Twenty years ago, when I was training and racing bicycles with Kent Bostick, Kent would say “let’s do the three tunnels ride!” I would remind him that there were only two tunnels, he would say “Whatever!”, and we would ride from Corrales up to the Gilman Tunnels and back — a little over 100 miles. Back then I remember there was virtually no traffic on NM 485, no graffiti and the pavement ended soon after we rode through the second tunnel and then the road became too rocky for us to ride on — which was significant, because we often rode our racing bikes on really rough roads. Last Saturday there was a lot of traffic, a lot of graffiti and the road looked to be in good shape well beyond the tunnels. However, the road might still become really rough as the 43 mile NM 485 to NM 4 loop seems to be a popular mountain bike ride.
The Gilman Tunnels were blasted out of the rock in the 1920’s to give passage to logging trains. I hear the tunnels were used most recently in the remake of The Lone Ranger that was released this summer. We discovered they are now a popular destination for weekend drivers enjoying the scenery, and bathers who like to relax in the many small pools in the Rio Guadalupe. There is even a Virgin de Guadalupe set on the graffitied rocks at the north end of the second tunnel to watch over the people who park, drink, play in the water, drink some more and then drive on to their next destination.