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Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

San Juan, Puerto...
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Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

On our first SW trip of 2 weeks we have planned: arrive Albuquerque , see sights, take I 40 to Sedona for 3 days then to Grand Canyon 2 days.Our next stop is Taos, then to Santa Fe and return flight out of Alb.Want to do Santa Fe after Taos because this way we will be in Santa Fe on a Friday night for musuem nights. The route is planned this way because of lodging availability in G.C.we have reservations inside GC and don't want to change that.

The question : can you suggest a route from GC to Taos that will not take us backtraking through I - 40 . We have 2 weeks and enjoy scenic drives( rental car ), art, museums, dinning, easy walks, and prefer not driving more than 5-6 hrs. Have read a lot ,looked at maps but can't figure the best alternative. Really look forward to your suggestions T.A.is the best for planning trips !

Uden, The...
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1. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

Hi

You can drive from South rim to Tuba City-Kayenta-Farmington and stay Farmington. Next day from Farmington via Chama to Taos. Farmington is just about halfway and has ample lodging. Total of this drive without stops app. is 10 hours. The drive via Chama to Taos is scenic. The drive through Az is a desert drive, beautiful in its own right.

There are more routes. You can take az264 from Tuba City through the Hopi Reservation to 191, visit Hubbell Trading Post and stay Chinle for Canyon de Chelly NM. A visit to this magnificent NM will take time though. From Chinle you can take a scenic route via Tsaile and Buffalo Pass to Shiprock to Farmington and on but this will be a longer drive than 6 hours.

Maybe start GC very early (maybe after sunrise?) and drive to Monument Valley Tribal Park first. To Farmington then. The visit to MV will take an extra 1.5 hours with just the views on The Mittens from the visitor center. On your way to Farmington from MV you almost hit 4Statecorners where you can put your hands and feet in 4 states. Some call this a tourist trap but if you are so close...

Just before you reach Taos, there's Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. A must stop imo.

Tet

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2. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

What ever happened to idea of visiting Mesa Verde between Grand Canyon and Taos? I think it's a good idea to skip I-40 a second time, but think you will want to stop somewhere between GC and Taos. I'd recommend Durango over Farmington. On way out to Sedona from ABQ on I-40, start as early as possible and take rest stop at Petrified Forest National Park/Painted Desert at exit 311 in Arizona, between Gallup and Flagstaff. Maybe an early lunch in downtown Flagstaff.

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3. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

I agree with Bleicherblog. Why not include Mesa Verde. From GC take the route Tet14 recommends to Shiprock, north to Cortez, Co where you could spend the night. I would recommend FarView Lodge in Mesa Verde, but they might be booked. From there the next day, proceed east through Durango to Pagosa Springs, then south and east to Chama, NM and to Tierra Amarilla, then east again to Taos. This whole route is beautiful and Mesa Verde is a must do if you are in the area.

Uden, The...
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4. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

If you can find the time to add Mesa Verde NP to your trip I certainly would do it as Bleicherblog and Sandiaman has said but it will take a lot longer on your way to Taos from GC then. GC to Cortez is a 5 hours drive and count on little less than 1 hour to get from Cortez to Mesa Verde visitor center (and you'll lose one hour between GC and Colorado/New Mexico because Az doesnot observe daylight saving time.).

Mesa Verde is not an NP you can see in one hour. It's a lot of driving in the park and I strongly suggest to talk a tour to Cliff Palace. You won't have time to see Monument Valley on your way if you want to drive no more than 6 hours.

In case of Mesa Verde I'd bite the bullet and stay Far View Lodge, the only lodge in Mesa Verde. It's basic but location location! And it has a good restaurant.

From Mesa Verde visitor center is a 5-6 hours drive via Durango and Pagosa Springs to Taos. A scenic drive. If you don't want to take a tour to Cliff Palace or Balcony House (both require to climb ladders) and just want the views from the rim you can see some in 3-4 hours but don't miss the Chapin Mesa Museum and from the museum you can walk down (and up...) to Spruce Tree House without a tour.

