Saturday

NMBR Announces the 2015 Gila Legends Expedition - Monday, August 31st through Friday, September 4th


The Experience: This summer, New Mexico Backroads will be guiding a five day [375-mile] expedition that will traverse New Mexico’s loneliest and most rugged backroads. NMBR has guided this route for American Expedition Vehicles, overland enthusiasts and a host of adventure based companies. The Gila Legends Expedition is NMBR’s most remote and rugged route currently offered. This “expedition of a lifetime” includes a diverse range of scenery, historic sites, terrain, and backroads found nowhere else in North America. The 5-day, 375-mile expedition route features desert, grassland, chaparral, canyon bottoms, and lush forest with elevations ranging from 4,400 to 9,600 feet. Areas of exploration include Black Range of the Gila National Forest, Plains of San Agustin, Mogollon Mountains, Tularosa Mountains, Elk Mountains, Continental Divide, and Chihuahuan Desert. The Gila Legends Expedition route will traverse the northern end of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range as well as the Southern end of the Rockies, all while skirting the world’s first established wilderness areas—the Gila Wilderness & Aldo Leopold Wilderness. Road types and conditions will include canyon bottom narrows, washboards, rutted two tracks, primitive non-maintained, graded, mountain shelf, and [least of all] paved highway. The Gila Legends Expedition will feature outstanding vistas, dozens of water crossings, historic landmarks, wildlife viewing opportunities [including Mexican grey wolf territory], and aggressive elevation contours [between 4,400 and 9,600 feet]. 

Where & When: The Gila Legends Expedition will take Monday, August 31st through Friday, September 4th. Participants will meet the morning of Monday, August 31st in Southern New Mexico; the exact time and departure location will be announced to Gila Legends participants on July 1st. Planning & Preparations: The Gila Legends Expedition will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, and supplies. All nights will include camping and enjoying the company of fellow overlanders, deep in the backcountry. Services of any kind, including cell, fuel, or anything remotely civilized, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 225-miles. In the time leading up to the Gila Legends Expedition, participants will be provided with helpful information on how to prepare for the adventure and what to expect. An extensive list of essential and recommended supplies/equipment/gear will be provided accompanied with advice, tips, and tricks. The self sufficient aspect of NMBR guided expeditions [and other 4WD based adventures] challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. 

Gila Legends Expedition Route Preview: CLICK HERE

Details & Registration: Email NMBackroads[at]gmail.com for full trip details, pricing and registration information.

Wednesday

Images from the 2015 Overland Expo West [Part 1]

Photos: Anthony Sicola & Company out on the Ural, Toyota 4Runner equipped with AT Drawer System and fridge/stove slide, Over Lander Adventure Rig, Jonathan Hanson's ex-MOD 110 Defender, Land Rover Defender 110 with rear window storage compartment & shelving, American Adventurist Tacoma ,Turtleback Trailers, Arizona Land Rover Owners, Chazz Layne's 2004 Land Rover Discovery HSE 

Saturday

NMBR’s Long-term BFGoodrich KO2 Review: Week Six

2,000-Miles of Dirt, Sweat & Gears 

New Mexico Backroad’s guiding season kicked off in May with a five day [400-mile] traverse of the Gila National Forest with American Expedition Vehicles, followed by the two Overland Expo West based Ghost Divide Expeditions. The Overland Expo West based Ghost Divide Expeditions covered New Mexico and Arizona’s roughest backroads to and from the event [five days and 500-miles each]. With a few backcountry scouting assignments scattered in between the NMBR guided expeditions, the NMBR Rubicon’s total off-pavement mileage with the new BFGoodrich 37x12.50R17 KO2 tires is currently over 2,000-miles.

Impressions to Date

From the rock filled canyon bottoms of the Black Range, to the snowy shelf roads of the Mogollon Mountains to the gumbo mud of the Overland Expo West’s lakebed camp, the KO2 tires have traversed most every condition an all-terrain tire could expect to encounter in the American Southwest. Sidewalls: The sidewalls of the KO2 are stiff for an all terrain. This adds a level of stability and control given the sidewall height of the 37-inch tall tire both on and off pavement. The NMBR Rubicon’s previous tires were BFGoodrich KM2 Mud Terrains with an average off-pavement PSI set around 14. With the KO2, I’ve dropped down the PSI down to 12.5 to obtain the same [sidewall] bulge, traction, and ride comfort as the KM2. I’ll be interested to see if the KO2 sidewalls “break-in” in the coming months and my preferred off-pavement PSI rises. The aggressive sidewall lugs of he KO2 provide excellent traction in dry river beds and mud—they have been un-phased by a few overreaching sharp rocks and fallen snags. The true sidewall test will come when the tires are subject to the obstacle rich trails of Southern New Mexico later this season. Traction

