This 93-mile National Scenic Byway winds around the southwest corner of New Mexico, back and forth across the forested Continental Divide, through the country's first national wilderness area, the Gila, and past ancient cliff dwellings.
Long known locally as The Inner Loop, especially among bicycle race fans, the byway serves as the route for the grueling annual Tour of the Gila race. It's just as fun for travel by car or motorcycle, or biking on your own, and offers a wealth of year-round birding options. The byway crosses six climatic zones and a broad swath of the Old West territory made famous by the daring exploits of Native Americans, Buffalo Soldiers, frontier families and scurrilous outlaws. Take a stop in Silver City, where you can still see ruins of old mines and appreciate a quaint museum dedicated to the original miners of the 1800s. While you meander around the vintage Western downtown, visit The Buckhorn Saloon and the Opera House, known for its entertaining melodramas.