I discovered another circular trip we could take so once again we packed up the dogs and set off. This time we went to Cimarron, turned right at the St. James Hotel sign to go by the St. James Hotel and then continued on that road which is NM 21. We would curve around and go to Springer, which is on I-25, go north on I-25 for just a few miles and then take NM 58 back to Cimarron. This would take us past the Philmont Scout Ranch, the Express UU Bar Ranch, the CS Cattle Company Ranch and the Vermejo Park Ranch.
As we left Eagle Nest, we started up the mountain. Within a few miles we entered Cimarron Canyon State Park, which is on either side of the road and includes the Cimarron River which starts at Eagle Nest Lake. The park is eight miles long.
We went by the Palisades, an area of high rock bluffs.
The Cimarron River runs at the base of the rocks. This river is called the "Wet Cimarron" as it constantly has water in it from Eagle Nest Lake. It runs into the Canadian River at Springer, about 60 miles away. This is the South Canadian River that runs through south Oklahoma City!
At Cimarron, we turned right at the St. James Hotel sign to catch NM 21. Cimarron has some fascinating history, especially surrounding some of the outlaws. Click on the highlighted word to read about Cimarron at Legends of America. Somehow I never pictured New Mexico as being a major part of the old wild west. However Cimarron was one of the roughest, toughest towns of the west.
Here is a quote from Legends of America:
"In 1866, a year after the Civil War ended, gold was discovered on Baldy Peak, and the area filled with miners in search of their fortunes. Between the miners and the travelers along the mountain branch of the Sante Fe Trail, Cimarron quickly became a boom town, boasting 16 saloons, 4 hotels and numerous trading stores. The burgeoning city also gained a reputation for lawlessness with bullets flying freely."
Cimarron was the county seat of Colfax County beginning in 1872, when it replaced Elizabethtown. At that time Cimarron was a stage stop on the Mountain Branch of the Sante Fe Trail. In 1881, the county seat was moved to Springer, a town on the Atcheson, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad. It was during this time that Lucien Maxwell sold the Maxwell Land Grant to a group of investors, with the resultant Colfax County War in which more than two hundred persons were killed.
Heading south out of Cimarron on NM 21, on the left are the mountains and on the right all you see are miles of rolling plains. This is truly where the plains meet the Rockies.
Soon we were driving through the Philmont Scout Ranch.
As we turned east, we were driving through wide open ranch land with a view of mesas and plateaus in the distance.
Now we began to see lots of pronghorn antelope in the fields.
We passed the gates for the Express UU Bar Ranch. There were some gorgeous ponds on the ranch that we could see from the road.
Miles of wide open spaces... am I in Kansas, Toto???
We stopped in Springer to explore the town. Found an old fashioned soda fountain in their downtown drug store. Ice cream time!
Then we headed back west toward the mountains.
We went by signs for the Vermejo Park Ranch and saw some of Ted Turner's buffalo grazing in the fields. Made us realize just how big his ranch is since we also drove past it outside of Raton.
On the way back through the Cimarron Canyon State Park, we stopped to investigate some of the beaver ponds that the beavers built on the Cimarron River.
Once again, a fun day!