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Albuquerque vs Santa Fe? ...and a few other New Mexico questions

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Jun 24th, 2014, 01:34 PM
  #1
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Albuquerque vs Santa Fe? ...and a few other New Mexico questions

Hello all! My husband and I are visiting family in El Paso TX the week after Labor Day and decided to get away for the week and explore the Four Corners area. We were planning on heading North up to Albuquerque, detouring to the White Sands National Monument along the way. Then heading west on Route 40 and exploring El Malpais and El Morro National Monument. Then heading North towards the Four Corners Monument and exploring Mesa Verde National Park. After that we will head west into Utah/AZ (that part of the itinerary is not yet mapped out).

So my questions are:
1- Is it worth it to head North and see Santa Fe? I have heard from a few that Santa Fe has more to see than Albuquerque. Not sure if we have time to spend a lot of time in both cities.
2. What part of route 66 has the best scenic drive and do we get off of route 40 to take that route or does route 40 just become route 66?
3. Whats a better drive to head north to the Four Corners? 371 to Farmington or 491 to Shiprock?

to help answer these questions, I will let you know my husband and I are all about the sight seeing. beautiful views, and scenic drives. We do enjoy some hiking too but mind you I will be about 14 weeks pregnant at this point!

any suggestions you guys have would be greatly appreciated!
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Jun 24th, 2014, 02:59 PM
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I personally prefer to see places such as Sante Fe - a smaller/artists' colony - than bigger cities such as Alberq.

And for a real treat - take the old roads to Taos and drive the Enchanted Circle.
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Jun 24th, 2014, 03:13 PM
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I agree about Santa Fe over Albuquerque. I have spent a fair amount of time in Albuquerque for work and enjoyed it, but it isn't nearly as picturesque and charming as Santa Fe. Albuquerque has some interesting places and some nice areas, but it also has quite a bit of very uninteresting places. It always struck me as a good place to live and work, but Santa Fe as a better place to visit.
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Jun 24th, 2014, 03:18 PM
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If you have kids with you (besides the one on the way), Albuquerque has more to offer than Santa Fe. But if it's just the three of you, you will enjoy Santa Fe.

Lee Ann
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Jun 24th, 2014, 03:37 PM
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Santa Fe is well worth it, hands down. There's no other city in America like it, and it offers more than enough art, architecture, shopping (the good kind), history, dining, drinking and natural beauty for anyone.
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Jun 24th, 2014, 04:10 PM
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Santa Fe and Albuquerque are completely different beasts. The former is an oversized town and has a very artistic bent. And if you or the hubby is a Game of Thrones geek, it's the hometown of George RR Martin.

Albuquerque is a legitimate city and the business center of the state. It also has some cool museums, especially the science museum, that are good places to take the hobbits. If the only hobbit in question is the one gestating, however, you and hubby alone-ish may enjoy Santa Fe far more.
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Jun 24th, 2014, 06:36 PM
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2. Much of Rt 66 is really nothing but old motels and non-descript businesses in ABQ and not the best areas. It is in bits and pieces and follows Central Avenue for the most part. You can learn about it here:
http://www.historic66.com/

Hiking - being from sea level, hiking here can be a challenge due to the altitude. Given your pregnancy, it might be a bit more of an issue. Lots of water, sunscreen are musts.

3. Take 491 to get to Four Corners.

As for Santa Fe vs ABQ - where would you work this in so as to not backtrack? If you did ABQ you could continue on to El Morro and El Malpais easily.

There is much to see and do in ABQ that would give you insights into the Hispanic and Native American culture. Museums and cultural centers, Old Town, and much more.
http://www.visitalbuquerque.org/

Santa Fe has it's sites as well, it really is a matter of what YOU are interested in seeing.

Be sure you know what Four Corners is and what it isn't. Not everyone thinks it's worthwhile, others do.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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<>

It's like where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet, right?

