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On the Turqouise Trail to Madrid

We like our chiles Big in these parts.
We like our chiles Big in these parts.

Local artwork displayed outside of Jezebel. 

Madrid, NM lies halfway between Santa Fe and Albuquerque on NM-14 AKA Turquoise Trail. It is an unlikely destination to be featured in this column because of its highly touristy nature. However, it is a popular destination with riders of all stripes and the Turquoise Trail is well worth the ride. It was also the location where much of the movie "Wild Hogs" was filmed and the set for Maggie's Diner is still in place and functions as a souvenir shop.

To get to Turquoise Trail and Madrid from Santa Fe, take I-25 south to the NM-14/Turquoise Trail exit. The ride of 25 or so miles tracks through a high desert landscape of what is sometimes called "pygmy forest." Punctuated by dramatic rock formations of that vary from off-white and curvy to deep red and jagged.

The road itself is a fairly well maintained two-laner with an almost solid double yellow down the center. It is not uncommon to find yourself behind a slow-moving RV or other plodding type. There are places to pass, albeit not always legally, use caution however when passing through the small towns as they are often speed traps.

Heading south from Santa Fe you will pass the exit for Los Cerillos and if you have time it is an interesting stop.  Then, after swooping through the desert for about ten more miles the outskirts of Madrid appear.  It is an approach one is not likely to miss because the land is puncuated by the towers of multi-colored  old mine tailing on the outskirts.

Mine Shaft Tavern on a weekday morning.  There are only bikes here weekends.

Once a prosperous old-west mining town Madrid became a ghost town in in the middle of the 20th century. It was given new life in the 1070's as an artist colony and remains popular to this day as a tourist and motorcycle destination. The main stop  for motorcyclists is The Mine Shaft Tavern which claims the "... oldest continuously run Tavern in Santa Fe County as well as the longest stand-up bar in the
state of New Mexico!" ( 

Another destiantion of particular interest to riders is the Johnsen and Swan Leather Studio and Craft Gallery.  Here you can purchase handmade and custome leather goods including chaps and other riding gear.  For other places of interest in Madrid there is an excellent interactive map on their website.

Coffe at Dawn in the east hills of Albuquerque.

mountain twisties and sweepers and the view of the surrounding high desert is amazing.  At the end of the ride is Coffee at Dawn which serves amazing coffee and homemade pastries.  And, if you are making the ride this time of year, winter, something to warm the insides will be highly desireable by the time you get there.