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  1. Default Houston to Las Vegas & Grand Canyon in December


    We're planning our first road trip (about 10 days) in December o6 from Houston, TX to Las Vegas, then hitting Hoover dam & the Grand Canyon on the way back. We're (2 adults, 3 kids) planning to try to make it to Alburquerque the first night from Houston (3 of us driving), then on to LV the next day. On the way back, we will take our time, and stay overnight one night (probably at the Maswik Lodge on the S. Rim) at the GC and then on back to Texas. It's my first road trip in 45 years (can you believe that!) so I"m full of questions. I'm doing a lot of research and planning but thought some of you on this forum might be able to offer some helpful advice or ideas on how to make our trip better. A few questions:

    1. Do you think we'll run into any dangerous driving conditions (ie snow, ice). It will be late December, just before Christmas. From Houston were going north to Fort Worth, then up to Amarillo and across NM and AZ on I-40.

    2. Coming back, after the Grand Canyon, we're not sure where to stay next or what else there is to see along the way. We thought about heading south into NM after we pass Albuquerque, to see Roswell and maybe Carlsbad. But that may be too much to try and do in one trip. Plus I don't know how desolate that drive would be through NM or if the caverns are even open or too cold that time of year.

    3. If anyone knows of any scenic places in AZ or NM to visit along or close to I-40 (from the GC to Amarillo), please let me know so I can check them out.

    4. Is there anything anyone can tell me about the route we are taking, such as certain stretches of highway that are really dangerous (mountaineous, snow) or desolate, no gas stations, dont drive in this area at night, etc. I hate to be so naive, but it's the first time cross country.

    5. Or if you know of any website that will give us this type of information, that would be great!

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Almost There

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    There may be a few things you'll have to come to grips with about this trip. For starters, you say that there will be two adults and three kids, but three drivers. How old is the one that counts as both a kid and a driver, and how much experience does he or she have at long distance driving? Secondly, Houston to Albuquerque is nearly 900 miles. That is simply not within the realm of reason for a day's drive with 5 people stuffed in a car. How old are the two younger children and have they ever sat still for 16 hours before?

    Your route from Houston to Las Vegas is the most direct, and you should not expect bad weather along it, but neither should it come as a surprise if it happens. Travel in winter anywhere in the US requires that you be willing to alter your plans by a day or two if Mother Nature decrees that it is necessary. You'll just have to keep your eye on the forecasts.

    The Grand Canyon is probably the place that you're most likely to run into bad weather. The South Rim sits at an altitude of 6800 feet, and it will be very cold at a minimum, with snow quite possible. Heading south through Roswell and Carlsbad would not add that many miles to your return trip and would give you a better shot at some warmer weather. The temperature inside the Caverns is independent of the temperature outside. The only time they are closed is on Christmas.

    There is more stuff near the Grand Canyon than you'll have time for. Besides the places listed in that post there is also the Petrified Forest National Park and Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque.

    As long as you stick to the major roads and don't let your gas tank drop below about a quarter full, you should have no real problems anywhere during your travels. There is always the possibility of a breakdown out on one of the less traveled highways, but even then these roads are not desolate.

    You've already found the best web site for your questions (in our humble opinion).

    Really, the only problem I see with your general plan is that you have assumed that you can cover way too much ground on your first day. Make that two days, with your first stop in roughly Wichita Falls, and you've got a workable trip. If you can't devote three days to getting to Las Vegas, you're going to get off to a very rocky start.


  3. Default

    Thanks for all your input and the links to check out! I had the same concerns about the length of the drive on the first day, so we are reconsidering this for sure. We may just leave a day earlier after the kids get out of school (Friday) and drive up to Arlington, TX (have family there). Then get a fresh start the next morning from there. My other half has been on several road trips and he has driven long distance, but not with three kiddos in the car (lots of stops). The two younger kids are 9 and 14. My oldest will be 18 soon and has been driving about a year and a half. He will only do short drives during the day as long as it's not bad weather or heavy traffic. He's a good driver and could use the experience. We're pretty strict so we'll keep a close eye on him and co-pilot! ; ) We're taking our suburban so there's plenty of room. Well, on to the trip planning! If anyone else has ideas, tips, etc, please post them.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Sounds Like a Plan

    So, the 'kids' aren't all that young and will get a great deal out of a trip like this. Be sure to include them in the planning so that they feel like it's their trip too and they're not just being dragged along. The Suburban is one of the great all-time RoadTrip vehicles, plenty of room and they're built like tanks. I've used (and abused) them on many a geologic field trip a lot farther from civilization than you're going to be and they've never let me down yet. The do not sip gas lightly, however. I think you're in for a great time and if you have other specific questions or want ideas that would satisfy other interests that you haven't mentioned yet, just ask.