;-)

Santa Fe isn't really a throughput for going to places west of it, which is what you (OP) want to do. It connects north to Durango and Taos and central Colorado through state roads and I-25 but the roads west of town aren't going to get you where you ultimately need if you're going northwest to Four Corners. Which is why Debit mentioned backtracking: you're likely going to have to backtrack to Albuquerque from Santa Fe.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 08:17 AM
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Didn't the OP acknowledge that when she asked if it was worth heading north to SF?
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Jun 25th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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"It's like where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet, right?"

Yup, it's just that, nothing more. A plaque on the ground and a fee to drive in to see it and then a bunch of vendors selling "stuff".
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Jun 25th, 2014, 12:06 PM
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I've been to both (Santa Fe 3 times) and far prefer it, but did not spend much time in Albuquerque although we did enjoy riding the tram up to Sandia and very much enjoyed visiting Acoma pueblo (try the Navajo fry bread, delicious).
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Jun 25th, 2014, 01:20 PM
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Wow. At least Barnum advertised the magnificent egress.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 01:28 PM
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thanks for the input everyone! we will not have other kiddos with us. just the one in the belly. And hopefully he/she wont do much complaining.

Looking at the route we plan to take from El Paso up to the Four Corners, Santa Fe will definitely be an out of the way venture. This is what I have so far:

Sunday:
1. Head North I-10 into New Mexico headed to Las Cruces
2. Detour to White Sands National Monument
3. Stop in Hatch, NM to see Teako's Giants
4. Stop in Truth or Consequences to stretch legs/get snack
5. Stop in Hammel, NM for the Hammel Museum (optional)
6. Drive on to Albuquerque, NM. Stay overnight in Albuquerque

Monday/Tues
1. explore Albuquerque?
2. Drive an hour to Santa Fe and explore there?

1. Head west from Albuquerque on Interstate 40/Route 66
2. Cross the old Puerco River bridge
3. visit Acoma Pueblo (exit 102) - the oldest continually inhabited city in America
4. El Malpais: (exit 89) to the El Malpais Badlands Ranger Station, the Sandstone Bluffs overlook, and the La Ventana (NM largest natural arch), and the Lava Trail
5. Drive through Grants, NM.
Optional: Take Hwy 53 to Ice Cave and Bandera Crater and El Morro National Monument
6. lunch in Gallup, NM- Earls Restaurant or El Sombrero
7. head North on US 491 for 85 mi to Shiprock, NM
8. See the Shiprock Peak
9. stay overnight in Farmington ?
10. Head North to Mesa Verde National Park in CO
11. Head west on 160 to Four Corners Monument.


So I think we will use Albuquerque as an overnight stop to fuel up, sleep the night, ect but looking at some comments and reviews, I don't think we'll spend too much time there. Santa Fe...still not sure ??

PS- Big Russ- we are huge GOT and Lord of the Rings fans so your post brought a smile to my face!
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Jun 25th, 2014, 01:31 PM
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oh and PS- I know the Four Corners is super cheesy. But I am pretty cheesy myself! Even if we waste an hour and a few bucks, to be that close to it and not do it would seem silly.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 01:42 PM
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You need to go on a guided tour of Acoma. It takes a couple of hours start to finish as you have to wait for tour to begin, take the bus up, walk around, take the bus down. It is well worth it, however. There is NO shade up there and no place to buy any water, so bring it with you. The Visitor Center sells snacks.

If you want to explore ABQ on Monday, which is a great idea, you won't be able to do all the rest on Tuesday.

Mesa Verde needs at a bare minimum a full day.

Go to Four Corners from Shiprock area, or you will again be backtracking if you go after Mesa Verde.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 05:39 PM
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Another vote for Acoma Pueblo. While in Gallup, consider a visit to Richardson's and ask them to show you the vault.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 05:56 PM
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If you don't go to Santa Fe, at least take a little time in Albuquerque to stroll around the plaza in Old Town-- maybe have dinner or breakfast down there. Drive Central Avenue for a nice retro Route 66 architecture scene.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 08:09 PM
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I hadn't heard of the Hammel Museum in Socorro; I'm guessing it must be fairly new. I see it's only open the first Saturday of the month from 9-noon, so unless you want to arrange a tour, you can cross it off your list.

