There are two reasons why anyone cruising along the 50-mile Turquoise Trail between Albuquerque and Santa Fe would choose a Harley-Davidson over a regular car: First, this area of the state receives around 300 days of sunshine a year, so you’re not likely to be rained out. Second, you’ll want as little as possible separating you from the surrounding sights, sounds, and smells. If you have a motorcycle license already, hit the road with a newbie-friendly Sportster (from $75 per day; thunderbirdhd.com); if you don’t, sign up for a course at New York’s Motorcycle Safety School ($350; ridemss.com) before you go, and you’ll have one in less than a week. Once you’ve set out, the best way to break up the journey is at the Mine Shaft Tavern in Madrid (2846 Hwy. 14; 505-473-0743), a biker-friendly roadside joint where locals spend their afternoons sampling the house’s Desert Dog Pilsner ($4) and bopping along to blues and bluegrass. In downtown Santa Fe, the historic La Posada (from $295; laposadadesantafe.com) offers adobe-style casitas—lucky lodgers may catch a performance by Wily Jim, the hotel’s resident yodeling cowboy. The next day, visit the 21,000-acre Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, whose uncanny rock formations were immortalized in the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe; then pull up at the 197-year-old Santuario de Chimayo (15 Santuario Dr.; elsantuariodechimayo.us) to rub yourself with tierra bendita (“holy dirt”) scooped from a pit in the church’s floor. Eventually you’ll wind up back in Santa Fe for a late tapas dinner of serrano-ham-filled bocadillos at the newly opened Taberna La Boca (125 Lincoln Ave., Ste. 117; 505-988-7102), but take your time. Cruising along Highway 503 at sunset, you’ll see the blue-tinted Sangre de Cristo mountains to the east, and breathe in the piñon from the valley below—none of which, thankfully, requires rolling down a window.
The thrill-o-meter: Nobly electrifying.