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  1. #1

    Default New Mexico/SW. Colorado Roadtrip

    Hello everyone,

    I was just writing to get some input on a few of the roads I'll be traveling next week. I'm leaving San Diego and planning on driving straight through to El Paso for the night. Then the next day head up to Carlsbad Caverns. I'm not sure how long we'll spend there, but I have us planned to stay in Albuquerque via Roswell that night. Is that gonna be too much driving? Also wanted to know the type of road US 550 is between Los Alamos and Farmington and if the 4 hour time mapquest gives it is close to correct. After Farmington I have us staying in Durango and from there I want to hit Mesa Verde, 4 Corners, and hopefully Monument Valley. If we left early enough in the morning, would we be able to hit all that and be in Monument Valley by nightfall?
    Thanks in advance.
    Brett

  2. Default

    San Diego to El Paso is 725 miles and 10 hours of driving time. That's a long day!

    El Paso, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell and drive to Albuquerque all in one day is 442 miles and about 9 hours of driving. I guess you don't plan on a long time at the caverns!

    Durango to Monument Valley is 190 miles and 4 hours of driving. Four Corners is a few minutes off the road and will take only a short time to see. Mesa Verde on the other hand is well worth a couple of days. It will be hard, but you can get a quick glance of the park in several hours.


    Utahtea

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Durango to Monument Valley

    Quote Originally Posted by packman
    ....After Farmington I have us staying in Durango and from there I want to hit Mesa Verde, 4 Corners, and hopefully Monument Valley.
    Everything Utahtea suggests looks good, except that you will be hard-pressed to travel from Durango to Monument Valley in four hours -- road and traffic will ensure that the elapsed time will exceed six hours.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    It's about 725 miles from San Diego to El Paso. That's a good 11 hours driving time. It's doable but it's a real blitz drive. I hope you have someone to share driving with. If not, I'd highly suggest splitting this into two days. Tucson, about 400 miles from San Diego, is a good half-way point to consider stopping at. If you want to push further on the first day to burn some miles, you might want to go as far as Lordsburg, NM. But that's probably about the farthest I'd plan on if it was me.

    If you only go to Tucson the first day, and then El Paso the seond, you'll have time to stop and do a bit of exploring along the way.

    I don't think you're allowing near enough time to go from El Paso to Carlsbad Caverns and then onto Albuquerque. It's about 150 miles from El Paso to Carlsbad Caverns. So figure about 3 hours driving. Even a quick tour of the Caverns will take you at least 2 hours. That's a minimum. And, there's so much to see there that you'll really miss most of the fun stuff if you do such a quick tour of the caverns. Also, the bat flight at sunset is one of the coolest things there. I would suggest you plan things so you can be there in the evening for that.

    It's about 320 miles from Carlsbad Caverns to Albuquerque via Roswell. That's about 6-1/2 hours driving.

    So, if you do El Paso-Carlsbad-Roswell-Albuquerque, you'd be driving about 9-1/2 hours. How much time can you really spend exploring the caverns? And how much time can you spend enjoying the funny alien museums and other UFO sites in Roswell if you drive the whole day?

    Personally, I would plan on staying for the cool bat show and spend the night in Carlsbad (about an hour from the caverns). If you stay in Carlsbad, you can take a couple of hours to explore the kitsch in Roswell before getting into Albuquerque for dinner.

    I drove from Sante Fe to Farmington a few years back, I don't recall anything particular about the road itself. It was a pretty drive. I believe it was a typical 2 lane highway most of the way, smooth, no problems. Hopefully someone who has driven it more recently can give you better info but I wouldn't let anything about the road scare you off.

    I don't recall the time it took me to drive it, but I did drive all the way to Durango that day. That included lots of short stops at various sights along the way. MS Streets & Trips says that Los Alamos to Farmington is 167 miles and says it's about 5 hours. I have no idea why. I don't recall going slow, like 30mph, for most of the trip. I seem to remember cruising along at highway speeds. But you also go through lots of small towns so you need to allow for slowing down during those times.

    Yes, you could do Durango-Mesa Verde-4 Corners-Monument Valley in one day and get there by nightfall. But you might be short-changing yourself if you do. First, unless you allowed time for it the day before, there's lots of see and do in Durango itself. Allow time for that. Second, there is LOTS to see in Mesa Verde. There are several tours. You might want to take more than one. The tour to the main ruins takes at least a couple of hours in total (if I'm remember right). Plus, there are a lot of interesting museums and other stops along there. It is not a stop that should be rushed. 4 Corners is really a fairly short stop. Maybe 30-40 minutes to get the obligatory pictures of standing in all 4 states at the same time, then perusing the various stands to stretch your legs for a bit.

