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  1. Default Winter road trip to AZ, NM & further. Suggestions needed

    Hi all,
    I am a resident of Los Angeles and keen to go on road trip of 10 days at year end. We are a couple and mostly looking for scenic places and beautiful landscapes. Not into hiking and skiing, but would love to go in snow. I have already visited Grand Canyon, Zion and LV twice.
    After reading different forums and few old threads I was able to decide, which side I need to head, but still need to fill up some gaps and more refinement. Here I need your help. Till now, I have planned as below :-

    Day-1 Los Angeles to Tucson and stay
    Day-2 Stay in Tucson (cover Desert Park and Kartchner)
    Day-3 Visit and stay at ??? (Tucson to Albuquerque/Santa Fe via Globe & Show Low OR via Silver City & Socorro)
    Day-4 Santa Fe, overnight stay
    Day-5 Santa Fe, overnight stay (Have to read more in local forums)
    Day-6 Santa Fe, overnight stay (Have to read more in local forums)
    Day-11 Travel back to Los Angeles

    I need help on :-
    Day-3 Which will be more scenic to go (End of December). Suggestions ?
    Day-7, 8, 9, 10 Confused here. I have not seen Antelope (Page) and not Sedona too. Or should I think of something towards Colorado ?

    Please give me some tips, it will help me to schedule my trip.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default No wrong choices.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I'm not familiar with routes from Tucson so can't help with your first question and to be honest your second question is one that only you can answer based on which holds most appeal to you. The one thing I would suggest is to leave that part of your trip open ended and see what the weather is doing at the time you travel and decide from there. You could get 2 out of your 3 thoughts [Colorado and Sedona] by going from Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs and soak in the hot springs and then drive towards Durango/Cortez and Mesa Verde National park. If you haven't already visited you could stop at Four corners and drive through Monument vally to Sedona the next day before making your way home.

    There are many options including Page to be considered, but as I mentioned at the start you could just keep an eye on the weather and pick and choose as you go.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I can speak for the roads from Tucson up to I-40 through Globe and Show Low: Going up AZ-79 and then AZ-77, you'll come to the Biosphere 2. Crossing through San Manuel, then Hayden/Winkelman, you may see remnants of the copper mining industry. The trip is really pretty, high desert through there, but rarely sees snow. Globe is another mining town. Heading northeast from Globe, you'll cross through the Salt River Canyon which is REALLY scenic. There's lots of hiking in that area if you are so inclined.

    At ShowLow, stay on US-60 instead of going up to Snowflake. Take AZ-61 to AZ-180A to US-180, and come through the Petrified Forest National Park from the south end to the north. It's a beautiful, and scientific drive. Connect with I-40 near the north end of the park.

    Between PFNP and Albuquerque, there are a number of pueblos and missions (such as Acoma), El Malpais National Monument.

    Albuquerque has the National Nuclear Museum, a lift up to Sandia Peak, and Rio Grande River Nature Center, if so interested.


  4. Default

    Thanks Dave
    Donna, you gave a excellent advice. You recommended Tucson - San Manuel - Hayden - Globe - Salt River Canyon - 60 - 61 - 180A - 180 which is via Concho - Petrified Forest National Park = I40 - Alb - Santa Fe. It is mre than 630 miles drive and not possible in one day. Is there any mid way, where should I break my journey to get a budget hotel to stay ? Not fancy, but just ok to spend night.

    On a side note, if I cut down Petrified NP ans go like Tucson - San Manuel - Hayden - Globe - Salt River Canyon - 60 - 61 - 37 - 117 - El Malpais NM - Alb - Santa Fe, it will save me 80 miles. If weather is bad (as Dave said, it may be or may be not), then I will be coming from Santa Fe to Sedona with I40 and Petrified NM and will be repeating it. 80 miles is not a big deal, but if entering from South end to north end is that much scenic, I am ok to repeat the route. Please correct me, if I not getting you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Case for Some Others

    I will wholeheartedly agree that the drive up AZ-79 and US-60 is a very scenic way to get from Tucson to Albuquerque. It can get a bit 'rough' in the winter, particularly US-60 through the Salt River Canyon which entails some significant grades and switchbacks. Also, many of Tucson's attractions including Kartchner Caverns and Tombstone are southeast of town which would make it more sensible to head out of town via I-10, see some of those, and then use NM-26 to connect with I-25 north to Albuquerque and Santa Fe. In New Mexico on such a route, you'd be passing through or near Hatch ('Chile Capital of the World'), Elephant Butte Lake State Park outside Truth or Consequences, The VLA west of Socorro, and Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge just north of there.

    On Days seven through ten, even if you've seen the Grand Canyon, I would still recommend returning to Los Angeles via I-40/I-15. The thing is, there are so many more great sites in northern Arizona than 'just' the Canyon that most people never take the time to explore. Among my favorites are: Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Petrified Forest National Park, and Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments. Then in Flagstaff, there's the Museum of Northern Arizona, Lowell Observatory, and access to points south such as Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, and Jerome. Then for a final bit of kitsch, visit London Bridge, which was transported stone by stone to Lake Havasu City.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you go via Show Low and Petrified Forest, I can recommend the Motel 6 in Holbrook. There are also some budget options in Gallup.

  7. Default

    Nice suggestions. I am near to finalize my trip. For now, I will have two options -
    1) Tucson - San Manuel - Hayden - Globe - Salt River Canyon - 60 - 61 - 180A - 180 which is via Concho - Petrified Forest National Park - I40 - Alb - Santa Fe === more scenic drive but may be rough in winters
    2) Tucson - Kartchner - Chiricahua - Tombstone - NM26 - I-25 - Elephant Butte - Albuquerque - Santa Fe === less scenic but more places to see in between and easy drive.

    Hope, I am correct :-)

    Next part is FROM Santa Fe. I was planning to have a day trip to Taos while I will be staying at Santa Fe. But now new more exciting places are suggested, so I will need help here too. Instead of day trip to Taos, should I leave Santa Fe and reach Toas via High road and then leave further for Canyon de Chelly National Monument and then back to Petrified Forest National Park on I40 ? I am not sure about roads and their weather conditions, but Google map says - Santa Fe - Taos - Navajo Lake State Park via 64 - Chinle - Petrified Forest - Sedona (Flagstaff). This comes to 715 miles, so I would definitely need a beak somewhere.

  8. #8


    If you do make it to the Taos area, The Enchanted Circle is a magnificient drive. Although the chance of winter weather is possible, this is a ski area so I'm guessing they do a pretty good job of keeping the roads clear.

  9. Default

    Along with my last question for travel from Santa Fe towards Canyon de Chelly and Petrified NM, I am still trying to figure out how should I put The Enchanted Circle in my trip, because I know that too is 'not to be missed', as I read. Please help me to arrange it. I have not booked any hotel yet, so I am still flexible to rearrange places and orders.
    Also, up to Toas, there is some railway also, which goes from scenic ways, if that is recommended, I can cut down a night from Santa Fe and stay in Taos. Is that recommended ?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You really shouldn't have to book hotels anywhere, you can be flexible and see how far you can get on any given day.

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