|"The only things we keep permanently are those we give away."|
|– Waite Phillips, upon giving the gift of Philmont Scout Ranch to the Boy Scouts of America
Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America's oldest national high-adventure base. It covers 137,000 acres (about 214 square miles) of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
of the Rocky Mountains in northern New Mexico. Philmont has high mountains dominating rough terrain with elevations ranging from 6,500 to 12,441 feet. Backpacking treks, horseback cavalcades, and training and service programs offer young people many ways to experience this legendary country. Philmont utilizes the phrase "God's Country" to characterize the atmosphere of the ranch. That name is well-chosen.
But, Philmont Scout Ranch is more than just hiking and mountain climbing. Thirty-four staffed camps and 55 trail camps are operated at Philmont. The staffed camps offer a variety of programs, including climbing/rappelling, 3-D archery, shooting sports, settler living, burro races (the most fun thing that Philmont has to offer, bar none!), mine tours, gold panning, pole climbing, cross-cut saw competitions, branding, horseback riding, and on and on. And, some backcountry camps even offer the best root beer this side of the Pecos!
Not only do young men and women benefit from Philmont; adults have opportunities of their own at the Philmont Training Center. World-class courses and seminars cover all aspects of Scouting — all amid Philmont's dramatic scenery. All training sessions are designed such that entire families can attend and participate in the many wonders that Philmont has to offer. Younger children are entertained at the training center, while spouses not attending training sessions are challenged with craft and outdoor activities. Young Scouts are offered the opportunity to make crafts, to participate in day hikes into Philmont's backcountry, and to even spend one night in the backcountry (when age-appropriate). Older youth have the chance to participate in a mini-trek lasting the entire week that their parent is in training. Training participants will usually have Wednesday afternoon off, so they can enjoy some of the day hikes into the Philmont backcountry. And nothing is more fun than the Cowboy evening--unless you're watching Follow Me Boys
at Philmont Scout Ranch with about 200 other Scouts and Scouters! And let's not forget: Some of the Philmont training classes are actually held in the backcountry.
Philmont Scout Ranch is also the location of many other special treats. These include the Kit Carson Museum, the Seton Memorial Museum and Library, and Villa Philmonte. Also, located in the backcountry are the Hunting Lodge, Fish Camp, and the only known fossilized T-rex footprint in the world. In addition, the Contention Mine at Cypher's Mine, and the Aztec Ponil 2 mine at French Henry are open to tours by backcountry hikers.
The Tooth of Time from Base Camp.
Note: This history paragraph (and subparagraphs) has been obtained from Wikipedia. This paragraph (and subparagraphs) is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License
. It uses material from the article "Philmont Scout Ranch
" retrieved 14 Dec 2008. Other information on this page may be copied only in accordance with the SummitPost Terms of Service
Native Americans of the Jicarilla Apache tribe and Ute tribe once inhabited Philmont. A few Native American archaeological sites exist in the northern section nearby the Indian Writings Camp, and various camps seek to preserve Philmont's Native American heritage.
In the mid-19th century, the Santa Fe Trail crossed the plains just southwest of Philmont. The Tooth of Time owes its name to this trail; travelers knew that once they passed it, they had only one week to go until they reached Santa Fe, NM. Philmont's strategic location along the trail spurred some interest in it. In 1841, Carlos Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda obtained a large land grant from the Mexican government, including the present ranch. Soon the grant fell into the hands of Beaubien's son-in-law, Lucien Maxwell, who played an important role in developing and settling it. Maxwell sold the ranch to the Maxwell Land Grant and Railroad Company, which gave up and handed it on to a Dutch development company, which decided to parcel it out to ranchers.
One of the most prominent ranchers was Jesus Gil Abreu, who ran the Abreu Rayado Ranch from the 1870s to his death in 1901. Operating from the Rayado Settlement, he raised cattle, goats, sheep, and grew limited amount of crops. The family owned this property until 1911, when they sold most of it off. One of the sons remained on the ranch near the site of Abreu, a present staffed camp, and his homestead was preserved for years. However, the building was made from adobe and collapsed. The foundation of this building now serves as the foundation for the Abreu cantina. The house was reconstructed in 1998 about 100 feet uphill.