Lee Ann
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Jul 12th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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First, a warning. We go to ABQ and Santa Fe almost every year. Each time we forget that Albuquerque is higher than Denver and Santa Fe is almost as high or higher. Tough on the lungs when walking, hiking, etc. Be measured in your activity.

ABQ is a big city, albeit with some charming sections (Old Town, Rio Grande Drive, Sandia Tram). Santa Fe is almost nothing but charm. Drive up to Museum Hill to see some great exhibits. Grab a taco on the plaza.

Check out the Pueblo web sites for the dates of feast days. Santo Domingo/Kewa's usually is around Labor Day. Indian dances at these events are authentic and captivating.

Speaking of old cities, I believe Taos Pueblo - an hour north of SF - is the oldest continually inhabited settlement in North America. A different kind of pueblo from Acoma. The river drive in the fall is gorgeous. I mean "gorge"eous. I have often thought Taos is what SF was 20 years ago.

To get to 4 corners, you don't have to backtrack all the way to I-40. There is a reasonable highway west from Espanola via Farmington.

As for Rte 66, it's worth riding on long enough to sing one verse of "Get Your Kicks", just to say you did it.

By now you have enough information to spend two months in the Land of Enchantment. LOL
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Aug 25th, 2014, 02:34 AM
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1- Is it worth it to head North and see Santa Fe? I have heard from a few that Santa Fe has more to see than Albuquerque. Not sure if we have time to spend a lot of time in both cities.

Santa Fe is a beautiful city that has been carefully preserved to reflect the Adobe architecture the southwest is well known for. It is a gem, be sure to stroll along Canyon Road, its most beautiful street. However, you can see all of its most important cultural attractions in a long afternoon of strolling. A day will allow you to really see all the best of Santa Fe unless you need to browse the museums. All the good stuff is centrally located around the Plaza in downtown.

I recommend staying 2 nights in Albuquerque (it will be much cheaper than staying in Santa Fe) and catching the Rail Runner commuter train into Santa Fe for a long afternoon. You can catch a 9:30 or 1:45 train into Santa Fe and catch the 8:15 train coming back to be in Albuquerque at about 9:30. It is a delightful train ride, and will save the wear and tear of driving. Plus it puts you about four blocks away from the Plaza in Santa Fe.

From your plans, it appears that you really love outdoor scenery. When you are in Albuquerque, be sure to visit the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area - it's located at the base of two scenic mountain ranges, the Sandias and Mt. Taylor, has great hiking trails and offers some of the most dramatic natural scenery in Albuquerque. It is spectacular at sunset. - http://abqstyle.com/elena-gallegos-picnic-area/


2. What part of route 66 has the best scenic drive and do we get off of route 40 to take that route or does route 40 just become route 66?

Interstate 40 runs roughly adjacent to the old Route 66 for most of its course through New Mexico. Going west from Albuquerque, there are some parts of the route that wash out pretty badly if it rains due to neglect and that are becoming dirt roads due to neglect. Other parts, near Budville and Cubero are well maintained. Use your GPS if you really want to follow it. You will see sleepy small towns but truthfully very little of the Route 66 culture you may be expecting. Each year more of it is razed in the name of progress.

Tucumcari, New Mexico which is between the Texas border and Albuquerque is the most colorful and photogenic Route 66 town in New Mexico - http://abqstyle.com/route-66-tucumcari-new-mexico/ Truthfully, even in Albuquerque the Route 66 culture has been shuttered up for some time. There are plans to invest in restoring it, but a trip down Central Ave (the old Mother Road) yields less and less Route 66 iconography each year.
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