Ride of a Lifetime: Four Corners Tours
Original blog post by Robert Griego from My Motorcycle Tales (www.mymotorcycletales.com). Robert writes the "In Pursuit of Wildness" articles for RoadRUNNER Magazine and is a 35-year veteran with the National Park Service.
Imagine riding your motorcycle across New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.
I've been on these roads, always coming home with a smile on my face. An adventure is what I call it and so does Florian Neuhauser, Managing Editor at RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel magazine. I could hardly believe his words, “Would you like to join us on the Four Corners tour in the spring?” I listen intently about this organized motorcycle ride operated by RoadRUNNER's sister company, Blue Rim Tours. I’m intrigued even before his words fade.
The Four Corners region is iconic, perhaps one of the most sought after motorcycle rides in America, maybe the world. Epic. I’ve ridden these scenic corners across the four Western states on a motorcycle. It’s hard to say which is best. These routes are timeless, absolutely bucket list rides for motorcyclists.
Florian continues, “This ride begins and ends in Albuquerque, NM. We'll visit the Valles Calders, Aztec Ruins National Monument, Shiprock, Million Dollar Highway, Mesa Verde National Park, Goosenecks State Park, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, and El Morro National Monuments."
Now, my interest is really piqued. “Florian, I’ve been on all of those roads except the Million Dollar Highway, and the ride sounds awesome—I’m in!” I say almost before he finishes speaking. "You will be part of the lead team, we'll cover the logistics," he finally adds.
The Blue Rim Tour logo is impressive and saying their manta out loud puts a smile on my face: “The motorcycle ride of a lifetime.”
One of my favorite rides in the four corners region was with our son, Keith. It's called, "Father and son ride." We rode from San Diego, CA to La Joya, NM along some lonely, scenic roads. I remember asking him shortly after leaving Bandelier National Monument on NM Highway 4, “If we go left, we’ll end up at Bernalillo; if we go right, we’ll end up in Cuba.” He looked puzzled, later realizing that Cuba was safely along Highway 550 in New Mexico! I tell him more about another ride over some of the same routes, it's called, "Exploring the Badlands of New Mexico, Johnny Cash style." Sharing an experience like this with your son, well that's priceless.
A few years ago on a solo ride, I camped at Canyon de Chelly National Monument and rode a horse into the sacred canyons of the Navajo Nation. I’m not sure which I love more, riding a horse or a motorcycle. Later, I invited my wife Denise to join me on a trip back to Canyon de Chelly; she loved it.
On another motorcycle ride, I remember the evening light slowly fading far above the San Juan River. My brother Gilbert and I built a small fire and cooked our Dinty Moore stew over a small camp fire. They call this place Goosenecks State Park. We thank our ancestors for such a beautiful spot to camp and sleep comes easily on the rim etched by time. Our first visit to this place was special, bonding two brothers beyond our earthly comprehension. We talk about life and our love for such beauty found in Utah where our brother Moite once lived. Tomorrow, we head toward the famous Monument Valley. Gilbert has been there before but I have not. I hope my dreams will paint a picture for me; I'm sure it will be priceless.
Monument Valley appears after a few short miles straight out of a John Huston movie. I know this place.
Our ride through Monument Valley continues just as John Huston's cameras recorded the scenes—the towering sandstone rock formations are incredible. It’s hard to describe. One needs to feel the wind in your face riding the miles. Timeless. Solitude. Perfect. Sacred. You'll never leave the same. Time slows, then almost stops. Moments. There is a story called Hágoónee’ that you’ll remember.
El Morro National Monument tells a story of timeless history. In 1598, Spanish explorer Don Juan Oñate who searched for gold, inscribed his name on the sandstone walls declaring his presence: “Pasó por aquí” ("passed by here"). The complete story is in my article “In Pursuit of Wildness: New Mexico’s El Morro National Park.”
The Million Dollar Highway is heavy on my mind; perhaps that will be a future article. First, I need to ride those miles in Colorado with Blue Rim Tours, experience the moments, and then take a deep breath. The words will come; the miles will see to that. The Four Corners tour will cross three mountain passes in excess of 10,000 feet. This past summer I crossed similar Colorado passes at Rocky Mountain National Park writing the article, Sí Se Puede honoring my brother Leo's retirement. On a motorcycle the air is crisp and clear with magnificent views that stretch forever and then some. An adventure on a motorcycle! The motorcycle ride of a lifetime.
You decide! I need to pack. The miles before me beacon me toward the four corners. "Florian, I'm in."