71 Miles - Mountain Pass at Desert Haven; Tailwind All The Way To Salt Flat - February 27, 2017
Cycling Routes From El Paso
If you're biking across America and headed east from El Paso, you have two choices: 1) travel on Highway 62 & 180 towards Carlsbad, or 2)
go along the Rio Grande to Fort Hancock, then hit Van Horn, followed by a ride south to Marfa where one takes Highway 90 to Del Rio.
Most take the second choice, as it's part of the supposedly official "Southern Tier Route," but I think it's boring.
Personally, I don't do what everyone else does. Therefore, I biked from El Paso to Salt Flat and then Carlsbad.
Ahem... I must say this challenging thing. :) A lot of "cycling snowflakes" warned me about the lack of services between
El Paso and Carlsbad and shuddered at the thought of any bicyclist doing this route.
Others tried to scare me about the first mountain range east of El Paso, along with the daunting Guadalupe Mountains.
Well, I'm proud to say I planned and handled everything. You can too. It can be done.
Because I don't do camping, my plan was to arrive in Salt Flat, and then I
would either hitchhike back to El Paso or pay an airport shuttle service to bring me back.
(I had the shuttle service ready ahead of time and waiting for my call, if I decided to use them.)
East Side of El Paso
I biked east on Montana Avenue and soon the edges of city life gave way to the desert.
A sign noted it was 90 miles to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
I biked for miles on a gentle uphill. Another sign read it was 143 miles to Carlsbad. I'd reach that town by tomorrow.
I met this guy who was walking from Santa Barbara, California to Dallas, Texas with his dog. He was pulling that heavy thing! :O
There is a hearty climb to Desert Heaven with some interesting desert and mountains. I also crossed into Hudspeth County.
I would think cyclists on the east side of El Paso would love to ride this on a regular basis. :)
Lots of huffing and puffing as usual ...
Highway 62 & 180 descends from Desert Haven to Salt Flat.
Beyond Desert Haven is a U.S. immigration checkpoint. I rolled up on my bicycle and told the agent I was
biking to Florida.
He was incredulous and said he had a lot of respect for me.
"Don't you have any questions for me?" I asked. "Aren't you gonna ask if I'm a citizen?" He didn't though.
He just beseeched me to be safe and reiterated his awe for what I was doing. :)
In Cornudas, there was a store and cafe, but they are closed on Monday and Tuesday. (And today was Monday.)
The riding was easy. The tailwinds were my ally.
This was the turnoff for Dell City, Texas. Unless you're a long-time resident of West Texas,
my guess is you've never heard of this town. Look it up on a map.
It was only another 15 miles to Salt Flat. Soon the Guadalupe Mountains came into better view.
Salt Flat, Texas
At 71 miles, I arrived in Salt Flat feeling good about the day. The tailwind, the descent beyond Desert Haven, and the wide open West Texas scenery were
Salt Flat is considered a ghost town. Just a few people live there, and many of the structures are abandoned. There is the famed Salt Flat Cafe which
is no longer in operation, but had been a popular landmark for decades. I would have loved to have eaten a burger and fries there. Below is my video
around the cafe.
Much better than my video is this one by the Texas Country Reporter. You'll learn a lot about Salt Flat and the cafe. You are hereby ordered to watch this!
The plan all along was to reach Salt Flat, and then hitchhike back to El Paso. However,
when I got there and dared to stick my thumb out as vehicles flew by at 60-70 mph, I just couldn't do it. It felt like I'd
have the same humiliating outcome that I had for an hour on Interstate 10. So I called the airport shuttle service in El Paso and had them come out.
It cost a good chunk of money, but it was worth it. Why?
Adjacent is a photo of Carlos, my driver. I don't want to sound dramatic or trite, but I can vouch that
Carlos is a good man. He loves his family. He works hard. He told me a lot
about the city of Juarez, Mexico and the Hispanic community. It was no coincidence that I met and conversed with him.
He was an answer to prayer.
It was also amusing to get a tour of the entire 71 mile route I had just taken. I recall saying how proud I was that I had done it by bike.
Sometimes I even said things like, "Oh yes! I remember this part. I was struggling up this hill." :)
Carlos shuttled me to a motel on the east side of El Paso.
Tomorrow, I'd need one more ride to Salt Flat in the morning, and then I'd be finished with the Sun City.
You are welcome to stay connected with me on my author page.