New Mexico is a sparsely populated state sandwiched between Arizona, Texas and Mexico. The dry, hot desert landscape is home to many ancient native American sites. In fact, any visitor to New Mexico will be impressed by the cultural diversity of this state. It’s Native American, Hispanic and Anglo heritage and influence melt together in a cultural vibrant mixture.
You can bike the area around the Continental Divide, which cuts through the western part of the state. The journey takes in some paved roads, over rough tracks and finally up steep climbs in the Sawtooth Mountains.
▪ Visiting the Coonridge Dairy Goat Farm
▪ Cycling through the Sawtooth Mountains
▪ Showering on the Continental Divide
Starting near Grants, we follow the Continental Divide south. On a straight, paved road from the Sandstone Bluffs Overlook. We stop at the El Malpais lava flows. These lava flows were created a thousand years ago during the eruption of nearby Mount Taylor and are now a National Monument. After cutting across the Divide, we stop off at the Coonridge Goat Dairy for a lesson in raising goats in the desert. From here, continue along dirt tracks through the Cibola National Forest. Finally, with the SawtoothMountains in the near distance. Use all your willpower and strength for the final test – cycling uphill to Davenport Lookout
▪ Cycling in the desert requires a few special tricks – drink plenty of fluids and try to do the bulk of your cycling in the early morning, before the sun starts to really fry your wheels!
▪ Keep your gear to a minimum – you won’t need much, but a good jacket will keep you warm during chilly desert nights.
▪ Non-indians are usually welcomed on Indian lands, except during ceremonies. If you call the pueblo office, staff will be able to advise on the best time to visit, and whether you’re allowed to video or take photographs. Please respect Indian laws and be courteous to the people who live there.
DID YOU KNOW?
▪ At twenty four hundred miles, the Continental Divide is one of the longest cycling routes in the world. In six days,you can cover just a hundred and twenty-five miles of it.
▪ El Malpais National Monument covers almost 200 square miles. Five major flows have been identified, spanning the last three thousand years and the memory of these ‘rivers of fire’ has been preserved in Native American legend. Some of the lava has created tube systems, including a 17-mile lava tube, and some caves contain permanent ice. This badlands district of expansive lava flows, surreal ice caves and towering arches is also home to eagles, deer, elk, and antelope.
▪ This area of North-western New Mexico is inhabited by the Zuni people, who speak a language different from all other Indian groups. Their pueblo, located 35 miles south of Gallup, is one of the south-west’s premier jewellery-making centres. A ‘pueblo’ is an Indian cultural centre, and there are 19 pueblos in New Mexico. Each has it’s own independent government and religious practices, and their art, jewellery, carvings and pottery styles distinguish one from another.
▪ New Mexico’s native American culture dates back more than 8 centuries, when the Anasazi Indians founded a civilisation near Chaco Canyon. We know that over 5,000 people lived at the site, however by the end of the 12th century the Anasazi people had mysteriously disappeared. Archaeologists and anthropologists are at a loss to explain what happened to this ancient tribe.
Visit the Bandera Crater/ Ice Cave, located 25 miles south-west of Grants on Hwy 53. It’s private property, so you’ll have to arrangeyour visit in advance:
Tel: 505 783 4303
Gallup Convention and Visitors Bureau
Tel: 505 863 3841
Toll Free: 800 242 4282
New Mexico Department of Tourism