The Rio Costillo valley is a remote part of Northern New Mexico. We rode a lollipop route that was 35 miles with 2300’ of climbing. The riding was on gravel roads and doubletrack through a ginormous valley. The valley is a 101,000 acre mountain basin in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This pristine wilderness was originally part of a huge ranch that Ted Turner owns but in 1982 the area was donated to become part of Carson National Forest and available to the public to enjoy. Enjoy it we did!
We started out riding along Costillo Creek where fishing is popular. There are a dozen or so primitive campsites along the river that are $25/vehicle and there are a couple campgrounds as well. After a few miles we passed all that and were on our own. The riding is never very difficult; it’s the views and the experience that are grade A. After turning off on an overgrown doubletrack we wound back to an old abandoned lodge nestled in a rocky valley. What a beautiful setting!
We rode across extensive rolling grass covered meadows with conifer and aspen forests lining the mountains. The winds picked up a bit here and it was slow going crossing the huge meadow but hell, what have we got but time? The hard part of this ride is the climbs aren’t steep enough to get a true downhill and when we did head downward, the headwinds scrubbed our speed. Once the lollipop part of the ride was done, we headed back the way we came earlier in the day. There are options for longer rides and side trips in this area. One sign showed that Highway 64 was 46 miles away, and that Costilla Reservoir was in the other direction. It’s a good gravel riding area but we didn’t see anyone else.