Thursday, June 4, 2015

Angel Fire: Day 1 of An Enchanting RVing Destination

Evin, the PUPS and I began our full-time RVing adventures in late October 2011. Today, we find ourselves on a PATH to a destination that is now familiar to us - Angel Fire, New Mexico. 

We first came to Angel Fire in June, 2012 when we took the 83-mile scenic byway loop know as the Enchanted Circle from Taos. This is my fourth visit to the Angel Fire area. This time we stopped in the Visitor's Center and picked up a map so we could better plan our excursions.

Last year my WINs  friend Sherry shared with me that a new full services RV resort was being built in Angel Fire. The WINs group was boon docking (no hook-ups) at nearby Eagle Nest Lake State Park. Sherry advised that she had met Angel Fire Resort's CEO at an RV dealership in Albuquerque during the Balloon Festival. He was seeking comments from RVers about what amenities they would like to see in the new Angel Fire RV Resort that was currently under construction . He invited her to visit the RV Resort construction site and provide feedback after she told him that she would be in the area several weeks later. Sherry invited me to tag along. Being two full-time RVers, we welcomed the opportunity to provide our "two cents worth". 

I shared what I had seen with Evin and she wanted to visit Angel Fire RV Resort. During our week in the Rio Grande Gorge we decided to make the 37 mile trip to the resort. First, I drove into Angel Fire for Evin to see the Village...

...and then we went to the RV Resort as shown below.

Evin and I were impressed with the entrance to Angel Fire RV Resort. We met Jim Anderson, the RV Resort Manager, and he took us on a tour of the resort. Jim noted that the resort was open for business but that they were in the final phases of landscaping and construction. 

Call Jim at 575-377-4470 or for more information call toll free at 888-976-1541 or go online to 

Evin and I told Jim that we would possibly return to the resort as we saw it as an excellent place to use as a base for our planned Enchanted Circle excursion. I had stayed in three other RV parks in the Taos/Angel Fire area and none of them came close to offering the amenities that Angel Fire RV Resort offers. Last time out, we did the Enchanted Circle in one day. We learned at the Visitor's Center and online that we had missed a lot. 

So, a few days later we made the drive over to Angel Fire RV Resort from Taos. What follows in this post is just a little of what we saw this time out on Day One.

Our first stop, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park is less than two miles from Angel Fire RV Resort. It is the first and only state park in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to the Vietnam veterans. Their exhibits are very impressive as is the chapel, shown in the photos above and below. 

Adjacent to the chapel is the Visitor's Center. Plan to spend at least two hours there because one should not miss the award-winning 89-minute film, Dear America:  Letters Home From Vietnam. Admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated.

Just a few more miles down Highway 64 is Eagle Nest Lake State Park Visitor's Center.

 Earlier we had kayaked and enjoyed a picnic lunch.
Fishing, boating and dry camping is offered at the park.

We headed on to Eagle Nest and turned left on New Mexico Highway 38.

The valley shown above is approximately 14 miles northeast of Angel Fire RV Resort on New Mexico Highway 38 on the way to Red River which was one of our destinations on the Enchanted Circle Drive. 

The above photo is looking back the way we had just come from Eagle Nest. The reason I suggest doing the Enchanted Circle in parts is because if you are just doing the Circle in one direction you will miss views like the one above which was behind us. I just happen to catch a glimpse of it and pulled over and took the photo looking back.

I am glad we stopped because I would not have seen the neat flower shown above had we not. You miss so much if you are in a hurry. Take time to stop and smell the flowers.

On our return trip back to Angel Fire RV Resort the deer and elk were just coming out to graze. The bull elk above was grazing with horses. Had we not gone back the way we had come we would have missed sights similar to the one above. We saw nearly a dozen elk but it became too dark to take photos. Near dark drive especially careful because the deer and elk are moving at feeding time.

Once we knew where to look for elk we just had to go back. We were on our way to lunch and our new friend Mike had no sooner said it was too early for elk and what did Evin and Nonna spy but a "whole herd'!! There are close to 25 in this photo. To the left of the above herd I saw close to 50 more.

The deer were also out. The above shot reminds me of "kids waiting on a school bus". It was taken near Eagle Nest Lake near the entrance of Cimarron State Park on U. S. 64 West heading toward Cimarron.

Two miles further up NM Hwy 38, at Mile Marker 17, was this view of Wheeler Peak, at 13,161 feet, New Mexico's highest peak. I missed this view on our way to Red River as it was off to my left and behind me. Again, I am glad we navigated differently this trip.

Next we stopped at the Visitor's Center in Red River and I asked a very nice gentleman, Miles Coleman, if there was anything we shouldn't miss. I explained we had done the Enchanted Circle in one day last time, if fact in less than four hours. We didn't stop in Red River. When we told what food we liked, he gave us several choices. He suggested that after lunch that we go to Rio Grande del Norte National Monument north of Questa and west of Cerro. It is the northern boundary of the national monument. Pilar, where we had earlier camped, is at the southern boundary.

Before we left Red River, we had a great lunch at Mountain Treasures Bistro & Gallery which is located at 121 East Main Street.

Ben & Paula Richey

Mountain Treasures is rated the #1 restaurant in Red River by TripAdvisor.  We talked to several locals and they agreed. We were told not to miss Mountain Treasures' baked goods. Evin just had to sample some...

