(nr Piños Altos NM)
The Ben Lilly Memorial plaque can be found on an impressive rock pile a few miles north of town; placed there by friends and admirers. Famous as the last mountain man, he was a prolific hunter of mountain lions, grizzly and black bears.
It’s estimated he killed up to 1,000 cougars. At the time, that was considered commendable by ranchers, settlers, and forest-men. His favorite hunting weapon was a homemade Bowie knife. Yep, he would attack a lion or bear and kill it with the knife. He was pretty good at it, too.
He also used a Winchester .30-30 or .33 rifle, hunting from northern Mexico to Montana, but eventually settled in the area now called the Gila Wilderness in southwest New Mexico. Sometimes, he was a guide for wealthy hunters such as Teddy Roosevelt.
In his later years, he sent plant and wildlife specimens to the Smithsonian Institution. He considered owning property a handicap, so preferred living in the wilderness. Interesting fellow.
Camp: City of Rocks SP drycamp
Scene: Rock formation, memorial