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Raton NM to Kansas City MO (Southwest Kansas)

Old 05-25-21, 09:24 AM
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kansascity
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Raton NM to Kansas City MO (Southwest Kansas)

With the Canadian boarder still closed, I am looking an alternative bicycle trip from Raton NM to my home in Kansas City Missouri. In previous summers, I have biked from Kansas City to Chicago and then Chicago to Buffalo (via Canada). My end result is to piece together a full continental trip and this gives me another chunk.

I will use Amtrak to start my trip.

Any highlights in the Northeast New Mexico, the corner area of Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Southwestern Kansas?
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Old 05-25-21, 09:46 AM
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Ain't **** in southwest Kansas. I lived out there for a while. NM and Colorado are pretty though, probably plenty to see there.

I've taken the Amtrak to NM before. Technically it's not a route that they specify you can bring bikes on but they had plenty of room in the luggage car and I bet if you brought it in one of those fancy bike bags that some people use to get around baggage limits on airlines they probably wouldn't say a thing. Especially if you're a good tipper.
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Old 05-25-21, 10:28 AM
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I drive between Raton and Clayton NM at least once or twice a year as it is between Austin and family in CO.

It is an arid region and at slightly higher elevation so a lot of open ranchland and very sparsely populated. US 87 itself is a larger road, slowly upgraded to 4-lanes and with OK shoulders. You will find things at Capulin, Des Moines, Clayton and not much else. Capulin volcano always seems like an interesting place to visit but haven't been there yet. By the time you get to Boise City, I think there is more agriculture though more wide open areas as large spreads and not much moisture.

I've thought about cycling some of this route, but haven't gotten to it yet.
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Old 05-25-21, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by kansascity View Post

Any highlights in the Northeast New Mexico, the corner area of Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Southwestern Kansas?
Highlights? I would rather call them memories.
-The local police let me sleep behind military tank in the Raton city park.
-The VFW Hall (bar) in Clayton, NM had some interesting old dudes.
-Black Mesa state park in Oklahoma was excellent camping (but remote). Northwest of Boise City, OK
-Camping under the willow trees in a dry creek bed (Cimarron River) outside of Elkhart, KS
-70 mile downhill ride from Walsenburg, CO to La Junta, CO (low low traffic , unexpected beauty.)

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Old 05-25-21, 11:11 AM
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Most everyone seems to be assuming that you are following the Cimmaron branch of the Santa Fe Trail. I’d agree that is the much less populated and far more desolate branch. If you are riding the train, I’d suggest following the train route back. It’s still got lots of desolation...Trinidad to La Junta is a long lonely stretch of highway with nothing out there (carry lots of extra water and try to do it in a day)...but it does have a bit more in the way of civilization.

The route I’d suggest is Raton to Trinidad to La Junta. Take US 50 east from there. I’d also suggest starting in Las Vegas, NM (site of many a movie) or in Santa Fe (actually Lamy, NM 18 miles south of Santa Fe). Both are a bit further along but have some interesting places to visit along the way. Santa Fe, by itself is worth a visit if you’ve never been there. Outside of Santa Fe is the Glorieta Pass battlefield where the Confederates were defeated in an effort to take the Colorado gold fields. There is also Pecos Pueblo ruins in the same area. This was a very important trading spot going back a thousand years or more. The story of the Seven Cities of Cibola and their towers of gold were probably started by the Pecos people to send conquistadors out on the plains were the Comanche nation would deal with them. (See Wandering in Puragatory in my sig line).

East of Las Vega is Fort Union which was an important US fort in the area. The CSA was trying to get to the at fort for the supplies put there by Jefferson Davis before sessesion.

Further east is Wagon Mound which was an important landmark on the Santa Fe Trail. It can be seen almost from Raton so it was an important guidepost. Word of warning, there’s not much between Las Vegas and Raton. Springer and Wagon Mound are about the only towns that still exist. Springer is the larger of the two...which isn’t saying too much.

From Raton, you’ll have to ride a bit of I-25 over Raton Pass to Trinidad. It’s loud but has good shoulders. Trinidad is a “large”...at least larger then anything you’ll encounter outside of Santa Fe. It’s an interesting town with a few sites worth seeing.

Going northeast on US350 is a bit long and lonely. What few towns existed out there evaporated long ago. Surface water sources are brackish as best. If you need water, best to carry it or, watch for a stock tank and filter. There are a few places along the way where you can see tracks from the Santa Fe Trail.

La Junta and east are part of my old stomping grounds and I know it fairly well. La Junta has Bent’s Fort, the Koshare Museum, and the Otero Museum. Further east are Bogsville and Bent’s New Fort/old Fort Lyon (the latter closer to Lamar). Lamar has a few things to see...a tower built supposedly built on the site where Pike first saw his peak, a pretty little CCC built park, a Madonna of the Plains, and a nice little local museum. Further east on US50 is Camp Amache, which was a WWII internment camp...well with the visit...and in Granada is a local museum that help preserve Camp Amache.

