This might be one of the last places that comes to mind when it comes to American cycling destinations: New Mexico. Expansive deserts, forested highlands, soaring peaks, and deep gorges present a topographical playground for riding a bike. But beyond the features of the jaw-dropping landscape, New Mexico’s deep, diverse cultural history offers a rich travel and culinary experience surrounding our newest departure. This eight-day excursion into the Land of Enchantment navigates the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains, climbs to famed Taos, and rockets over the mighty Rio Grande. It’s an adventure sure to leave your legs empty, heart full, and memory littered with treasures.
Day 1: jAMEZ - LOS ALAMOS
77 miles / 7,779 ft
The Jemez have lived in the Jemez Valley for hundreds of years and in Northern New Mexico for at least a thousand years. The Jemez People are primarily farmers, but also gather and hunt. After a 1-hour transfer from Abluquerque, we begin our ride from the Jamez Pueblo & Visitor Center, gradually climbing up through the Jamez Mountains. A quick side trip brings us to the Gillman Tunnels, built in 1920, hanging above the Guadalupe Box Canyon and the river below. If you have seen the movie ‘3:10 to Yuma’, you will recognize these scenic tunnels.
The highlight of the day comes when we bend a corner and the grand Valles Caldera National Preserve comes into view. 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created the 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera. The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. From 8,700’ feet, we roll across the mountain plateau before descending down into the rocky canyons and mesas of Bandelier National Monument, this area has seen human settlements from around 11,000 years ago.
We overnight in the small town of Los Alamos, recognized as the birthplace of the first atomic bomb, the primary objective of the Manhattan Project by Los Alamos National Laboratory during WW II. Tonight we dine at the famed El Paragua Restaurant, El Paragua is the product of two ambitious youngsters, Larry and Pete, the oldest sons of Frances and Luis Atencio. In 1958, the two young boys set up a roadside stand on the corner of the historic Taos Highway and Santa Cruz Road, with the full intention of selling their Mama’s tacos and tamales. O/N Holiday Inn Express at Entrada
Day 2: LOS ALAMOS - ABIQUIU
98 miles / 5,138 Feet
From Los Alamos we descend through the White Rock Canyon, carved through basalt and tuff by the south-flowing Rio Grande River before we carry on into the Santa Clara Pueblo, where Pueblo potters are best known for their black polished and red polychrome pottery. We will pass through the railroad town of Española, where the first European colony in North America was settled 400 years ago. I will pick up tacos at El Paragua restaurant along the way.
From Española, we head deep into the arid and rugged El Rito Mountains, known as the pink mountains we will pass by the historic Ojo Caliente Hot-springs and through El Rito, one of the first Spanish settlements in Northern New Mexico, where we will visit the oldest church in New Mexico.
We finish our nearly 100-mile day in the historic outpost of Abiquiú, the starting point of the pioneering route of the Old Spanish Trail, a team of sixty mounted men set off with pack animals and goods towards California in 1829, an eighty-six day journey. Artist Georgia O’keeffe lived nearby at her Ghost Ranch and she owned a small studio here in Abiquiú.
Tonight we stay and dine at the Abiquiu Inn, set amidst some of the most pristine southwest landscapes in the USA. The modern casitas finished in southwestern design with Native American-inspired viga ceilings, a truly unique experience.
Abiquiu is rich in history and culture, from dinosaurs that roamed the area 220 million years ago to Pueblo Ruins of 13th Century to more recent settlers like Georgia O’Keeffe and the Monks of Christ in the Desert. O/N Abiquiu Inn
Day 3: ABIQUIU- TAOS
98 miles / 7,835 Feet
Anyone searching for solitude and mountain views will love todays ride through an unfamiliar part of New Mexico. A section of today’s ride, a 49-mile stretch of quite highway passes through the Carson National Forest, and climbs over the 10,507-foot Brazos Summit.