The history of mining at Philmont dates back to the years immediately after the Civil War. At the time, many U.S. soldiers were stationed in the west, as the U.S. Army was driving out the American Indians. The story is that one of these soldiers befriended an Indian, who happened to give him a shiny rock. The shiny material in the rock was found to be copper. According to the story, the soldier and two of his friends went up to investigate and found gold. However, they could not stay and mine the gold, and by the time they returned the next year the area was overrun by miners. Scores of gold mines were excavated in Philmont, and operated into the early 20th century. A large vein of gold is said to lie under Mount Baldy to this day, but extracting it has not been feasible. In fact, it's a common joke at Philmont that some day the mines under Baldy will collapse and Phillips will be the highest mountain on Philmont.
The penultimate owner of Philmont was Tulsa oil magnate and wilderness enthusiast Waite Phillips, who amassed a large part of the old land grant in the 1920s totaling over 300,000 acres. Phillips built a large residence in the lowlands of Philmont and called it the Villa Philmonte. The ranch became a private game reserve for Phillips and his friends, and a number of hunting lodges and day-use camps were built. It would not have been beyond his means to bring electricity to those camps, but he decided not to. Some of these camps, including Fish Camp and the Hunting Lodge, have been preserved, complete with wood-burning stoves, oil lamps, and unique design features indicative of Phillips' often eccentric taste.
Boy Scout Involvement
Phillips sometimes allowed others to visit his ranch, including a few Boy Scout troops. He was so impressed with the Scouts that in 1938 he donated 35,857 acres to the Boy Scouts of America. In giving it to the Scouts, he included three provisions: That his horse Gus could stay there until his death, that his family could come and visit the ranch, and that it remain a working cattle ranch. It was initially named the "Philturn Rockymountain Scoutcamp." The word 'Philturn' comes from Waite Phillips' name, together with the "Good Turn" he did by donating the property. In 1941 Phillips added more Philmont property, including the Villa Philmonte, bringing the total gift to 127,395 acres. Contrary to popular belief, Phillips did not give his entire ranch to the BSA, but only those properties that would have the most recreational value. The total donation comprised about 40% of the original ranch. To help fund the upkeep of Philmont, he threw in his Philtower office building in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The ranch's name was changed at that time to the "Philmont Scout Ranch and Explorer Base."
In 1942, a B-24 Liberator crashed into the side of Trail Peak. Waite Phillips led a rescue crew up, but five people were lost, including two Eagle Scouts. Some of the wreckage still remains, including a wing and propeller.
Philmont was run differently in the early years than it is now. Half a dozen "base camps" were constructed at strategic locations. A visiting group of Scouts would stay at one of these camps for a week, and day-hike to surrounding locations of interest. If the Scouts wanted to visit a different area, they would pack up their gear, hoist it onto burros, and hike to another base camp. Eventually, possibly due to the advent of modern lightweight metal-frame backpacks and other backpacking technology, the program was restructured to be backpacking-based.
In 1963, through the generosity of Norton Clapp, vice-president of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, another piece of the Maxwell Land Grant was purchased and added to Philmont. This was the Baldy Mountain mining area, consisting of 10,098 acres.
In recent years, Philmont has also been able to gain use of the Valle Vidal Unit of the Carson National Forest. Since 1989, Philmont has had a series of five-year special-use permits from the Forest Service, allowing crews to hike and camp in the Valle Vidal as part of their Philmont treks. Philmont operates three staffed camps — Whiteman Vega, Seally Canyon, and Ring Place — and two trail camps in that part of the Valle. Those camps serve around 3,000 Philmont campers each summer. In addition, Rich Cabins, an historical farming cabin on Ted Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch, is also operated as a staff camp. Some crews hiking into these off-property areas camp along the trail, selecting their own leave no trace camping location to suit the needs of the itinerary.
Mountains, Mesas, and Rocks
This is a list of all the peaks located within the ranch (or right along the border).
