Putting on a helmet and hearing the sound of a revving dirt bike engine bring back the best memories for Max Zimmerly.
Max’s love for dirt bikes and motocross began when he was 5 years old, watching SuperCross on CBS every Sunday morning with his dad, Big Max. His grandpa would make sure Max knew every time the X-Games featured motocross racers. Max loved sitting on the couch, a bowl of cereal in hand, watching the pros with their fully customized dirt bikes hit the track.
You could say dirt bike riding is in his blood. Big Max and his brothers were dirt bike lovers when they were kids, too. They didn’t know that young Max and his cousins would someday love the sport, and Big Max’s bike and those of his brothers were unfortunately thrown out. “I have a memory of getting the bikes from my grandma’s house and taking them to the dump.
We all would have loved to fix those bikes up,” says Max. Even though Max and his cousins don’t have their dad’s and uncles’ dirt bikes, they surely carry on their passion and mechanic skills. From carburetors to clutch plates, if Max and his dad didn’t know how to do something, they learned together. “My dad taught me everything I know about fixing up dirt bikes,” says Max with a smile.
“No matter how hard the project was, my dad would always say that his father taught him that there is always a way, and we always found a way.” Together, they took apart and reassembled their own bikes as well as those they found on Craigslist that needed work. All in all, they worked on Max’s first bike, a 2004 Honda XR 70, then a 2006 Yamaha TTR 125, a 1990 Yamaha RT 180, and a 2009 Honda CRF 250X. Max has done some major work on his current bike, a 2012 Kawasaki KX 450F, with a lot of help from his dad.
For Max, it wasn’t just about the bikes, it was also about spending quality time with his dad. The best part was going out to the desert and riding, playing tag on the bikes, and racing.
Being conscious of protecting the environment and our natural areas, Max always makes sure to find areas designated for riding.
The closest off-highway vehicle (OHV) areas for riders in the Mesilla Valley are Aden Hills OHV & RV Area in Las Cruces and Red Sands in El Paso. Red Sands is the place Max rode as a youngster. With almost 14,000 acres of rolling dunes in a desert landscape, it is a great place for intermediate to advanced riders to practice on soft sand and winding trails. This is the only place on our list that has rentable ATVs available onsite. Rent a UTV Off-Road Adventures has been in business since 2012. Owned by Jamil Moutran, he has also established a volunteer rescue team dedicated to keeping patrons safe out in the dunes.
In Las Cruces, Aden Hills OHV & RV Area, established in 1993, is an ideal spot for beginners and kids just learning to ride. Right at the entrance is a large area of hard-packed dirt that is much easier to handle than the rocky and sandy trails further in, perfect for youngsters. There is a small, covered area that provides shade in the summer and shelter from the rain during the monsoon season. The views in any direction are beautiful, making it a great place to grill out or even camp. Both camping and riding are free.
Just up the road past the checkpoint on your way to Ruidoso from Las Cruces is Red Sands OHV Area in Alamogordo. This hidden spot is similar to Red Sands in El Paso, full of sandy dunes, berms, and trails. This area is recommended for intermediate and advanced riders, as there are some hard-packed areas but the majority is soft sand.
Last on our list is the Hackberry Lake OHV Area near Carlsbad. With more than 55,000 acres of sandy and sometimes rocky trails open to ATVs, dirt bikes, and quads, the trails will thrill the beginner and challenge the expert, which makes this is a great area for all riders at any skill level. Camping is also available here and you don’t have to like riding to enjoy your visit. You can observe the wildlife that roams the area and enjoy stunning sunsets and sunrises over the rolling dunes.
New Mexico offers a fun riding scene that gets people out and enjoying nature while protecting sensitive areas as well. Most of the OHV areas in New Mexico are managed and maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. Riding in designated OHV areas ensures that fragile habitats in our Southwest region are protected while allowing hardier areas to be utilized and enjoyed by people in other ways.
Big Max doesn’t ride anymore, but he loves watching videos of Max trying out new trails. Max will be spending his summer crossing these local riding spots off his list, and you should, too!
Designated OHV Riding Trails
Red Sands, El Paso, Texas: No facilites. Paddle or sand tire is recommended. Rent a UTV Off-Road Adventures is located at 15698 Montana Ave.
Aden Hills OHV & RV Area, Las Cruces: No facilities. The area is used up to twice a year for an organized motorcycle race.
Red Sands OHV Area, Alamogordo: No facilities. Trails have been developed by users.
Hackberry Lake OHV site, Carlsbad: No facilities. The area is used by the Desert Rough Riders Club for an annual competitive motorcycle event, the Carlsbad 100 Desert Race.
Written and photography by Olivia Belcher
Additional photography Zimmerly Family
Originally published in Neighbors magazine
Posted by LasCruces.com