Boise City/Clayton to Raton New Mexico

Boise City to Raton New Mexico

Or

Clayton New Mexico to Folsom to Raton

The main part of this ride is from Folsom to Raton up and over Johnson’s Mesa. As part of the route from Boise City, the last time I was down it, was dirt I have also started the ride at Clayton. If you haven’t done either, both are great rides.

Boise City is the county seat of Cimarron County which is primarily a ranching area. Boise City has the distinction of having been bombed by the US Army in WW II. A wayward B-17 out of Dalhart with practice bombs and no one was hurt. The Red River Rivalry was going on even in those days.

Head west on Highway 325 heading for Kenton, the only town in Oklahoma in Mountain Standard Time and access to Black Mesa, the highest point in Oklahoma and the entry point for hiking Black Mesa. From Kenton ride west for a short distance to the New Mexico State line and the highway turns into Highway 456. This is the part that is dirt. The last time I rode this there was a little over 10 miles of good graded dirt road, no deep sand or gravel and I suspect that by now at least part of that 10 milesFolsom Falls 95 - Copy has been paved. Paved or not, the traffic is very light. This is ranching country with not a lot of people. It is a pleasant scenic ride towards Folsom with lots of mesas, canyons and other scenic views along the way. Shortly before Folsom there is a rest stop. If you stop and walk a bit you can get a nice view of a small stream running over a lava flow. It is a nice spot to pause for a few minutes. From there it is a short ride to Folsom. Just a little south of Folsom is the Capulin Volcano National Monument, which is well worth a visit.

 For those who don’t want to do the dirt part, this starts in Clayton.

 If you want to do something different include stopping for the night in the Hotel Eklund (hoteleklund.com) in Clayton. The Eklund was built in 1892 and is a full service hotel. If you don’t want to spend the night, stopping for a meal is also a nice idea.

Head west on Highway 64 into the wide open spaces. Looking around the hills you see are extinct (hopefully) volcanoes. This area of New Mexico, in geologically recent times, was very active. There are at least 100 recognizable volcanoes in the surrounding area. There are all three types, cinder, shield and strata volcanoes. You can see the lava flows most everywhere you look.

After a bit you come to the small town of Des Moines. Past there the road turns a bit and there you are looking at a Cinder cone volcano. What you are looking at is Capulin Volcano, the site of Capulin Volcano National Monument. As you ride through the small town of Capulin turn right on Highway 325 and stop at the volcano’s visitor’s center. It is a small but interesting visitor’s center. You can also ride up to the top of the volcano and walk around the rim and enjoy the views and walk down into the crater.

After visiting Capulin head back north to Folsom. If you have the time there is a local museum which is interesting. Also interesting for archeologists, anthropologists and such is that the stone-age Folsom Point was first found near there in 1927.

IMG_0425At Folsom pick up highway 72 heading west towards Raton. This is a two lane road and in places it is rough with blind corners and can have animals on it so don’t get in a hurry and enjoy the ride. The road winds around and up and eventually leads to the top of the mesa and presto, you are in a different world.

The mesa is essentially an island in the sky approximately seven by fourteen miles in size. There are remains of buildings around the mesa and there still is a church. Nowadays the mesa is used for grazing cattle but at one time it was populated with farming families living on about every 160 acres. Winters can be hard on top of the mesa and water was never easy to get. Times change and reportedly no on lives on the mesa year round.IMG_0427

 So with an eye out for wayward animals enjoy the ride across the mesa. On western end the road heads down a canyon to the valley floor. As with the road up, it is a curvy two lane road with blind corners, eventually signs of civilization appear and there you are in Raton. All in all, a pleasant days ride.

 If you have the time and the inclination continue this ride along Highway 64 across the top of New Mexico to Shiprock. That ride is written up another article on the website.