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  1. Default December trip from Houston to Grand Canyon

    I bet this has been covered somewhere but i will put it out there to see what the latest input may be. We are going to take a road trip from Houston to Grand Canyon after my son gets done with finals. I am guessing around the 12th of December. It will be my wife, my son and daughter, 20 and 28 and myself. Not a big time limit. Say be back before Christmas so roughly twelve days. My son wants to see some route 66 stops and i know we need to be weather aware. Will be taking my four wheel drive Tahoe so good vehicle in case of snow. Any feedback on some good stops and maybe hotels along the way this time of year would be appreciated!! It looks like there is some availability at the south ridge hotels once we get to grand canyon.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
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    5,708

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    First, get your dates in order and get your reservations if you want to stay at the South Rim. Even in December, they go quickly.

    Depending on the route you take, you're looking at a roughly 1300~ mile trip. In good weather, in winter, that's roughly 3 days just to get there and another 3 days to return. If you have 12 days, you have a little room for seeing other things.

    One way to get your kicks along the old 66 is to make your way up to Amarillo. Much of the old 66 is under the pavement of I-40, but there are still plenty of places west of there to get a little bit of the feel of the old highway. Just west of Amarillo, for instance, is the Cadillac Ranch. Then, when you get to Tucumcari, don't just go around it on the freeway. Go INTO town, because there are a few buildings to see. In Albuquerque, go through Old Town if you can (Central Ave).

    You would have time, if you choose, to go through Petrified Forest National Park - about a 2-3 hour round trip, if the weather is cooperative.

    In Flagstaff, get off the freeway because you may find some relics of 66. You could also get off of I-40 at Seligman, if you have the time, and go up to Peach Springs -- supposedly the inspiration behind Radiator Springs of Disney/Pixar's CARS movie fame.

    As for hotels, it's hard to say. My husband and I prefer the Choice hotels -- Quality Inn, Comfort Inn and Sleep Inn are our favorites. Family run non-chains are hit and miss, particularly in the winter and during these pandemic times. The same goes for restaurants. Hubby and I like to pull into a hotel before the dinner hour, and if we aren't familiar with the area, we often ask at the front desk. If they're busy, TripAdvisor also works well for us.

    Be sure to bring along hand sanitizer, wipes, gloves for fueling up, and definitely, your face masks. Not sure how it is in TX, but in much of the country, masks are required. Oh, and bring your own change for clothes washers/dryers. Some areas are very short.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,142

    Default Alternatives and Additions

    It's always a good idea, but especially in winter, to have at least one back-up plan. As you set up your trip, keep that in mind. And since you're looking for other things to see and do along the way, keep in mind that you don't have to use the same route going and coming. The leg(s) closest to home are a good example. Any mapping routine worth its salt will have you using I-45 up to DFW, then US-287 through Wichita Falls to Amarillo and I-40 for the rest of the drive to Flagstaff (the nearest sizeable town to the South Rim of the Canyon),

    But you could also use US-290 and TX-6 through Waco to join I-20 near Cisco then using US-84 through Lubbock and Clovis NM to get up to I-40. There is even a third possibility. That one starts as the second option to US-84 headed towards Lubbock, but before you get there, you take US-380 from the small town of Post TX west to I-25 north for a short stretch before getting on US-60 until US-191/US-180 north and west to I-40 at Holbrook. Either of those two alternate routes are shorter in miles than the typical computer route but will take a little bit more time - about an hour and a half over three days.

    Even more to the point, you could take one route to the Grand Canyon and another one back to Houston, thus maximizing the number of things you could see. For example, if you use the 'direct' route (the first one described above) you'll be driving right through Petrified Forest NP, while the second route will take you right past the park's southern entrance. Also, in the Flagstaff area: Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Walnut Canyon National Monuments. And as Donna pointed out, the best remaining stretch of what used to be US-66 is just west of Flag and runs from Seligman through Peach Springs to Kingman.

    For more specific recommendations, it would help us to know your interests and/or what you hope to get out of this trip.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    Thank you guys for this information! Donna I think that will give us a good snapshot of Famous Route 66 items. Multiple routes is a definite especially with weather. As far as an agenda except for the Route 66 items we have not set one. My wife is a big fan of markets so any towns that would have good xmas markets is a plus. I am assuming we will have to focus on a lower elevation route at that time of year. Some of the stops covered in family discussions have been Carlsbad as the caverns are year around, Petrified Forest, Winslow Meteor Crator. I am thinking Albuquerque would be a better NM stop than Santa Fe due to elevation so anything on that route is a plus. We were planning on doing Flagstaff then north to south rim.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    655

    Default

    Hello!

