A Flagstaff to Albuquerque Bike Journey on a Much less Apparent Route


Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride
Fellow riders take within the otherworldly panorama of Arizona’s Petrified Forest Nationwide Park alongside the writer’s Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorbike experience.

If you happen to blindly comply with your GPS, a Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorbike experience is a 320‑­mile drone on Interstate 40. That’s advantageous if Level A to Level B is your solely plan. Nonetheless, most motorcyclists are suckers for attention-grabbing byways and intriguing locations, and I’m no exception. 

Embracing that character trait, I deliberate a convoluted experience that will add about 180 miles and several other hours to this journey. I used to be not simply including saddle time; I used to be additionally including a number of traditionally and culturally vital landmarks. As a substitute of merely slaloming via lengthy‑­haul vehicles on the freeway, I’d make a loop via three nationwide monuments close to Flagstaff: Wupatki, Sundown Crater Volcano, and Walnut Canyon. Persevering with east, I’d go to Meteor Crater, Standin’ on the Nook Park, Petrified Forest Nationwide Park, and in New Mexico, El Malpais Nationwide Monument.  

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride

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Earlier than that roundabout route, I wanted to spend a while in my all‑­time favourite small metropolis, Flagstaff. I lived a few of my most memorable years in these mountains. I’m a graduate of Northern Arizona College in Flagstaff, and any time I’m within the sky‑­excessive metropolis is a private pleasure. 

As I rolled via the campus for some severe reminiscing, most of the buildings introduced again indelible recollections. There’s one location that’s uniquely particular. I spent my sophomore yr within the college’s stately Previous Major constructing when it was nonetheless a dormitory. A long time earlier than I used to be a gleam in anybody’s eye, my dad and mom took a photograph on its iconic steps. The historic crimson Moenkopi sandstone constructing was constructed within the late 1800s and is the centerpiece of each the gorgeous campus and my love for Flagstaff.  

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Northern Arizona University
The writer stops to reminisce at Northern Arizona College’s Previous Major constructing in Flagstaff.

After leaving the campus, I rode via Flagstaff’s charming downtown space. Iconic lodges within the space just like the Lodge Monte Vista and the Weatherford forged a historic shade over the vigorous, rejuvenated leisure and buying district.

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride
Downtown Flagstaff, Arizona.

There isn’t a scarcity of issues to do downtown, together with the Orpheum Theater, many eating choices, and distinctive specialty retailers. The realm is rather more polished and refined than once I was in faculty. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride
Flagstaff’s revitalized downtown space, which sits at almost 7,000 toes on the Colorado Plateau, is a hotbed of exercise in each the cool summer time months and when blanketed in snow.

As an undergraduate, I spent a good period of time “finding out” in varied Flagstaff watering holes, just like the venerable Museum Membership. This time round, as I dropped the kickstand in entrance of the log‑­constructed institution relationship again to 1931, visions of stay bands and lukewarm beer flooded my recollections. A few of Flagstaff’s historical past was misplaced on me whereas matriculating, however the barely extra mature “me” appreciates the classic, mountain‑­stylish nature of the town that lies on historic Route 66. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Museum Club
The historic Museum Membership has been a fixture within the mountain metropolis because the Nice Melancholy period, and it was one of many writer’s favourite haunts throughout his faculty days.

After leaving Flagstaff, I headed north on U.S. Route 89 towards the scenic loop via the primary two nationwide monuments slated for my experience. This primary little spur of my wandering path to Albuquerque was extra of a flyby, as I’ve visited each Wupatki and Sundown Crater Volcano previously. 

See all of Rider‘s West U.S. touring stories here.

Close to the northernmost level of what’s fittingly known as the Sundown Crater‑­Wupatki Loop Highway is a big archeological website. Within the early 1100s, Pueblo communities constructed Wupatki, a bustling middle of commerce and tradition. The location is nicely price a walkabout. After looping farther via the otherworldly panorama of this a part of northern Arizona, I got here to Sundown Crater Volcano. You may see nearly everything of the park from the saddle alongside the loop street. Peering instantly into the mouth of the cinder cone is now not permitted as a result of foot visitors erosion; nonetheless, an extended view of the nationally protected volcanic area continues to be a surprise to expertise.

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Sunset Crater Volcano
Sundown Crater Volcano, fashioned throughout an eruption in 1085, rises greater than 1,000 toes above the encompassing panorama and is seen from a lot of the scenic loop street.

After finishing the loop street, I headed east on I‑­40 for a thin minute to the entry street for a nationwide monument I had not visited beforehand. Walnut Canyon is only a quick jog off the interstate via pines, oaks, and junipers. The endgame is a visually gorgeous canyon setting wealthy in rugged pure magnificence and early human historical past. I didn’t stroll the park’s Island Path, a strenuous one‑­hour hike previous the early cliff dwellings; nonetheless, I took within the large‑­image expertise of the park’s rim path, which provides nice views of the dwellings and the rugged topography. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki Nationwide Monument sits as a visually gorgeous reminder of previous civilizations.