Holly, of Holly Sugar fame, is further east

This book might help, although it is severely dated.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-25-21, 03:53 PM
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don't forget about the NRA gun museum south of Raton.

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Old 05-25-21, 04:35 PM
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You want to piece together a trip across the US. I understand

but

consider taking Amtrak to Minot, ND, heading south to Washburn, ND and picking up Adventure Cycling's Lewis&Clark Trail back to KC.

Summer 2022 you can ride from Minot to Glacier, & in 2023 on to the Pacific.
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Old 05-25-21, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by kansascity View Post
I will use Amtrak to start my trip.
By the way, will you be able to get your bike off in Raton?

Looking at the Amtrak site for bicycle service - https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/bring...e-onboard.html The Southwest Chief train is listed as "trainside checked baggage" with checked service available at "select stations".

I have a reservation in August from Albuquerque to Chicago and I was able to add a bicycle to my reservation ($20) when I put in those endpoints. Both ABQ and CHI normally also have checked baggage at the stops - so makes sense that they also let me bring my bicycle up to the baggage car to load. Not sure this is the case for Raton.

For example, if I try scheduling a trip from Kansas City to Raton, it tells me bicycle slots are "sold out", but when I try the exact same train from Kansas City to Albuquerque it gives me an option to add a bicycle.
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Old 05-25-21, 06:59 PM
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By the way, will you be able to get your bike off in Raton?
I've long thought a cycletourist who made or planned to make regular use of Amtrak would be well served with a folding bike, which they can schlep on and off the train themselves anywhere it stops.

Amtrak's folding bike dimensions for carry-on are a relatively gargantuan 97" linear. The cyclist wouldn't need a BikeFriday or Birdy - a touring bike build of a Change Bike, Montague or Tern Eclipse would do fine. As a bonus, these full-size-wheel bikes would slot right into FlixBus racks, too, if you're lucky enough to live in that company's expanding service area.

But I digress. Any highlights between Raton and Kansas City? Hmm. Well, there's the World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City and the World's First Bulldozer in Morrowville.
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Old 05-26-21, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The story of the Seven Cities of Cibola and their towers of gold were probably started by the Pecos people to send conquistadors out on the plains were the Comanche nation would deal with them.
At the time the Coronado expedition, circa 1540, the peoples who would become the Comanche were part of the Eastern Shoshone, lived in Wyoming and did not have horses.
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Old 05-26-21, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
By the way, will you be able to get your bike off in Raton?

Looking at the Amtrak site for bicycle service - https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/bring...e-onboard.html The Southwest Chief train is listed as "trainside checked baggage" with checked service available at "select stations".

I have a reservation in August from Albuquerque to Chicago and I was able to add a bicycle to my reservation ($20) when I put in those endpoints. Both ABQ and CHI normally also have checked baggage at the stops - so makes sense that they also let me bring my bicycle up to the baggage car to load. Not sure this is the case for Raton.

For example, if I try scheduling a trip from Kansas City to Raton, it tells me bicycle slots are "sold out", but when I try the exact same train from Kansas City to Albuquerque it gives me an option to add a bicycle.
I had forgotten that some stops do not let you have check luggage. Looks like Raton is out. Time to think of another ride for this summer.
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Old 05-27-21, 05:10 AM
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I went in May of 2009 and enjoyed the Flint Hills. They were a lush green and there were abundant bird sightings that were interesting to me since the varieties were different that where I am from. The rest of the scenery was pretty uninspiring, but it was nice just getting out on the empty road in the predawn hours and cranking out miles.
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Old 06-01-21, 08:46 PM
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Don't give up on your route just yet. Lamy, NM allows bikes to get off.

To the list of things to see I would add the dinosaur tracks at Pickwire Canyon. You can also see wagon ruts from the Santa Fe Trail, amazingly still visible after all of these years, right from the highway between Trinidad and LaJunta.

Bent's Old Fort at Las Animas is extra interesting and worth the stop.

https://www.dreamsmithphotos.com/arrow/arrows.html Air mail arrows/towers are still visible in some areas. I'm not a pilot, but I find this very interesting.

The plains area has a subtle beauty that bicycle travel is perfectly poised to appreciate at low speed. Services are usually far and few, be prepared. Watch out for wind and weather. The locals are true salt of the earth, they will give you the shirt off their back.

I'd suggest reconsidering your original route intention. There's plenty to see if you like solitude. If you are into action at night when you get to town, not so much.
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Old 06-02-21, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Kelly I View Post
Don't give up on your route just yet. Lamy, NM allows bikes to get off.
I rode From KC to Santa Fe (via Raton) and used the Lamy Station to get back. It worked out okay.
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