Angel Fire for 24 hours
Our first stop on the road trip was Angel Fire! This is where I learned how to ski back in January, and not only did I fall down the mountain attempting to ski, I also fell in love with the mountains and just knew I had to come back and see them during the summertime. During the winter, all of Angel Fire is covered in white and the slopes are littered full of neon ski jackets zipping down the mountain. And during the summer, hundreds of shades of green make up the surrounding forests and the trails are littered with hikers in full gear. Angel Fire has quickly made its way up to the top of “my favorite city and towns” list.
While in Angel Fire for exactly 1 day, we were greeted by a herd of elk, caught the town’s annual hot air balloon festival, hung out with friends, and went on a beautiful hike in the Cimarron Canyon State Park.
A herd of elk greeted us as we drove into Angel Fire
What a way to start the trip!! A few miles into the Carson National Forest, we were greeted by about 25 elk, and of those were about 10 baby elk!! Neither Kacie or I had ever seen wild elk before, let alone baby elk. On our way in, the whole herd crossed in front of the road we were on. We were a little too excited to get a good picture, but here is the best of our shaky, blurred shots as they ran away. It happened and it was awesome.
Balloons Over Angel Fire
We arrived in the quaint ski town in New Mexico, right after the sun had risen and just in time to catch hot air balloons rising over the mountain tops! It is an annual summertime festival in June that features dozens of beautiful, massive and colorful hot air balloons. Festivalgoers can watch the balloons go up and bob around, catch rides in the baskets and even help with set up and take down of the giant balloons. The festival falls around Father’s Day Weekend each year and is a great festival for the whole family.
Kacie and I had the dogs, Brandy and Lily, out in the field with us while watching the festival. There were a lot of other families with their dogs too, and we realized then that Angel Fire was very dog friendly! I even met one old man who had a pocket full of treats who instantly became one of Brandy’s best friends. We stayed out in the field until almost all of the balloons had bobbed away, with their rescue trucks following not far behind. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen so far in my life!
We were lucky enough to see the balloons go up 3 different times while we were in Angel Fire for 24 hours. They had morning ascensions both Saturday and Sunday mornings. And on Saturday night, they had a few balloons go up at night for a night glow ascension. The morning sessions were impressive and glorious, but the night session was breathtaking. The balloons were lit up from the flames and just bobbed along side the full moon on the horizon.
Hike in Cimarron Canyon State Park
After watching the balloon festival and eating lunch, we asked some Angel Fire experts (aka friends who have cabins up there) what the best hiking would be and the resounding answer was Clear Creek Trail in the Cimarron Canyon State Park. Since we had the dogs, the main requirement was that the trail be dog friendly. When we were told this hike was dog friendly AND had waterfalls, we were sold.
The Cimarron Canyon State Park is about a 30 minute drive north of Angel Fire and the drive is beautiful! You’ll head north towards the town of Eagle Nest, pass Eagle Nest Lake on your right and then continue on to the canyon where you will be wowed by New Mexico’s pristine natural beauty. Once inside the Cimarron Canyon, you will lose all cell service. After you lose service, you will pass signs for various trail heads, fishing spots, camping areas, and scenic views before getting to the Clear Creek Trail, which is one of the most popular of the many hiking trails in the canyon. The trail is seven miles round trip and is very easy to follow. Elevation rises 1,000 feet from the canyon floor, and the overall hike takes approximately three hours.
Massive aspen trees surround you while you walk along side Clear Creek. It was incredibly peaceful being surrounded by the tall, thin trees and hearing the sounds of the babbling creek right next to the trail. There are multiple bridges, waterfalls, and a seemingly endless tree cover during the hike, which basically adds up to a perfect hiking trail.
PSA: please do not deface nature like the idiots before us have done
And now we head to the Grand Canyon!
Angel Fire was great, catching up with old friends is always a good time and we truly loved hiking in Cimarron Canyon. Unfortunately, I have a broken arm and thus will get zero epic handstands on this trip, but I think we captured some epic shots regardless. Up next on our trip is camping at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. See you there!
Onward and upward,
traveled during June of 2016