Sangre de Christo

Words: Daniel Wakefield Pasley | Photography: Daniel Wakefield Pasley | Date:

Angel Fire, one step further in than Taos, is a small town near Wheeler Peak in the Sangre De Christo Mountains, New Mexico’s highest. As far away as it is, Angel Fire is home to a fairly well known century ride called the Enchanted Circle. We didn’t ride that, instead we rode Sangre De Christo, the Enchanted Circle’s lesser known and more stunning and remote little sister. Pat, our host and the owner of a silver deluxe double wide trailer tucked into the pine trees off route 64, practically insisted on it.

The Southern Rockies’ forests, meadows, valleys, and rivers, are majestic, scenic and wild. For the first 50 miles of Sangre De Christo it was postcard perfect; the descents and climbs, the Spanish Flavor and Native American flare and the Tamale shop on the side of the road for lunch. But the second half, past the historic flour mill and the start of our return to Angel Fire, was like nothing we’d ever seen or experienced before.

The road opened up onto a rolling plateau with snow-capped mountains to the left and grassy ranch-lands to the right with a glimpse of the desert ahead. After several short and wonderful successions of rollers, we took a small dirt road further into the foothills. We passed churches, ruins and eventually we dropped into a deep desert canyon, walled-up on one side by a rock escarpment. We passed massive fire damaged trees, dry creek beds, chasing dogs and one angry pick-up truck. On the far side we climbed into a steep high-alpine forest before dropping into a section of rolling hills and valleys the locals understandably called “Little Montana”.

The second half might sound like something you’ve seen before, like something common enough to the Rockies or the American West and Southwest, but it’s not. The second half is why motorcyclists, cyclists and pick-up driving locals go as deep as the roads will take them, because it’s unlike anything anywhere else on the continent, it’s magical and this is why Pat took us on this 100 mile plus journey on bicycles.

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