The Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway
The Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Santa Fe is the perfect route for a motorcycle day trip. Connecting two of New Mexico’s major cities – Albuquerque and Santa Fe, this 65-mile scenic byway is a popular route for motorcyclists.
For us the starting point was Albuquerque. We headed east out of town on the old Route 66, which is the frontage road that runs parallel to Interstate 40. The official start of the Turquoise Trail begins in Tijeras where we hopped onto NM-14 at the Cedar Crest exit (Exit 175). From there the route goes through Cedar Crest, Golden, Madrid, Cerrillos and ends at San Marcos/Lone Butte near Santa Fe.
Looping through pinon covered hills and valleys, the Turquoise Trail offers a unique diverse topography as the route carves its way through mountain ranges, rocky outcroppings and mesas. The trail loops through towns that beckon the rider to stop and do a bit of exploring.
Our first stop was Madrid(pronounced with the accent on the first syllable: MAD-rid, not Ma-DRID – as in Spain) . Once considered a ghost town, Madrid is now a funky, art community with over 40 shops and galleries that have taken residency in the small miner’s houses that line the streets. Madrid was founded in 1869, swelling with miners who came there first for gold and later coal. Unfortunately the boom didn’t last and the town basically collapsed. If you’d had the cash, in 1954 you could have owned the entire town for $250,000, as it was listed for sale.
The Mine Shaft Tavern
Today Madrid is a famous stop for bikers, what with its many pubs, diners and restaurants. The most popular stop is the Mineshaft Tavern, which holds the distinction of having the bar from the original saloon. And to show their genuine bike friendly attitude there’s even a sign out front that reads, “Bikers park here”.
Hot Tip: Besides great burger and beers, this saloon makes a mean fried green chili.
After meandering down the main street gawking at the yards covered with funky art and other treasures, we stopped at Maggie’s Diner.
No, it’s not a diner. This location was made famous in 2007 as the setting for the movie Wild Hogs, but today is a gift and souvenir store catering to the motorcycle crowd.
Leaving Madrid behind, we motored onward with the route ending approximately 25 miles later where the old world allure of Santa Fe’s architecture attracts visitors from around the globe.