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446 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)

My mule conversed with me recently (really) and she said that I needed to display some of the pictures from her past adventures. So, I am posting a pictorial review of recent expeditions.

Since I brought her home to my ranch a few years ago she has truly been low maintenance. With a daily toss of hay and a bucket of fresh water, she is ready for hard work and adventure at a beckoned call. Francis wanted everyone to know I am using a boring, five year old Samsung Galaxy Note cell phone with the standard 8.0 megapixel camera for all of the following images.


On the border of New Mexico and Texas

The plaque says...Frank A. Kindel, the flying paper boy of the Guadalupe Mountain.

Looking down at the valley near Texas from the New Mexico border.

Don't hike here without water or a personal location beacon. This part of New Mexico is typical Chihuahuan desert terrain: dry and rocky, with desert grasses, mesquite, ocotillo, saltbush, yucca, and various species of cacti.

Dell City, Texas has a “secret” dirt road that is a considered a back-door entry into New Mexico. I'll let you discover it. :)

Riding towards mile marker zero on the New Mexico side near the Texas border. It is very desolate until I saw a New Mexico police car waiting at mile marker zero. No donut stores out here...hmm.

The Texas border with New Mexico @ Dog Canyon.

Key West, Texas mile marker. :)

There is little shade but the views across the desert into the Tularosa Basin, with the Dog Canyon and the Sacramento Mountains in the back, offer a respite from a hard journey. You can ride to New Mexico via road 137 or hike in from the Texas side. You'll need to bring ample WATER and food.

The metal object in the middle of this picture reminded me of the Star Trek IV episode. :) This movie involved a large metallic space probe that entered into orbit around Earth and disabled global power on the planet and attempted to evaporate the oceans.

On this trip there was ample moisture in the soil. The abundance of rain was a welcome relief compared to the drought conditions of recent years.

Guadalupe Christian Camp sits on 150 acres of land that is located deep in the Guadalupe Mountains of Southeastern New Mexico. They have been hosting camps, retreats, and events since 1956.

The Permian Basin oil and gas drilling phenomena has been a boon for US jobs and resulting in decreased reliance on foreign source of energy. I did notice several posted signs that were against fracing. The fight over water rights has been a contentious issue in New Mexico for quite some time.

I had been to the caverns several years ago so there was no touring pressure to go inside the caves. I arrived at the parking lot and the heat was well in excess of 100 degrees accompanied with a face-searing wind of about 25 MPH. I turned around and went back to cooler elevations.

Lincoln National Forest sunsets can be dramatic, especially in the summer as the winds whipped up from the White Sands National Monument can cast a golden hue on the sun's rays.

My friend riding a KLR and I rode down to Timberon. The tiny city of around 400 people is located at the southern edge of the Lincoln National Forest, directly north of the Fort Bliss Military Reservation. Like the small bohemian town of Terlingua in Texas, this place has its collection of people wanting to live partly off the grid and away from heavy population centers aka - march to a different drummer.

The FZ09 did great on mild gravel roads with some minor pot holes. It you soften up the suspension a few clicks and drop about 5-7 PSI from the tires, the bike does track well on mild dual-sport roads, just be careful cracking the lower engine unit on a vicious rock or a severely cambered road.

Could this be part of a Cheech & Chong movie set?

Nope, actually the actor George Glenn Strange that played Frankenstein in the 1940s film was born here. The tiny city lies alongside New Mexico State Road 24 on the eastern slopes of the Sacramento Mountains. It has had a Post Office since 1880s.

This is looking down from West Side Road just south of High Rolls unto the yellow sands of the missile testing site called White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

West Side Road is a really fun, hard packed dirt road near Cloudcroft that slowly slithers up the side of a desert mountain. During heavy rains, this road can develop very large ruts, so it is best to check the weather conditions before riding on it.

A local golf course in Cloudcroft makes for a great place to go walking after dinner and catch a colorful sunset.


446 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Deep inside the mouth of the Gila monster. :)

Actually, this is one of the more remote National Park System in the Southwest. Gila Cliff Dwellings lies deep in the mountains of the Gila National Forest, surrounded on all sides by wilderness areas, over an hour's drive from the nearest town on steep, winding roads, and situated well away from main cross-state routes in New Mexico. The monument is a small site of just 553 acres, containing the ruins of interlinked cave dwellings built in five cliff alcoves by the Mogollon peoples between 1275 and 1300 AD, reached today by an easy one mile loop trail along a narrow canyon.

