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Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Hey everyone! I am in the process of planning a trip to the area. I have never been to Colorado or New Mexico and my main focus will be the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I am looking for any input on a few things. I will have four days, a Monday through Thursday and will fly out on a Friday. I would like to see Mesa Verde and Chaco Culture National Parks and possibly Pueblo de Taos. I know this is a lot and may not be feasible. After reading some of the forums here there is much more that I would like to see. Is Durango the best base for me? Is all of this too much? I could skip Taos, but would still like to see the four corners area and/or some of the area and towns around Durango. I know there isn't much time but it is all I can spare at the moment. Any suggestions, input, feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

WestSlope,CO
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1. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Will you be flying in to Durango or Albuquerque? You say you'll have Monday...does that mean you're flying in Sunday or early Monday? What time of year is this trip?

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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2. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

I will fly in on a Sunday. Time of year will be in the next three to four months. Could be in three weeks at the earliest. I am not sure whether to fly into Durango or Albuquerque. The flights to Albu are considerably cheaper by about $300 or so but I'm wondering if gas costs will even out that difference. I have even considered staying there as well.

Albuquerque, New...
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3. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Its only 215 miles to Durango from ABQ so if your car gets any where near normal milage it is cheaper to drive from ABQ-DRO.

WestSlope,CO
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4. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

You may want to check out the New Mexico forums and ask about Chaco Canyon road conditions. I haven't been there (it's still on the to-do list!) but have read that it is a wash-board-y clay & gravel road and can be difficult driving if there's been a rain. In fact, if there's been a recent rain, most people advise bypassing Chaco entirely. Also, there's the problem that rental car contracts usually don't allow their cars to be driven on that type of road. Here's are examples of the posts about Chaco and getting there:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g29757-i15200-k438…

tripadvisor.com/…42603938

If you can find a rental car company that will allow the Chaco road, or if your own insurance company will provide you with a rider that will cover you in the event the rental car company decides to charge you with damages, then your visit is doable.

Coming in on Sunday will help, so that you have four full days. If you don't go to Taos, then Durango would make a good base, with a long day trip to Chaco Canyon. You could also do a loop trip, staying in a different place each night in a circle back to your starting/departure point.

Mesa Verde will take a full day, and a day and a half or two would be better. You can see a good amount in a day and come back some day to see more, since you have limited time and want to see some other sights, too. Also consider the Ute Tribal Park, which is adjacent to Mesa Verde and has some very isolated and untouched ruins you can visit only with a Tribal guide. The Anasazi Heritage Center and the Canyons of the Ancients would be of interest, too, perhaps for a future trip. You may want to visit Aztec Ruins National Monument and the Salmon ruins, too, if you can manage the time.

Probably the best advice, since you want to see some of the mountains/towns along the San Juan Skyway loop near Durango, would be to concentrate on Colorado and save New Mexico for another trip. However, I understand the urge to see as much as possible! lol, that's what I usually do!

I don't have more time right now but will do some thinking about logistics. CasaAzul is the DE for Mesa Verde, (she's been there more than a hundred times, I believe!) or some of the New Mexico folks may see this and give you some good feedback. You could private message her or post on the New Mexico forum, too.

Pagosa Springs...
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5. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Another site to check out during your visit is Chimney Rock National Monument (www.chimneyrockco.org) - about 40 min east of Durango. It was designated a National Monument last September, after being an archaeological site for 30+ years. Tours begin in mid-May and run through the end of September. Chimney Rock is a really interesting site that is part of the history of the Ancestral Puebloans in this area.

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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6. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Thanks for all the input. It is very helpful. I also understood the entrance to Chaco being dirt and have considered renting a 4x4 for that reason. The rider is a good idea and that is something I will have to look at. A guided tour may be another option for that as well. There just seems to be so much to see. I want to do it all but I know that is impossible and if I'm in the area I would hate to be that close to a UNESCO site and miss it. The other two sites in NM are Carlsbad Caverns and Pueblo de Taos and the distance between them is even more drastic. Aztec Ruins is grouped in with the Chaco Culture Site and that is a must-see for me too.

WestSlope,CO
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7. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Carlsbad Caverns is awesome but, yes, probably best saved for another trip.

So, let's see. If you fly in to ABQ, do you know what your arrival time would be? That would make a difference on where to go when you get in, which route to take, and what you might be able to fit in. You kinda have to decide whether you want to see a little bit of a lot and hope to come back another trip to revisit and spend more time, or spend more time in one or two spots and hope to come back another trip to see more locations! As I mentioned, we usually go the "little bit of a lot" route in case we don't get to go back, but others prefer more time at fewer sites.

If it's a later flight you might go to Cuba for the night. Dinner at El Bruno's would be a must! We haven't stayed at Cuba but there's supposed to be a very nice B&B there, or a couple of budget motels. Suenos Encantados y Casa Vieja is the B&B.

tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g47004-Cuba_New_Mexic…

If it's an early flight, you might be able to visit Chaco and then drive on to Bloomfield or Aztec for the night. Visit the Aztec ruins and then head for Mesa Verde. With a short amount of time, it will make the most of your time if you can spend the night in the park at Far View Lodge. That way you can see some of the park that afternoon/evening, get tickets for the next day to visit Cliff Palace or Balcony House, plus attend a ranger program, an evening tour, or campfire talk. Once you know your ranger-led tour time, you can plan the rest of your day. Then you can leave the park by mid afternoon of the second day and go to Telluride, Durango, or Silverton.

From research on the NM forum, I see it takes about 3 1/2 hours in to Chaco from Albuquerque, (1 1/2 to 2 from Cuba in to Chaco) then you want to allow at least 3 to 4 hours in the park.

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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8. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Thank you again. I will more than likely try to fly in Sunday evening and plan to drive out that next morning. I really like the idea of doing a big loop but then I will have to find hotels along the way which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I will also look into Cuba. How far is Telluride from Albu?

Gulf Shores, Alabama
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9. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

Pagosa, Chimney Rock also looks very interesting. I would also like to include that so Taos is now another trip altogether and I will concentrate on the four corners area and SW Colorado.

10. Re: Durango as a base for UNESCO sites

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