Riley CR 12

Total Miles


1,858.73 ft


3 Hours

Technical Rating



Best Time

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Trail Overview

This is a wide-open sky drive that starts on the northwest side of the Sevilleta Wildlife Refuge. It winds around the striking Ladron (Thieves) Mountain. There are a few scattered ranches but most of the area is owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management that borders the Wildlife Refuge. The Ladron Wilderness Area protects the mountain itself from motorized vehicles. Hiking in the wilderness area is rugged and beautiful. The road is sandy and can have some erosion issues after rain. Blowing tumbleweeds can also pose a temporary problem. The last five miles into the Rio Salado are rocky. If the Rio Salado, has little or no water, you can cross and visit what remains of the ghost town of Riley formerly named Santa Rita. The old church still stands and an annual fiesta is held each May.

Photos of Riley CR 12

Riley CR 12
Riley CR 12
Riley CR 12


There can be some sandy washout areas due to erosion and the route becomes rocky.


Ladron or Thieves Mountain has many stories of bandits robbing stagecoaches, travelers, and trains and hiding out in this mountainous area. The story of the last train robbery in Belen, NM in 1898 had the robbers "Bronco Bill" Walters and William "Kid" Johnson travel through the town of Santa Rita/Riley. One of the deputies that chased after them, Daniel Bustamante, was mortally wounded in trying to capture the outlaws and is buried in the cemetery there.

Technical Rating


Status Reports

M Smathers
Jun 03, 2023

Access Description

Turn off on the Bernardo Exit 175 from I-25 and head west. Drive past the Kiva RV and Horse Park and the steel bridge from old Route 66. The route begins on the right as County Road (CR) 12.

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