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Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

Suffolk, United...
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Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

Hi

many of you gave me great advice 12 months ago for a proposed road trip which subsequently had to be postponed. I am now planning the same trip for September of 2015 and have trawled your suggestions to put together an outline itinery. We love travelling and seeing the incredibly varied and wonderful scenery of your national parks, taking gentle hikes and visiting the smaller towns with character and history. We have not visited New Mexico before and our previous visit to Colorado covered the RMNP and area to the north of Denver. We have also visited the canyons and area to the west many times so are keen to visit a largely new area.

We fly from the UK and internal flights to Albuquerque look to be quite expensive, but we would also love to see some of the area south of Denver so using that as the airport makes sense to us. It also saves on car hire quite considerably not having a one way drop off. We really enjoy driving on these trips and whilst I appreciate living from a suitcase is a nightmare for many, we enjoy it! I would be grateful if you could comment on whether the proposed itinery is sensible and captures most of the "must sees," that driving times are not madness, and whether these are sensible places for overnight stops. We will have 17 days in total and I think we probably have 2 spare days within the itinery for extra time on planned stops or additional ones, as we will want just the one night in Denver. I reversed my original plan on Tet's suggestion in the hope of seeing more fall colours at the end of our trip. The possible itinery at the moment is:

15 Sept – fly Denver and o/n at airport hotel

16 Sept – to Colorado Springs/Garden of the Gods, and then Great Sand Dunes NP with o/n at Alamosa (we wake extremely early after a transatlantic flight and will have lots of time on the first day - we also like to see a major attraction if possible)

17 Sept – to Trinidad/Raton and Highway 64 through Cimarron Canyon to Taos and then Santa Fe for 4 nights

21 Sept – to Carlsbad Caverns and overnight

22 Sept – to White Sands NP and to Albuquerque for 2 nights

24 Sept – to Chinle/Canyon de Chelly and o/n

25 Sept – to Monument Valley and o/n

26 Sept – to Mesa Verde NP and Durango o/n

27 Sept – US 550 through Silverton and Ouray to Montrose o/n

28 Sept – South rim of Black Canyon and through Gunnison to Salida

2 October – evening flight home from Denver

Any comments, help and advice is greatly appreciated as is your time. Thank you

Uden, The...
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1. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

Hi again Brent.

Looks good to me but you don't need to drive back to Trinidad and Raton for Enchanted Circle. Just take co 159 and nm522 south and visit the lovely town of San Luis on the way first

You easily can spend 3-4 hours for Carlsbad Caverns and stay till the bats fly out but it's already a 5 hours drive from Santa Fe to CC. Next day it's 4 hours from CC to White Sands and you'll need several hours for that so driving to ABQ same day will make this a long daytrip.

Of course you also can stay Mesa Verde NP at Far View Lodge instead in Durango and experience sunset in the park.

Try to reach Silverton by noon and see the train from Durango arrive....

There still is a lot to see between White Sands and ABQ like Lincoln for Billy the Kid, Capitan for Smokey Bear SP, Valley of Fires SP, Bosque del Apache and VLA (Very Large Array).

Tet

Suffolk, United...
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2. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

Hi Tet

There's more and more to this area isn't there. Is the enchanted circle different to Hw 64? It was mentioned by someone last year as a beautiful trip but unsure if part of same circle, or 2 different trips?

There's also some mention of snow - I'm assuming that's in the higher elevations rather than at road level? Also, read this morning a comment about unpaved roads in Garden of the Gods, which I hadn't heard of until you mentioned it. Sounds absolutely fabulous but obviously with a hire car you have to be careful! Is our planned trip using all paved roads do you know?

