Forgotten Cimarron

New Mexico's high country is populated with aspens, bison, and ghosts of the Old West

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Where the buffalo roam

Hikers can easily spend a day exploring Cimarron Canyon State Park. Granite cliffs popular with climbers line the canyon in which the park sits, and the icy Cimarron River contains fat brown trout. The moderate Clear Creek Canyon Trail winds uphill alongside a mountain stream, through juniper, oak, and cottonwood, and across log footbridges spanning the creek. The Jasper-Agate Trail offers a shorter, strenuous hike over an old logging road.

Invigorated from my hike, I returned to the St. James to find a wedding reception in progress. Men in cowboy hats, plaid shirts, and crisply ironed jeans danced with women in broomstick skirts on the patio outside the bar. A cover band played country songs. Beer bottles clinked. The groom wore a white cowboy hat.

I watched the party from the window of my TV-less room until the wee hours, like Alma Garrett on Deadwood. Overhead the stars twinkled as they did before electric lights usurped them, and the vast, ancient landscape reduced all of us to specks beneath an empty Western sky. Some things, it seems, never change.

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