Another view of the Gila Cliff Dwelling camping site.

The Gila National Parks use battery powered cars for all staff.

Informational plaque.

Entrance to the hiking path that leads to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Various warning signs for the unsuspecting Chinese and city-slicker tourist.

Gila Cliff traffic signs with bullet acne.

Francis parked on county road 35 east near Silver City.

Francis is tipping towards the Pacific Ocean near Pinos Altos, New Mexico.

This giant truck tires overlooks an area known as the Santa Rita mine. It is an open-pit copper mine located in the town of Santa Rita, New Mexico 15 miles east of Silver City.

Freeport-McMoRan currently operates this mining operation. One of the long-time local residence told me that despite the reduction of the Freeport workforce, Freeport has kept it's mine operational since closing it would be cost prohibitive based on EPA standards of surface remediation (returning the area to it's former natural state).

Sample cactus flower along the scenic Highway 152.

This graphic sign shows the immense damage sustained by the Silver Fire of 2013. The Silver Fire was started by lightning during the summer of 2013 inside the Gila National Forest.

Highway 152 east heading towards Hillsboro.

Francis, my riding mule was surprised to learn that there is a Pope called Francis too. :) This Catholic Church is located in Hillsboro, New Mexico.

This is an excellent twisty road called 152. The most exhilarating portion of this roads runs between San Lorenzo and Hillsboro. The road goes through an endless maze of rocky canyons. It is truly one of my favorites rides in New Mexico. Riders should use caution, as large rocks may be in the middle of the road, especially after a heavy rainstorm.

This is the Alpine Cabins available for rent in Alpine, Arizona. They can be reached at 928-339-4200. This area is the gateway for the famous Coronado Trail Road. Another alternative for accommodations while in Alpine, Arizona is the budget Mountain Hi Lodge.

When in Alpine, Arizona make sure and check out this cafe called Bear Wallow Cafe. They have the BEST homemade pies west of the Mississippi. With its giant chain-saw bear and rustic wood siding, Bear Wallow Cafe is the very picture of a mountain diner, with wooden lunch counter, antlered walls and checkerboard-tile floor. Despite its remote location, the cafe's green vinyl banquettes are usually overflowing with locals and lucky travelers who happen upon it. However you find your way to its doors, you can bet your first visit will not be your last.

Big Lake is located about 26 miles just south of Springerville and Eagar, accessed by paved road via the very scenic Highways 260 and 261, and is approximately one hour’s drive from Pinetop using Highways 260 and 273 and Forest Road 113.

If you like to fish, the lake is well stocked with Rainbow, Brown and other type of trout.

Another view of Big Lake.

Yet another view at Big Lake. I had to wait a while on the shore for the perfect cloud reflection picture...got it.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has been actively involved in reintroducing Mexican wolves to portions of their historical range since before the first release of wolves in 1998. In the 1980s, the reintroduction effort focused mainly on public processes necessary to reach a decision for or against reintroduction.

Discussing the reintroduction of the Mexican Wolf with local ranchers can be touchy. Some ranchers claim their calves have been attacked. Environmentalist claim the wolves presence naturally balances the deer and elk population. Pick a side.

Here is anxious Francis starting the Coronado Trail just south of Alpine. I won't devote more time to it since I was there a couple of years ago at this ride thread. I did meet up on this same weekend with another friendly forum member, Desert Rat. We rode CR 435 south of Reserve, New Mexico. It was literally an earth shaking experience for the cruiser bike in our midst. See that ride report and video here.

CR435 came highly recommended from the famed Butler Motorcycle Riding Maps of Eagle, Colorado. The Butler waterproof riding maps of the United States is one of the best resources for learning about excellent routes in your region.

Here is a scenic stop along the Million Mile Highway or Highway 550 between Durango and Ouray, Colorado. Though the entire stretch has been called the "Million Dollar Highway", it is really the twelve miles south of Ouray through the Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass which gains the highway its name. The stunning road turns and twists and provides ample views of the rocky mountains.