    Anyway, it's about 180 miles from Durango to Monument Valley. If you explored Durango the day before, you would be able to do it in one day. But to really allow yourself enough time to enjoy Mesa Verde, you might want to plan on getting up quite early and hitting the road so you don't end up having to miss things there in order to get to Monument Valley before dark.

    I just want to close by saying that I love a blitz roadtrip myself once in awhile. If it's my only option to get where I want to go, I'd do it that way. But, if you can stretch things out a bit more, you'll be able to stop and enjoy the sights better and enjoy your trip. There's so much to see in New Mexico that you're missing with your current planned itinerary, that I think you're not going to enjoy that state as much as you should. White Sands, the Very Large Array, Santa Fe, Taos, are just a few things in New Mexico that you seem to be missing?

    I hope I helped a bit and didn't simply add to your confusion.

  5. #5

    Default

    I would echo what has been said about the Durango - Monument Valley leg, you may be able to do it but you will not do Mesa Verde Justice.

    We did Durango - Mesa Verde - Cortez, took all day and did not see everything in Mesa Verde.

    Tip : At the entrance to Mesa Verde is the visitor centre. If you wish to go on a tour into the actual ruins (which is highly recommended) then you must pick up a ticket here. This is miles before you get to the actual ruins themselves and I saw lots of people who drove past the vistor centre to save time then found themselves unable to go on a tour.

    UK

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by UK
    Tip : At the entrance to Mesa Verde is the visitor centre. If you wish to go on a tour into the actual ruins (which is highly recommended) then you must pick up a ticket here. This is miles before you get to the actual ruins themselves and I saw lots of people who drove past the vistor centre to save time then found themselves unable to go on a tour.

    UK
    Actually the visitor center is not at the entrance to Mesa Verde. See Map It's a little drive into the Far View Visitor Center but if you do want to do one of the three Ranger Guided Tour you need to stop at the Far View Visitor Center and pick up the tickets that cost a very small fee. I highly recommend one of the ranger guided tours, but you can do Spruce Tree house ruins on your own.

    Utahtea

  7. #7

    Default Thanks!!

    Thanks for the great replies. When I was putting this together I knew I'd have to it a break-neck pace. I'm goin with my dad, so we can share driving duties. We're leaving this Saturday morning at 4 a.m., but if my dad can get out of a meeting on Friday, we'll leave SD after I get off work at 2 p.m. Friday and stay in Tucson that night. We really want hit Tombstone on the way, also, we could easily do White Sands and maybe even push through to Carlsbad (the town) and sleep there Saturday night instead. Not sure how long we'll be at the Caverns, my dad is very claustrophobic, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep him down there long. Originally I had wanted to stay the day there and crash in Roswell for the night, but we really want to do some trout fishing the next couple days so I might try to push on closer to the Los Alamos area, then on to the San Juan River the day after. I might be able to add an extra day on at the end too but I won't know until later in the week, if so, I'd definitely like to stay around Durango and do some fishing for a day. The final day we'd leave Monument Valley and stay in Phoenix that night, is going a bit out of the way to see Canyon de Chelly worth the time? There is just so much to see and not enough vacation time at work!! Thanks again.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Canyon de Chelly

    Quote Originally Posted by packman
    ... I might be able to add an extra day on at the end too but I won't know until later in the week, if so, I'd definitely like to stay around Durango and do some fishing for a day.
    The fishing up by Ouray is pretty darn amazing...
    The final day we'd leave Monument Valley and stay in Phoenix that night, is going a bit out of the way to see Canyon de Chelly worth the time?
    I have not taken the time to spend much time at Canyon de Chelly, but Utahtea and Moderator Bob have both spent a good deal of time there and I think they would agree that it is one of the must-see places. The only thing is that with your timeframe I don't think you can spend enough time to really do it. But there are several threads on this forum about this magical place.
    There is just so much to see and not enough vacation time at work!! Thanks again.
    That is always the case!

    Mark

  9. #9

    Default Canyon de Chelly

    I know I'm on a blitzing schedule, so that might not happen, but according to one site I saw, Canyon de Chelly is 93 miles from Monument Valley. Mapquest says its 135 miles and 3-1/2 hours apart. Does that sound right?
    Two more days until launch!!!!

  10. Default Canyon de Chelly

    Quote Originally Posted by packman
    I know I'm on a blitzing schedule, so that might not happen, but according to one site I saw, Canyon de Chelly is 93 miles from Monument Valley. Mapquest says its 135 miles and 3-1/2 hours apart. Does that sound right?
    Two more days until launch!!!!
    Probably take less time to get to Canyon de Chelly from Monument Valley. All in all it will add about 2 hours of driving time to your route back to Phoenix, but then add another hour and half to drive the south rim scenic drive to Spider Rock overlook.

    Take Hwy 191 down to I-40 and if you find you have time, you could also drive the Petrified Forest park road down to Hwy 180 and back to I-40. This will add another hour of driving time.

    Utahtea

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