- 12,441 ft (This is the highest and most visited peak within Philmont Scout Ranch)
- 12,044 ft (This peak is just outside of Philmont's property, but I included it in this list)
- 11,736 ft (This mountain is named after Waite Phillips, the founder of Philmont)
- 11,303 ft
- 11.020 ft
- 10,929 ft
- 10,889 ft
- 10,662 ft
- 10,610 ft
- 10,475 ft
- 10,250 ft (This peak has a B-24 bomber crash site on it)
- 9,936 ft
- 9,927 ft
- 9,856 ft
- 9,790 ft
- 9,730 ft
- 9,413 ft
- 7,975 ft
- 9,419 ft
- 8,602 ft (Part of this mesa lies outside of Philmont property)
- 8,531 ft
- 8,326 ft
Deer Lake Mesa
- 8,261 ft
- 7,624 ft
Tooth Of Time
- 9,003 ft (This rock is the symbolic image for Philmont Scout Ranch)
- 8,983 ft
Urraca Mesa Inspiration Point
- 8,540 ft
- 8,309 ft
- 7,826 ft
- 7,430 ft
Dry Lake on Deer Lake Mesa Cimarroncito Reservoir
When most people think about New Mexico, they think of the desert. However, Philmont is far from that. With summer thunderstorms accompanied by torrential downpours, and a snow pack that lasts until early summer, water is very plentiful at Philmont. However, in a drought year this is not true, as with any other area in the world. And, there are certain stretches of trail that may required careful planning to ensure you carry enough water--some itineraries may require carrying a dromedary. The best advice regarding water: The crew leader should always ask at staffed camps about the water situation along your intended path. And the crew advisers should ask the crew leader about the water situation each day.
A man-made lake located between Antelope Mesa and Tooth Ridge. It sits at an elevation of 7,050ft.
This lake sits atop the large Deer Lake Mesa and has a camp located on its eastern side. It's at an elevation of 8,261ft.
This is another man-made lake that lies south of Hidden Valley and northeast of Black Mountain. The beautiful Cathedral Rock stands to on the north side of the lake.
This is a small lake located east of Trail Peak. Crater Lake Camp is also found here.
These are the main bodies of water on the ranch. There are other small ponds that sit atop different mesas such as Wilson Mesa, Midnight Mesa, and Fowler Mesa and in different parts of Deer Lake Mesa. However, most of these are seasonal ponds. Also, be aware that some ponds marked on Philmont maps may be more suitable for livestock than for humans. It's no uncommon to find a pond that is so mucky that only about a half liter can be filtered before the filter itself becomes clogged up and must be cleaned. Trying to provide water for a crew of twelve at such a location can dramatically alter your hiking pace.
Creeks and Rivers
Cutting through the center of Philmont Scout Ranch is the Cimarron River. This river begins around Eagle's Nest and is fed from Eagle Nest Lake. Water collects in this lake from surrounding areas like the Wheeler Peak group, Angel Fire Ski Resort and from the western slopes of Philmont Scout Ranch. The Cimarron River is around 50 miles long and is a major tributary into the Canadian River. Practically all water on Philmont Scout Ranch drains into the Cimarron River. Only water from the southern end drains directly into the Canadian River.
Some of the main creeks that drain into the Cimarron River are Ponil Creek, Middle Ponil Creek, Ute Creek, Clark's Fork Creek, Middle/South/North Cimarroncito Creek and the North/South Urraca Creek.
Approaching Storm Thunderstrom Atop Baldy
Springs and Other Water Sources
Springs are also in abundance in this area. The best time to find many of them are in, you guessed it, spring. However, during years with heavy snowfall, different springs may be active for longer periods. Do be aware that some springs marked on Philmont maps are actually water troughs for livestock fed by springs or wells.
In the summer, this area gets pounded with monsoons. Thunderstormsm, especially in the afternoon, are capable of dumping immense amounts of rain in a matter of minutes. Do not underestimate these storms; anticipate flash floods whenever you are in a canyon. Also, because of the rain, good rain gear is recommended.
Indian paintbrush. Yellow Pea.
The lands of Philmont range in elevation from the mid-6,000 to the mid-12,000 foot range. As such, the tree life reflects a broad range of diversity. Starting at the lower elevations, and working up, you might expect to see willow, cottonwood, sagebrush, pinyon pine, juniper, oak, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Gambel's oak, aspen, limber pine, corkbark fir, white fir and Engelman spruce. Flowers found at Philmont include common harebell, mountain bluebell, hound's tongue, Colorado blue columbine, blue clematis, claret cup cactus, cholla cactus, prickly pear cactus, bull thistle, yarrow, sunflower, fireweed, Indian paintbrush, storksbill, Rocky Mountain iris, nodding onion, wood lily, California corn lily, fairy slipper, cow parsnip, water hemlock, lupine, yellow pea, locoweed, skyrocket, sandwort, shooting star, strawberry, wild rose and Indian pipe, to name just a sampling. A wide variety of grasses, lichens, ferns, horsetail and mushrooms are also to be found.
The best reference for flora (and fauna, as well), is the Philmont Field Guide
, by Mary Stuever and Daniel Shaw. It may be purchased at the Philmont Trading Post. One person on your crew should carry a copy.
