I am in the early process of planning a two-week or so trip to NM/CO. Really, I am pretty much in the brainstorming stage right now and i would like to pick your brains because I don't know the area well.
My rough thoughts:
Basically, it's a two day drive to/from St. Louis, so we really have 10-12 days. I am thinking of heading to Carlsbad Caverns to start, From there to Santa Fe via Alamagordo and/or Ruidoso. (I wasn't really thinking of stopping in Albuquerque (although I will be there for work this Fall for a couple days - so i can do a bit of scouting). Then West to Bandelier and Chaco Canyon (stopping overnight between them). North to Durango with a trip to Mesa Verde. From here to central CO via 550. At this point, we will probably be running out of time and so will need to head back.
My highest priorities are (in rough order of importance):
1. Santa Fe (my wife wants to see it)
2. Chaco Canyon (I have a fascination with Puebloan archaeology)
3. Mesa Verde (Ditto)
4. Some easy hikes and pretty drives in clear mountain air. (Our daughter will only be six.)
5. Doing a tour or two in Carslbad Caverns
I wouldn't mind passing through Rocky Mountain NP, but I don't think we will have the time to do it justice and I would rather not jam it in to a schedule that will probably be too packed as it is. If we have extra time, I wouldn't mind stopping by the Sand Dunes, etc. Not really interested in stopping in Denver.
I know there are a lot of other archaeological sites around, but there is probably only so many of them I can drag my wife and daughter to.
So, does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you all for your help.