  5. Default

    Great advice about letting the kids plan too. I've been planning the whole thing and we've all talked about it, but maybe I'll give them each a place to research on the internet for us to visit. Glad to hear the "burb" will be a good road vehicle. If I think of anything else, I'll post. Thanks again!

  6. Default Where to stay in Albuquerque

    Sleeping over in Albuquerque on drive from Texas to Las Vegas, where's the best place to stay under $100? Don't need fancy, just clean and good area of town so we don't have to worry about our vehicle.

    Or just let me know what's the better side of town, or the side of town to steer clear of. It's hard when you don't know the city.

    Thanks so much,

    2 days till our first Road Trip ever!!!!!!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Popular Place

    We've had a few people ask about Albuquque and Santa Fe in the past few weeks. I'd do a search and see what was recommended in those threads.

    Its been several years since I've stayed in Alb. Last time I was there, I stayed just off of I-25 on the northern edge of town. I think it may have been the Drury Inn, but I may be mistaken. I do remember it was a pretty nice place that cost me less than $50 using a coupon from a truck stop/rest area discount book, and I certainly didn't feel uncomfortable leaving my car in the lot.

    If your budget is $50-100, you should have no problems finding a safe and comfortable place.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Go West, Young (Wo)Man

    Michael is right in that you should not have any real problem finding a safe, comfortable and affordable motel room near a major city like Albuquerque that is also at the junction of two major Interstates. My main piece of advice would be that you get through Albuquerque on the evening you arrive and take a room on the west side of town so that you're not fighting rush hour traffic as you leave in the morning. I had a quick look and there are several national chain motels at exit 155 of I-40 on the west side of town, including Comfort Inn, Days Inn and Holiday Inn Express. One would hope that this would lead to some price competition, but at the very least, you'll have some options once you get there.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Default ABQ hotels

    The first places I’d look for a hotel would be the Uptown area ( I-40 and Louisiana Blvd.) or along I-25 North ( I-25 and Paseo del Norte). After that, maybe the Midtown area, at the intersection of I-40 and I-25.

    Amerisuites Uptown
    6901 Arvada NE

    Checked on their rates on Tripadvisor. Their average rate is $104, but they advertise rooms starting at $69. This would be worth checking into because it’s a good area of town, easy to get to from I-40, and they get consistenly good reviews.

    I-25 North: A lot of brand new and pretty new hotels around here. These hotels are about five miles north of the I-40-/I-25 interchange ( The Big I ).

    Howard Johnson Express Inn North
    7630 Pan American Frwy. NE (This is the frontage road for I-25) Average rate: $57
    My sister has stayed here several times and liked it. Mostly good reviews, a few not so good.

    Holiday Inn Express – Balloon Fiesta Park
    5401 Alameda Rd. NE Average Rate: $80

    Drury Inn
    4310 The 25 Way NE Average rate: $125, but if you could get a coupon deal like Midwest Michael did, this would be a good place. Lots of restaurants and a movie theater nearby.

    Midtown: Not a really bad area of town, but not as good as Uptown or I-25 North. The Range Café, on Menaul Blvd., is a great place to eat.

    Clubhouse Inn & Suites
    1315 Menaul Blvd. Average Rate: $75
    Clubhouse Inn and Suites gets such consistently good ratings that I have to include them.

    Hampton Inn Albuquerque University/Midtown
    2300 Carlisle Blvd. NE Average Rate: $85

    La Quinta Inn and Suites
    2011 Menaul Bld. NE Average Rate: $87

    The idea of getting a hotel on the West side of town to beat the morning rush hour sounds good, except for the fact that all those hotels right by I-40/ Coors Rd. exit are right next to some pretty high crime areas. I would avoid this area. They’ve built three or four new hotels in that area over the last year or so, but too much stuff goes on around there for me to recommend them. Same thing goes for the hotels on the far east end of town, at Tramway Blvd. & Central Ave. And the hotels at I-40/Eubank Blvd.

    If you need help with directions in ABQ or anything, just ask. I'll try to help if I can. Have a great roadtrip!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Thanks, Howard

    for the local (and thorough) intel.We appreciate it.


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