On May 9th, 1950 the Capitan fire was raging through the mountains just north of Capitan, NM when a fire crew battling the blaze brought home with them a very scared and burned bear cub that had been clinging fearfully and tenaciously to a burned tree. They dubbed the tiny cub “Hot Foot Teddy” and brought him to the local Flatley Ranch for care and later to Game Warden Ray Bell.
Hot Foot Teddy was adopted by the US Forest Service and became the living symbol of the world-famous Smokey Bear. His home was moved from New Mexico to the National Zoo in Washington DC and was finally brought home to rest in Capitan, NM in 1976 after his passing. You can visit the Capitan State Park in Capitan, NM all year round where the remains of Smokey Bear now lay in rest.
There are three vistas that you can visit along US 380 and NM48 and view the mountains where Smokey’s real life journey began.