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  1. #1

    Default 14-16 Days: St. Louis to NM/CO in late May/early June

    Hi all,

    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Some Others to Start With

    At this point, you've already got a fairly good basic itinerary. Just a few things to keep in mind. There are easy hikes in every National Park/Monument. Make sure that your daughter signs up for the Junior Ranger Program at every park and monument that offers the program. She's the perfect age for those activities and they'll help her get the most out of visits, even to places she may not have much 'interest' in.

    Consider a swing over to White Sands from Carlsbad and look into what's available for visitors on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation. As noted above, make extensive use of your national park system, especially the smaller parks where you'll get close to one-on-one attention from rangers. In this class is Pecos National Historical Park off I-25 south of Glorietta, NM. In Santa Fe, ask about the flea market north of town near the opera. North of Durango, the former ski resort of Purgatory now operates as a year round adventure resort with lift rides ot the top of the mountain, bike rides down, and trampolines, etc. Look into the Durango-Silverton Railroad. And before you leave for home consider a drive to the top of Pike's Peak and/or a visit to the Air Force Academy.

    AZBuck

  3. #3

    Default Lots of leads

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    At this point, you've already got a fairly good basic itinerary. Just a few things to keep in mind. There are easy hikes in every National Park/Monument. Make sure that your daughter signs up for the Junior Ranger Program at every park and monument that offers the program. She's the perfect age for those activities and they'll help her get the most out of visits, even to places she may not have much 'interest' in.
    Thanks a lot. I hadn't ever heard of the Junior Ranger Program. After taking a brief look at it online, it looks like it would be the sort of thing she would really like. The Durango-Silverton Railroad is also especially apropos. She loves trains (her favorite thing in Montreal on our trip last year was riding the Metro...)

    Also thanks for taking the time to respond - I knew I was only starting to scratch the surface and you have given me a lot of threads to work on and follow up. I will most likely be back here occasionally with follow-up questions if you don't mind.

    --Jon

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Albuquerque has the Petroglyphs National Monument - - since you indicated an interest in history. It also has a tram up Sandia Peak, which your daughter might like if she likes trains!



    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Another Train

    Not far from Pike's Peak, you have Canon City, where the Royal Gorge train leaves from. It is a great two hour journey through the 12 mile gorge and back, complete with commentary.

    Lifey

  6. #6

    Default

    Thanks again for the train suggestions. We probably won't do all of them, but we will do some.

    --Jon

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    It would add a few more miles, but you could dip into Arizona/Utah too.

    You'd have Canyon de Chelly, which is another big ruins site. Natural Bridges also has a small area of ruins, in addition to the 3 Amazing Bridges. I'd say both of these areas have enough of interest in addition to ruins that you could add them without going into archeology overload!

    And that's in addition to Monument Valley, Arches, and Canyonlands that you could look at. There are some very accessable petroglyphs in the Moab that you could also check out in the area.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    It would add a few more miles, but you could dip into Arizona/Utah too.

    You'd have Canyon de Chelly, which is another big ruins site. Natural Bridges also has a small area of ruins, in addition to the 3 Amazing Bridges. I'd say both of these areas have enough of interest in addition to ruins that you could add them without going into archeology overload!

    And that's in addition to Monument Valley, Arches, and Canyonlands that you could look at. There are some very accessable petroglyphs in the Moab that you could also check out in the area.
    Thanks. I knew about Canyon de Chelly, but I think I may already be trying my family's patience as it is...

    There's also a good amount of stuff just South of Natural Bridges in Grand Gulch - a little off the road that runs down to Muley Point and the Moki Dugway - it's a little less accessible than the ruins in Natural Bridges proper, but is very nice.

    --Jon

  9. #9

    Default Change of Plans - More Time and Bigger Scope (4 Weeks: St Louis - Northern CA RT)

    Due to some changes at work and at home, we have managed to expand the time available to ~4 weeks.

