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Road Trip Itinerary

Austin, Texas
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Road Trip Itinerary

I posted back in December for some general advice in planning our road trip through New Mexico, and now I'm trying to lay down a more concrete plan. Of course, plans are always subject to change if we see something more interesting along the way, but I have to start with a plan nonetheless.

We are a couple in our late 30's, no kids, coming from Austin. We love scenic drives, local arts and crafts, enjoying natural beauty without getting dirty, and good food. We only have a week for this trip, and our dates are May 12 - 19. Also, we are intentionally skipping Carlsbad. I can't do caves.

Saturday, May 12 - Leave Austin early, drive to Roswell

Sunday - Visit UFO Museum before leaving Roswell, then drive to Alamogordo. We will take the route through Cloudcroft if time permits, otherwise through Ruidoso. Am I correct in thinking the Ruidoso route is faster due to Cloudcroft elevation? Visit the Space Museum in Alamogordo, and then drive to White Sands for late afternoon/sunset. Spend the night in Las Cruces.

Monday - Drive to Albuquerque. I really wanted to see the Very Large Array, but it seems a bit too far out of the way, and a long detour from the main route. Any thoughts on that? If we skip the VLA, we'll be in Albuquerque early afternoon, and will probably have lunch in Old Town. I am interested in the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, as well, so if we can make it there before closing, that is also on the list for Monday. I am not sure where we are staying. I have some questions and will post those in the Albuquerque forum.

Tuesday - Spend the morning at Petroglyph National Monument. Afternoon at National Mueum of Nuclear Science & History or Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. Evening taking the Sandia Peak Tramway for sunset.

Wednesday - Drive to Santa Fe. I really want to visit Tent Rocks on the way, but I also want make the drive along 14 through Madrid. If we get an early start, we may do both. Once we arrive in Santa Fe, the plan is to just relax for the afternoon. I'm not sure where in Santa Fe we are staying yet. Still considering the options, but probably somewhere near the Plaza.

Thursday - Spend some time in the Plaza area, visiting museums, and shopping. Very interested in the O'Keeffe and folk art Museums. If I can talk my husband into it, I want to go to 10,000 Waves Spa in the afternoon.

Friday - Drive from Santa Fe to Amarillo. Not the most direct route to get back home, I know, but we have to stop at the Big Texan, and we want to visit Palo Duro Canyon before heading home. Spend the night in Amarillo.

Saturday - Drive from Amarillo to Austin. Stop at Palo Duro Canyon on the way. Sleep at home.

I appreciate any comments, suggestions, or insights. We love road trips, but haven't done one in several years, so I'm a little rusty on timing. We are not really early risers, so our plans often change abruptly when we sleep in. I also know I'm missing a lot of fantastic stuff in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and probably points in between as well. We consider every first visit to a new place just that - a first visit. If we like a place, it goes back on the list for a future trip, so I don't feel like I have to see and do everything the first time around.

Las Cruces
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1. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

It is quicker through Ruidoso than Cloudcroft from Roswell. Both routes are about the same scenery wise and there is much more as far as dining and shopping in Ruidoso if that matters.

There really isn't a whole lot to see at the VLA - just a small control room in addition to the large satallite dishes. Unless you have a particular interest in astronomy or the movie Contact, it probably isn't worth the drive. When I visited, the staff were friendly and explained how they slowly track objects and move the dishes around and what not.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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2. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

I will suggest Truth Or Consequences, as a far more interesting New Mexico overnight than 'Cruces...From Albuquerque one can get the same summit sunset by driving up the backside of the Sandias... Off the 14 near Cedar Crest. There is a serviceable mostly gravel road off the I-25 at Santa Domingo Pueblo that would allow the Tent Rocks/Madrid connection...carracar

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

Between Santa Fe and Amarillo is the R66 town of Tucumcari. East of Santa Fe is Las Vegas NM with lots of historic places (Rough Riders Museum, Montezuma Castle). Just west of Amarillo is Cadillic Ranch worth a short stop. Quirky place. The BIg Texan and its famous steaks of course. Palo Duro is lovely. You can drive through it and make some short walks. In Canyon is the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.

Have a nice trip!

Tet

Austin, Texas
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4. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

nmrocks, thank you for confirming my thought on the Ruidoso vs. Cloudcroft route. We will probably need lunch before getting to Alamogordo, so Ruidoso may be a better option. I am a fan of Contact and astronomy, hence the interest in seeing VLA, but we may not make it out there due to time constraints. I'll save it for next trip if I have to!

carracar, my husband just asked about Truth or Consequences last night! We added it as stop on the way from Las Cruces to Albuquerque, but I didn't think about making that our overnight. I'm not sure we'll be up for another hour plus of driving after sunset at White Sands, but I will do some more research. Thank you, too, for the Tent Rocks/Madrid shortcut information. Our Volvo has decent clearance, so a gravel road shouldn't be a problem.

Tet14 - Thank you for reminding me about Cadillac Ranch! I have lived in Texas for almost my entire life, save for 9 years in Washington, DC, but have only driven through Amarillo on the way to Colorado. This will be the first time exploring in that area, so I'm looking forward to seeing it all. I think my husband would also be really interested in the Rough Riders Museum. I'll look that one up.

Las Cruces
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5. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

You'll find a lot more dining and lodging choices in Las Cruces than T or C. T or C is pretty sparce when it comes to restaurants.

Austin, Texas
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6. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

That is what I'm finding, nmrocks. I think we will probably stick with Las Cruces for the overnight, but make a stopover in T or C on the way to ABQ.

New Mexico
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7. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

I have to 2nd overnighting in Las Cruces....you'll have many more options in RE to accomodations and restaurants. BTW, I recommend going to Mesilla (basically old town Las Cruces) for dinner.....La Posta is my favorite.

Also, someone mentioned driving to the top of the Sandias for sunset....which is definitely an option and a nice drive, but I highly recommend the Tram. I've lived here for 25 years + and have never tired of taking the Tram. I would recommend the drive if you just feel like a nice mountain drive and/or you're short on $$$$$. The Tram will run you about $20/head.

Looks like a great trip!

Las Cruces
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8. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

I agree that La Posta is really good. It's a good idea to make reservations, especially on the weekend. They tend to have a wait being so popular. If you don't want to wait around you can also get decent New Mexican food at Andeles or El Comedor in Mesilla - both are on Avenida de Mesilla where as La Posta is right off the plaza.

Austin, Texas
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9. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

I booked Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces for our Sunday overnight.

Thank you NMdesertdiver and nmrocks for the restaurant recommendations. I have hear others mention La Posta, so we will have to check that out.

We definitely want to do the Tram, NMdesertdiver. If we don't make it for sunset, we will definitely do it before we leave the Albuquerque area.

Austin, Texas
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10. Re: Road Trip Itinerary

MrTed I'm stunned! We are an Austin couple in late-30s (if you average our age!) planning a 1-week road trip through New Mexico two weeks after you! We're definitely making a stop at the VLA. My parents went (amateur astronomers) and they loved it. We're more like amateur amateur astronomers into sci-fi and deserts.

We're hoping to head west from Fort Davis over to the NM/AZ border on the 2nd day, so that on the 3rd we can drive north into the Navajo reservation. Not sure if that'll be doable on top of Taos, Albuquerque, VLA, etc. in one week.

Anyway, best of luck! I'll keep an eye on this thread for more ideas.