From Kansas City through CO, NM, AZ, tips?
On June 1st (give or take a week) I'll be leaving from Kansas City headed West. I'm only in the first stages of planning this trip, so I figure it'll be easier to change things now, rather than closer to June 1st. Any comments or tips of my current plan would be greatly appreciated. So, here we are:
1. Kansas City headed West through Kansas (I70)
2. Head North towards Rocky Mountain N.P., CO (exploring Roosevelt Nat. Forest, Long's Peak, Lava Cliffs, Tundra Nature Trail, Grand Lake, Trail Ridge Road)
3. Head South towards Colorado Springs, CO (exploring Garden of the Gods, Collegiate Peaks)
4. Head South on 25, quickly exploring Capulin Volcano, NM (worth it?)
5. Head West towards Taos, NM (a necessary stop; my parents live there)
6. Head South towards Sierra Blanca, NM (worth it?)
7. Head North West towards Durango, CO (exploring Million Dollar Hwy between Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and exploring Mesa Verde Nat. Park)
8. Head South towards Shiprock, NM (worth it?)
9 Head West towards Canyon de Chelly, AZ (exploring Spider Rock)
10. Head North towards Monument Valley, AZ (exploring Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods)
11. Head West towards Page, AZ (exploring Lake Powell)
12. Head South West towards Grand Canyon, AZ (exploring various points)
13. Head South towards Meteor Crater, AZ
From there, depending on how we feel, we might drive to LA to see my brother, but there wouldn't be any stops along the way to LA from AZ, I imagine (except Death Valley and Dante's View, perhaps?)
I realize I have a lot of stuff here, but it's planned to be a rather long trip (3 weeks). I still have tons of planning to do, but as for a general route and ideas of places to stop and check out, let me know what you think. The general purpose of this trip is to sort of get re-aquainted with nature, hence all the parks and scenic places. If there are easier, more natural, more scenic, or lesser-known spots along this route that you guys feel would be more worth my while, don't hesitate to tell me.
Again, any info or help of any kind is greatly appreciated. Thanks again!
I know a Sierra Blanca peak in Lincoln County -- near Capitan and Ruidoso. Is that what you are thinking of? If so, that's a very historic area and worth a look.
As you head toward Durango, there is beautiful country along the Colorado/New Mexico border -- check out US64/84 between Chama and Pagosa Spgs -- and if you get a chance, ride the train from Chama to Antonito (CO). You can read about a trip I took on that train last summer here.
This is a recent shot of Shiprock, NM. I'll leave it up to you if it is worth seeing -- it is one of my favorite areas for scenic beauty, but call me crazy, I'm a guy who thinks the Great Plains are beautiful.
Along the way, the mountains just to the west of Shiprock (seen in this photo) are the Chuskas -- they parallel the AZ/NM border south of Teec Nos Pos. They are in the neighborhood of 7,000 to 9,000 feet MSL altitude, and gorgeous. If you like to fish, get a permit from the Navajo Nation and try Wheatfields Lake, along BIA12 in the Chuskas north of Window Rock and Navajo. You need a permit to camp, too, probably.
In Arizona, on your way to Las Vegas, you might want to drive the very scenic stretch of old Rte 66 between Seligman and Kingman (and beyond to Oatman, if you have time). You can still get a bit of what that route was like in this area -- especially in Seligman -- where the spirt of US66 still lives.
We already knew you were crazy...
But that photo you put in there makes me think I fall into the rolls of "Moderator Bob's Clinic for the Insane Landscape Viewers". That is one magnificant photo, and I bet the actual site is stunning as well!
(ps, I also think the landscape of Eastern Washington is wonderful. Thats why that is my adoptive home [A Phoenix Native, I am]!]
Moderator Bob's Clinic for the Insane Landscape Viewers
Put me on the list too. We have made the stop at Shiprock. After seeing it off in the distance so many times from so many different locations, I wanted to spend a little time there. It's really interesting. BTW, on a clear day you can see Shiprock from Mesa Verde.
At Canyon de Chelly you can only see Spider Rock from the south rim, unless you take a guide Navajo tour. You can go on group tours or hire a private guide, but you can not go into the canyon unless you have a Navajo guide....the one exception is the hike to White House Ruins. On the guide group tour, you have to take the all day guide tour to get to Spider Rock. I wish we had taken the all day tour, but we only did the half day.
Seeing Shiprock in the distance: How many times in your life have you known exactly where you were in a commercial airliner -- just by looking out the window? I was flying home from a midwest trip a few months back, and the route came across northcentral New Mexico -- the day was very clear, and I could see the Brazos Mtns (east of Tierra Amarilla), San Antonio Mountain (north of that) and the Chama Valley, then while flying SW across I-40 near Grants or Gallup a few minutes later, I could see Shiprock way off up north -- probably 150-175 miles away. I was thrilled -- and wanted to tell everyone within earshot!
Canyon de Chelly: George was my guide when I took the tour at Canyon de Chelly (all day). George was a descendant of a Navajo leader from the 1870s -- and his Grandmother still watched over her sheep in the Canyon. She hiked down to the floor twice each day to check on them -- she lived on top. She was probably 90 years old, and VERY spry. At the time, I'm not sure I could have made that climb even ONCE! Goerge, besides being a great tour guide, was an absolute master at carving watermelon with a machete.
Another time, on a Memorial Day weekend, I spent about 10 minutes one morning, circling around Spider Rock in a light plane (and several other Canyon de Chelly landmarks), taking photographs from all angles, before heading north toward Monument Valley & Canyonlands. At the time, I was using a Fujica 35mm SLR camera, and for the first and only time it ever malfunctioned, the photo counter jammed. It was quite a few miles and "photos" later, that I discovered there was no film in that camera. I'd give my left arm (I need the right one for throttle control) to have some of those photos I would have gotten that morning, in what was some of the most perfect morning light I'd ever seen! Such is life, eh? Thanks for your posts, you both gave me a chuckle!
Yeah, Capulin Volcano National Monument (#4) is worth if if, indeed, you want to quickly exlpore a volcano. The nice thing about Capulin is that you can drive to the top and then there's a very hikable trail completely around the caldera. The trail is probably a mile or so, and by the time you're done, you've gotten a complete 360 view of the entire area.
At Ouray, take a day to go on a jeep tour with SOA (Switzerland of America). They are GREAT! May I recommend " Black Bear/Imogene Pass ".
Going to be HOT
However, it sounds great, and all the advice you've gotten is good. I'd just add Chaco Canyon west of Albuquerque as a must see, if you haven't. And the slot caves around Page (haven't been to them myself but they are high on the list next time I'm there). Too bad you can't add time for the red rock parks of Utah - Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion, Bryce, etc. But you can't do everything on every trip. The important thing is choose the important stops allowing some extra time along the way for the intersting accidental discoveries that always happen.
The Upper Antelope Slots
near Page are great!
When is Ouray, CO, don't miss Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewing Co. The grumpy old fart really does make some great beer, and it's just a great place. Also, Ouray Brewing Company has a great roof top deck where you can have a good meal and spend some time sipping a good beer and looking out over a neat old town in a beautiful mountain valley. If you're going to Page, Az take in the north rim of the Grand Canyon, rather than the south rim where most people go, then hit the national parks in southern Utah. The narrows hike in Zion is by far the most fun we've had on any hike or in any national park. Who would've thought hiking in a river for several hours through canyons where you can sometimes touch both canyon walls that go up 1,000 feet would be such a great experience.