Not much more than the proverbial "wide spot in the road", but with quite a bit more personality than what that conjures up, is Cimarron, New Mexico. Smack dab on the Santa Fe Trail, between Raton, NM and our destination point of Taos, this little "village" (1.9 sq. miles) of about 800 residents (obviously living on the outskirts of town) proved to be a charming and scenic place to stretch travel weary legs and backs.
Travelling into the heart of town (one of those "let's take a look-see" ideas), we were greeted with the sight of a smiling cowboy perched atop a stagecoach pulled by a pair of beautiful draft horses. We watched as the three of them maneuvered this massive vehicle just as slick as they would have parallel parked a Prius. Evidently interrupting a publicity photo shoot, I was very graciously invited to snap a few photos of my own that day. That smiling cowboy then proceeded to offer up a stagecoach ride around the small center of town - I have a feeling most that live there are probably just as charming - we turned down the offer, but thanked him kindly. TRULY small town, ever-enchanting America.
Once home to Apache and Ute Indians, Cimarron became the hub of a vast mining and ranching empire in the mid to late 19th century, thanks in part to it's location on the Santa Fe Trail. In addition to the rich Native American heritage, Spanish settlers, homesteaders, trappers, traders, and many other colorful characters made this beautiful area their home - among them, Kit Carson. And who could resist a town with a plaster tepee house - the type you only ever saw in 1950's travel brochures of the southwest?!VISIT CIMARRON, NEW MEXICO! On our way out of town, we pulled over to marvel at the size of an elk herd, grazing in a meadow across from the main drag.
Five miles to the south of Cimarron, sits the PHILMONT SCOUT RANCH, the Boy Scouts of America's largest national High Adventure Base. 15 miles west of town, on down Highway 64, you enter the Cimarron Canyon State Park - fish the Cimarron River, hike, view wildlife, camp, picnic, or just stretch your legs - lots of leg stretching going on that day. The Palisades are also located in the Park - 400 feet high crenellated (meaning 1. Having battlements; and/or 2. Indented; notched...definitely our word for the day, that day - and a few that followed) granite formations naturally created 1.5 million years ago.
Through the canyon, and atop a beautiful, peaceful mountain range in Angel Fire, NM, sits the VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL. The Memorial was established in 1968 by Victor and Jeanne Westphall to honor their son, Lt. David Westphall, who was killed in Vietnam in May of 1968. When it opened in 1971, it was one of the first Memorials of its kind in the United States, dedicated to Vietnam Veterans. Until recently, it was funded and maintained by the David Westphall Veterans Foundation. The Memorial was formally transferred to New Mexico State Parks in 2005, making it the state's 33rd park. Now it is the only state park in the U.S. dedicated solely as a Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
The park provides a memorial to veterans, and a Visitors Center that serve as a place for reunion, reflection, healing, and sharing of experiences...we passed more than one group of motorcycle riding veterans pulling in as we were exiting that day. The surrounding vistas from the park are as hauntingly breathtaking as the park itself is - certainly a worthwhile place to stop and give thanks for our men and women in uniform...those who have gone before, and those who choose to serve for our freedoms, today.
Next Travel Tuesday - TAOS!