Enter John Denver and his famed Rocky Mountain High acoustic song now. :)

Red Mountain Pass on the Million Mile Highway. The name is derived from the iron oxide laden rock that forms their slopes. The pass separates the Uncompahgre and Las Animas River watersheds. This specific signs stands at around 11,000 feet. The FZ09 mule in A mode was the perfect setting to compensate for the lack of oxygen.

You might have read about the Las Animas River last year in the news. The EPA accidentally damaged the old abandoned Gold King mine and released million gallon of radioactive heavy metal waste into the river. Yikes!

Red Mountain Pass plaque.

The Alpine Loop in Colorado.

This road is best left to 4 wheel drive style jeeps or a dual-sport specific motorcycle like a Kawasaki KLR. The Alpine Loop byway navigates between the summits of the Colorado Rockies by way of two mountain passes. Engineer Pass, to the north, which rises 12,000 feet and provides an unsurpassed vantage point for photographs of Uncompahagre and Wetterhorn peaks - both towering more than 14,000 feet high.

On the more southern route, Cinnamon Pass also tops out at 12,000 feet and provides views of three of the nation's highest mountains - Handies, Sunshine and Redcloud peaks. It is about 65 miles in length and generally takes 5-8 hours to navigate due to the rough terrain.


446 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
A inspiring view on Highway 550 just outside of Ouray, Colorado.

Here I stand looking down from Highway 550 on the small town of Ouray. Ouray is a great Colorado town to base your various activities which includes hiking, fishing, dual-sporting or 4W driving.

Established in the late 1870s during gold and silver strikes, Ouray survived those boom-and-bust days because it's such a wonderful place to relax. Natural hot springs feed the town pool, where both locals and visitors come to soak in the therapeutic waters. It's said that Chief Ouray, the Ute Indian after whom the town is named, visited the pool often and held ceremonies in the local vapor cave.

Highway 550 just a few miles outside the city limits of Ouray.

Oh yeah, the infamous and treacherous Black Bear Pass. Francis was shaking under saddle at the thought of even attempting this very challenging road. Legend has it Forest Service Road 648, known as “Black Bear Pass,” was cut into the Rocky Mountains in the late 1800s by prospectors brave or crazy enough to go anywhere for gold. Fast forward a century and it’s one of the most incredible routes to explore in a 4x4 or a beefy dual-sport motorcycle.

Rider beware. :)

It is still not too late to turn around on Black Bear Pass! :)

After Black Bear Pass intimidating Francis, we chose a more mild dirt path.

...however that rocky road soon ended....alls well that ends well for Francis.

At first, I thought this structure located just outside of Durango on Highway 550 was a movie set for The Blob, however this odd formation is called the Pinkerton Hot Springs.

While the rock pile is all passersby see now along the highway, Pinkerton has a history dating back to the early 1800s, when James Harvey Pinkerton turned the hot springs into a travel destination. Hot springs, including Pinkerton, were thought to have healing powers in the 1800s. People bathed in the springs, drank the water and looked for a cure to aches and pains.

Another view of the Pinkerton Hot Springs.

A quick hike up Purgatory Ski Mountain yields stunning vistas.

A view of Purgatory sans Dante Alighieri...

The hike continues deep into the bowels of the Colorado Rockies.

Francis and I just outside of Taos, New Mexico - I expected The Who song Magic Bus to start blaring over the speakers from this contraption. Nope, just a great place to drink coffee in an eclectic environment near the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge along Highway 64.

Chillin' @ the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge just outside of Taos, New Mexico. Soon after this picture was taken, heavy rain and lightning swooped down as you can see in the distance - the storm was brewing.

This bridge is I believe the second highest one on the U.S. Highway System. The bridge is a three-span steel continuous-deck-truss structure with a concrete-filled steel-grid deck. It was called the "bridge to nowhere" while it was being built because the funding did not exist to continue the road on the other side. The bridge was completed during the Johnson Administration in 1965.

Sarah Palin is not the only one who built “a bridge to nowhere” called the Gravina Island Bridge in Alaska. :)

The Japanese iron mule meets the western horse in a shootout at the not so OK corral. It was a draw. Francis can be seen in this picture smiling in Red River, New Mexico.

