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A Great New Mexico Fourth of July Tradition Gets Even Better

Posted by on July 9, 2010

One of New Mexico’s best Fourth of July celebrations, attending the hometown rodeo at Cimarron followed by the fireworks show at nearby Eagle Nest has gotten a whole lot better with the addition of a new public campground on the lake.

Those making a trip north to the high country lake at 8,300 feet will find 19 new camp sites with shelters, campfire rings and picnic tables in the campground at Eagle Nest Lake State Park, located off U.S. 64 on the west side of the lake.

The $10 a night, dry, camp sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and are expected to go fast over the holiday weekend, so plan accordingly, said Mark Sullivan, Park Ranger. Six sites available by reservation have already been snapped up.

Those who get a site will enjoy a front row treat to the village’s annual fireworks display as it erupts right over their heads. And as long lines of traffic leave the area following the display, campers can kick back and enjoy knowing they’re already home for the night.

 Those unlucky enough to not snag a spot at the state park campground can try their luck at any number of nearby private campground operators or venture across the lake into Cimarron Canyon where another 88 sites in three campgrounds exist.

And while the fireworks is a good show, the rodeo just down the road at Cimarron is a real treat for those interested in attending an authentic, old school, country rodeo including bull and bronco riding, wild cow milking and the always entertaining wild horse race.

The rodeo, one of the longest running in the country having started way back in 1923, not only provides the area’s working cowboys an opportunity to test their skills and win some money but also provides local students with scholarships from the proceeds, said Chuck Enlow, Rodeo Director of the Maverick Club which hosts the event.

The rodeo is open to anyone and draws riders from around the region as well as plenty of local riders who work the area’s many cattle ranches. Enlow’s day job is managing a herd of about 300 horses for the Philmont Scout Ranch. 

The rodeo follows a traditional parade starting at 9.a.m. along U.S. 64 through Cimarron and runs through much of the day. Visitors will find covered stands to sit under while the local Kiwanis Club serves up buffalo burgers, hot dogs, chips and soft drinks for a modest price. 

Well-behaved, leashed dogs are allowed on the rodeo grounds. A good hat, plenty of sunscreen and perhaps an umbrella is recommended for visitors. A camp chair or blanket could also come in handy if the grandstand is crowded and the only seats left are on the grass.

Eagle Nest’s Fourth of July parade begins later in the afternoon around 2.p.m. and the town is also hosting an arts and crafts fair over the holiday weekend, said Robert Curry of the Eagle nest Chamber of Commerce and manager of the local Econo Lodge.

Those attending the fireworks display will have to pay a $5 entrance fee at the state park where well behaved, leashed and supervised dogs are welcome. Responsible alcohol consumption is permitted within the park but no glass bottles are allowed. Designated drivers are encouraged and a heavy police presence is expected, said Ranger Sullivan. 

 Those visiting the state park at the lake will also find a new, “Green”, visitor center to explore. The facility employs straw bale construction, natural lighting, solar panels and a wind turbine to reduce its energy consumption to zero, according to a state parks news release about the building.

The Fourth of July celebration at Eagle Nest and Cimarron provides an important economic boost to the local, rural economy and visitors are greatly appreciated and truly welcome, many local merchants say.

If You Go:

From Santa Fe take U.S. 84/285 North to Espanola, continue straight through town on Riverside Drive and proceed on State Road 86 north to Taos. Take US 64 East to Eagle Nest and continue another 24 miles on U.S. 64 to Cimarron. 

 

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