New Mexico has some of the most scenic and diverse small towns in the United States, but sometimes you have to get off the interstate to see them. The town of Madrid (population about 300) is one of those places. Although it may not be as famous as other places in New Mexico, it has become a favorite destination for motorcyclists. This is partly due to the mountainous terrain and stunning scenery. And it is partly due to the fact that the movie, Wild Hogs, was filmed there. For motorcycle enthusiasts, however, half the fun of going to Madrid is getting there!
The town of Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid) has a colorful past. At one time, it had been a coal mining and railroad town. But when those industries moved away, the population dwindled. However, the town’s residents pulled together and transformed the community into a haven for art galleries, nature lovers, historians, and, yes, motorcyclists.
A laid-back theme runs strong in this community, as does a sense of pride. Local residents and visitors alike congregate at local hang-outs or outdoor patios, relax, and just watch the world go by. Many are dressed in biker leather, the preferred mode of transportation in these parts.
Weekends are especially bustling when there’s live music at the Mine Shaft Tavern, an historic bar and grill that caters to bikers. Although there is a large outdoor patio, inside is the longest “stand-up bar in New Mexico.” Two other favorite gathering places are the Jezebel Soda Fountain where old time cherry colas and ice cream sodas are made to order and the Java Junction which serves the best Italian espressos in town.
As previously mentioned, half the fun of going to Madrid is in getting there. For a motorcyclist, this is especially true because the Turquoise Trail carves through such gorgeous landscapes. Nothing compares to the feeling of euphoria as you ride the scalloped road that follows the foothills of the Sandia Mountain, past the entrance of the Sandia Peak Ski Area, and then zip through the winding canyon of the Ortiz Mountains. Historic landmarks, unique razorback rock formations, and brilliant blue skies complete the picture.
Although Madrid is also accessible by interstate, the Turquoise Trail is a wonderful option for taking an alternate route between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. By taking this road less traveled, you’ll discover this place that is less known but is a gem in its own way.
Razer Back Ridge is seen on NM 14, known as the Turquoise Trail.If heading out from Albuquerque, take Interstate-40 and turn north at Highway 536 towards the Sandia Peak Ski Area Highway 536 combines with State Highway 14, which is the road to Santa Fe via Madrid.