The Top Off-Roading Destinations in New Mexico
The Four Corners states of the Mountain West feature some of the most breathtaking natural scenery in the US.
Let’s start with Arizona, home of the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts, the pine-dotted San Francisco Peaks, and of course, the Grand Canyon. Moving clockwise, we experience the red rocks, champagne snow, and evergreen valleys of Utah. Colorado, of course, features sights unlike anywhere else as the High Plains give way to the Rocky Mountains. Finally, we arrive at New Mexico: the Land of Enchantment. It’s an apt nickname for this state with its mesmerizing variety of landscapes—desert, mountains, and prairie all converge within its boundaries.
By venturing where everyday drivers simply can’t tread, Jeep drivers can appreciate the varied terrain and unbelievable sights as they head off the paved highways and into the New Mexican backcountry. We’ve selected a few of the top off-roading destinations in New Mexico for Southwestern off-roaders to consider. If you’re planning a family reunion here, these trips will be some fun diversions from the main event.
Cedro Peak OHV Trail
Remember that old Looney Tunes line, “I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque?” If that turn takes you to the Cibola National Forest a few miles east of New Mexico’s largest metropolis, you’ve made the right move. Within it, you’ll find gorgeous hiking opportunities, cozy campsites, and the Cedro Peak Trail, an eight-mile circuit of moderate difficulty that allows off-roaders a chance to absorb both the flora and fauna of this unique landscape. After taking on the trails, drive into town for some of the best Southwestern cuisine the US has to offer.
Red Sands OHV Area
To World War II enthusiasts, Alamogordo is perhaps most infamous as the test site for the first atomic bomb. To off-road enthusiasts, however, Alamogordo plays host to the Red Sands off-highway park, a Bureau of Land Management area that features over 100 miles of open-sourced OHV paths. A collection of dunes, dunes, and more dunes, off-roading here in the Chihuahuan Desert requires taking special precautions for sandy terrain.
Santa Fe National Forest
We think of the West as a modern addition to the US. It might surprise you, then, that New Mexico’s capital of Santa Fe predates the United States by nearly two centuries. North of Albuquerque lies Santa Fe, going strong since 1607. Farther northwest of the capital is the Santa Fe National Forest, home to some of the top off-roading destinations in New Mexico in one park. Get started with a trip up Elk Mountain, then progress to tougher trails such as Holiday Mesa, Caja Del Rio, and the Jemez Mountains. It’s New Mexico at its most enchanting.