The Cimarron Canyon State Park is a state park of New Mexico located 3 miles east of Eagle Nest in the Colin Neblett Wildlife Area. That burned tree on the left was probably struck by lighting.

Water wheel used to create steam power in the 19th. century near Eagle's Nest.

The first commercial prototype of the mobile home near Eagle's Nest in New Mexico. :)

The first memorial and the only State Park in the United States dedicated to Vietnam Veterans, this internationally renowned chapel and visitor center are devoted to remembering vets, providing educational opportunities for the public and maintaining a haven for healing and reconciliation.

The Memorial is located on Hwy 64 less than a mile from Angel Fire, overlooking the Moreno Valley.

Another view inside the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park. A bronze statue shows a soldier looking intently at the Huey helicopter during perhaps the Battle of Con Thien.

An old grain milling barn in search of money for restoration near Mora, New Mexico.

Sign for the Saint Vrain Mill and Preservation and Historical Foundation. Save The Mill!

Pressed a button and toggled to the black and white mode for the same barn.

An abandoned bar just outside of Taos, New Mexico on Highway 518.

A gorgeous hike in the Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area near Taos has amazing vistas. Even though there is elevation gain up to the lake, the trail is relatively easy. Williams Lake Trail begins near the Phoenix Grill at Taos Ski Valley.

If you are in decent shape and want even more spectacular views, go the additional 1.5 miles from the east side of Williams Lake up the switchbacks through the boulder field to the 13,161 ft summit of Wheeler Peak. Bring plenty of water. You will dehydrate quickly without it at this elevation!

446 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Getting closer to Wheeler Peak. Pass the oxygen bottle please. :)

Almost at the top, but with the changing weather conditions, I turned around. See ya next time mountain!

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument is comprised of rugged, wide open plains at an average elevation of 7,000 feet, dotted by volcanic cones, and cut by steep canyons with rivers tucked away in their depths. The Río Grande carves an 800 foot deep gorge through layers of volcanic basalt flows and ash.

Among the volcanic cones in the Monument, Ute Mountain is the highest, reaching to 10,093 feet. The road goes along the ridge of the canyon for almost ten miles. It is located near Questa, New Mexico. This is one of the newest National Parks established by presidential proclamation in 2013. The park is about 250,000 acres in size.

One of the many gorge scenes in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

Yet another canyon viewed along the park road.

Chiflo Trail goes from the rim of the canyon wall along the lower portion of the gorge. It is an easy walk for most people.

One more view of the canyon below located at the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

Francis, my riding mule, was excited to pass another Catholic Church whose patriarch is also called Francis. The church is located on CR387 just north of Questa, New Mexico.

The Questa, New Mexico police cruiser that is NOT guaranteed to catch any car in hot pursuit. The claimed 0-60 MPH acceleration test comes in just under four minutes. :)

This humble post office is located in the tiny town of San Cristobal, New Mexico. The town has a population of around 250 inhabitants. It is located in Taos County, New Mexico. Yes, it's zip code is 87564.


147 Posts

Thank you so much for highlighting the area. People don't believe just how beautiful New Mexico is.

Think I've been to every single place you mentioned, but not all of them on the bike. Have a new goal. Thank you.

Perfect timing. Tomorrow, I'm riding straight from work, through the valley over to Lake Valley, up to Hillsboro and over Emory Pass. Meeting the wife at Lake Roberts to fish for a couple days, then riding back through Pinos Altos.

Again, spectacular thread.

446 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the compliments!

I look forward to your ride report with pictures some time. :) New Mexico and Southern Colorado simply offer some of the best riding in the US. Butler Maps sure made finding the best roads easy. They also highlight great dual-sport routes too.

1,575 Posts
Terrific photos.
Awesome write up.

Thanks for sharing the travels.

Hail to you and Francis! :sunny:
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Super Moderator
4,265 Posts
Thank you for that. Your picts brought back many happy memories. My DR650 took me across the TAT from Trinidad to Moab in August 2009. I want to go back.

Premium Member
2,552 Posts
Great stuff Texas Guy!
Some amazing landscape photos and I really appreciate the narration.
Please, please continue sharing the adventures of you and Francis with us here.
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