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  1. Default Albuquerque to Winthrop, Washington

    Hello:

    We are two women artists looking for a scenic but reasonably quick route (say six-seven hours of driving each day) from Albuquerque or Flagstaff up to Winthrop, Washington at the end of July. Which route would you choose? What sights would you say are worth stopping for if you are only going to stop once or twice a day? And how about varied topography and amazing vistas? We can't figure out whether to do a westernish Nevada route (too isolated? too hot?) or a easternish SLC Idaho Montana (Sun Valley? Missoula?) route.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default 1500 miles = Four Days?

    Quote Originally Posted by mcreight
    We are two women artists looking for a scenic but reasonably quick route (say six-seven hours of driving each day) from Albuquerque or Flagstaff up to Winthrop, Washington at the end of July.
    How many days were you allowing for this ramble? As you probably know, this is a 1500 mile journey by the shortest possible route. If you only plan to drive 6-7 hours per day, the distance will require four full days of driving.
    Which route would you choose? What sights would you say are worth stopping for if you are only going to stop once or twice a day? And how about varied topography and amazing vistas? We can't figure out whether to do a westernish Nevada route (too isolated? too hot?) or a easternish SLC Idaho Montana (Sun Valley? Missoula?) route.
    Let's see, the fastest route is certainly going to be I-40 to US-89 to I-15 to I-84 and up. If you were to do US-95 (western Nevada) which is one of my favorite desert roads, it would add at least 2-3 hours of driving to your total trip. That said, it hard to beat the scenery of western Utah. If you tell us how many days you can allow for this trip, we can provide more ideas about scenic stops.

    Mark

  3. #3
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    Mar 2005
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    Default

    I agree that knowing your timeframe AND the types of things you want to see would be helpful to give you better advice.

  4. Default Okay, here's the scoop

    My sister in law and I will leave Albuquerque the morning of the 26th of July--me after spending a week in Santa Fe. We can then go to F'staff and do a half day of the GCanyon (I know, I know, a travesty for so short a time) and then head north toward Washington or, on the other hand, head north say, through Durango, etc.

    We hope to arrive in Winthrop sometime on the 30th, where my brother, who lives there, will show us the sights for two days.

    What are we looking for on the road trip from NM?

    An ideal day:

    Up by seven: then drive 3 or so hrs through breathtaking scenery (maybe interstate) and stop for lunch at a little cafe with great pastries or at a roadside stop with unusual character. Three to four hours more of driving, (interstate again possible )past a ghost town or two, past things that are characteristically western, then a short afternoon hike, with some birdwatching (just to make things more complicated for you all!). Then dinner with outstanding guacamole or some other "western" feature. Sunset will bring out all the colorful nuances in the landscape, which we photograph for painting later. Each day will bring some landscape or western feature that is different from the last but is in its particular way is just as compelling.

    The main thing is western "character," western landscape, and not to get heat exhaustion (the tales of heat-stroke woe on travel forums are impressive).

    I know you all wanted detail, and I have probably been too specific!

  5. #5
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    Default Realistic Expectations

    Quote Originally Posted by mcreight
    My sister in law and I will leave Albuquerque the morning of the 26th of July--me after spending a week in Santa Fe.
    Well, you are correct, we now know a little more than we guessed we wanted to know about your plans. I have been down a few roads in my roadtrippin' career and just want to suggest that you can not cover the distance you have outlined with the expectations of what you are seeking in four days. Leisurely lunch stops, afternoon hikes, early dinners with time to photograph sunsets and still manage to drive 400 odd miles per day is pretty darn unlikely. But, maybe you have mystical powers of locomotion beyond those of mere mortals.

    So, I am going to make some suggestions of places to consider and you can connect the dots as you wish.

    First, before you depart -- during the week in Santa Fe -- I would urge you to drive to Taos and on to Eagle Nest. There is a quality of light that I have never seen or experienced anywhere else in the country that can be observed there. It has long been thought to be a site of one of those mysterious vortexes. In particular, visit the Angel Fire DAV memorial (looks like a white sail on the mountain) and watch the color of light as it plays across the lake. To return to Santa Fe, take US-64 through the mountains to Bloomfield and back along US-550 -- an awesome drive.

    Western: Spend some time in the Navajo Nation lands (NE corner of Arizona), Navajo Nation is a bit of mis-nomer, since it is home to scores of nations and political divisions. In fact, I would suggest that you save Flagstaff and the Grand for another trip. Early morning or Late afternoon raking light is pretty wonderful at Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park and then head north up AZ-77 to Chinle and spend some time at Canyon de Chelly. There are several posts on this board about this place. Again the contrast of light against rock is remarkable here. To really get a quick overview of the area, take a few moments and click through Thurman's 4-Corners Field Report. One of my favorite shots from this area is Thurman's visit to the Valley of the Gods:

    From there I would suggest a visit to Monument Valley along US-163. Unfortunately, one can no longer drive their own car into the Tribal Park, but rides are available from the local nation.

    From here you can either go up White Canyon (very nice) crossing the Colorado River and eventually Capital Reef enroute to I-70 or head up to Moab and Arches NP.

    The rest of the route can be equally scenic, but it would take you 6-10 days to make it.

    Mark

  6. #6
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    Default

    There's some excellent suggestions in that post!

    mcreight, if you go Sante Fe-Albuqurque-Winthrop via the fastest route, it is about 1600 miles and 29 hours of driving. And, of course, this is the fastest route, not necessarily the most scenic one. Once you start your meandering to scenic sites, the miles will increase a lot. I see no way you can cover that in 4 days and still do the things you want to do during the day.