We so enjoyed Mountain Treasures that we made a return visit just for cookies. As it was mid-afternoon, the owners, Paula and Ben Richey, had time to visit with us. Their daughter, "Dee Dee", treated us to an outstanding strawberry/banana fruit smoothie and a sample of all their fresh baked cookies...

Umm, umm good!!

We have to go back to Mountain Treasures to try Paula's famous "Muffalettas"!!!!! One will feed four people!! It is a great (I'm told!!) hot sandwich made with their own "House Baked" round Italian loaf of bread layered with olive spread, ham, salami, provolone & cheddar cheese.

Update:  Evin and I made some new friends at Angel Fire RV Resort and when they saw Mountain Treasures on PUPPY PATHS they wanted to go have lunch with us at Ben & Paula's. We split a whole Mufflaletta and we all were pleased. We also tried Paula's homemade soups. Again, excellent!! Our friends later returned and again had the Mufflaletta.

Paula invited Evin and me to come back and bring friends on Sunday because during the summer they have live music on their porch at Mountain Treasures...

...and we did; 
but, the rain forced Fritz (right) & Wayne indoors.

That's local artist Judy Burch's paintings behind Fritz. Wayne and Fritz are available for bookings. Call Fritz @ (575) 770-2231.

Paula suggested that we take a scenic drive up Hwy 78 on our way back to Angel Fire. So, we did...

Several locals we met while in Red River told us we should try the loaded baked potato and beef brisket at "Shotgun Willies". So, we made another trip... 

Shotgun Willie's
403 West Main Street
Shown above are owners Kelley & Steve Cherry.

We got to Shotgun Willie's near closing and were disappointed to learn they had sold out of loaded baked potatoes. We were not disappointed in the brisket. 

Shotgun Willie

UPDATE:  Evin and I made it back, finally. Below is the loaded potato. She loved it but had to take some home. 

Above and below is Steve's "Award Winning Green Chilies Burrito"!! This one had bacon, sausage, cheese in and out, hash browns and green and red chilies (not hot or too spicy). I see why Steve won the award. Tell Steve he needs to add cherry and peach cobbler to the menu. And Chris' special recipe apple pie.

We learned that Steve was from Texas and that's why the brisket was so delicious. He invited us back to try his award winning breakfast burrito smothered with green chilies. Shotgun Willie's is open from 7 AM - 2 PM. Check out their website for a menu and catering information -

Evin and I always like to check out art galleries wherever we travel. At the Visitor's Center I learned that Kenneth Wyatt, one of my favorite artist, has a gallery in Red River. It is about a block off Main Street at 201 Pioneer Road.

Evin and I enjoyed visiting with the Gallery Manager, Linda, and one of Red River's Deputy Marshals, Jeff. Don't you think Jeff would make a great model for a Kenneth Wyatt painting?

On our way back through Red River we noted that classic cars had already arrived for this weekend's classic car show.

But, back to our day trip. A few miles northwest of Red River the PUPS let us know that they wanted to get out and stretch their legs. I pulled over and noticed some flowers to Evin's left and across the road.

Can you see the two little white dots in the left bottom corner above? 

We made it to Rio Grande del Norte National Monument late in the afternoon. There is an approximately 242,455-acre of public lands in Taos County, New Mexico, proclaimed as a national monument on March 25, 2013. 

It consists of the Rio Grande Gorge and surrounding lands, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The northern entrance is one way in and the same way out. The Wild River's Visitor's Center is near the southern end.

There are several overlooks in the park. The above photo is looking back toward Ute Mountain. Below is looking toward Taos.

It was 54 miles from Angel Fire RV Resort to this point.

Above photo is looking toward where the Rio Grande and Red River meet as shown in the below photo...

...with the River River on the left and the Rio Grande on the right.

We left the park as the sun was setting and returned to Angel Fire long after dark. Our round trip from Angel Fire with the side trip to the northern entrance to Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was approximately 114 miles. 

During our trip we saw tall mountains, a deep gorge, flowering valleys, lakes and sage prairies. We gained a new appreciation for Vietnam Veterans and enjoyed a great lunch topped with tasty cookies and pastries. We saw classic cars. 

We had a great dinner at the other restaurant locals recommended, Sundance, to round out our day...

Sundance Mexican Restaurant

As dark approached Evin captured this great shot of four bull elks.

We look forward to next leg of our Enchanted Circle adventure from Angel Fire RV Resort.



  1. This post is so perfect and wonderful it brings tears to my eyes. You are a sublime tour guide. I love the way you include maps and logos from the park brochures. I love your delightful mix of scenery shots with people and business shots, then close ups of flowers and food. The people you meet along the way - especially park rangers and business owners - are an enchanting part of the total experience. And you have a gift for engaging people in instant conversation. Local food and where to dine are also main attractions for travelers. Your flower shots are spectacular and will make the reader slow down to see and appreciate God's beauty. Your composition and lighting on all these very different shots is just perfect. Seems you have a gift for travel blogging, Steve. It makes the reader want to dive out there. We've got to get more readers to your wonderful blog site. Take care. Thanks for all your effort.

    1. You are so kind, Words like yours keep me blogging.

  2. I just started full timing one month ago. My destination this winter is the southwest, but I have debated on which state. After reading your blog and viewing your gorgeous photos, New Mexico is my choice. Thank you for such a lovely blog.

    1. Hey "realgoodbear"!! We will probably be in Southern Arizona in the Winter. In Angel Fire, 8,400', it can get to 40 or 50 below I am told. I am not a Quartzsite fan but like Parker, Arizona. We may do Payson because of friends there. Welcome to FULL-TIMING!!