motorcycle destinations

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in New Mexico, United States

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in New Mexico, United States

As you navigate New Mexico on your motorcycle, you will come to see why this state is referred to as the “Land of Enchantment.” Though most of New Mexico is covered in deserts, it is renowned for having plenty of natural scenery. Depending on which region you venture out to, you will encounter a variety of terrain.

Head to the east and you will end up in the Great Plains. Turn northward and you will ascend the Rocky Mountains. Veer out west and you will carve through the Colorado Plateau. If you go southward of the Rocky Mountains, then you will see the length of the Basin and Range Region.

While New Mexico’s nature sites make for memorable places to visit with your motorcycle, you can find enjoyment in other places too. Either in towns along your intended route or simply by cruising along the roads on your way to destinations.

The purpose of this article is to list the most popular motorcycle roads and destinations in New Mexico.

1. Best Roads and Destinations in New Mexico

1.1 Northern-Central New Mexico Loop

Northern-Central New Mexico Loop

Distance: 385 miles

Time: 8 hours

Start: Albuquerque

End: Albuquerque

Near Albuquerque, you can venture out to see the Petroglyph National Monument and the Cibola National Forest. The ride is pretty uneventful until you go past Jemez Springs. Then you will be able to catch sight of the Valles Caldera National Preserve and the Bandelier National Monument.

Because the loop has a large quantity of small towns and major cities along the path, you have easy access to gas stations and restaurants. If you find yourself hungry after nearly completing the route, you should check out the Plaza Burgers in Las Vegas, NM.

1.2 Taos to Angel Fire to Mora

Taos to Angel Fire to Mora

Distance: 105 miles

Time: 2 hours 38 minutes

Start: Taos

End: Taos

If you have an appreciation for culture, Taos hosts plenty of galleries, festivals, and museums that are dedicated to celebrating the arts.

When you reach Angel Fire, there are plenty of bars and small restaurants available where you can relax before finishing the rest of the loop.

The highlights of reaching Mora is seeing remnants of and learning the history of the Mexican-American War.

When you head back towards Taos, you will get to admire the alpine meadows and mountains that form the Pecos National Historical Park.

1.3 The Road to Timberon

The Road to Timberon

Distance: 53 miles

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Start: Mescalero

End: Timberon

The start of your journey will take you out of the Mescalero Reservation then turn southward through the Lincoln National Forest. When you reach a valley, you will find yourself amidst farms and ranches.

As you approach Cloudcroft, you will be pressed by canyons as the road runs through the middle of them. When you finally reach the town, you can spend some time at a local golf course.

Continue outside of Cloudcroft and you will catch sight of the Sunspot Solar Observatory.

1.4 Ruidoso to Alamorgordo

Ruidoso to Alamorgordo

Distance: 67 miles

Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Start: Ruidoso

End: Alamorgordo

You begin at the resort town known as Ruidoso which is located within the Sierra Blanca Mountains. Enjoy taking in the sight of the alpine forests while enjoying the pleasant, clear weather almost year-round.

Because this road passes wilderness areas including the Mescalero Reservation and the Lincoln Forest, you should not expect to see any rest stops for this leg of the journey.

In contrast, Alamogordo is famous for being the site of the Trinity Test aka the first test of the atomic bomb.

1.5 U.S. Route 60

U.S. Route 60

Distance: 153 miles

Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Start: Socorro, NM

End: Springerville, AZ

Crossing the border between New Mexico and Arizona, most of the landscape should be dotted with ranches and meadows for the duration of the trip. You may catch sight of the large population of elk who live in the area.

This route will pass through parts of the Cibola National Forest and comes in view of plenty of mountains such as North Baldy, Madre Mountain, etc.

If you are looking for a homely dessert, pick up a pie at the appropriately named Pie Town.

1.6 New Mexico State Road 4

New Mexico State Road 4



Start: White Rock

End: Jemez Springs

Just outside of White Rock, you can go get a look of the Bandelier National Monument which preserves the homes of the Ancestral Puebloans which were carved within canyon walls.

Most of your route towards Jemez Springs will take you through the Santa Fe National Forest. Just west of the Bandelier National Monument, you should be able to make out the Valles Caldera.

