Friday, June 12, 2015

Angel Fire: Day 3 of An Enchanting RVing Destination

When Evin and I left Angel Fire RV Resort this morning we had no idea that our PATHS would cross with two really special new friends. This post should most probably be renamed:


"Ford Escape - Porsche Caravan"

We headed east on Hwy 64 from Angel Fire through Eagle Nest and Cimarron Canyon State Park to the Historic Old West town of Cimarron. It is only 35 miles but plan close to an hour to get to the Cimarron Visitor Center. The speed limit through scenic Cimarron Canyon State Park is 35 mph and there are several pull-offs that you will want to stop at to take in the beauty.

Our first stop during the morning would be the Chase Ranch which is several miles east of Cimarron on State Road 204. When you leave Cimarron you will cross Ponil Creek and the next left is State Road 204, a dirt ranch road. There will be a sign noting Baker Wildlife Area. Go two and 6/10 miles and the Chase Ranch House is on your left.

The Chase Ranch was founded in 1867 and is famous for its heart-shaped brand and allegedly the Marlboro Man's place of origin. The Chase Ranch remained a family-owned ranch run by Chase descendents till August 2012.

Of course, I had to take a few shots in the gardens...

Customarily, when Evin and I go to a new town or state we stop at the Visitor Center. By the time we left Chase Ranch, Cimarron's Visitor Center was closed for lunch. As we were leaving a white Porsche drove up and I tell the lady passenger that it is closed till 2. She says they were just looking for a recommendation of a good place to eat and she asked if there was any thing they should see on their way to Taos. 

 Cimarron's closed Visitor Center

I just couldn't resist taking this shot on the Visitor Center's porch.

I suggested to Dave and Ann that they go to the historic St. James Hotel for lunch and tour and encouraged them to also take the tour of the Villa at the Philmont Scout Ranch. I also suggested they visit the Old Aztec Mill and the Kit Carson museums. The Old Aztec Mill Museum is a half block down form the St. James Hotel and a couple hundred yards after you turn left on West 17th Street. Call ahead (575) 376-2417 to see if the museum is open.

There is a walking tour of Old Cimarron and the Visitor Center and most local business have a free map and brochure to use. There are brass markers at each of the 14 sites on the tour. The St. James Hotel is a go place to start the walking tour.

I gave Dave and Ann directions to the St. James and explained to them that we were trying out a different Cimarron restaurant for the work I was doing on the blog. I called about reservations for the tour at Villa Philmonte (575-376-1136) and we offered to meet them at the St. James and guide them on a tour of the area. 

Historic Express St. James Hotel & Restaurant
617 S. Collison Ave.
Cimarron, NM

First built in 1872, the St, James was visited by many famous lawmen and notorious outlaws. It was the scene of many murders. Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley are just a few of the colorful figures that stayed in the hotel on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. It has been restored to its original glory and several of the rooms with period furnishings are open to the public to view. The restaurant is an excellent place to eat. I especially like to eat in the bar where you can still see over twenty bullet holes in the ceiling. The St. James has an excellent website.

Lobby and a bedroom at the St. James Hotel.

To see the bedrooms go through the swinging doors shown in the second lobby photo. I suggest eating in the bar or outside in the courtyard. Take time to take in all the Western art in the restaurant and hotel. The staff is very accommodating.

Old Aztec Mill Museum

Walk around town, there were beautiful blooming cacti everywhere. Walk around outside of the St. James go around the block and look for the Old Jail. There is a neat antique shop across the street from the St. James as you turn to go to the Old Aztec Mill.

Above is the Cimarron's old jail. There is a self-guided walking tour of Old Cimarron and there are brass plaques mounted on stone pillars that guide the way and provide information.

Four miles south of the St. James is Philmont Scout Ranch. A "must see" is Villa Philmonte which is open for tours except during the winter months. Call the Philmont Museum (575) 376-1136 for dates and times. You go to the Philmont Museum to get a reservation voucher for the tour of the Villa. The museum is south of the Villa, so you will pass the Villa first. Both are on your left if you are driving south on Hwy 21 from Hwy 64.

Philmont Museum

Flowers were just blooming at the museum.

Villa Philmonte

I just couldn't resist taking several close-ups of a rose and the columbine. They were everywhere at Villa Philmonte.

Ann & Dave with "Coco"

The gazebo behind Ann and Dave is where tourist meet to start the Villa tour. Villa Philmonte inside and out is in many ways as it was during the time of Waite and Genevieve Phillips.

A view of the Philmont Scout Ranch.

 Above Evin captures a trophy pronghorn checking us out..

Below, she snaps a shot as the horses pose in front of a breathtaking backdrop.

Pronghorns, horses, wildflowers and beautiful views were around almost every corner as our caravan proceeded south of Hwy 21 toward Rayado. It is as special of a scenic drive that we have taken during our travels and for best photo results it should be seen in the morning or before 2 PM. 

It is easy to understand why Waite Phillips, who could have bought and settled most anywhere, chose Cimarron along the Original Santa Fe Trail (now Hwy 21). The Boy Scouts of America have been great stewards of the Phillips' gift. The 1,000,000th Boy Scout recently enjoyed a challenging and educational adventure at the ranch.

Kit Carson Museum at Rayado

We did a quick tour of the Kit Carson Museum at Rayado which is approximately 7 miles south of the Philmont Museum on Hwy 21. The staff dress in period clothing and demonstrate frontier skills and crafts. Summer hours are 8 AM to 5 PM daily. Admission is free.