    There's actually not that great a difference in elevation between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and if you're looking for Christmas markets, Santa Fe goes all out, with the whole downtown area decorated with luminarias and, lots of shops!

    I'm not sure how COVID will affect all that, but even if they scale back on the celebration, Santa Fe is quite unique, and worth checking out!

    Rick

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,142

    Default Being Ready for the Weather

    If the dates for your travel are relatively fixed, then to avoid inclement weather, you need to be able to adjust your route on the fly. Thus I gave you three possible routes. Flexibility will be especially critical on the westbound portion of your trip, as you will be driving into the eastward-moving weather patterns, and the weather you'll be seeing when you get to Flagstaff will be a couple of days off the west coast when you depart Houston.

    So for that first part of your trip, I'd suggest starting off on the second, or middle, route that I suggested previously. Then keep an eye on the weather and you can relatively easily shift to the more northern or more southern route as that weather dictates. The return drive should be relatively simple. If you leave Flag when the weather is good there, it should stay fairly constant as you drive east with it.

    If Carlsbad Caverns are a 'must' see, then I might plan on going by them on the way west, but be willing to head north instead knowing you'll have another chance to visit them on the way home. Seeing the Caverns will require that you have yet a fourth arrow (route) in your quiver. Described westbound it would go: I-10 to Fort Stockton TX, then US-285 north to Malaga NM. In Malaga, a very small town, you'll make a left. Just before the turn there will be a small saying go left to Black River Village. At the turn itself there will be a larger sign directing you to the National Park. The road you'll then follow is County Route 720 (marked with yellow on blue pentagonal signs. That will come out on US-62 which you'll take south/west to NM-7 and the caverns themselves. When you're done there, just retrace your steps to US-62 north/east to US-285 north towards Roswell and/or Vaughn NM and pick up one of the routes we've talked about.

    As for other things to see on the way, that will of course depend on which routes) you use, but here are a few possibilities - in no particular order. The Alamo (San Antonio TX); Fort Lancaster State Historic Park (Sheffield TX); Billy the Kid Grave and Fort Sumner State Monument (Fort Sumner NM); Rio Grande Botanic Gardens and Rio Grande Nature Center (Albuquerque NM); Canyon de Chelly NM (Chinle AZ - a bit out of the way and another place where hiring a native guide might prove beneficial); Museum of Northern Arizona (Flagstaff AZ - for a day when it's raining); Bullock Texas State History Museum (Austin TX); Old Gruene Market Days (New Braunfels TX); National Museum of the Pacific War and a Christmas Market (Fredericksburg TX); Yuletide Celebrations (Taos NM).

    Hope that helps.

    AZBuck

  7. Default

    My wife was reading that there is currently a fourteen day quarantine period for traveling through New Mexico. Is this correct or current? That would put a large damper on on the stops we wanted to make in NM on our way to Grand Canyon and back.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Central Missouri
    Posts
    5,708

    Default

    Where did she read this? If it was online, she should check the date of the article. Also, going to the New Mexico website would be the best information.

    Many states do still have quarantine-for-14-days rules, if you plan to stop and sightsee. Also check the individual places you want to stop at, because some places are still closed. Even this past summer, we stopped in one state overnight, and two days later, they stated that everyone entering the state had to quarantine for 14 days if they stopped within the state. That particular state (KS) still has the 14-day self-quarantine in place for those that stop overnight within the state.


    Donna

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    10,142

    Default That is Correct

    Yes, New Mexico has a 14 day quarantine requirement for anyone entering the state from a 'high risk' state, and every state you'll be visiting on this trip falls into that category. For how that works in practice, you'll need to contact the state authorities (contact information in the website linked to above). Specifically, there is a link to conditions/restrictions for people who are just driving through. It doesn't look as though you'll be permitted to visit any attractions in the state, however.

    AZBuck

  10. Default

    After hearing this i went to the NM Covid-19 update website. It said current restrictions were extended through 10/2 so not sure what current situation is. It does say that if we all have a negative test result within three days of coming to state we are exempt. Looks like i need to call and make sure with this result we can still enter the state parks as it currently says no out of state residents can enter parks.

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