Coming from experience with a half dozen sets of KM2 Mud Terrain tires since their 2008 release, my early expectations for the new KO2 All-Terrain tires were that they would be a better all-around tire, but could fall short of the KM2 in an extreme off-pavement situations or environments. So far, my early assumption has been proven wrong. In mud, the tires clear quickly and provide excellent traction in the worst muck [think Overland Expo West lakebed]. The tread impression left by the KO2 in mud is shallower and less distinct than the impression left by the KM2 in mud. In this, it appears the KO2’s tread width provides more outer tread surface area and flotation in mud versus the KM2. In the snow [hard pack and slush], the KO2 was predictable and provided ample forward movement. On sections of ice covered two-track, the KO2 didn’t veer or spin when transitioning from higher traction surface, such as mud or snow, to ice patches. In the boulder strewn, water filled canyon bottom roads of the Gila, the KO2 maintained grip [both tread and sidewall] while navigating these rough and slippery sections. On the well-groomed dirt highways of New Mexico’s rangeland, speeds of 60MPH can easily be obtained. At high [off-pavement] speeds, the KO2 was predictable and stable. The firm sidewalls held well on curves, cattle guards and dips. Overall, the KO2’s traction characteristics were on par, or possibly better in some instances, with the KM2. 

Pavement Manners 

Although the NMBR Rubicon’s primary mileage is on the dirt, the pavement in between the backroads is often winding, two-lane highway and wide open interstate [I-10 and I-25]. After first mounting the KO2 tires, it was instantly apparent how much quieter and smoother the NMBR Rubicon rode than with the previous KM2 tires. Road vibration and tread feedback in the steering wheel and driver seat was substantially less than the previous KM2 tires—this, obviously due to the KO2’s less aggressive and tighter tread pattern. Unrelated to tire performance, the volume on my stereo has come down considerably due to the quiet riding KO2. Under hard cornering, the KO2 remains planted to the road and undramatic despite it’s substantial sidewalls. Under hard breaking, the KO2 is predictable and agile. With the previous KM2 tires; average on-pavement PSI was set at 28PSI. With the KO2 tires, the PSI has been increased to 32 to maximize handling and ride characteristics.

Rough Roads Ahead

Although my initial impressions of BFGoodrich’s KO2 All-Terrain tires are overwhelmingly positive, a vast amount of challenging off-pavement miles will unfold before the year is out. The demanding terrain the NMBR Rubicon regular covers generally results in a relatively short service life for tires [one to two years on average]. The next challenge for the KO2 tires will include Southern New Mexico’s notorious 4WD trails and many more miles of rugged backroads. Stay tuned for more features on NMBR’s yearlong review of the new KO2 tire.
Photos: NMBR Rubicon equipped with AEV JK DualSport RS Suspension 4.5" System, AEV 17" x 8.5"JK Salta Wheels and BFGoodrich 37x12.50R17 KO2 Tires

New Mexico Backroads Guides American Expedition Vehicles Through the Gila Backcountry

Last week, New Mexico Backroads guided American Expedition Vehicles and their guests on a 6 day traverse of New Mexico’s iconic Gila National Forest. The 400-mile backroad adventure [also known as NMBR's Gila Legends Expedition] crisscrossed the Continental Divide through remote and rugged desert plains, water-filled canyon bottoms, dense forest and snow covered mountainsides. Stay tuned for the adventure. 

Photo: American Expedition Vehicles Ram 2500 ‪Power wagon‬ w/ ‪AEV‬ 3" DualSport SC Suspension, AEV Front Bumper, AEV Raised Air Intake, ‪‎WARN‬ 16.5ti winch, 17x8.5" AEV Katla wheels and 37" ‪‎BFGoodrich‬ Mud-Terrain KM2 tires | ©JakeQuiñones/NMBR 

Next week, make sure to stop by the AEV display at the 2015 Overland Expo WEST. Along with the full line-up of AEV built rigs [Including RAM], the NMBR Rubicon will be part of the display.

