Raton, New Mexico has been my home for almost 20 years. I like it for the generally mild climate and authentic Western atmosphere. You won't find a bunch of tourist trap shops, the town hasn't "re-invented" itself with phony kitsch, and the area hasn't been affected by modern developments or urban sprawl. The wildlife, architecture, and landscape of Raton and the surrounding region remain quite authentic.
Not only is it a great place to live, it's a great place to practice the art of photography.
Is it hard to believe these are ordinary everyday photographs, taken while exploring the public roads around Raton?
The annual International Santa Fe Trail Balloon Rally may not be as large as the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, but we also don't have traffic jams, parking fees, or shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of people. In Raton you can walk right among the balloons and pilots, photograph the balloons without obstructions, volunteer for a balloon crew, and drive freely around town 'chasing' the balloons as they float overhead and eventually land.
There are several annual rodeos in Raton and the Northeast Highlands of New Mexico. These photos are from the Colfax County Fair and Rodeo held each year in nearby Springer, New Mexico.
City Parks and State Parks are very accessible to Raton visitors and residents. Federal public lands are also located in the region; the Valle Vidal Unit of the Carson National Forest, the Kiowa National Grasslands, Capulin Volcano National Monument, and the San Isabel National Forest are all within 70 miles of Raton.