Shamrock Tour® - Santa Fe, New Mexico

Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

With only three days to spare for exploration, the choice of Santa Fe and its exhilarating surroundings is a wise one. The weather is fine and the way unwinds as smoothly as silk beneath our Road Kings.

A number of people have asked me recently to define a shamrock tour. Simply put, it's an exploration of the roads in an area that branch off in three or four directions - like the leaves of a shamrock or clover - from a central location (usually a small town). On this trip, we spent a few days cruising our shamrock in a different way, and chose a much larger site than normal - Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico - as our base of operations.

The Turquoise Bear

At two in the afternoon Mike Miller, an old friend, and I arrive in the sauna called Albuquerque. I'm curious and a little anxious because this occasion marks a baptism of sorts - it's my first time touring upon a Harley.

An hour on, we enter the city limits of Santa Fe and I pull over, interrupting our smooth ride for a moment to consult the map. My companion Mike uses the opportunity to sing the praises of his Road King. I quickly find our way "home," to the Inn of the Turquoise Bear. Five minutes later we turn onto the driveway of this inviting adobe Bed & Breakfast. And when reporting on our safe arrival to my wife, I didn't forget to tell her what a great job she did finding our lodgings in this historic home on the old Santa Fe Trail.

The First Big Leaf:
Indians and Mushroom Clouds

A big breakfast with mounds of fresh fruit, freshly baked breads, and delicious coffee amply prepares us for the first day's giant leaf, a 265-mile tour. Robert Frost and Ralph Bolton, the inn's owners, wish us luck and we're out the door.

The Harleys purr in the early morning breeze. It's cold, actually a bone-chilling cold, undoubtedly because Santa Fe's elevation is approximately 6,400 feet. We take 285 to Pojoaque and later, on 4, we swing the wide sweepers to the Bandelier National Monument.

For those with three to four hours at their disposal to wander the fascinating dwellings carved from the tuff-covered cliffs and the other site remains of the Pueblo culture here, the entrance fee to Bandelier is only $ 12. We decided to pass it by this time out, but hope to come again to explore where the peaceful Anasazi people lived and turned the fertile soil (growing corn, beans, and squash) along Frijoles Creek some 700 to 450 years ago. At some point, they moved to the base of the cliffs and erected a communal house called Tyuonyi, a two-story, freestanding masonry pueblo with 400 rooms. Combinations of famine, drought, and soil-eroding flash floods eventually drove the tribe out, and by 1550 they had resettled along the Rio Grande. Today, a 1.5-mile paved loop trail leads past the cliff dwellings and restored ruins.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the Fall 2002 back issue.