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yater 08-26-2005 08:13 AM

Crossing New Mexico on a dr350
I found myself with 18 days to kill starting the first week of august. Determined to escape the Texas heat, I decided a retreat to the mountains of New Mexico was in order. I have access to a cabin in Ruidoso that would serve as my home base for the ride and would allow storage of my truck for the 10 days I planned to be on the bike. After very little preparation and packing, I loaded my '98 dirt model dr350 and headed to NM, taking a slight detour through cloudcroft to enjoy the mountain air. After a couple of nights relaxing at the cabin, I overloaded my dr350 and headed north. I have a buddy in Taos who owns a first rate mineral springs resort in Ojo Caliente...about 40 miles southwest of Taos. I would ride to Ojo Caliente where he would join me for a 2 day ride north into the vast national forest surrounding the resort. SHAMELESS PLUG: the spa/resort is surrounded by national forest and accessable by BLM serves as an excellent destination or home-base for adventure riding.--

I cut the 400 mile trip north in half, staying the night in the posh motel 6 in albequerque

The trip consisted of mostly gravel county roads and forest service roads. Fuel was a concern since my bike sported the stock tank, so I opted for an "auxiliary tank" strapped to the bars. I actually assumed that some of these smaller towns would have fuel but it was not the case. I stretched my range to about 190 miles between stops and got a consistant 70mpg! This is a lonely stretch of gravel somewhere between capitan and Ancho

Strombony 08-26-2005 08:40 AM

wow, touring on the dr350. you gotta be tough. mo pics please

yater 08-26-2005 09:28 AM

Many of these gravel roads cross indian reservations and are relabled "BIA" (bureau of indian affairs) roads...I'll say that my delorme atlas was absolutely worthless when it came to road marking--it was wrong about 90% of the time but I could follow my intented route with a compass, reference point (mountains), and a little common gps on this trip. Some of the villages on these remote bia roads were nothing more than a few trailers and a post office, surrounded by reservation with 40+ miles of gravel to the nearest civilization. It seems like there are 2 dogs to each resident, therefore I was unable to get pictures <!--emo&:o--><!--endemo-->

I was naive in thinking Ancho would provide a cold drink and possibly fuel...the town consisted of the "house of old things" museum,a few deserted buildings, and a railroad.


the railroad

After crossing the railroad, I was in for the longest pavement stretch of the trip...highway 55 up to mountain air was a long straight stretch with a few opportunities to veer off onto county roads that parrallel the pavement. These gravel stretches were full throttle wide open for miles. The dr350 is NOT the ideal bike for long hauls on pavement but I found her sweet spot and made it work. Slide, on advrider, mentioned the gran quivira ruins and I blazed by a sign that I thought I I whipped it around to check things out

I discovered that the gran quivira ruins were only 1 mile south of my location and had to was a welcome break from the drone of my 606s!

From what I understand, gran quivira served as a trading post for many of the pueblo tribes dating back to about 1300ce. Their vantage point from this hilltop is amazing

This may have been some kind of grain storage. The water trap was located down hill... a huge levee to pool the runoff.

I was most impressed by the church. Construction is said to have commenced in the mid 1600s and was abruptly halted in about 1670...I'm not sure why. This would not be the last (or the most complete) of the pueblo churches I would find.

yater 08-26-2005 01:39 PM

Mountainair, NM (yes, one word) was a short jaunt from the ruin site via gravel county roads. I was certain I could find fuel there and was dying for a redbull...I found both. After a break in the shade to review my maps, drink my redbull, and enjoy a tuna salad snack, I decided to hightail it to route 66 and west to albequerque. I was equipped to camp but it was still relatively early (about 4pm) and I wasn't about to sit around and wait for cool weather. Albequerque was my ONLY chance to stop before enduring another 150 miles of off-road I endulged myself (see pic of bike in room at top of thread) <!--emo&:D--><!--endemo--> I also walked across the street to see dukes of hazard and found it entertaining after a day of riding...and MAN Jessica Simpson makes a fantastic Daisy Duke <!--emo&:drool:--><!--endemo-->

The next morning I headed out at daylight and passed several GS guys doing the same...the temperature was brisk and not a cloud in the sky. Today's ride would include a short backtrack up 66 and a 30 mile gravel stretch on old madera road heading north.

old madera road

If you look closely, you can see the ghost town along the creek bed. I guess this was a mining town at one point...maybe someone knows what they mine here?

Old madera road spit me out on a casino infested intersection with I25, about 8 miles south of my intended route (22N). I fueled up and made short work of the interstate stretch (a little hairball on the dr350) and ducked back into the bia system...heading north toward the Jemez mountains and dome wilderness area

Again, my map was totally wrong and showed bia19 at this intersection....the road was marked FR149. I was a little concerned because I immediately started rocky switchbacks into the wilderness and wasn't certain of my heading. Fuel is always a concern with a 2 1/2 gallon tank.