Between Tierra Amarilla and Tres Piedras, US 64 climbs up over a southern extension of the San Juan Range of the Rocky Mountains sometimes called the Tusas Mountains. Along the way, it passes some of the most extensive groves of aspens in the state. At 92 miles, we end our ride in Tres Piedras and shuttle the last 30 miles into Taos, along the way we will stop to take in the view above from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, resting 565 feet (172 m) above the Rio Grande River, it’s the seventh highest bridge in the US and 82nd highest bridge in the world. We arrive into Taos this afternoon and check into our Hacienda del Sol shines with traditional New Mexico aesthetic, with wood burning fireplaces and Mexican-tiled bathrooms. Hacienda del Sol Taos Hacienda del Sol Historical Bed and Breakfast
Day 4: ENCHANTED CIRCLE
85 miles / 5,884 Feet
Considered one of the most scenic and challenging rides in the country, today we tackle the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. This 86-mile ride includes passing through Red River, Eagles Nest and Angel Fire and passing the high point of Bobcat Pass at 9,820’ feet. A second climb up to 9,109’ Palo Flechado, contains one of the most memorable descents all the way back into Taos. The Apache Indians, lived in the plains east of these mountains and often hunted the wild buffalo that grazed these open plains. We will descend back into Taos and enjoy the afternoon visiting the many galleries and shops in Old Taos. O/N Hacienda del Sol
Day 5: tAOS PUEBLO, THE HIGH ROAD TO CHIMAYO
85 miles / 5,884 Feet
This morning, we will visit the ancient Taos Pueblo, the multi-storied adobe village that has been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years. We will walk amongst the pueblo this morning before we head out on our adventure over the High Road towards Santa Fe. The High Road is a 50+ mile scenic, winding and quiet road through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Taos and Santa Fe. It winds through high desert, lush forests, high mountains, tiny farms and small Spanish Land Grant Pueblo Indian villages dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
The High Road
Highlights along the route are many, including visiting the Mission in Truchas, the Las Trampas’ San José de Gracia cathedral and the Santuario in Chimayó, one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in the country, the picturesque adobe church draws 300,000 visitors a year. The exterior is captivating, but make sure to see the retablos, or devotional paintings, inside. We will stop along the way in the tiny mountain town of Truchas, where artisans along the High Road keep Spanish traditions alive with Spanish wood carvings, paintings and Indian quilting. We finish this remarkable day in Chimayó, where we go back in time and stay in a quiet country retreat in a restored adobe home offering cozy Victorian-style guest’s rooms opening onto a private garden-old world charm at its finest. The highlights don’t end here, as tonight we enjoy dining at Rancho de Chimayó one of New Mexico’s Culinary Treasures, celebrating 50+ years as a world-renowned restaurant in Northern New Mexico. O/N Casa Escondida B&B
Dinner tonight - Rancho de Chimayó
In October 1965, Arturo Jaramillo and his wife Florence envisioned a plan for the house built by Hermenegildo and Trinidad Jaramillo, and the Restaurante Rancho de Chimayó was born. Their restaurant would preserve the rich traditions of their family and its proud culture, welcoming guests into this comfortable and romantic piece of history. Fireplaces radiate warmth into cozy rooms and family photographs hang on the white washed adobe walls. The lovely terraced patio beckons you to exquisite outdoor dining. Join us at Rancho de Chimayó - a treasured part of New Mexico’s heritage and history and will always remain...a timeless tradition.
Day 6: CHIMAYO - SANTA FE
59 miles / 6,429 Feet
El Santuario de Chimayo, a small shrine located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Chimayo, New Mexico, has been a place of worship since before its construction in 1813. For generations, American Indians, Hispanics, and other people of faith have traveled to the site of El Santuario to ask for healing for themselves and others, and to offer prayers of petition and of thanksgiving for favors received. Following a long tradition of miraculous shrines, El Santuario is now one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage centers in the United States and one of the most beautiful examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in New Mexico. Today El Santuario de Chimayo, also known as Lourdes of America, attracts over 300,000 pilgrims from all over the Southwest and elsewhere each year. Thousands of pilgrims walk to El Santuario from Santa Fe and other starting points during Holy Week. We will have plenty of time to visit this special sacred space.
Rise early this morning to take a morning walk amongst the Santuario in Chimayó and stop in for a visit to the Ortega’s Weaving, an iconic family store that has for generations, been producing authentic New Mexican wares. From Chimayó we descend down into the Pojoaque Valley, home to the Nambé Pueblo, one of the historic pueblos that participated in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, trying to expel the Spanish from the area. We ride through small settlements before our gradual climb into Santa Fe and further up to the Santa Fe Ski Area, a local hill climb favorite. We climb through forests of ponderosa and aspen in the Santa Fe National Forests on the Scenic Byway, we will summit at 10,305’ above town. Enjoy the descent all the way back into Santa Fe or if your up for it, stop off at the Japanese Onsen- 10,000 Waves before we wrap up todays ride .
Day 7: SANTA FE - TURQUOISE TRAIL & SANDIA PEAK
100 miles / 8,176 Feet
Today we embark on our Turquoise Trail and Sandia Peak adventure. First off we leave Santa Fe via Canyon Road, passing many of the famous art galleries. We will then begin our ride along the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, through the heart of central New Mexico linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The ride, about 50 miles along Hwy 14 takes you back in history through the old mining towns of Golden, Madrid and Cerillos, now coming alive with art, crafts, music and many café’s and restaurants. We’ll stop along the way for one last strong coffee before we attempt climbing Sandia Peak, high above our final destination of Albuquerque. Winding along the high ridge of the Sandia Mountains, this well paved, quiet road winds up through cactus, pine, fir, oak and aspens, through spectacular scenery for thirteen and a half miles, gaining 3,900’ to the crest at 10,648’ feet. We descend back into Albuquerque where we will spend on last night before our departure’s the following morning. O/N Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town