Rattlesnake Ponil Horse
Wildlife is plentiful at Philmont. Mule deer, elk, coyote, pronghorn (antelope), mountain lion, bison (buffalo), beaver, black bear, badger, bobcat, raccoon, red fox, porcupine, coyote, golden-mantled squirrel, pika, blacktail jackrabbit, eleven species of bats and other mammals all thrive. Reptiles such as whiptail lizard, horned lizard, western hognose snake, green snake, western coachwhip and garter snake can be found. And so can western rattlesnakes! Philmont's skies and woods are filled with birds. A shortened list includes wild turkey, grouse, mountain bluebird, western meadowlark, nuthatch, Stellar's jay, barn swallow, cliff swallow, great horned owl, roadrunner, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, golden eagle, American robin, and the colorful but noisy magpie. And its streams abound with fish including rainbow, brown, brook and cutthroat trout. Bugs and insects you're likely to encounter include ticks, black widow spider, and the ever-present mosquito (worse in some wet years than others).
Grizzlies once roamed these mountains, however, they were driven out in the early 1900s. Also, this general area is famous for its free range cattle. Philmont Scout Ranch started out that way, but it has changed over the years. Today, it remains a working ranch and you may come across horses, burros and bison during your stay. Because of that, it's important that everyone hiking leave any gate they find the way they found it: Open if open, closed if closed.
Because of the presence of rodents, hantavirus is a real danger. Hikers are cautioned to avoid camping near potential rodent dens such as woodpiles. All contact with rodents should be avoided, including storing food where it is inaccessible to rodents (often referred to as "mini-bears" because of their knack for getting into everything).
The best reference for fauna (and flora, as well), is the Philmont Field Guide
, by Mary Stuever and Daniel Shaw. It may be purchased at the Philmont Trading Post (Note:
Philmont does not
sell this book anymore. You can only purchase it online from private sellers). One person on your crew should carry a copy.
Philmont isn't just about hiking. A variety of activities are offered to backcountry hikers. And, it isn't necessary for a specific activity to be on your itinerary in order for you to partake in the fun. With few exceptions, your crew can chose a hiking route that will take them near staff camps that offer particular activities in which they're interested. The only requirement is that they spend that night at the campsite designated on their itinerary. Activities offered include:
- Learn about the Indians that inhabited the Philmont area in prehistoric times.
- Shoot black powder rifles.
- Make a J-ring while working in a real forge.
Not through the advisor's coffee!
- Use a burro to pack some of your tents and food during your Philmont trek.
- These burros were meant to race, and there isn't anything more fun that trying to get yours to go the right direction!
- Every trek and training center stay begins with an opening campfire and ends with a closing campfire.
- Enjoy the best root beer this side of the Pecos; and stay for the show put on by staff members.
- Every crew at Philmont must complete three hours of service to earn their arrowhead patch. Conservation projects might include trail maintenance, meadow restoration, etc.
Continental Tie and Lumber Company
Felling a tree to clear a meadow.
- Demonstrate your skill at pole climbing and the use of traditional woods tools such as log tongs and the crosscut saw.
- Learn more about the wonderful Philmont wilderness environment.
Fly Tying and Fishing
- Make a fishing fly, then catch a trout (NM fishing licenses are required and may be purchased at Philmont).
- Study geology and mining technology.
Gold Mining and Panning
- Visit an historic mine. Then finish up by panning for gold in one of the local streams.
- Learn what it was like for settlers in the 1800s.
- Ride a horse through the Philmont backcountry. In order to participate, you will need to make a reservation during your logistics meeting at Base Camp.
Jicarilla Apache Life
- Study how the Jicarilla Apache lived, worked and played.
Spar Polling at Pueblano
- Enjoy a bike trip through remote areas of the Valle Vidal.
- Learn about homestead crafts including soap making, candle making, furniture crafting and blacksmithing.
- Climb one or several of the mountains that grace Philmont Scout Ranch.
No Trace Camping
- Learn how to camp at the wilderness camps using good Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics.
- Learn about the mountain man way of life and participate in some of their skills such as tomahawk throwing and black powder.
- Learn about life on the Ring Ranch. Additional programs include astronomy and weather prediction.
- Climb and rappel on some of the fascinating rock formations that grace the Philmont backcountry.
Rocky Mountain Fur Company
Rappelling at Dean Cow.
- Learn how the trappers engaged in catching animals for their fur, and in curing the hides. (Note: Trapping is no longer practiced at Philmont).
