City Escape: Sante Fe, New Mexico

Text: Tim Kessel • Photography: Tim Kessel

Route names like “The High Road to Taos” and “The Enchanted Circle” give you some indication just how special this city escape north of Santa Fe is. Mix in some great New Mexican towns like Taos, Angel Fire, and Red River—with several significant historical sites—and you have a truly memorable ride. This escape features a variety of enticing roads that wind upon high desert vistas, through rugged alpine regions, and along the Rio Grande. It’s Southwest riding at its best, and the route is suitable for motorcycles in all but the depth of winter.

If there’s a route in the nation that has more diversity than this one, I can’t wait to ride it. Crimson-hued hills, expansive deserts, lakes and rivers, and conifer-rich forests are all on the docket. Historic missions and quaint villages also dot this visually stimulating region. Traffic on this double-loop route is light to moderate.

There are some tight curves on parts of the ride. While they are not overly technical, they require vigilance. As is the case throughout the Southwest, always watch for sand, animals, and fallen rocks. The route to Taos on the High Rd is often narrow with little shoulder margin. At higher elevations, water and even spots of ice may be present, especially in the late fall or early spring. In the lower regions, over-the-road washes may bring debris onto the roadway.

Lunch Stop

Red River is the approximate midpoint of the route, and Shotgun Willie’s is a great place to reflect on the morning ride over some BBQ or a burrito. Find it at 403 W Main St, Red River, NM, (303) 388-9601.