Backcountry Discovery Routes Invests Funds to Open New Riding Terrain in Elephant Rock Trail System in New Mexico
October 16, 2020
October 16, 2020
Last year, the BDR provided $7,500 in funds together with the Trail Preservation Alliance, which enabled the New Mexico Off Highway Vehicle Alliance (NMOHVA) to secure several other OHV grants to reopen the Elephant Rock Motorcycle Trail Network in Taos County, New Mexico. The project has created approximately 35 miles of enjoyable trails for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles near the town of Red River, NM, in the Taos County.
The project centered on restoring previously decommissioned dirt roads for use by motorcyclists, including dual-sport and adventure riders. In addition to newly re-opened routes, the project has increased riding opportunities by connecting to other existing riding areas. Located just 50 miles away from the New Mexico BDR, these trails have now become a discovery point for BDR riders.
The clearing of the trails, excavation, and trail building work is now complete. Currently, NMOHVA is working on improving parking, installing trailhead signage, building bridges and gates at the highest level of engineering and security protocol.
“While the BDR is generally focused on preserving existing roads and trails for adventure riding, this opportunity has actually re-opened previously unrideable terrain in a beautiful backcountry location. It has become a showcase for how private funds can be leveraged to secure public grants for projects that benefit adventure motorcyclists.”
“This success in the selection and use of old roads that were designated as ‘Motorcycle Only’ through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process within Travel Management Rules, but were basically unridable due to extreme erosion and other deferred maintenance, will open doors for larger developments of Dual-sport and Adventure riding opportunities in New Mexico.”
The Elephant Rock OHV Trail Network appears on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) for the Questa Ranger District of the Carson National Forest and is recognized is a very unique legal, ‘Motorcycle Only’ use area. The volunteers from NMOHVA will be the stewards of the land and donate their time to annual maintenance of the area.
This re-opened trail network is expected to become a driver for motorcycle tourism in New Mexico by providing motorcyclists traveling the NMBDR or Continental Divide with an optional one-day diversion that is substantially off pavement.
With OHV tourism on the rise in New Mexico, and the outdoor season being longer than that of the neighboring state Colorado, the potential of motorcycle-recreation-based economic development is high. The BDR sees the potential to make a positive impact on the economy in this area and is working to get the word out to the ADV community about this new riding opportunity.
The final stage of the project will be completed by the end of 2020. The BDR
has pledged additional funds to develop marketing and promotional materials that will incorporate core BDR safety messages, like Ride Right and Ride Respectfully.
Photos by Sam Lambie