Denver, CO to Williams, AZ via I25 and I40
After many years of living in the Rocky Mountain west my wife and I have decided to visit the Grand Canyon. The visit involves a train ride to and from the canyon from Williams, AZ, with an overnight in the park.
We're leaving Denver on Saturday, October 17th, and want to be in Williams by late afternoon the next day. We'll be driving via I25 and I40 in two easy legs with an overnight stop in Albuquerque. We're returning via the same route. We're pretty familiar with I25 as far south as Pueblo, but from there on the drive will be a new adventure. We'll have 2 or 3 hours for sightseeing on each leg in both directions. On this trip we're more interested in great scenery and maybe some wildlife viewing, than museums or touring historic sites. Any suggestions for must see, or maybe more important don't bother, stops along the way would be appreciated.
A couple spots
A couple of spots along your route are the Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater. Also of note is the Santa Fe National Forest, which should afford you the wildlife viewing opportunities which you seek.
Alternative route ?
Have you considered an alternative route home ?
If you left the Grand canyon via the East entrance you could drive through Monument valley, up to Moab and Arches NP and back along the scenic I-70. Although it will probably add an hour to your drive time [nothing over 2 days] it's almost 100 miles less in distance and very scenic.
Denver to Albuquerque
There are several different routes you could consider between Denver and Albuquerque, which you can see on this map. The drive all the way down I-25 takes about 6 – 7 hours, depending on how bad the Denver/CO Springs traffic is. If you would like a more scenic drive than I-25, you have two choices:
1. From Walsenburg, CO, head west to Ft. Garland, CO, then south to Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, or….
2. From Raton, NM, drive west on US Hwy. 64 through Cimarron and Eagle Nest to Taos. This is one the best scenic drives in New Mexico.
If you have enough time, the ”High Road” between Santa Fe and Taos is very scenic as well.
There are too many wildlife areas in NM to list here, but a few that would be easy for you to get to are the Randall Davey Audubon Center just outside of Santa Fe, the Colin Neblett State Wildlife Area near Cimarron, and the Rio Grande Nature Center in Albuquerque.