    I was thinking of something like:

    Day 1: St. Louis to ??? OK
    Day 2: ??? OK to Santa Fe (these are pretty much just travel days)
    Days 3 and 4: Santa Fe and around
    Day 5: Santa Fe --> Durango (either a late start out of Santa Fe or an afternoon around Durango)
    Day 6: Around Durango
    Day 7: Travel Day: Durango --> Moki Dugway and Muley Point (one of my favorite viewpoints in the U.S.) --> Torrey, UT (?)
    Day 8: Either morning in Capitol Reef *or* a quick pass through Bryce Canyon and then --> Kanab, UT
    Day 9: North Rim
    Day 10: Travel Day: Kanab, UT --> Bishop, CA (bypassing Las Vegas and Death Valley)
    Day 11: If Tioga Pass is open (iffy - this woulfd be around May 22-24 or so), then over Tioga Pass, a quick view of Yosemite, and a hotel near the west side of the park. On to Sacramento (and family) on Day 12. If not, then up US-395 and down US-50, and to family today.
    Days 12-20: Family stuff with side trips (TBD)
    Day 21: US-50 --> Ely, NV
    Day 22: Ely, NV --> Moab, UT
    Days 23 and 24: Moab Area: Arches, Island in the Sky, etc.
    Day 25: Moab --> Ouray, CO? (Million Dollar Highway)
    Day 26: Ouray? --> Salida, CO? (stopping by Black Canyon of the Gunnison, is there a base you'd recommend other than Salida? See below.)
    Day 27: Explore this area
    Day 28: Travel Day: ---> ?? KS
    Day 29: Travel Day: ?? KS --> STL

    My highest priorities (in rough order of importance): Santa Fe, North Rim, the Moab area, Moki Dugway/Muley Point, the Durango area.

    I would like a day to do a bit of exploring in the "high country" of Colorado, but within a not-too-strenuous two-day drive of St. Louis. Is Salida a reasonable choice or would you recommend somewhere else?

    I don't think any individual leg is unreasonable, although there are a few places with back-to-back ~500 mile days. I also think that Bishop, over Tioga Pass, through Yosemite, to the other side is a very quick breeze-by of Yosemite, but my wife and daughter have never been and so I figure a quick look would be better than none. Plus, maybe I can get my wife back for a longer trip during our time in CA (my parents will be taking our daughter for a few days and letting us get out).

    I am planning on leaving Zion and Death Valley for future trips - just not the time to do them justice this trip.

    And of course, we are willing to change up depending on the weather...

    Thoughts?

    Thanks!

    --Jon
    Last edited by jcorb2d; 04-02-2012 at 07:40 PM. Reason: I can't count

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Suggestions.

    Your trip looks pretty amazing !!

    From Santa Fe to Durango you could work in a trip to Taos Pueblo and then take US64 to Chama and onto Pagosa Springs. Just outside Taos is the Rio Grande Gorge bridge with a parking area and as you continue from here, look out for the 'Earthship community' which will be on your right. Pagosa Springs is famous for it's Hot Springs and is nice for a quick stop. You would need to leave quite early to make it 'fit'.

    With a "day around Durango", you have the option of the train ride to Silverton, or driving the 'San Juan Skyway' which includes the Million Dollar Highway. Drive to Silverton and Ouray and at Ridgway start looping back around to Telluride and Dolores, a spectacular drive ! You could spend the night in Cortez rather than going back to Durango. You would be close to Mesa Verde NP, but that might be a bit much given your schedule.

    I would certainly stop at Bryce canyon as you can get a quick look from the rim, again spectacular. You could possibly stop at Capitol Reef on route to Torrey.

    From Kanab to Bishop, it would only take slightly longer to drive through Death Valley and the landscape is incredible.

    If you have already driven to Ouray on the way 'out, you could consider visiting Colorado NM from Moab and perhaps stop around Montrose. After taking US 50 you could continue towards Manitou/Colorado Springs, where there are the Cave of the winds and Garden of the Gods.

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