Ride through Santa Fe and the Jemez Mountains

Albuquerque – Stanley – Galisteo – Santa Fe – White Rock – Jemez Springs – Gilman tunnels

October 15, 2011

Riding my favorite Santa Fe Loop – take NM 333 to NM 14, right on Frost Road (NM 306) stay east on NM 472 to Stanley, north on NM 41 past Galisteo to US 285, right onto the Old Las Vegas Highway. Then a right at the Steak Smith(first light) for a short cross over to Old Santa Fe Trail, follow it through Santa Fe making a right on Paseo De Peralta after few blocks right again on Bishops Lodge Road. Pass under US 285 to the Frontage Road follow it past Camel Rock to Pojoaque. Stay in the right lane to NM 502, follow it to NM 4. Ride NM 4 through the Jemez to a left on US 550 to Bernalillo and right on NM 313 to Albuquerque

Google Maps
This is my favorite Santa Fe Loop, it’s a ride I do several times a year with each season giving me a different experience. Because we finally had a some cold weather I was expecting lots of colorful scenes on this ride. On Wednesday I posted the ride with the AMRG, to see if any of the members would like to ride the loop with me and several signed up.
We met at Einstein Bagels, it’s a convenient stop for rides going east. While waiting for the other riders I had a conversation with “Bob”, he was leading a group of riders to Estancia. They were riding out to the annual pumpkin chunkin contest. It sounded like fun, might try and see it next year. We had 7 bikes and 9 riders turn out for this jaunt, with kickstands up at 9:00 we started the fun.

I planned for this ride to be cool and was wearing three layers, but it was a very nice day. By the time we got to Stanley I was already dropping layers to keep from burning up.
The views from Stanley to Galisteo are incredible, but it’s a two lane highway with no shoulders, making it hard to stop for pictures. After passing through Galisteo, there were a couple areas grabbed my attention. Deep arroyos with sheer sides filled with trees flickering gold leaves in the sun.


The route we took through Santa Fe is a back way, two/one lane rural roads that lead you around the city. We had a bit of a time holding our group together as we went around the center loop of the city. We passed a couple hundred protesters in park and the traffic in the area split us up. We made it past Santa Fe with only close calls and no real probems.
When we  got to Camel Rock we stopped for pictures, afterwards we headed up the road to Pojoaque to gassed up. The ride down 502 was uneventful and passed quickly. After passing White Rock the road becomes much more fun, filled with long sweeping turns. At first through canyons and mesas then up into pine filled mountains.
NM 4 has always been one of my favorite roads, this year they have been repaving the north end as you enter the mountains. This has created many corners where the road has loose gravel or new asphalt, so be careful. We stopped at Valle Grande for some pictures, before riding on to the Ridgeback Cafe for lunch.
I think everyone that had the hamburgers (elk or beef) at the Ridgeback enjoyed their lunch. However don’t order the onion rings, the rings are fine, but you only get a couple.
After we passed through Jemez Springs there was yellow everywhere, the trees along the river were turning, it was beautiful.
At NM 485 we took at small detour to see Gilman tunnels, these tunnels were blasted out of the rock in the 1920’s for a logging railroad. NM 485 is not a well kept road, it has several areas that are covered with gravel after a rain. The road is narrow with lots of pot holes and wear, it’s worth riding, but use care. There are two pull outs at the tunnels to stop and enjoy this steep canyon complete with waterfalls. After a few pictures three of us started for home, while several stayed at the tunnels to relax and enjoy the view.
For some reason the 26 miles on US 550 is always windy, I’ve never rode this road when it wasn’t gusting. If ever you feel the need to ride in a strong wind, ride this section of highway, I don’t think it will disappoint you.
It turned out to be a very good ride. The weather was perfect, I enjoyed the company of the other riders and the colors were bright and magnificent. The one disappointment for the day was the lack of quality in the pictures I took–it’s something I’m going to work on. I would also like to thank Jerry for riding sweep.

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