You don't need to drive via Shiprock if you go Mesa Verde. Just follow 160 all the way between Tuba City and Cortez.

Tet

Edited: 25 March 2011, 08:27
San Juan, Puerto...
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5. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

You guys are the best !!! Thanks for helping us make up our minds. We are back to original plan, GC to Monument Valley , overnight in The VIew,take the guided tour, give us some time to enjoy and learn about the Navajo. Can't wait to star gaze.

Then to MV have reservation Far View Lodge and then to Taos via Pagosa Springs. Looks like Pagosa Springs is a beautiful stop for lunch, any suggestions for a lovely spot ?

Painted Desert sounds perfect.Only wish we had more time or a next visit . I appreciate all your input, nothing like planning a visit with the point of view of a local.

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6. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

Personally, I would consider three days in Sedona a bit much. Perhaps you could cut one day from there, and add it on to the above mentioned recommendations, or mine. Southwestern Colorado's San Juan Mountains have some of that mountainous state's most beautiful scenery, and historical places.

I would recommend leaving early from the Grand Canyon, and travel to Cortez, CO...then Mesa Verde National Park in the afternoon (3+ hrs minimum) overnight in Cortez, or Far View Lodge in MV. The second day, north to Telluride, Ridgway on US550, south on US550 through incredible mountain scenery, and the old mining towns of Ouray, and Silverton, and into Durango (Durango has a large selection of hotels and restaurants). Day three: Durango east to Pagosa Springs, CO...Chama, NM...US64 through Tierra Amarilla, Tres Piedras, & Taos/Taos Pueblo. This would require 3 days/2 nights of travel between the GC & Taos if you could work that in.

Or...your way before I posted. LOL. Enjoy your trip!

Edited: 25 March 2011, 15:15
Uden, The...
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7. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

Great, a night at The View, a night at Far View Lodge. Awesome! You can't do better unless you want to add a 4th day and do as NM has said....

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8. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

I was going to second NM Photo's suggestion that you could shorten your stay in Sedona IF you needed more time for other places. I'm not sure if your 3 days there means 2 or 3 nights. I could see two nights there (one full day). For that matter I could see two nights in Grand Canyon and at least two nights in Santa Fe. I would not short change CG or Santa Fe.

Also, I wanted to say a little more about your drive to Sedona from ABQ. I've done that drive (at least that direction) many times. I assume you want to drive pretty much straight through so you can spend your time in Sedona. That's often my experience on I-40. In that case, as I said, get an early start from ABQ and you may find yourself crossing the NM-AZ border while it's still around breakfast time. There's a truck stop before Gallup I often stop at to top off gas. The Petrified Forest/Painted Desert exit at mile marker 311 in Arizona is a great place to stop to stretch your legs in between Gallup and Flagstaff even for ten to thirty minutes: museum, clean bathrooms, a Harvey House cafeteria serving breakfast, etc., even a small gas pump, market & gift shop. Nothing else around, quiet, peaceful. Have lunch in downtown Flagstaff, not much of a detour but you will need to pre-map your route (take Butler exit, same exit as Little America, right, dog leg right, cross tracks, left, follow tracks to depot, downtown on your right). (You can also have lunch in downtown Flagstaff on way to GC and take 180 to GC.) On 89A to Sedona, about half way between Flagstaff and Sedona, is Oak Creek Vista Overlook & visitor's center on your left. This is still forest just before you descend to Oak Creek and Slide Rock state park. This is another good place for 10-30 minute stretch.

San Juan, Puerto...
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9. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

Thanks for the suggestions,wish I had an extra day but have limitations due to flights available (w/millage)and dates we could get reservations in GC.and need to stick to plan to have 2 days in Taos and 3 full days in Santa Fe.

From Mesa Verde to Taos is 248 miles, via US160, US84 at Pagosa Springs, and US64 from Chama to Taos.

Are these the best routes on this part of the trip ?

Stop for lunch at Pagosa Springs,, any suggestions for a lovely spot ?

10. Re: Avoid I 40 Grand Canyon to Taos any other route ?

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