    Durango is a beautiful area. However, I'm not convinced it offers you the play on light that you're looking for. Maybe when I was there, the sun wasn't out enough for me to notice that?

    One of my favorite drives is going north from Gallup on old 666 to Cortez, then west to Monticello, then north to Moab. There is fantastic scenery there. I find it fascinating how the rocks change from one area to another (size, shape, color). And the lighting changes can be quite interesting as well.

    Here's a couple of pictures I've taken on that route. They're not the best and were taken out my window while driving, but they give you an idea of how the rocks change in color/shape.

    I think this is ShipRock? (Editor: Nope, I will do some looking for the title)

    This is Ship Rock:

    And this is just a cool 'hole in the rock' (but not THE Hole in the Rock) closer to Moab. (Editor: Actually this is known as Wilson Arch, named for a homesteader in the area)



    Another fantastic route from Sante Fe would be to go north through Colorado on 285. This takes you through the backbone of the Rockies. A picture from a trip there:




    Anyway, I'm stumped on more specific routes to suggest because I think any route you take through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah to get to Winthrop gives you the "western flavor."
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-24-2005 at 10:43 AM. Reason: Location names

  7. Default Difficult Conglomeration

    Looking over your posts, I came up with a short list of your "wants:" Western scenery, artsy communities, ghost town adventures, bird watching and photography..." There's no way I can come up with all of that -- but here's some suggestions based on the "limitations" imposed by your starting and ending points and the timeframe.

    First, routes. Several possibilities exist. In the interest of creating the most scenic variety for your journey, I'd exclude CO/WY from consideration from the options available. You could head NW through the Four Corners area, up through eastern Utah (the Canyonlands/Arches country), and through Idaho into Washington through the Spokane area. OR, go west into Arizona, then north through Utah (seeing the central/southern Utah National Parks), or even further west and use the US93 corridor into Idaho (the most desert-y route of the choices available, and could include Great Basin National Park).

    Of these, I think... ALB -- Mesa Verde Natl Park -- Moab -- Price -- Salt Lake -- Ketchum (ID) -- Salmon -- Lolo (MT) -- Lowell (ID) -- Spokane -- Winthrop; or

    ALB -- Monument Valley -- Capital Reef -- Bryce Canyon -- Salt Lake (then the same as the other choices for the remainder of the drive) are the two BEST choices. Although we could argue that point for DAYS...

    You'd have to concentrate your time on one or two choices along these routes in order to have time to do anything. The southern UT attractions on both routes are for your photography/art goals. Ketchum ID would provide the nouveau/artsy cultural atmosphere you seek. For birding, I'd suggest that any state park along this route in a wooded area would be prime in early morning (even in scrub oak country, there is usually an abundant variety of birds, as long as there is a convenient water source nearby). Zion National Park would also be a perfect choice for birds, although I've left it out for reasons of time.

    Another option is to go directly west to Sedona -- for your birds (Oak Creek Canyon) and the arts, then north from there into Utah for the photography/scenery.

    I also leave out the Grand Canyon (you've noticed?) -- you simply won't have time to do it all and even the things I've listed are too much for the trip -- you're going to have to play it by ear and pick the options that seem to fit in best, based on your whims at the moment.

    Oh, I'd also check out Craters of the Moon in Idaho for photography purposes -- it's on the way -- and though I've not seen it myself, I'd think it might fit into your desires as stated.

    I don't have access to my maps where I'm at at the moment -- but you can watch for ghost town opportunities all along the route -- there may or may not be a few.

    Bob

  8. #8
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    Default Craters of the Moon!

    Quote Originally Posted by Moderator Bob
    Oh, I'd also check out Craters of the Moon in Idaho for photography purposes -- it's on the way -- and though I've not seen it myself, I'd think it might fit into your desires as stated.
    I agree, that is one of my favorite places to wander and explore -- plus it has the steepest paved road in America (one-way down)!

    Mark

  9. Default Overload

    It's clear that I've overloaded everyone's circuits with my eclectic itinerary. And you have given me terrific advice. I'm glad I didn't tell you my other interests (actually, profession) of American history or I would have had even more yelps and outcries. So I am going to take a deep breath, scale down, skip the Grand Canyon for now, and focus on views, the occasional guacamole, and, here and there, a rare bird.


    And great photos! Thanks!

  10. #10
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    Default Cave Creek

    Quote Originally Posted by mcreight
    So I am going to take a deep breath, scale down, skip the Grand Canyon for now, and focus on views, the occasional guacamole, and, here and there, a rare bird.
    Ooh! Rare bird -- if you really are a birder -- then you have to go to the Cave Creek drainage in the Chiricahuas (one of my favorite set of mountains on earth -- or at least the parts of earth I have been fortunate enough to visit thus far). There are varieties of flora and fauna that only live therein. The most elusive in that area would be the Coppery Tailed Trogan Plus the country is gorgeous. The ridge line is about 10,000 feet and is only about 60 miles north of Mexico with lots of waterfalls and plants you normally expect to see in the Pacific Northwest.

    I was a fire look-out on Silver Peak (in the Cave Creek area) in 1976 and although I never saw a Trogan, I did see some rather amazing creatures and a whole bunch of rattlesnakes --

    As an historian, you must know the significance of the Chiricahuas and the incredibly rich historical sites in this area as well.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 06-24-2005 at 12:19 PM. Reason: typo

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