GREAT NEW MEXICO MOTORCYCLE RIDES
The Best Roads Are Here
What Are The 7 Best Motorcycle Rides In New Mexico?
- Santa Clara to Caballo (66 miles)
- Mexico Route 15 (37 miles)
- Taos to Mora Loop (105 miles)
- Rte 536 to Sandia Crest (14 miles)
- Lincoln National Forest (64 miles)
- Mexico Route 59 (40 miles)
- Luna to Mule Creek (74 miles)
Below is our in-depth list for the best New Mexico motorcycle rides! Rugged mountains, colorful deserts, and centuries of history can be explored by motorcycle in the Land of Enchantment. Few places beckon or lend themselves to the road quite like New Mexico. From the desert to the mountains, the ever-changing landscape is mesmerizing to ride through. Click on the New Mexico motorcycle map links for the direct Google Maps route.
Tips For Motorcycle Rides in New Mexico
Many of these routes will take you through several different climate zones in short periods of time. Be prepared for rapid changes in temperature and weather by incorporating layered clothing and packing some rain gear. Summer riding in NM can present extreme heat, so try to limit riding to the morning or evening hours. During the winter, desert regions are usually fine for long, comfortable days. But even these regions get cold fast, especially as the sun goes down.
Is There a Helmet Law in New Mexico?
Under New Mexico law, riders and passengers under 18 must wear a helmet. For the highest level of protection, make sure the helmet meets U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards.
Wearing protective gear is always a good idea. For optimal visibility, wear bright colors and, if riding at night, it's wise to wear clothing with retro-reflective materials.
SANTA CLARA TO CABALLO
DISTANCE: 66 miles
TIME: 1.5 hours
This motorcycle road in New Mexico is one of those roads where you won't spend much time site seeing, as the ride itself is a joyous challenge. It's chock full of exceptional hairpin turns and curves as you ride alongside deep canyons just southeast of New Mexico's Gila National Forest. This route is very technical, as it features not only the continuous hairpins turns, but also elevation changes while offering breathtaking mountain views, including that of Emory Pass. Many riders say this stretch of road is the best kept secret in the Southwest United States! For longer riding, take Route 15 (listed below) or Route 35 to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument for a fantastic motorcycle tour of New Mexico's finest scenery.
DISTANCE: 37 miles
TIME: 1.5 hours
This motorcycle route is very close to the above mentioned NM-15 route, and can be started in Silver City, NM. Ride along one of the best motorcycle roads in New Mexico through the curves through the southern portion of Gila National Forest, and up north to beautiful mountain scenery. The road north of Pinos Altos is particularly great, as most of the twisting curves are not too challenging for experienced riders. There's lush spreads of aspens, cactus, junipers and oak trees in this expansive national forest. Check out the amazing Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument at roads end. Make sure to fuel up in the Silver City area, as there basically no gas stations on this ride to the Monument.
TAOS TO MORA LOOP
US-64, NM-434, NM-518
DISTANCE: 105 miles
TIME: 2.5 hours
Ride along twisty roads, high passes, and great scenery from Taos down the quiet MN-434 to Mora, and back up north through the Pecos Natural Historic Park. There's sweeping bends, lush green alpine meadows, mountain scenery and elevation changes that make this a great NM motorcycle ride. These motorcycle roads are where Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda shot many of the riding scenes in the classic Easy Rider. The northern section of NM-518 is designated the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway. Be sure to check out any overlook on this section for pure New Mexico peace and tranquility. Overall, this loop is a great diverse motorcycle ride, as there will be some wide open NM valleys, as well as challenging twisting turns of the Taos Canyon. With NM-518 on the west and NM-434 on the east side of this loop, it makes for a fantastic motorcycle ride in New Mexico!
RTE 536 TO SANDIA CREST
DISTANCE: 14 miles
TIME: 30 mins
There's some awesome scenery on this exhilarating twisty mountain road just northeast of Albuquerque, NM. Sandia Crest Road (Route 536) is a 13.6 mile stretch of motorcycle road that's loaded with hairpin turns as it climbs to the top of the Sandia Crest Mountain. Tucked away in the Cibola National Forest, the ride is very scenic as it travels through the high desert and dense forests of the Sandia Mountains. It's a pretty steep grade as you'll gain about 4,000ft of elevation in 14 miles. Once at the top, you can park and check out the awesome scenic overlook of Albuquerque. There will be a lot of downshifting as you descend back down the 180 degree turns, but there are amazing views along the way, making this one of the greatest and fun motorcycle rides in all of New Mexico. Be sure to pack some rain gear, as there can be some passing showers up the mountain.
LINCOLN NATIONAL FOREST
Sacramento Canyon Rd, Sunspot Hwy, NM-244
DISTANCE: 64 miles
TIME: 1.5 hours
Ride through some fantastic canyons, farmland and ranches through the Lincoln National Forest. The roads along this New Mexico motorcycle ride are in great condition, with lots of great curves and long sweeping turns. There aren't too many tight, hairpins turns, which makes it great for riders of all skill levels. However, with high elevation changes up to 9,000ft, the weather will change dramatically. Summer storms can soak you fast up there, so it's a good idea to pack some rain gear layers, not only for the rain, but for warmth. If you have the time for longer touring, loop around by NM-24 and NM-130 to experience all that the National forest has to offer. But if you're taking just one road through, the ride along Sunspot Highway is most definitely the best motorcycle road to take.
DISTANCE: 40 miles
TIME: 1.5 hours
This New Mexico motorcycle road in found in the southwestern part of the state in the Gila National Forest area. It's a lonely 2-lane route that carves through the New Mexico landscape, leaving a motorcyclist with serene riding. This road can be started near the famed Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway.
LUNA TO MULE CREEK
DISTANCE: 74 miles
TIME: 1.5 hours
For a great NM motorcycle ride, check out US-180 to NM-78 through Mule Creek to the Arizona state line. The main route on 180 has plenty of great sweepers as you ride though New Mexico's Gila National Forest. As you descend through the pine forests, you'll notice the gradual rise in temperature and will probably need to start shedding some layers. Route 78 winds down through the forest and eventually crosses the valley of gently rolling grassy areas with wide open views of the mountains. Continue past the AZ border as the best part of Route 78 curves with hairpin turns and fantastic scenery. For a longer, 2 day ride, connect a loop to the Coronado Trail (Arizona Route 191) just west over the state line.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is New Mexico a good place to ride a motorcycle?
With over 120,000 square miles, New Mexico is a very large state, and has many great motorcycle roads to explore. Rides in northern NM will usually involve the southern regions of the Rocky Mountains with alpine mountain scenery. Green mountain ranges are in the west, and rocky canyons in the south. Some of the state's best rides are in the Gila National Forest and Lincoln National Forest region.
Can you ride a motorcycle year round in New Mexico?
Motorcycling is generally year round in Southern New Mexico. However the northern part of the state will get snow in the winter months, so it's a good idea to check weather forecasts if riding in this region in colder months of the year.
When is the best time of year to ride a motorcycle in NM?
May, June and September will offer the driest, mildest weather to ride a motorcycle. July and August will have very high daytime temperatures and these months can also bring heavy rainfall.
Where Can I Find the Best Motorcycle Roads in the Southwest?
GreatMotorcycleRoads.com is the best place to find great motorcycle roads in the Southwest United States. Discover great motorcycle rides in the Southwest with our route descriptions and Google Maps links!
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