Welcome back and Happy New Year to all from the Enchanted Circle scenic byway in northern New Mexico. This magical place has so many stories to tell that with limited space I’d better get started.
Founded in 1895 with a base altitude of 8,750’, climbing to 10,350’, Red River lies on the mountain floor of one of the finest ski areas in America. It takes 4 double chair lifts, 2 triples and one surface tow to bring the thousands of skiers who come here every year to the top. The 57 trails are made up of 30% expert trails, 38% intermediate and 32% beginner. With a snow making capacity that covers 87% of the runs, you’re guaranteed to have snow here just in case they ever miss the 218 inches of the fluffy stuff that nature usually provides annually.
The town of Red River itself is less than 3 blocks wide and ½ mile long and it is not unusual to see deer or other wildlife walking right down the main street alongside skiers and snow mobilers. With $61 lift tickets for adults, $55 for teens and $46 for seniors Red River is a very reasonable place to ski and they also offer lots of discounts, bargain days and specials for military personnel and their families. So if you’re planning to ski or snow mobile in a distant location or just shopping for a destination, Red River offers everything you might want in a setting that many call “God’s Country.” The 484 year round residents maintain and staff 41 lodging establishments, 16 restaurants and 156 local businesses so you can see that tourism is huge here, the fantastic scenery draws crowds in all seasons.
Eagle’s Nest and Eagle’s Nest Lake lie in between Red River and Angel Fire and Eagle’s Nest was a gold mining town in 1908 when Charles and Frank Springer received a permit to build a dam that created the lake. Kokanee salmon and rainbow and cut throat trout are plentiful here and winter fishing is a big draw to the area. Folks drill holes in the ice and put up elaborate fishing huts around the lake. Although not a ski town, Eagle Nest’s half dozen motels stay full with overflow business from the ski areas. This is a town whose history is as colorful as any that I’ve seen and their museum is a history buff’s delight, offering a look back in time to a bygone era in the mining business that is a must see.
This will be Loretta’s and my destination for New Year’s Day as Loretta goes for a dip in the lake during the second Eagle’s Nest Lake Polar Bear Plunge. Angel Fire and Red River ski areas both have big New Year’s Eve happenings capped off by torchlight skiing parades which I will report on next week.
Another town in this loop is Cimarron just outside Waite Phillips’ Philmont Boy Scout Ranch which I’ve written about often. Cimarron was established in 1861 during the Santa Fe Trail era by Lucien Maxwell who ultimately became the sole owner of the largest land grant in U.S. history.
The discovery of gold on Baldy Peak made Cimarron (which means “wild” in Spanish) a boom town. Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Frank and Jesse James and Wyatt Earp along with Billy The Kid, Blackjack Ketchum and the gunman Clay Allison all stayed in the St. James Hotel which is still operating today.
As usual I’m out of space so as the New Year approaches and Loretta gets ready for her swim we once again wish you all a Happy New Year and till next week from San Luis, Colorado (site of the mysterious calf mutilations) I’ll see ya down the road…