancer in May of 2010. He was merely 74 years old. He was a man with simple needs and requested a simple funeral service and a plain wooden coffin. His family and longtime friends such as Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson, and Val Kilmer attended the services. His gravesite is a simple Indian burial mound of rocks and stones topped by a simple carved wooden marker.

“Death only closes a man’s reputation and determines it as good or bad.” (Quote from the movie “Easy Rider.”)

The secluded Jesus Nazareno Cemetery can be a little difficult to locate, but it can be found using a good GPS system. From Espanola, take New Mexico highway 68 north to the rural community of Ranchos de Taos, turn right on New Mexico 518, look for Espinoza Road in less than one mile and then make a left turn. The cemetery is on the left side of the road (sometimes identified as La Canada Road) and is next to a brown building. Drive to the end of the cemetery dirt road and park. You will find Hopper’s grave close to the parking area.

Jesus Nazareno Cemetery
Latitude: 36.3603, Longitude: -105.5985
Rancho De Taos, New Mexico
Taos County

About the Author

Debe Branning has been the director of the MVD Ghostchasers--a Mesa/Bisbee, AZ based paranormal team since 1994. The team conducts investigations of haunted, historical locations throughout Arizona and has offered paranormal workshop/investigations since 2002. Debe has been a guest lecturer at Ottawa University, Central Arizona College, Arizona State University, Scottsdale Community College, and South Mountain Community College. She has been a speaker at science fiction conventions such as Phoenix ComiCon, CopperCon, FiestaCon, HauntedCon and AZParacon. Debe has been the guest speaker at many historical societies and libraries talking about historic/haunted Arizona. She has appeared in an episode of “Streets of Fear” for FearNet.com which aired October 2009 and on an episode of TRAVEL CHANNEL'S "Ghost Stories" about haunted Jerome, Arizona in July 2010. She recently appeared as an extra in the 2017 horror movie “The Covenant”. She enjoys assisting in the research field for various Travel Channel TV shows such as ‘Ghost Stories’, ‘Haunted Highway’, and ‘Deadly Possessions’ and MTV’s ‘Fear’. She has traveled, toured and investigated at haunted locations across the United States, England, Scotland, Ireland and Mexico. Debe is the author of “Sleeping With Ghosts-A Ghost Hunter’s Guide to AZ’s Haunted Hotels and Inns” (2004), "Grand Canyon Ghost Stories" (2012), "The Graveyard Shift--Arizona's Historic and Haunted Cemeteries" (2012), "Dining With the Dead--Arizona's Historic and Haunted Restaurants and Cafes" (2017) and a series of three children's books, "The Adventures of Chickolet Pigolet: 1. “The Bribe of Frankenbeans" ----2. "Murmur on the Oink Express" ----3. "You Ought to be in Pig-tures". For 7 years Debe penned 3 columns for Examiner.com titled: “Phoenix Travel Adventures,” “Arizona Haunted Sites” and "Haunted Places" so travelers could know where they might find a ghost or two when they visited Arizona and the United States. She was the Managing Editor of “Paranormal Investigator Magazine.” As a paranormal travel writer, Debe traveled to Europe to cover haunted castles, jails, ships, inns, cemeteries and ghost walking tours. She has been the guest of several US tourism departments such as Carlsbad, Historic Hotels of the Rockies, Salem, and Biloxi. Debe is a preservation activist with a special interest in preserving historic cemeteries. She is on the board of directors of the Pioneers' Cemetery Association and the Arizona Genealogical Advisory Board. She is also one of the co-hosts of the Association of Gravestones Studies in Arizona.

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