by Marty Mayfield
PLACE — Destination recreation, a term recently coined to describe going to a location for the specific purpose of taking part in some form of recreation. The state of New Mexico has created a new department to promote New Mexico as a recreation destination. Does Raton with its many recreational jewels stand at the forefront to take advantage of this new concept in leisure time activities?
While vacations have been around for a long time, they were geared more to sight seeing and family time than specifically going someplace for recreation. In the last few years, hiking, mountain biking, and other adventure sports have drawn a growing number of participants, changing the way the American population takes vacations.
Is Raton ready to take advantage of this growing new industry? Not only are they ready, they have been for years. According to Raton Parks and Rec. Director Jared Chatterly, Raton has been catering to the outdoorsman with fishing and hunting and has created events like the Master of the Mountain (MOM) and the Down and Dirty Adventure (DAD) event to cater to the outdoor recreationist.
Raton’s big problem has been advertising the area’s jewels for outdoor recreation. Jessica Barfield in her efforts with Explore Raton and other avenues of advertising have helped Raton work towards that goal of bringing in new recreationists.
Chatterly went on to indicate one drawback to Raton, based on surveys, is the lack of nighttime entertainment to keep people occupied after their recreation experience. He noted that people want a good place to eat and entertainment to occupy their spare time. Chatterly also hopes that more Raton residents will buy into the promotion of Raton’s recreation opportunities and tell everybody what Raton has to offer.
Is Raton ready? yes! Raton is in the middle of a wide variety of environments with things to do; such as fishing, hunting, mountain biking, as well as scenic and historic day trips out of Raton.
For example, one can stay in Raton and fish a different lake or river every day of the week, or during the winter ice fishing at Lake Maloya. You can take a historic trip to Clayton Lake to see the dinosaur tracks, then go by Folsom Museum and Capulin to finish out the day. You can day trip to see the Raton Museum then on over the pass to Trinidad to the museums and historic sites. Another day trip might include a trip to Cimarron to the historic Mill Museum and on to Philmont Scout Ranch for the Boys Scout Museum. During the winter months, you can travel to Angel Fire, Taos, or Red River for snowboarding and skiing.
Sugarite Canyon, host to the MOM and DAD, offers several hiking and mountain biking trails which is hoped will connect to the Fishers Peak area once Colorado gets it established.
Sugarite also plays host to a historic coal camp tour along with camping and other nature events during the summer.
Another prime example of outdoor recreation includes the shooting sports events held at the NRA Whittington Center just south of Raton. The NRA Whittington Center offers a whole host of shooting events, as well as a historic coal mine tour, Mountain Man Rendezvous and seasonal hunting on its 50,000 plus acres.
So to answer the question, is Raton ready? Yes! Raton with its many recreational jewels is ready and waiting.