Thursday

New Mexico Backroads Featured in 2015 American Expedition Vehicles Parts Catalog


New Mexico Backroads is featured in the 2015 American Expedition Vehicles Parts Catalog. The article highlights the the NMBR Rubicon, its central roll in NMBR's field work and why AEV parts were selected for its upgrades.
Each year I log over 15,000 miles in the NMBR Rubicon traveling the backroads of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Texas. These travels include photographing, scouting, and guiding for a host of assignments and unique individuals. Whether it’s a leading a multi-million dollar treasure hunt in the on the Taos Plateau, photographing wildland fire crews battling flames in the Black Range or scouting along US/Mexico Border, all of it centers on driving where pavement does not exist. The NMBR Rubicon serves as my transport, base camp and office for everything I do in the field.
The NMBR Rubicon was built for dual purposes: technical trail running and long-distance expedition travel. Harsh terrain and environments places a high demand on critical parts such as AEV's wheels, bumpers and winch mount, tire carrier, armored corners, and DualSport RS Suspension System. With over 45,000 miles on the odometer, the NMBR Rubicon has yet to have a single breakdown or failure [all AEV equipment included]and has continually proven itself as reliable and capable.
For more information on American Expedition Vehicles parts and equipment, visit http://www.aev-conversions.com/. The NMBR Rubicon will be part of the American Expedition Vehicles display at Overland Expo WEST May 15-17, 2015.

Friday

NMBR Begins Year Long Review of BFGoodrich KO2 - Is it time to come back to an All-Terrain Tire?

It has been seven years since my last set of all-terrain tires [BFGoodrich KO’s] were replaced with mud-terrain tires [BFGoodrich KM2’s]. Two vehicles and five sets of BFGoodrich KM2’s later, the demographic of off-road enthusiasts I guide and train has transitioned from those seeking obstacle rich 4WD trails to those seeking multi-day overland/expedition adventures. Today, most of my clients drive highly modified overland/expedition type vehicles outfitted rooftop tents, modest suspension lifts and upgrades that focus on self-sustained travels more than hardcore off-road capability. About now, you may be asking how this all relates to the new BFGoodrich KO2.
Until recently, my advice to clients has always been that “since tire issues are the number one cause of being stranded [trailside or roadside], why risk running anything less than a mud-terrain for the one day an all-terrain may fall short?” This rationale has been backed primarily by my professional experience with the BFGoodrich KM2. With over 100,000 miles of off-pavement BFGoodrich KM2 use, I’ve never encountered single puncture or failure; this for both my clients and myself. A few months back, I was forced to reconsider my long-standing opinion after guiding a client that had a set of the new BFGoodrich KO2’s mounted. As I spotted him through an unforgiving boulder field, I couldn’t help but be impressed that his tires held the same lines as the mud-terrain equipped rigs that had preceded his—the tread and sidewall traction was impressive. I’ve seen countless [other] all-terrain tires succumb to lesser challenges. My [strong] first impression of the BFGoodrich KO2 had me contemplating “Is it time to come back to an All-Terrain Tire?” Stay tuned for NMBR’s long term review of the BFGoodrich KO2. 

Photo: 37x12.50R17 BFGoodrich KO2 tires mounted on 17x8.5 American Expedition Vehicles Salta wheels

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN - NMBR's 2015 Ghost Divide Expeditions

Ghost Divide Expedition [Original] – Overland to the Expo - Sunday, May 10th through Thursday, May 14th 


Ghost Divide Expedition II – Overland from the Expo - Monday, May 18th through Friday, May 22nd 
Two separate Ghost Divide Expeditions will be offered for 2015. The Ghost Divide Expedition [Original] will take place Sunday, May 10th through Thursday, May 14th, departing from Southern New Mexico and ending at the Overland Expo WEST. The Ghost Divide Expedition II will take place Monday, May 18th through Friday, May 22nd, departing from the Overland Expo WEST and ending in Southern New Mexico. The Ghost Divide Expeditions will be identical with the exception of the direction the route is traveled—all other details, pricing and requirements will remain the same. Overview & Invite: This spring, New Mexico Backroads will be guiding two separate five day [500-mile] expeditions that will traverse some of New Mexico and Arizona’s loneliest backroads. The Ghost Divide Expedition [Original] will lead to the 2015 Overland Expo WEST; the Ghost Divide Expedition II will lead from the 2015 Overland Expo WEST. Both Ghost Divide Expeditions will follow the same route. Over two-thirds of the Ghost Divide Expeditions route will be comprised of unpaved roads. The Ghost Divide Expeditions will provide a demanding [yet rewarding] experience—the days will be long, the roads will be unforgiving, and the pace will be brisk. The Ghost Divide Expeditions will require participants to be self-supportive with regards to vehicle, equipment, and supplies. All nights will include camping and enjoying the company of fellow overlanders, deep in the backcountry. Services of any kind, including cell, fuel, or anything remotely civilized, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 225-miles. For the Ghost Divide Expeditions, New Mexico Backroads seeks the most self-sufficient, open-minded, and good spirited overlanders.
Where & When: The Ghost Divide Expedition [Original] will take place during the week leading up to the Overland Expo WEST—Sunday, May 10th through Thursday, May 14th. Participants will meet the morning of Sunday May 10th in Southern New Mexico; the exact time and departure location will be announced to participants on April 1st. The Overland Expo WEST begins the morning of Friday, May 15th and ends the evening of Sunday, May 17th. The Ghost Divide Expedition II will take place during the week following the Overland Expo WEST—Monday, May 18th through Friday, May 22nd. Participants will meet the morning of Monday, May 18th at Mormon Lake [site of the Overland Expo WEST]; the exact departure time will be announced to participants on April 1st. Preparations: In the time leading up to the Ghost Divide Expeditions, participants [or Ghost Dividers] will be provided with helpful information on how to prepare for the adventure and what to expect. An extensive list of essential and recommended supplies/equipment/gear will be provided accompanied with advice, tips, and tricks. The self sufficient aspect of NMBR guided expeditions [and other 4WD based adventures] challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. The Experience: The 500-mile Ghost Divide Expeditions will include a diverse range of scenery and terrain including desert, grassland, chaparral, forest, rivers, canyons, creeks, lakes, and wildland burn scars. Road types and conditions will include canyon bottom narrows, washboards, rutted two tracks, primitive non-maintained, graded, mountain shelf, and [least of all] paved highway. The Ghost Divide Expeditions will feature outstanding vistas, dozens of water crossings, historic landmarks, wildlife viewing opportunities [including Mexican grey wolf territory], and aggressive elevation contours [between 4,000 and 9,000 feet]. Important: Services of any kind, including cell, fuel, will be unavailable for stretches of up to 225-miles. No Persons Under 18-Years of Age – No Pets (Service dogs only; they must be controlled and supervised at all times) 

