Where the Mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail turned southward toward Fort Union laid the town of Cimarron. The ‘Old Town’ portion remains featuring the St.James Hotel, Aztec Mill, Immaculate Conception Chapel, a saloon, a plaza, some homes, and a few businesses.
The hotel was built during pioneer days, and still operates. The stone mill too was established early on and produced flour for the town, the trail, and the area’s Apache natives. Cimarron was the headquarters for managing the huge Maxwell Land Grant that covered most of northeast New Mexico.
In the surrounding area was the famed Philmont Boy Scout Ranch and museum, the summer home of oilman Waite Phillips, a settlement built by Kit Carson, a display explaining the Santa Fe Trail, and of course the Cimarron River flowing out of the canyon. All would be worth a visit on another occasion.
(Ute Park NM)
Going west from town the road followed the river up into Cimarron Canyon. I found a campsite right next to the river and stayed a few days. The camp was in a place where the river divided into two streams and then rejoined forming an island. It was very popular with many fishermen coming from Colorado and Texas.
Upon leaving, I stopped to see the Palisades featuring 400ft high granite cliffs along the river and next to a picnic area. Continuing on, I hiked up the mountain following a creek looking for a waterfall. And, also checked on another campground further along.
Cimarron Canyon was a beautiful place, with the highway ascending up about 2,000ft from the town of Cimarron to the cute mountain village of Eagle Nest. Many pretty pull-outs along the way with fishing spots and hiking trails into the mountains.
Camp: Cimarron Canyon SP-Maverick CG drycamp
Scene: Old town, river, mountains, cliffs, trails