We started off the morning riding east from Farmington, NM on US 64, riding out of the industrial/commercial area into open country, following the 2-lane paved highway as it swept and turned past high rock walls.
Monday, May 31, 2021
Into the mountains
64 East took us through the Carson National Forest and then the Jicarilla Apache Nation in this rugged and beautiful part of northern New Mexico.
We turned north on NM 17, riding through the small town of Chama, home of the historic Cumbres and Toltec Scenic narrow gauge railroad. Only 64 miles of narrow gauge tracks remain, and this year one of the original 1880's steam engines returns to service.
Route 17 and the narrow gauge railroad snake through the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the southernmost range of the Rocky Mountains. This is gorgeous country, and we were excited to watch the elevation rise to 10,230' at the top of La Manga Pass once we crossed over into Colorado.
We turned around and retraced our route heading south on 17, crossing back into New Mexico and descending through groves of aspens.
We stopped for lunch at Fina's Diner in Chama where we sat outside in the large tent and watched the holiday weekend traffic, including a few motorcycles, zip past us on the highway. We turned north on US 84, crossed back into Colorado, and ended our day in Pagosa Springs.
We love seeing water running in the streams, green grass, and the snowy mountain tops which are so different from our home in Arizona. Pagosa Springs sits at about 7100' elevation on the Western Slope of the Continental Divide in an absolutely stunning part of the country. Our first day of the trip was all about straight roads through the desert, and today we enjoyed sweeping curves through the mountains.