This year’s Ghost Divide Expeditions route will be the longest, roughest and best yet. For those that join in, the only guarantee is that they will conclude their adventure with new friends, dirty rigs, big smiles, and stories that will make their fellow overlanders envious. 

For photos of previous Ghost Divide Expeditions, please visit NMBR’s online gallery HERE 

Video sneak peak HERE 

Please Email [NMBackroads at Gmail.com] for full Ghost Divide Expeditions details, pricing and registration information.

New Mexico Backroads - Best of 2014 Gallery

Want to go for a drive? New Mexico Backroads' Best of 2014 Gallery is complete; narrowed down from over 15,000 miles of travels & over 25,000 images. Visit the Best of 2014 Gallery on SmugMug HERE. Grab a cup of joe, put on some good tunes, and ENJOY. -Jake Quinones

Trail Tool Kits - The Basics of Assembly & Organization

Assemble a trail tool kit that fits your vehicle. Use this kit in your garage to get acquainted with what works, what does not, and what is lacking. It is better to find out you don't have that 22mm socket or T55 [Torx] at home rather than on a remote shelf road. If you keep a quality set of sockets, ratchets and wrenches in your garage tool box, but keep a cheap or inferior set in your vehicle tool kit, you should reverse those roles. Those Snap-On ratchets at home will do you little good when you are holding a broken [cheap] one on the trail. Once your vehicle tool kit is satisfactory, choose a tool storage system that makes things easy to access and takes up as little space as possible. Go for soft sided storage that keeps things quiet and tightly organized. This past spring, New Mexico Backroads selected Adventure Tool Company's heavy waxed canvas bags and tool roll when rehabbing and reorganizing the NMBR Rubicon's on-board tool kit. Paul at Adventure Tool Company [or ATC] also custom made an extra large re-enforced tool bag to carry some big, heavy tools; aptly labeled "FUBAR KIT".

Wednesday

Tuesday

Sunday

Jim Taylor at Bosquecito


     Jim Taylor stopped to ask if I needed help while I aired up my tires near Bosquecito. In the miles leading up to his stop, every loose piece of steel in his truck and trailer could be heard; clanking in defiance of the rough road. Jim owns and operates a trash hauling business that services the rural communities surrounding San Antonio, New Mexico. His handshake was like a vice-grip and his unflinching gaze was of equal strength. The area lowlands had flooded during the summer monsoon, leaving miles damaged and sand covered [paved] roads, and debris in trees as high as six feet.  Deep tracks in the soft shoulder revealed the hardships of those that made the mistake of going off course. When Jim passes stragglers, he stops and asks them if they need a wrench, a tug, or a ride.  He's seen it all [good and bad] in the decades he's traveled the maze of backroads that connect his route. Through our conversation, he told me about growing up in the area, having a family, starting a business, and watching his kids move away to larger towns. He also told me about the wars, families, fortunes, and tragedies that shaped the community's rich history. Jim was kind enough to let me capture this image before we parted ways.


Bosquecito | Socorro County, NM

Thursday

Tuesday

Conductor at Antonito - Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Conejos County, CO

Chama Yard at Dusk - Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad

Rio Arriba County, NM