Pictures don't do this justice. This was a nice 2000' drop into the valley below

thegraydog 08-26-2005 02:27 PM

Great trip, great report. Keep going!

What can you tell me about the DR350? How heavy, last year made? E-start? I have a drz250 and a dr650se....have only toured on the bigger one.

yater 08-26-2005 02:58 PM


Originally Posted by thegraydog
Great trip, great report. Keep going!

What can you tell me about the DR350? How heavy, last year made? E-start? I have a drz250 and a dr650se....have only toured on the bigger one.

For reasons unknown, I recently sold my 2000 dr650, otherwise, I would have taken it...But the adventure is in the ride. I have nothing but praise for the dr350. This is my second....the first was a '97se (factory dual sport) but I found myself replacing the "se" parts with dirt model parts. I found it cheaper to buy the dirt model and plate it. I had the suspension done by scotts and added the baja kit..I also LOVE the pumper carb compared to it's CV counterpart on the street model. The only thing I lost was e-start but this thing ALWAYS fires on the first kick so it's not an issue to me.

yater 08-26-2005 02:59 PM

About 15 miles into the dome wilderness area, in the Jemez mountains, I came to this barren opening in the forest, obviously recycled by fire. I'm not ruling out arson or human stupidity, but judging by the storm that has snuck over the ridge on me, lightening is the probable cause here

My goal today is to reach Ojo Caliente and be treated to a fantastic meal (prepared by the house chef) and a soak in the hot springs...oh and to catch up with my buddy, Andy. Referring to my map and using the "dome" as my reference, I orient myself and realize that my assumtion had been correct...the map was wrong but I was on the right fire road. I popped out at state road 4 and enjoyed 10+ miles of twisties into Los Alamos, Espanola, and then up 185 to Ojo Caliente. I was greeted by Andy and his beautiful wife, Jen, (they run the place) and treated to a beautiful sampling of tenderloin, sante fe chicken, shrimp etc...again, the food is first rate....then a soak in the hot springs. These springs have been used by the natives for thousands of years and are somewhat unique because they lack the distinct sulfer smell associated with many of the springs in the area.

The view of Ojo Caliente mineral springs from the BLM road coming in. The old hotel (est. 1914) can be seen in the bottom left of the picture. Out of view is the huge deck looking out from the main building. I can just picture the old hitchin' post out front...what an oasis this place must have been to those guys on horseback! The private (clothing optional) outdoor pools are located at the right of the picture, surrounded by the adobe walls. I highly recommend them!

nmrider 08-26-2005 03:57 PM


Originally Posted by yater
About 15 miles into the dome wilderness area, in the Jemez mountains, I came to this barren opening in the forest, obviously recycled by fire. I'm not ruling out arson or human stupidity, but judging by the storm that has snuck over the ridge on me, lightening is the probable cause here

...The view of Ojo Caliente mineral springs from the BLM road coming in.

thanks for writing up your New Mexico trip.
The area you rode thru burned almost 30 years ago (1977) and was started by a catalytic converter, although lightning has started many fires here.
And I second your Ojo Caliente recommendation. I've got an annual pass and it's worth the hour drive.

O.K. - more photos please :ear

Foto Veloce 08-26-2005 04:12 PM


Originally Posted by thegraydog
Great trip, great report. Keep going!

What can you tell me about the DR350? How heavy, last year made? E-start? I have a drz250 and a dr650se....have only toured on the bigger one.

I have a DR250ES myself. Longest ride so far was 90 miles. Man that looks like FUN!!

davorallyfan 08-26-2005 04:25 PM

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I used to do a bit of touring on my DR 350 - a great little bike - so light!

Thanks for the story it brought back some fond memories.

yater 08-26-2005 06:17 PM

So Andy and I grew up together in Louisiana and he considers himself my big do I. He actually taught me how to ride a dirtbike when we were kids since my parents were against them until later. Andy has a '96 klx650 but has been out of riding for a year or so. I ordered parts from several different vendors and had them shipped to Ojo so we would have extras in case the bike needed a little waking up. After a night of dinner and hot springs, and great sleep, I woke up and began working to get HIS bike going. She just needed some cleaning up, rejetting, a little JB weld, etc and we were good to go. We rode back to his house in Taos that night and would spend the next few days there waiting out the monsoons...and checking out the area.

Andy...somewhere between Ojo Caliente and Taos
Andy and Jen's yard in Taos

I spent the night at the house and headed out in the morning to do a little exploring. I picked a few roads on my atlas and headed toward the mountains. I came around a corner and saw this...

