As you approach Cimarron from the south or east, you can't help but notice a massive, grayish-white pinnacle perched atop the mountain at the northwest edge of town. Known as the Tooth of Time, it indicated to Santa Fe Trail travelers that their journey was nearing an end, for Santa Fe was only seven days away by wagon. Today the Tooth of Time is the emblem of the Philmont Scout Ranch, where 21,000 Boy Scouts assemble each summer.
In a land that was once home to Jicarilla Apaches and Utes, Cimarron later became a refuge for gamblers and outlaws and a stopping point for soldiers, gold seekers, and mountain men. (Its name means "untamed" in Spanish.) Founded in the early 1840s, it was the home of land baron Lucien Maxwell. These days, with a population around 900, it's a sleepy little town with some fine old buildings, and a good base from which to do some great fishing on the Cimarron River or in the various rivers flowing through Valle Vidal, and an interesting stopover between Taos and Raton. It's common to see deer grazing on the edge of town—and look out for elk if you're driving at dusk or after dark. They are huge, and hitting one can be deadly.