In this section
Chaco Culture National Historical Park Loop
There are several ways from the highway to reach Chaco Culture National Historical Park, where, cyclists will find eight miles of flat, paved road that’s ideal for families wanting to add some exercise to their sightseeing. Begin your bicycle tour at the park’s visitor center. Ride west and follow the signs that direct you around the eight-mile circuit tour. Along the tour there are bicycle racks at the various archaeological sites, like the impressive ruins of Pueblo Bonito and Casa Rinconada. Park your bike and walk through these historic structures. The circuit ends back at the visitor center. For those who want to ride farther, pedal the short distance to pavement’s end on the road running east past the campground and the road leading to the park’s southern entrance. This adds several extra miles to the trip. Or ride the loop again. You will be surprised at what you missed your first time around. There are mountain bike riding opportunities at the park and park employees can provide detailed information.
Santa Fe/Ski Area/Round-trip
Cycling from Santa Fe’s Fort Marcy Complex to parking lot at the Santa Fe Ski Area is a ride that excites cyclists who like to track their mileage and elevation gain. It’s a 30-mile round trip up N.M. 475, better known as Hyde Park Road, to the ski basin and back to Fort Marcy. You start at elevation of 7,040 feet and climb to 10,300 feet-an elevation gain of 3,260 feet. Completing the full 30-mile ride isn’t for the hearted. As you head toward the ski area you pass Hyde Memorial State Park, the halfway point and a great place to turn around if tired. There are numerous and picnic sites nearby. The two-mile ride through the park is the steepest section of the road. Once through the park, you enter Santa Fe National Forest where the grade is less, but the higher altitude starts to take its toll. Several short downhill sections offer only a momentary break from the steady climb. A good place to stop is at Aspen Vista, a major pullout only a few miles from the summit. Always take a light jacket and keep an eye out for late afternoon summer storms. The ride down is fast, so check your brakes.
This 22-mile ride is moderately strenuous, but offers some spectacular views of the region. Park in one of the public parking areas along Railroad Avenue in Raton near the historic Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Depot. Ride north on Railroad Avenue to North First Street. This becomes N.M. 72. Ride east on North First to the junction of N.M 526. This is about six miles from the start of the ride. Go north on N.M. 526 in Sugarite Canyon to Sugarite Canyon State Park. It is about 5 miles to the New Mexico and Colorado state line. Along the way, you ride past the remains of Sugarite Coal Camp. This camp was in operation between 1910 and 1941. You also pass Lake Alice and ride across the dam at Lake Maloya. Note the distinctive basalt caprock in the area. Bartlett Mesa is to the west and Horse Mesa is to the east. Turn around at the state line and return to Raton.
Carlsbad Caverns/Sitting Bull Falls/Round-trip
This is a strenuous 70-mile ride that begins at Cavern City Airport on U.S. 62/180 just south of Carlsbad. Ride approximately four miles southwest on U.S. 62/180 to the junction of Eddy County Road 408. This is Dark Canyon Road. Tum right and begin this unusual ride through a deep, limestone-walled canyon near Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The road does not lead to the park but continues approximately to N.M. 137. Tum left on and ride approximately 2.5 miles to Lincoln National Forest Road 276.
Follow the signs on Lincoln National Forest Road 276 and ride the final 7.6 miles to Sitting Bull Falls. This unique canyon oasis is a popular recreation area. There is a waterfall coming over the top of the limestone canyon rim. A large pool lies at the base of the waterfall. There are numerous cave features in the limestone wall surrounding it. After taking a long, leisurely break, tum around and ride back to Carlsbad.
A gracious flat ride, this a cruise through the Mesilla Valley south of Las Cruces. Enjoy the rural countryside as you roll through the area’s famous pecan orchards. Park at New Mexico State University’s Pan American Center. Ride west on Stewart Street. Turn left on Union at the T, riding through the I-10 underpass and continuing on to the intersection with NM 28, just over three miles total. Turn left on NM 28 and pass through San Miguel to La Mesa for the turn around. Numerous other roads lace the valley. It is a 25-mile round trip from University to La Mesa and back.
Sandia Peak Summit
A good number of road cyclists include this moderate-to-difficult ride east of Albuquerque on their list of favorites. Many local multi-stage and hill climb races utilize this 15- to 17-mile section of road with an elevation gain of about 3,000 feet. The ride begins at Cedar Crest on the east side of the Sandia Mountains. Drive east out of Albuquerque on 1-40 then get off on the N.M. 14 exit to Cedar Crest. You can park your car anywhere along the state highway, but a recommended parking stop is at the U.S. Post Office. Otherwise, save a few miles of pedaling by parking at the Doc Long Campground on N.M. 536, which is the actual road to the summit.
If you begin in Cedar Crest, ride three to four miles (depending on where you park) to the junction of N.M. 14 and N.M. 536. Tum west up N.M. 536 and begin you ascent to the 10,678-foot summit at Sandia Peak. Cedar Crest sits at an elevation of about 6,800 feet and during the summer the weather is typically warm. But the higher you climb into the forested mountainside, the temperatures cool and often times drop rapidly. Be sure to bring a windbreaker for the fast descent back to Cedar Crest.
Whether you choose to ride a bicycle on the road or trail, think safety first. Always pack rain gear; always ride single file on roadways and beware of fast traffic from in front and behind; know that dehydration is common; and carry a first aid kit, food and repair kit, especially when biking off road. Use common sense, practice safety and follow laws and regulations. Consult local bike shops, officials and riders. Ride in groups. Plan, prepare use your head and count only on yourself.