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Ambitious NM/Mesa Verde trip -- need help!

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My friend and I are planning a 10-day trip beginning August 30. We are flying into ABQ. We definitely want to see Acoma Pueblo, Chaco Culture National Park, and Mesa Verde. Initially, we were thinking of starting in ABQ and doing those three in that order, driving north. After Mesa Verde, we would head to Taos and then to Santa Fe before arriving back in Albuquerque. However, I have read some posts elsewhere that say getting to CCNP is best done from the north (not from the south, as I was planning). Has anyone driven to CCNP from the south? What kind of car did you drive?
We would like to spend the first half of the trip seeing those three places (also hiking in CCNP and MV) and the second half seeing Taos, Santa Fe, and their surrounding sights. Is this a realistic itinerary? Does anyone have suggested changes to the itinerary? Is it better to do the trip counter-clockwise instead? Thanks for your help!

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