Day 193 – New Mexico North – Part 3

Day 193 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Cimarron Canyon State Park

After a quick stop in Red River, New Mexico for some one-day old donuts and coffee, VANilla weaved through the mountains and sped through the meadows to reach red granite cliffs Cimarron Canyon State Park.  At mile marker 292, we found what would have been a seven mile roundtrip hike had we completed the entire walk along Clear Creek Canyon Trail.  Instead we took about a two hour stroll along this Cimarron River tributary.

Cimarron River tributary in New Mexico

The creek was extremely over grown with bushes and trees, as was the path in some cases.  We climbed over a handful of fallen trees and crossed a number of bridges before we came upon a patch of violet butterflies.  They flocked to the ground between the trail and the river like a swarm of bees on honeycomb.  As we walked by, they flew around in a frenzy only to rest in the same area just seconds later.

great spangled fritillary in new mexico

Just past the butterflies, we reached a ten foot waterfall and a steep part to the trail.  We climbed the stair-stepped path supported by logs, followed the trail down toward the river, and then came face to face with a large, rock outcropping.  From the down river side, scaling the boulder looked quite ominous to Petey.  I had to set my backpack and camera down, straddle the obstacle, and lift my 60 pound mutt over the two foot monster!

great spangled fritillary in new mexico

Much to Petey’s liking, the path leveled out and for the most part remained shaded by pines and firs as we continued up river spotting orange
butterflies patterned with white dots and black stripes resting on white and yellow wildflowers.  We passed by several more small waterfalls (or perhaps large rapids) beneath the smoke filled sky, when we finally reached a forty foot fall which became our resting spot and turn around point. 

On our return trip to VANilla, the two foot monster no longer seemed impassable to Petey.  He dutifully turned part mountain goat and navigated the difficult terrain.  He even took a dip in the creek up to his belly instead of following me across the bridge. As my shadow, this was an unusual breach of character.

Sugarite Canyon State Park

After our hike, we briefly tooled around Cimarron, once ruled by Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and Wyatt Earp, before finding the Lake Alice Campground in Sugarite Canyon State Park northeast of Raton.  This campground was a bargain.  It only cost $10 and a free shower house was only one-mile down the road at the visitor’s entrance.  I know where my first stop in the morning will be.  ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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photographic note card, western tiger swallowtail butterfly
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