1.7 Sandia Crest Road

Sandia Crest Road

Distance: 17 miles

Time: 30 minutes

Start: San Antonito

End: Sandia Crest

If you arrive during the right season, you can go to Sandia Park to watch the eagle and hawk migrations. You can also stop by the Hollywick Farms if you wish to see fluffy farm animals.

Within the same area, you can see the Tinker town Museum filled with thousands of handcrafted miniatures amongst walls of glass bottles.

You will then head into the Cibola National Forest. The road will take you into the dense greenery and eventually ascend towards the Sandia Crest.

1.8 The Enchanted Circle

The Enchanted Circle

Distance: 62 miles

Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Start: Taos

End: Questa

When you get up to Eagle Nest Lake, you should be able to survey the large population of trout and salmon swimming in the landlocked body of water. There may also be elk hanging around the woods.

If you wish to get a taste of what life was like during the Old West, you can visit the abandoned gold mining town known as Elizabethtown. You can find a similar experience looking at the saloons and theater at Red River.

A point of interest in Questa is the Artesanos de Questa where individuals of different crafts including woodworkers, tinkerers, painters, stained glass workers, and sculptors work in the same space.

1.9 Trail of the Mountain Spirits Byway

Trail of the Mountain Spirits Byway

Distance: 116 miles

Time: 3 hours 23 minutes

Start: Silver City

End: Silver City

Most of this scenic byway will have you riding through the Gila National Forest which has forests of aspen and Douglas fir trees. When you are not surrounded by greenery, you will be traveling through semi-arid lowlands populated by cacti, juniper, and oak trees.

Continuing along, you will reach Bear Canyon Lake which is an ideal spot for fishing while giving you a overlook of the MimbresValley in the distance. You can also pass by Lake Roberts and the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.

1.10 Chinle, AZ to Shiprock, NM

Chinle, AZ to Shiprock, NM

Distance: 85 miles

Time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Start: Chinle, AZ

End: Shiprock, NM

This is another route that crosses the boundary between Arizona and New Mexico. You will curve around the north rim of the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. This canyon has many interesting rock formations such as the Spider Rock spire. It also contains remnants of Pueblo civilization including the White House Ruins and the Mummy Cave.

When you have caught sight of a rock formation that has the shape of a bull’s head, then you have come across Bull Pass. The area nearby is perfect for hiking. The farther you go in the direction of Shiprock, the more the rocky and mountainous terrain will transform into flat desert.

1.11 Anasazi Indian Country Tour

Anasazi Indian Country Tour

Distance: 127 miles

Time: 2 hours 47 minutes

Start: Bernalillo

End: Abiquiu

Spend some time in Jemez Springs to enjoy the hot springs that are open even during the winter months. You can also catch sight of the Soda Dam Hot Spring which was a natural formation of different hot springs that formed a bridge over the Jemez River.

If you stop in Whiterock, there is an outlook that is over 700 feet tall that will allow you to survey the Rio Grande Valley. Turn off of New Mexico State Route 30 to the Puye Cliff Dwellings where you can inspect the ancient buildings created by the Anasazi Native Americans.

1.12 New Mexico State Road 152

New Mexico State Road 152

Distance: 532 miles

Time: 9 hours 57 minutes

Start: Silver City

End: Silver City

While not the most well-known road in New Mexico, it does pass by some notable nature sites including the Chihuahua Desert, the Mimbres Mountains, the Mimbres River Valley, and the Piños Altos Mountains.

Shortly after leaving Silver City, you may find yourself near Santa Clara. You can eat at the Wright’s Cabin Picnic Ground with rows of ponderosa pine trees surrounding you.

As you get closer to Kingston, you may want to visit the Gila National Forest. It is a rare opportunity to explore the sixth largest national forest in the United States.

2. Motorcycle Laws in New Mexico

Motorcycle Laws in New Mexico

2.1 Helmet Laws

Any motorcyclists who are below the age of 18 are required to wear a motorcycle helmet whenever they are on New Mexico’s roads or highways. Legal adults can travel without a motorcycle helmet if they are confident in their riding skills and exercise extreme caution. However, the increased use of motorcycle helmets by operators of all ages has shown a significant decrease in fatalities in recent years.

Your motorcycle helmet must be approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation and has been manufactured by either the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation.

