Warm weather was in the forecast here in the Upper Midwest, meaning our snowmobiling season was in danger. So, what did I do? I traveled over 1,000 miles SOUTH to go ride sleds!
Clearly that doesn’t seem to make much sense, and it seemed even less logical when my plane landed in Albuquerque, New Mexico on this past Sunday afternoon (March 13). It was so warm, I was tempted to upgrade to a convertible at the Hertz counter. Driving north toward my destination of Chama, New Mexico, located within a few miles of the Colorado border, with the windows down and the music up loud, it just didn’t seem possible that I’d be riding sleds over the next couple of days.
What I found, however, was some of the best high-mountain playgrounds I’ve ever seen – and I’ve been at this awhile. The riding area around Chama features a fantastic series of wide meadows and easy-to-handle hillclimbs, most found above 9,000 feet in altitude.
The Chama area has been (by their standards) unusually starved of snow this winter – meaning they’ve only had a couple hundred inches of the white gold! Our visit, therefore, was in less than ideal conditions, but the riding was still awesome, and the potential powder riding in the area was very obvious.
We climbed to heights of up to 11,380 at Grouse Mesa and later to more than 10,700 feet at Osier Mountain. But this area doesn’t feature epic climbing, and it doesn’t have much for trails. Instead, it’s all about endless playgrounds, where carving, sidehilling, jumping and boondocking seems limitless.
Best yet, we did it with some fantastic company. We met Dick and Audrey Decker of Decker Sno Venture Tours at the location, along with their longtime friend Dave Everett. On day 1, we were hosted by three-time Indianapolis 500 and 13-time Pikes Peak champion Bobby Unser, his wife Lisa and his friend Paul, who guided us around the Brazos Meadows region. Unser knows the region extremely well, having owned land and recreated in the area for about 40 years.
The second day, local snowmobile tour guide Dwayne Abeyta of Cumbres Adventure Tours showed us around Cumbres Pass, Osier Mountain, Spruce Hole and areas in the Rio Grande National Forest. Dwayne normally leads guests out on his fleet of Ski-Doo rental sleds, and is well versed at both finding cool places to ride and knowing the interesting stories behind the things one comes across in the region.
We’ll have a complete story next fall in Snow Goer magazine.