At this level in my Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorbike experience, I had been within the saddle or exploring for nicely over an hour, and I used to be solely 8 miles exterior of my authentic launching level. I did say I used to be not taking essentially the most direct path to Albuquerque! My eastward trek resumed on I‑­40 and was precisely what freeway journey is designed to be: quick, environment friendly, and boring. My speedometer needle was pinned resolutely at 75 mph as I rolled via the tall pines of northern Arizona, which melted into junipers after which grasslands as I made my means towards the subsequent attraction. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Walnut Canyon
Walnut Canyon, a brief hop off Interstate 40, is definitely accessible even in motorbike boots.

About 40 miles out of Flagstaff, I got here to the exit ramp for Meteor Crater. There are quite a few “teaser” indicators alongside the entry route which might be meant to construct anticipation for the pure surprise on the street’s terminus. As I approached, I noticed the final word teaser: an infinite raised, spherical “lip” that’s proof of the cosmic collision that occurred 1000’s of years in the past. 

I rolled into the parking zone and secured my move to see the crater. On my method to the viewing areas, I loved a sequence of museums and shows that cowl the historical past of house journey, hypothetical (corny?) representations of aliens, and the scientific nature of the meteor that discovered its method to earth some 50,000 years previous to my go to. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Meteor Crater
The writer’s spouse takes within the view at Meteor Crater, which is situated between Flagstaff and Winslow, Arizona. The location provides a number of fascinating observational views.

As I lastly made my means exterior the ability to the viewpoints alongside the rim of the crater, the large bowl didn’t disappoint. One can not assist however stand in awe of the impression that created the earthen wound. There are a number of vantage factors from which to view the crater, in addition to preset telescopes for a better have a look at its attention-grabbing options. Effectively well worth the go to.

With the cosmic pockmark fading within the rear views, I used to be again on the interstate for a fast jaunt. Most of this experience was a survey in historic locations, however there was a little bit musical interlude singing its siren track in downtown Winslow. I pulled as much as the intersection of Route 66 and North Kinsley Avenue, now designated as Standin’ on the Nook Park, the place a flatbed Ford was conspicuously parked. 

Positive, it’s kitschy, however for anybody who has crooned together with the 1972 Eagles track “Take It Simple,” it’s a should cease. I took the requisite photograph with a bronze Glenn Frey and searched in useless for the woman in that flatbed Ford. Winslow can be house to the historic La Posada Lodge, the Previous Trails Museum, and Homolovi State Park.

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Route 66 Winslow Arizona
No Route 66 experience could be full with out stopping on the “nook” in Winslow, Arizona.

Once more heading east, the subsequent city of notice into which I rolled was one other Route 66 remnant. Simply off Holbrook’s principal drag rests an iconic mid‑­century attraction. Over a dozen giant, conical teepees make up the historic Wigwam Motel. These buildings and the traditional automobiles staged across the property beg for a go to and pictures. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Wigwam Hotel Holbrook Arizona
The Wigwam Motel, a Route 66 fixture in Holbrook, Arizona, is price a cease for a dose of Nineteen Fifties Americana.

Simply 30 miles east of Holbrook is the exit for Petrified Forest Nationwide Park. I rode due south on what could be an prolonged departure from any interstate freeway. After paying my entry payment, I rolled right into a lunar‑­esque panorama wealthy in pastel hues and without end views. The street via the guts of the park is 26 miles of intrigue.

I finished at Newspaper Rock, which options a whole bunch of historic petroglyphs of animals, weapons, and people. The etched collectible figurines inform an enchanting story, together with how the exaggerated endowment on the male stick figures speaks to the truth that males by no means change. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Petrified Forest National Park
The writer pulled off his using gear for a stroll via the Petrified Forest, which preserves fossilized logs from bushes that lived 225 million years in the past.

At my subsequent cease, the park’s Crystal Forest, I pulled off my gear for a stroll among the many large petrified logs that lay strewn all through the undulations of the strolling path. The trail is a sojourn right into a prehistoric wonderland. Logs lay as large, impartial rounds in addition to segmented items the place they fell hundreds of thousands of years in the past. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride
Entry into New Mexico brings with it a novel Southwestern really feel.

Equipped once more, I exited the park to the south and continued on the longest aspect leg of this elongated experience to Albuquerque. I rode via the distant japanese Arizona cities of St. Johns and Springerville earlier than heading due east on U.S. Route 60 into New Mexico. The grasslands and excessive chaparral panorama are huge‑­open and exquisite, making for a enjoyable Southwestern using expertise. 

On the small New Mexican city of Quemado, I finished for a fast have a look at the tiny Catholic mission on the outskirts of the hamlet, certainly one of many such historic missions in New Mexico, earlier than heading north on State Route 36. The excessive‑­desert using continued on State Route 117 till I got here to the final of my deliberate stops. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride
Historic missions and different spiritual landmarks dot New Mexico’s lovely panorama.

The Narrows is a placing rock rim characteristic throughout the El Malpais Nationwide Monument. The street follows that sheer rim for a pleasant stretch earlier than the ledge eases and separates from the tarmac. The following notable characteristic is a picturesque pure rock bridge to the north of The Narrows. A brief stroll reveals the grandeur of the La Ventana Pure Arch. After a go to, my route rejoined the freeway for the ultimate stretch to Albuquerque. 

Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorcycle ride Narrows El Malpais National Monument
The Narrows in El Malpais Nationwide Monument is a hidden treasure in western New Mexico.

Nope, this was definitely not the quickest Flagstaff to Albuquerque motorbike experience, however it was infinitely extra memorable. 

See all of Rider‘s touring stories here.

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