After our time at Sugarite Canyon State Park was up, we headed west of Raton, NM down a long stretch of arid scenery that gradually evolved into the town of Cimarron, NM which lies at the foothills of Cimarron State Park. Other than a gas stop Cimarron didn’t hold much of an interest for us so turning north, we gradually but quickly found ourselves winding along canyon walls, following the Cimarron River. There are about five campsites scattered along the river but all were either too close to the road for our liking or were small and crowded. We elected to keep going through the Cimarron Canyon, up, over and through the pass and down the other side to Eagle Nest, NM.
Eagle Nest is a touristy town pretty much dependent on summer vacationers, campers and fishermen. Just a couple miles beyond the village sits Eagle Nest State Park and that is where we parked ourselves for the next 2 weeks.
The campground has 19 sites and we were fortunate enough to find a “first come, first served” site that sat along the shoreline of Eagle Nest Lake. All of the sites at this campground are primitive sites, meaning that there is not any electric, no wifi or internet service, no showers, dump, or on-site water. There is water when you first pull into the park, so we filled our tank before setting up at site number 14. Before you jump to conclusions; no, we did not go 2 weeks without a shower. A nearby RV park offers showers to the public for $5 so we took advantage of that. As for the electric, our Lazy Daze is set up with 2 solar panels that keep our batteries pretty well charged and that enables us to burn a few lights in the evenings before bedtime.
The campground is filled… actually “infiltrated”…. by Prairie Dogs. They were everywhere! We’d sit outside in the cool of the afternoon and watch them run about, chittering, chattering and barking at each other. They never bothered the RV that we’re aware of or any of the other RVs that sat near us, but once an RV pulled out of it’s site the Prairie Dogs would scamper over to investigate, probably seeing if any type of morsels had been left behind.
Speaking of the wildlife, I never did see an Eagle during our stay but I did see scores of white Pelicans. Yep, Pelicans. I’m still scratching my head over that one. Never knew of Pelicans in the mountains.
One thing that was really neat about the campground was the panoramic views that surrounded us. We had a 360 degree view of the valley with mountains all around us. It was so cool to watch the way the sunlight changed how the mountains looked as it rose and sat each day.
The day after we arrived, our friends Will, Karen and Maggie showed up to spend a couple of days with us.
They were on their way back home to Arizona after spending a month or so visiting friends and relatives as far east as Ohio and south as Tennessee, traveling in their new Class A RV. It’s beautiful and oh so roomy! The four of us (Maggie stayed home) toured the Vietnam Veteran War Memorial and had a so-so dinner at Zeb’s in Angel Fire.
Angel Fire is south of Eagle Nest, about 10 or 11 miles away. It to is a touristy town but they are more dependent on the winter vacationers who flock to the village to ski. We actually preferred Angel Fire over Eagle Nest as it had more to offer; Wi-Fi connections (YEY!), a grocery store, a laundromat, better restaurants and more things to see and do. I took a 2 hour, $10 Fly Fishing lesson that I enjoyed and actually learned a few things from and Barbara and I rode the Ski Lift up to the top of the mountain and did a little hiking while up there. Have I mentioned before how thin the air is in Northern New Mexico?? GASP!
That first drop down is a doozie!
Atop of the mountain looking down on Angel Fire
That's Eagle Nest way off in the distance
I managed to catch some trout, adding to my dinner count, during our two week stay. I caught one on a fly rod while fishing the Cimarron River and then caught four more on spinning tackle at Camp Maverick, which is one of the campsites that we by-passed.
I tried several times to catch fish from Eagle Nest Lake but didn’t have any luck doing so. Most people who were catching fish were out on boats, trolling the deep waters. Oh well, maybe in September if we travel back for another stay.
Barbara and I made two hikes up Carson National Forest, each being about a 3 mile round trip. On our first hike, we came across a hen Grouse that was just kind of strutting around, crossing the path in front of us and stirring around on the right side. It didn’t take long to see why she didn’t flush; her babies were on the left side of the trail in the underbrush and mom was trying to pull us away from them. That was pretty cool and of course, I didn’t have my camera. Carrying a backpack with plenty of liquids for the hike, I elected NOT to carry the camera as well. See what happens when ya don’t? When we got about halfway up, it begin getting cold, windy and rainy so we turned around to head back. Along the way we began hearing the sound of Elk bugling on the mountainside that was facing us. We slowed our pace and began looking across the ravine to the other side. Eventually, we caught sight of two Elk working their way along the mountainside. Pretty cool to see them and hear their bugling!
The second hike was much more strenuous but was well worth the effort as the scenery was awesome. There’s just something special about those unexpected high mountain valleys; you’re hiking up a rough mountain trail and suddenly break out of the dense forest to come upon a huge field of greenery, flowers, butterflies, blue skies and ponds. Awesome! About the only “wildlife” that we encountered was on our way out. Two guys on dirt bikes followed by their wives on an ATV were coming up the same trail we were heading down. Vehicles are NOT ALLOWED on that trail but they didn’t seem to care. Kind of ruined a nice peaceful hike in the wilderness for us.
We spent our 4th of July at home in Eagle Nest Campground. The village was having a huge celebration, but with an expected crowd of over 20,000, we elected to sit outside the camper and watch the fireworks from the comfort of our campsite. I took lots of photos of the firework display and then we turned in for the evening.
The village of Eagle Nest at night, across the lake
With our fresh water tank running low and our grey and black tanks running to near capacity, we packed up and headed out of Eagle Nest and off to our next stop. One with electricity… and water…. and a dump station… and Wi-Fi… and ahhhhh….. a free shower house! Life is good.