RoadRUNNER’s Bucket List Roads: The Turquoise Trail (New Mexico)

Mar 18, 2017 View Comments by

The Turquoise Trail

The Turquoise Trail, a designated National Scenic Byway, is believed to be an ancient path used by native people for traveling between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM. Iconic geological formations are plentiful along the route. People of European descent were first attracted to the area in the 19th century to mine precious metals. This ruggedly scenic landscape also plays host to several artistic communities: Madrid and Los Cerrillos. The panoramic views atop Sandia Crest alone make this a compelling ride for motorcyclists.

Points of Interest:

  • Garden of the Gods Rock Formation: Just north of Los Cerillos, on Highway 14. It’s on private property, but visible from the road.
  • Shona Sol Sculpture Garden: Check out the lifelike African sculptures at this stop outside Los Cerillos.
  • Cerrillos Turquoise Mining Museum: Provides an educational experience for those who want to learn about turquoise. Entrance is just $2.
  • Madrid Old Coal Mine Museum: Known as “Coal Gulch” in the 19th century, Madrid became a ghost town in the 1950s. In the 21st century, it is a thriving eclectic artist community and must-see stop on the Turquoise Trail. Visitors can tour inside some of the buildings that hosted former coal mining operations. For motorcycle movie bugs, Madrid was a filming location for the movie Wild Hogs.

The Turquoise TrailScenery: Sandia Crest offers a dramatic overlook of Albuquerque and the surrounding valley

Curves: Generally sweeping curves on SR 14; hairpins on SR 536.

Traffic: Usually light during the week, but some stretches are more heavily trafficked on weekends and holidays.

Distance: Approximately 83 miles

Time Required: Three hours to a full day, depending on number and length of stops.

Technical Difficulty: The only technically challenging section of the tour is the ascent of Sandia Crest on Route 536. Roads are generally in good condition.

Roadside Services: Available in towns along the route.



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