Ropes and Challenges
- Test your crew's skill and cooperativeness at a variety of challenges.
Special Trail Meals
- Tired of trail food? Select camps offer a cowboy chuck wagon or a Mexican dinner. In order to participate, this should be designated on your itinerary (though it doesn't hurt to ask the staff of they could slip in an extra crew!).
.30-06 Rifle Shooting
- Reload and fire rounds at metallic silhouette targets.
12-Gauge Shotgun Shooting
- Reload and fire rounds at clay birds.
- Participate in horse riding, a cowboy chuck wagon and branding (for your hat, boots or walking stick).
Wilderness Medicine/Search and Rescue/GPS Technology
- Polish your first-aid skills and learn techniques for helping in a search and rescue.
You may encounter several different types of camps at Philmont, including base camp, staffed camps, trail camps and wilderness camps.
All treks begin with check-in at Base Camp. Check-in will include meeting your ranger (who will accompany you for the first couple days on the trail), gear issue and shake-down, logistics planning and health check. In addition, base camp is where the Trading Post is located. Across the street from Base Camp is the Philmont Training Center.
Baldy Town (with Mt. Baldy in the background).
Staff camps offer some type of program activity. This may be gold panning, burro racing, shotgun shooting, climbing/rappelling, fly fishing, etc. In addition, certain staffed camps offer showers (expect to get one about every three or four days) and commissary (where additional food issues will be made, again every three or four days).
At a Trail Camp
Trail camps are not staffed. They offer basic necessities, usually (but not always) including a source for water, fire rings (if fires are permitted), a sump (for kitchen wastewater), and a bear cable (for hanging bear bags).
When outside of Philmont in the North Country (Valle Vidal and Ted Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch), you may not have prepared camps. In that case, it will be the crew's decision to select an appropriate LNT campsite. If your itinerary will take you into these regions, you will carry an extra rope for hanging the bear bags (since there are no bear cables).
The closest town is Cimarron, NM. It is also about 20 miles west-northwest of Springer, NM, and 35 miles southwest of Raton, NM (the largest of the three towns). Your crew will determine a cross-country itinerary for their trip to Philmont. It may be driving all the way, or using commercial transportation such as airlines (most likely into Albuquerque, NM; Colorado Springs, CO; or Denver, CO. You will need to arrange commercial limo transportation from there to Philmont. Or, there is commercial train service to Raton, NM. If you drive, you will most likely arrive through Cimarron on Highway 64. In Cimarron, turn south on NM 21, which will take you directly to the Philmont Base Camp.
You must be attending Philmont on an official itinerary in order to camp. They allow day hikes into different areas (such as peaks that are on the border of the property). However, I wouldn't want to go twenty miles into Philmont Scout Ranch if I wasn't a participant. If you're a camper (or even a non-camper), respect all Philmont Staff.
Firearms, fireworks, drugs, smoking, and alcoholic beverages are not allowed.
Pets are only allowed under special circumstances.
Have You Been to Philmont?
The Philmont horse brand.
The Philmont arrowhead patch.
The Philmont cattle brand.
Have you been to Philmont? Whether you took a trek, attended a course at the training center, served with an OA crew, or whatever, be sure to sign the Hiker's Log and tell us about your adventure!
Sign the Hiker's Log
If you have any additional information you would like to add, please post it or contact me. Also, any additional photos are always welcome.
Philmont Wilderness Pledge
Litter/Graffiti - Keep Philmont free of litter and graffiti.
Wildlife - Respect all wildlife.
Water - Conserve and don't pollute; use proper sanitation.
Trails - Stay on trails; do not cut across switchbacks.
Campsites - Use designated sites, and leave neat and clean.
For food, For raiment,
For life, For opportunity,
For friendship and fellowship,
We thank Thee oh Lord. Amen
- A. J. "Jerry" Fulkerson
Silver on the sage
Star-lit skies above
Aspen covered hills
Country that I love
Philmont, here's to thee
Out in God's country - tonight
Wind in whisp'ring pines
Eagles soaring high
Purple mountains rise
Against an azure sky
Philmont, here's to thee
Out in God's country - tonight
- John Westfall, 1945
Contact InformationMain Base Camp
Address: Philmont Scout Ranch
17 Deer Run Road
Cimarron, NM 87714
Phone: (575) 376-2281 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (575) 376-2281 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Fax: (575) 376-2602
External LinksThe Philmont Explorer (Unofficial Philmont Website)
Official Philmont Website
Philmont Message Board
Philmont Patches and Images