Thinking I had made quite a discovery, I dismounted and snapped a few pictures. As I packed my camera and headed around the corner, I was met by a hundred seems I had mistakenly discovered Taos Pueblo, the old indian village and tourist attraction...but I had gotten here by gravel intead of the main much for adventure--This is an elevated burial ground.

yater 08-26-2005 08:18 PM

We finally woke up to blue skies and headed north from Ojo Caliente. On the way out, I stopped at the rio grande gorge for a couple of pics. Locals say people come from miles around to hurl themselves from this span...without parachutes <!--emo&:dunno:--><!--endemo-->

The pavement ends a few miles outside of town and fire roads web through Carson national forest from Ojo to Colorado and beyond. We weren't on a schedule and had no destination...the only plan was to find a campground that night located on the water (preferably the brazos river).

Andy in the high country..yes, that's an overstuffed wolfman alfa on the back of his klx. It did great on the trip and survived a couple of diggers
Me too

We didn't cross much water, but here's a little sample

Just after this water crossing, as I was following Andy, I saw his white helmet go left, swap right, and dissappear in the brush. My first thought was "oh shit, how will I get him out of here?" I came around the corner, he was already on his feet and trying to lift the bike. Turns out the extra weight on the rear of the bike got the best of him and he washed out. The bike suffered a bent rear brake lever but was easily "fixed"

In our quest for the brazos river, we came upon posted land. After guessing our location on my map, we thought it best to backtrack to our last know location and look for a camping spot...the skies were black by this point and monsoon rain was immanent. We settled on an old hunting camp with a running stream cool the beer <!--emo&:D--><!--endemo-->

A view from my tent the next morning

About 1/2 mile up the cowtrail from our campsite, we found this old hunter's cabin. I'm guessing this is a hotspot during elk season...yes ladies, I'm single <!--emo&:yes:--><!--endemo-->

gaspipe 08-26-2005 08:25 PM

Used to ride that area in the 80's on an XT550 when I was based out of Costilla, NM/Garcia, CO.

Great pics :thumb

yater 08-27-2005 09:41 AM

Shortly after we passed the hunter's cabin, we found that our trail once again ended at private property. The map showed the trail continuing to our destination but we weren't in a hurry to get there, so we backtracked again to a more frequently travelled fire road. At this point, Andy switched to reserve...apparently, he had been riding like an ass the previous day and limited his range to about 110 miles+ reserve (what were they thinking with that little tank??). My map showed that our only option to the north was San Miguel...approx 30 miles. There had been some discussion earlier about the availability of fuel there...fortunately, we took a straight shot to the pavement and south for fuel. Andy's tank ran dry about 10 miles shy of our station. Luckily, I still had my 1 litre "auxiliary" tank on my handlebars. That got us there. It was later confirmed that there was no fuel in San Miguel....would have been sol.

After fueling, we headed back into the national forest.

Andy in motion

Andy...our road back toward Ojo can be seen in the valley behind Andy

As we neared Ojo Caliente, thoughts of hotsprings and prepared meals motivated us to try a "short cut" across a washed out piece of ranch land. The riding was great, although a bit sandy for the klx, until we came to this damn gate.

Andy walked down the hill to the ranch house and asked the nice lady if there was a way through (so we wouldn't have to backtrack through the sand)...She showed us the "old drive" which was a 60* rock hill sliding into the back yard. Andy dumped his bike...again but we made it down and out to the main road. As we rolled into Ojo, the rain closed in again

After dinner, the sky opened up in a torrential downpour. There is nothing like soaking in the hotsprings (outdoor), at night, in the pouring rain, after 8 days of dirtbiking.

The next morning, we said our goodbyes over breakfast and I headed out early. I chose a slightly different route on the return trip, hoping to avoid the pavement stretch on I25. As I switched county roads near Punta de Agua, I remembered a ruin marker on my map. Just outside of town was this pueblo is the most complete existing example of pueblo architecture. Tribes settled in this area around 1200ce--I believe the church was constructed between 1300-1500. The massive walls and stone floor provide a welcome escape from the heat. The temperature difference was amazing when I stepped inside....nice and cool.

The altar would be opposite the entrance, straight ahead

I spent the next two days dogding storms, working my way back south to Ruidoso

Outrunning a storm

And rode back through the dome wilderness area

I made it back to the cabin without incident...ahh, the cabin

When I returned to the cabin, I thought I would have satisfied my riding itch for a while..not so. I could have left again the next morning. My bike performed flawlessly and I had zero "getoffs". The trip totalled about 1350 miles. I have a new respect for these guys like StrikingViking who spend their time and energy writing these reports. Thanks for the motivation guys

qwazimoto 08-27-2005 12:42 PM

Yater,real cool report man.Is there any way you could post your route.The heat has me thinking about heading out there for a while as well.

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