July 1-9, 2010 – Chama, New Mexico

We drove to Chama, NM and are staying at the Rio Chama RV Park. We have been staying in this park for about 8 years and have gotten to know the owners and some of the work campers. A few of Rex’s fellow docents with the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad also stay here. It is nice to see our friends again. The site we are in is a new site they just put in this spring and we are the first rig to use it. The pad that they built up to park on was narrow and not packed down; consequently, we had a hard time getting in the spot as our tires kept sinking. Once we got parked and settled it is a really nice site.

Our site backs up to the Rio Chama River – what a great view out our back window! The tracks for the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad are in the trees on the other side of the river.

We also can see this from the door of the 5th wheel

Yes, that is one of the two bear traps in the park – they currently have a bear problem. A large black bear has been coming into the park every night for about a week. The night before a wildlife officer shot it twice with tranquilizer darts and it didn’t slow it down a bit. We watched for the bear until dark but never saw it. They did catch it in the trap by the dumpsters on the other side of the park. Bears come into the park every year we are here but we have only seen a few of them.
About a week before we got here there was a fire on the Lobato Trestle of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. This trestle crosses 100 feet above Wolf Creek 4 miles outside of Chama and is over 100 years old. The fire burned all the wooden ties but they still do not know how much damage it did to the steel structure. Consequently, the train mostly runs out of Antonito with an occasional train that runs the 4 mile stretch from Chama to the Lobato Trestle. When Rex is a docent on the train he has to ride a bus an hour to Antonito and then when the train ride is over take the bus back to Chama. It makes for a very long day from 9 am to 7 or 8 pm.
On the 4th of July evening we went to the train station in Chama where they had the train decked out for the holiday.

The train was making a trip to the Lobato Trestle and then back to the Chama Depot in time for the passengers to watch the fireworks from the train. There were some outlaws having not so friendly words with the sheriff and his deputies before the train departed. The lawman in the long brown duster is also a docent with Rex.


The sheriff and his deputies succeeded in dispersing the outlaws and the train departed. But down by the stock pens the outlaws ambushed the train to rob it and a gun fight broke out.


Of course the law prevailed and all the outlaws were killed. Notice the dead outlaw hanging over the fence. This was one of the best shoot outs we have seen.

After the shootout we went to Bob and Holly’s house (the docent in the long brown duster) for a BBQ for the docents. We also watched Chama’s fireworks from their backyard. Surprisingly, Chama had a great fireworks show that lasted over 35 minutes.

The next morning we found out that another black bear visited the RV park and raided the dumpster.

On July 6th the C&TSS started taking the passengers from Chama on a bus to Cumbres Pass where they board the train and ride on to Antonito - this shortens Rex’s day a lot.  We haven't heard anything about bears in the park for a few days.


  1. We stayed at Rio Chama RV Park in May and rode the train on its opening day trip. We loved the park and its wonderful folks there, including the couple from Fayetteville TX, with whom we swapped stories a bit as we go to their neck of the woods twice a year. We walked through the new riverfront sites, which were just then being finished. At an art street fair in our hometown of Galveston, TX this weekend a photographer who had a photo of the locomotive on the Durango to Silverton line told us about the Lobato Trestle fire that interrupted the C & T route and we were shocked! We've been reading about it, ran across your blog about the park, and enjoyed your photos too.
    P & B Bumpus


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