Thanks. Much appreciated

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

I prob mentioned Valley of the Gods in Utah. That's unpaved. Garden of the Gods is all paved. There always is little chance on snow. We had it on Monarch pass in october (on the way to Salida) but not bad but of course no way to predict but also not too much chance on it. The drive into White Sands is unpaved but its very flat and very easy to drive an there won't be snow ;-)

Tacoma, Washington
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4. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

In September there is a slight chance but it's usually the overnight type above 9000 feet that will melt

You are hitting colorado at near peak fall colors in Silverton, ouray, Breckonridge, aspen areas

With mesa verde...you need tickets for tours so you will need to leave monument valley early to get to Mesa verde visitor center and get tour tickets. At this time of year only Chapin Mesa is open.

Atlanta, Georgia
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5. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

We did a similar trip a couple of years ago and the fall colors along the San Juan Skyway were spectacular.

We also included a day at Moab to see Arches NP which we really enjoyed but did not do Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP.

Be careful with a rental car on the roads in MV. We did a tour and so glad we did. Yes get there early to get any tickets for tours at Mesa Verde NP. There were a lot of people there in September.

Uden, The...
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6. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

You can try the visitor center in Cortez for Mesa Verde tickets but they usually are for next day. Tours to Balcony House and Cliff Palace are recommended (some ladder climbing involved) You can visit Spruce Tree House without a tour.

Suffolk, United...
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7. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

Thank you all so much for this information. I'm really looking forward to the trip already. With an incredible amount of naivety we did take a rental down through monument valley on our first trip some years ago and, even though the car survived, I'm not sure it's something that I would risk again! Thanks also for your tips re Mesa Verde - as we're planning for next year we can take tickets into account and plan accordingly.

Really appreciate your time and, as ever, the information is really useful

Tacoma, Washington
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8. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

another option os look at flying into PHX. Also at this time of year you could see a one way rental deal for DEN to PHX.

Another thing to consider. In ABQ the Balloon Fiesta occurs that first full week of October from weekend through weekend.

If you round trip out of Denver you should do 2 days in rocky Mountain National Park at the end of the trip.

15 fly into PHX...night PHX

16 drive to Holbrook, PM Petrified Forest, night in Gallup or Grants

17 Gallup/Grants to Albuquerque see El Maipais NM and Acoma Pueblo.

18 Albuquerque

19-21 Santa Fe

22 Santa Fe to Taos

23 Taos AM to Sand Dunes NP

24 alamosa to Aspen

25 Maroon Bells in the AM..drive to Ouray

26 Ouray to Durango

27 Durango AM, Cortez PM get tix for next day tours

28 Mesa Verde

29 Canyon de Chelly

30 Monument Valley

1 drive back to PHX through Sedona

2 fly home

As a one way rental......

Sept 24 fly into DEN stay night in Denver

Sep 25 drive to Aspen

Sept 26 AM Maroon Bells, PM Ouray

Sept 27 Ouray-Durango

Sept 28 Mesa Verde

Sept 29 Monument Valley

Sept 30 Canyon de Chelly

Oct 1 drive to Alamosa

Oct 2 Sand dunes NP

Oct 3-4 Taos

Oct 5-8 Santa Fe

Oct 9-10 ABQ for balloon fiesta

Oct 11 El Maipais, Acoma Pueblo to Gallup

Oct 12 Petrified forest to PHX

Oct 13 fly home

Suffolk, United...
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9. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

Thanks for this. I did look at using Phoenix but as we want to see more of the northern area this trip thought that Denver might be better for us. Flights and car hire also look to be cheaper from there!

Rocky Mountain National Park has been highlighted before though and although we have visited Estes Park, which is beautiful, this might be a great way of rounding off the holiday. Using a standard sedan rental what is the best/most picturesque way from Montrose to the Park? Looks like it would be a trade off between the south rim of Gunniston and Salida, or RMNP?

Wednesbury, UK
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10. Re: Colorado and New Mexico Road Trip

www.newmexico.org/enchanted-circle-trail/

US64 forms a bit of it.

Are you asking about Montrose to Estes Park, through Trail Ridge Road in one day, or an overnight stop west of RNMP, for a full day in it?