Driving On The Edge

14 Nov
2011
Posted in: Drives, New Mexico
By    2 Comments

Do you have guts of steel?  Can you stand on the edge of a cliff without getting dizzy?  Do you love to drive on challenging roads?  Do you have an innate hatred of guardrails and center stripes?  If you answered yes to all of these questions, then we have the road for you.  Ship your Porsche to Silver City, NM, and drive NM Route 15 from Piños Altos to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

You’re going to want to fill up before you leave Silver City.  You should also have your brakes checked, and pack a lunch while you’re at it. (The locals also seem to pack and pitch plenty of Bud Light.  This is not recommended.)  It’s going to be a long day.  It’s just 80 miles, round trip, but it’s going to take a few hours, depending on weather conditions and the amount of gravel in the road (if it’s snowing, don’t even attempt: the road is not plowed on evenings or weekends).  If it’s raining, you won’t even be able to get to the best parts, because the road does double duty as a drainage ditch/river at certain points.

On the way up, you’re going to be pulling over for locals left and right.  You’ll be white-knuckled around the unmarked hairpins and 10 mph curves.  But you’ll learn the road.  The rhythm of the curves will become like second nature.  On the way back, you’ll make two locals pull over to let you fly by.  You’ll twist and turn round those curves like the wind.  It’s a good thing there’s only one way in and one way out, because the way back is when it gets really good.

I should mention that you’re going to want to do this alone.  This has got to be one of the top ten worst roads in the world on which to be a passenger (though Paul was a good sport).  And watch out for deer, and horses, and men shooting deer from the road.  Anything goes out here.

If you make it back, stop at the Buckhorn Saloon in Piños Altos for a steak and a whiskey.  This place has been here since the 1800s, serving mavericks like you.


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  • Robert McNamara

    That does look like a fun drive! Rugged looking country.

  • Clydicus

    My top two most terrifying car rides:

    – The road along the Gorge du Verdon in Provence, France.  Narrow, windy, cliffs, no guard rails, and crazy Frenchman barreling around corners in their little camper vans (that you KNOW can’t stop).  To top it off: my mother-in-law behind the wheel, and my father-in-law backseat driving.

    – Bus ride to Mussoorie in northern India.  Endless, narrow, windy roads without guard rails, with terrifying cliffs off the side of the road, a crazy bus driver behind the wheel, and everything from 5X overloaded trucks to actual elephants whipping around the corners in the other direction.  Too many near-head-on collisions to count. In India, driving safety means remembering to say a prayer to Gannesh, the Remover Of Obstacles.