The best models that not only meet the criteria stated above but also provide both protection and visibility are open-face and full-face helmets. When picking out a motorcycle helmet, make sure they have the following:

  • Has a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker
  • Can be fitted around your head snugly
  • No visible signs of damage
  • Has a face shield with no scratches (Full-face helmet
  • Requires separate eye protection with no scratches (Three-quarter helmet only)
  • Has a hard and durable outer shell that is shatter-resistant
  • Gives you a clear, peripheral view
  • Can be fastened with a neck- or chin-strap
  • Allows airflow without fogging up
  • Can allow you to wear sunglasses or goggles underneath

2.2 Required Safety Features

It is a good practice to look over your motorcycle to check whether any of its primary components have suffered damage. You may be surprised to find debris lodged in the machinery or a small puncture in one of the tires. Finding issues and providing maintenance for your motorcycle before they become a problem will save you a lot of trouble if you are on the road. Plus, since periodic inspections can be randomly conducted by officials, it could save you from being fined for failing to maintain the upkeep of your vehicle.

While you still have your motorcycle parked in a garage, examine and test the following equipment on your motorcycle to confirm they are functioning properly:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars
  • Brake system
  • Controls
  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Brake light
  • Reflector
  • Exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Turn signals
  • Spark arrestor

2.3 Lane Splitting Laws

It is illegal for motorcyclists to practice any form of lane splitting in New Mexico. This means that motorcyclists are prohibited from riding on top of the dividing lines in between lanes. This discourages them from trying to bypass traffic by riding between rows of adjacent vehicles that have stopped. They also cannot try to pass or share a lane with a car or truck.

While lane splitting is denied to motorcyclists, they are still allowed to make full use of the space within the lane they currently travel in. They can also lane share with another motorcyclist, provided they stay apart by at least two abreast and agree to ride within the same lane beforehand.

2.4 Passenger Laws

Your motorcycle must be fitted with a designated passenger seat and adjustable footholds with ample space so that your passenger can be both comfortable and secure. When picking out where the passenger seat should be, consider making it a part of the driver’s seat, place a separate saddle near the rear, or fasten on a sidecar.

Because there is no minimum age requirement for motorcycle passengers, almost anyone can ride on your two-wheeled vehicle. However, if your passenger is under the age of 18, s/he is required to put on a motorcycle helmet whenever seated on your motorcycle. Also, it is not recommended you bring on young children or eldery folk who cannot plant their feet firmly on the footholds.

3. Motorcycle Luggage for New Mexico Motorcycle Tour

Motorcycle Luggage for New Mexico Motorcycle Tour

If your extended motorcycle tour through New Mexico involves traveling the isolated roads that are miles away from civilization, you will need to pack the necessary items. The essentials may include food, water, electronics, extra clothing, repair tools, and camping gear. As you would imagine, it would be very difficult to fit all of these things on the smooth chassis of your motorcycle. Unless you had the appropriate baggage that can be fitted securely on your ride without affecting balance or performance.

Because the climate in New Mexico is largely arid, you mainly just have to worry about strong winds and debris hitting your motorcycle luggage. Luckily, they are made of durable materials that repel the elements and keep their contents safe. Plus, they can be strapped down almost anywhere on the structure of your vehicle which helps keep it out of the way.

Listed below are the different types of motorcycle luggage you can choose from. There is variety in their design, size, materials, and features to provide you with options that suit different tastes:

4. Parting Words

Parting Words

Do not be surprised if what you actually experience during a motorcycle trip into New Mexico differs from what you initially expected. You might cross dozens of miles of flat terrain, almost completely alone with your ride with only the occasional tree or rock formation passing you by. Or you may descend into valleys or climb up mountain paths with plenty of blindspots that constantly keep you on the alert. The nature of a motorcycle trip in New Mexico can change with the drop of a hat. Even if you carefully map out your route, what might have originally started as a leisurely ride can quickly become an intense rush through the New Mexico wilderness. While the point of a motorcycle trip is to have fun, always look out for any surprises. If you are not ready to act when the terrain becomes rough or when your vehicle suffers from mechanical problems, then your plan to reach popular motorcycle locations in New Mexico may be put on hold. 

Reading next

Motorcycle Laws & Licensing for Wyoming, United States 2021
Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in Nevada, United States

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.