Santa Fe Motorcycle trip — the introduction and route out

I’m taking a couple of weeks to ride out to Santa Fe to go visit friends, make some pictures, meet new people, gawk at that strange land beyond the San Francisco bubble, and basically enjoy the high desert in the short window between “Inferno” and “Icicle.”

The total trip length will be about 2500 miles on my Multistrada.  The bike and rider are both better suited to mostly asphalt roads for this trip, but next time, we’ll see.  When I get back, I’m thinking of taking the RawHyde off-road training school to get my skills sharper.

stock photo of the new bike
the new bike

I’m looking for suggestions and thoughts about things to do along the way.  (The map below is interactive, zoom in and pan around if you’re interested in details.)

Covered Bridge
Knights Ferry Covered Bridge

The route out is more northerly.  The first day is a short, 260 mile, little jaunt through Livermore and the beautiful Patterson Pass Road, across the valley out to Knights Ferry Covered Bridge state park,  Sonora and twisting through the Sierra Nevada mountains over the Sonora Pass and down into Mono Lake and finally settling down in Lee Vining at the eastern base of the mountains.

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the extraterrestrial highway

Leaving the mountains and Lee Vining behind, the second day is all about high desert, open, big sky, flitting from valley to valley, only interrupted by the occasional Alien probing along the Extraterrestrial highway.  An obligatory stop for lunch, gas and photos at the Little A’Lee’Inn, and finally ending up in Caliente, NV.  That evening, a little hike around Kershaw Ryan state park and early to bed, after all, this is Mormon country.  Caliente, not only because it’s too damn hot out there, but there are also local hot springs. Also of note, the Hot Springs Hotel is the place where Warren Jeffs, of the Fundamental Church of Later Day Saints (Moorman polygamists) performed many of his forced marriages when he was on the run.

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want to pick up a spare wife or eight?
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Cathedral Gorge State Park (image is actual size)

Day three, only 276 miles, is all about sightseeing and hiking (well, there’s nothing else to do out here).  Up early in the morning, out to Cathedral Gorge State Park, a very small but extremely pretty park.  If you get there during magic hour in the morning, the light is supposed to be amazing.  Later in the day I’ll stop in Zion National Park.  I won’t be able to give it justice, as one could spend a week there, as opposed to a few hours, but the road awaits.  In the evening, I’ll be pulling into Page, Arizona and settling down at the transition of the Grand Canyon for the night.

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Zion National Park from Angel’s Crest

Day four, 291 miles, is Monument Valley.  It’s going to be Monument Valley at high speed.  A few years ago, I flew out to Santa Fe and took the plane low enough to get a good view of the formations, but this trip, I’ll be flying at about 5 feet above the ground (maybe only a little slower).  This is a day of more silly rock stops, Goosenecks state park, followed by an obligatory four-state-squat at Four Corners, and a quick stop Shiprock to see if I can knock it over.  There seem to be a lot of rocks around here.  Spending the night in Farmington Colorado, but I’m sorely tempted to push on to Durango.

Day five, only 230 miles, but pure beauty again.  Instead of zipping down, I’ll be cutting over the mountains below and behind Los Alamos.  I hope to lunch and gas near Jemez Springs, and then make the final cut through the hills down into the Santa Fe area.

Questions for the readers:

  • Where should I spend more or less time?
  • Thoughts on Farmington vs. Durango for the night?

4 thoughts on “Santa Fe Motorcycle trip — the introduction and route out

  1. Have you been to the Bristlecones in the White Mountains? Good m/c road up to there (from Big Pine) – but slowish, plus the walk around the grove, adds up the hours.

  2. It’s a running joke with my climbing partners that all roads leaving 395 to the east are marked as going to some little town in NV that we’ve never heard of or visited. One of these days … looks like dropping in from Tonopah heading west might not be too bad.

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