Ann, Dave, Evin and I headed toward Angel Fire and needless to say, we were very hungry, but, as dark approached, we stopped three times on the side of Hwy 64. 

First, we stopped and met an Eagle Nest fishing guide, Ira, doing what else, fly fishing. Dave is a trout fisherman and we are all amazed at Ira's skill with a fly rod in the wind. Ira and I agreed to meet later for a possible fly fishing photo shoot. Ira guides for Eagle Nest Fly Shack, (505) 974-9169.


Next, we stopped to take in the view toward Angel Fire as we approached Eagle Nest Lake.

Dave and Ann wanted to check-in at the Angel Fire Resort Lodge before going to dinner. As we approached our turn for dinner this lone coyote crossed the road in front of us.

We discussed our dining options. Evin and I had just had a wonderful meal at Elements at the Country Club at Angel Fire Resort which is open to the public. The PUB 'n grub also came highly recommended by everyone I have talked to in Angel Fire and the surrounding area. It won out because tonight's special appealed to us all and was a bargain we felt we couldn't pass up.

The above "smiley face" is a Scotch Egg.
The Scotch Egg is made from homemade green chile sausage wrapped around a hard boiled egg, breaded and fried, served with their house made mustard. Very, very good!!

Fish Tacos
I had never eaten a fish taco because I have to have good tartar sauce when I eat fish. Shelley, the owner (along with her husband Steve and their daughter Kelley and son-in-law Jarred), convinced me to give their fish tacos a try. Shelley brought me an extra helping of homemade tartar sauce. Since I started this blog post, Evin and I have returned for more of the great food at the PUB 'n grub and we have taken several RVers from Angel Fire RV Resort with us. Can hardly wait to go again.

Rib-eye Steak

Thursday night is "rib-eye steak special" at the PUB 'n grub. The place was packed, a sign of really good food. We saw several locals that Evin and I knew, most enjoying the special.

Evin and I split the homemade blackberry rhubarb cobbler with ice cream. Outstanding!! 

Did Dave, Ann, Evin and I ever have a full afternoon of fun and interesting sights. We topped off our day with dinner at the PUB 'n grub. Shelley, Steve and Jarred really know how to serve outstanding food and beverages. Their waitstaff is top notch.

Dave & Ann were perfect strangers to us when, by chance, we met at the closed Cimarron Visitor Center. We spent the entire afternoon together and they spent their night at Angel Fire Resort's Lodge. They never made it to Taos on Thursday. Dave said that despite all the pre-vacation planning Ann did, that today was the best day of their vacation. Had we not met, they would have gone on to Taos never knowing what was down Hwy 21 in Cimarron. Evin and I are thankful that our PATHS crossed.

Come stay at Angel Fire RV Resort or the Lodge and don't fail to spend a full day in Cimarron. It is only 45 minutes away. The 1800's and the 1930's will come alive. When you come back to the present day, enjoy Angel Fire. There are great places to share dinner and drinks with old and new friends.

Evin and I will fondly remember this day with Dave and Ann. Above, as we anxiously await our steaks, the four of us toast a wonderful day with new friends!!

Looking north from Angel Fire RV Resort's entrance at dusk, our third stop on Hwy 64.

Had Evin and I gotten up and out early enough we could have gone to the NRA Whittington Center which is 30 miles east on Hwy 64 from Cimarron. Heading east the entrance will be on your left. It is a very scenic drive and the Center is well worth the 30 extra miles. They offer diverse indoor and outdoor activities for the sports and shooting enthusiast.

NRA Whittington Center
Raton, New Mexico

A tribute to Charlton Heston, five-term president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003. 

Don't miss the firearms museum and their well stocked hunting apparel and accessories store...

Another tribute to one of my childhood Hollywood Heroes, George Montgomery.

Again, I encourage you to set out early when you take this day trip from Angel Fire RV Resort. There is so much to see and you can count on a fun-filled and entertaining day.

Day 4 will spent in Angel Fire where there is much more to see, enjoy and taste. Much more than we can possibly do in one day.



  1. your indoor shots of lobby, hotel, furnishings are scrumptious! scrumdillicious! I love your blog's mix -- food, travel destinations,scenic posters, outdoor views, neat people, accurate body copy giving history and details. Steve, your work is just beyond delightful and makes the reader want to follow exactly in your footsteps. I wish you could get paid for this. Some bloggers get big followings and then they get ads along the side.

    1. Thank you. I appreciate similar blogs because they help me not miss "must sees" when I travel to new areas. I am just trying to pay in forward.

  2. Well Steve, your posts about New Mexico have rekindled my interest in a state that I had just about given up on. Although we loved Santa Fe and Taos, so much of NM is so depressed that I'm tempted to avoid it. So thanks for renewing my faith in NM. You seem to find all the best things about a place. Loved what you shared about Cimarron.

    1. Thank you. Hard to believe how many people travel on U.S. Hwy 64 and zip through Cimarron and not have a clue lies down N.M. Hwy 21 South. Once I found it I lost a lot of sleep doing the post so others would miss those wonderful sites one can see in just 11 miles.

      Would you believe I have reached out to some of the managers of the places I promote and they will not ever acknowledge my existence!?!? One of the business I have sent over 20 new customers from the RV Resort.