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The "Holy Ghost" campground - a picnic in the Pecos

Heading North on I-25
Heading North on I-25

Headed north on I-25 towards Pecos, NM

It has been a long hard winter in Santa Fe and spring is just now reluctantly emerging. Even with the days warming up, the windows of opportunity for pleasant weather riding are still rather narrow. Mornings are cold and the wind tends to blow fiercely in the afternoon. One of the beautiful things about living in or visiting this area are the number of good rides in easy reach. One of these mini-adventures that is particularly inviting is a visit to the "Holy Ghost" camping area. The entire adventure is just over 80 miles but takes one out into a wonderful wilderness world.

From Santa Fe the entire trip is just about 80 miles but it seems much farther because it takes one deep into the world of the wilderness. Travel north north on US 25 which oddly enough heads south initially. Travel seven miles to exit 299/NM 50. NM 50 vectors south east through the storied town of Pecos. The speed limit along this rural route is 45 miles and hour and rather strictly enforced. Drivers are courteous but not always entirely aware of their surroundings.

Riding into the Pecos wilderness

At the intersection of NM 50 and NM 63 turn north. The outskirts of Pecos continue for another mile or two and the urge to twist the throttle must be resisted. Soon, however, civilization falls away and freedom of both motor and mind are attainable.

The road signs are marked will continue to point the way towards Cowles, NM. Points of interest along the way include the Pecos Benedictine Monastery and the Lisbosa Springs fish hatchery.

At Tererro there is a sharp and easy to miss turn to the north west which is marked intriguingly "Holy Ghost," referring to the "Holy Ghost" campground which lies at roads end.

Although this road is accessible on any street bike caution is indicated, and if you just can't bear to get a chip in that $5000 paint job you might want to give it a miss. That caveat aside this little ribbon of pavement is a ton of first and second gear technical fun.

A motorcycle picnic in the "Holy Ghost" campground

The center of the road is liberally strewn with pebbles and sharp gravel so riding a clean line is a necessity. The edge of the high and fragrant conifer forest meets the rider to the right and large, broad valleys rise and fall hundreds of feet to the left. The Pecos river braids itself around the route through a series of slippery and narrow bridges. (Meeting up with those too large RV's making their descent from the campgrounds is a particularly adventurous experience.)

Even this early in the season (early May) the air is lightly seasoned with the scent of woodsmoke rising from the many cabins intriguingly place on unlikely rocks and ledges along the river. A bit further up the road riding becomes even more challenging as speed bumps built for giants began to make their appearance along with cattle gaurds which have been flooded with mud and gouged by the recently departed heavy weather.

After crossing one final bridge the road opens up onto a broad parking lot with a couple of picnic tables. The it is possible to ride farther on into the campground but a very official sign warns in no uncertain terms, "Picnickers Must Pay." There is an $8.00 per day fee for day use or camping in the campground proper but the aforementioned parking lot is free.

Stopping at the free site and having a mid-ride snack is extremely pleasant. A small fork of the the Pecos river runs bubbles by next to the picnic tables. A short hike west reveals a network of interlocking small tributaries making their way down the high slope.

It is very peaceful except for the occasional sound of distant gunfire. One hopes they are shooting the other way!

After lunch and maybe a hike, home base is an easy 40 miles away and there is still time for a nap before dinner.



  • Patty Davis 5 years ago

    I liked your pictures - totally different scenery than what I was expecting.

  • Sharon Smith Dallas Motorcycle Lifestyle Examiner 5 years ago

    I went to High School in New Mexico and know the area well. Beautiful and breathtaking.

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