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Camping Road Trip with Kids - SD to Santa Fe

Old Jan 18th, 2016, 05:35 PM
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Camping Road Trip with Kids - SD to Santa Fe

We're planning an 11-day tent-camping road trip through the Southwest in mid-late August and would love to run our itinerary by some experts here in the Fodor's world.
Us: Two parents, two kids ages 13 & 10 from Boston who have previously done camping road trips in the Northeast and Northwest. I lived in Southern Utah one summer before marriage/kids, so I know about the heat, dehydration, distances, etc., but need help with ideas on where/how to spend our time. We plan to stay in the National Park campgrounds unless advised otherwise. Note: We have some fears of heights and small spaces among our group, so no canyoneering, ladder climbing, or elevators into the Glen Canyon Dam, as cool as those things might be.

Horseback riding is a must for our kids, so recommendations on the best place for that (Zion v. Bryce) would be especially appreciated.

Proposed itinerary:
Day One: Leave a family gathering in San Diego and drive via Vegas (no need to stop, not interested in Vegas) to Zion NP. (Unless someone can convince me to fly and rent another car in Vegas, which I'd love to do, but it doesn't seem economically smart.)

Spend one night at Zion (we'd consider motel/cabin here to save set up time), get up and hike (and/or horseback ride) in Zion and drive in the afternoon to Bryce.

Days 2-3: Spend two nights in Bryce, hiking (and/or horseback riding) in the mornings and resting in the afternoons, stargazing in the evenings.

Day 4-5: Drive to North Rim of Grand Canyon on the second afternoon and spend two nights, exploring the canyon rim trails and maybe hiking down a bit on the day in between.

Day 6: Go for a low-key raft ride in Page then drive to Monument Valley. Thinking of staying at http://www.monumentvalley-tipivillage.com unless someone says we shouldn't.

Day 7-8: Next day drive through Four Corners, then staying 2 nights at Mesa Verde NP, exploring on the day in between.

Day 9-11: Drive to Santa Fe (BIG QUESTION: via Los Alamos or via Taos???) - stay in a HOTEL 2-3 nights, get cleaned up, eat good food (vegetarians in the group, FYI), see art, ride bikes, etc.

Fly home from Albuquerque - Should we spend a few hours there before our flight?

So excited to hear your suggestions and ideas for a fantastic trip!
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Old Jan 18th, 2016, 06:08 PM
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How much is the drop off fee from San Diego to Albuquerque?
If you want to fly home from ABQ, you might want to fly to ABQ and make your big loop from there renting and returning there. I'll leave answers about Santa Fe to others.
At the east end of Albuquerque there is a gondola ride up to the top of Sandia Peak.
There are museums and a zoo and aquarium in the west end of Albuquerque. Central Avenue is the old Rt. 66.
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Old Jan 18th, 2016, 06:18 PM
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How are you transporting your tent camping stuff?
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Old Jan 18th, 2016, 06:19 PM
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Meant transporting it home.
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Old Jan 21st, 2016, 03:38 AM
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With kids , I'd go to Santa Fe via Los Alamos and check out the Valles Caldera on the way and Bandelier NM. You can go to Taos as a day trip from SF.
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Old Jan 21st, 2016, 11:21 AM
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You didn't mention rain in your list of things you already know. Keep in mind August is monsoon/flash flood season in the SW. Not saying don't go, just be prepared.
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Old Jan 21st, 2016, 05:45 PM
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Thanks for the feedback!
In order:
I'll check the drop-off fee, thanks.

Sounds like a day in ABQ is definitely worthwhile.

We fly with our gear - combination of traveling as lightly as possible and sucking it up on bag fees as needed. We have a pretty good system of organizing our stuff so it doesn't take up a lot of room.

I am aware of the flash flood potential and was actually wondering if any of the campgrounds are at risk for that. We don't plan to do serious canyoneering and I'm planning to hike early in the day and stay in higher elevations in the afternoons when storms seem more likely, but is that enough precaution? If there are other steps we should take beyond watching weather and avoiding remote canyons, please say the word. Thank you!
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Old Jan 21st, 2016, 05:46 PM
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And got it on Los Alamos v Taos - thanks!
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Old Jan 21st, 2016, 05:55 PM
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Storms are no respecter of elevation. In fact, higher elevations can get nastier than below if a storm comes in fast, as they can. Campgrounds are unlikely to be in susceptible terrain. Pay close attention to weather forecasts and stay closer to civilization if rain is anticipated. If driving, never cross a flooded "wash", a spot where water crosses a road, as very little flowing water can sweep cars away or the unseen depth can stall the car. Rescues from washes are a regular occurrence.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2016, 03:44 AM
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Thanks for the details. I remember hikers being killed by flash floods in canyons because the water came through quickly, so that was my thinking on avoiding the narrow passages. I will be vigilant about tracking the weather and staying close to civilization if forecasts call for rain. I really appreciate your advice.
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Old Feb 8th, 2016, 12:41 PM
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Hi - as I'm doing more research, it seems like it might make more sense to drive to Albuquerque and stay there for our final two nights, with just a stop in Santa Fe en route. We're not really big shoppers, and it sounds like Santa Fe may have more galleries and shops vs. kid-friendly attractions. Thoughts on that question or any of the itinerary above would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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Old Feb 8th, 2016, 12:56 PM
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I think that Albuquerque gets short shrift most of the time. There is quite a bit to do here for families so doing only a day trip to Santa Fe makes good sense to me.

Take the Turquoise Trail at least 1 way to Santa Fe.
Tent Rocks is a unique place to go, be sure to go early, it gets really hot.
The Bio Park, especially the zoo, are great FB for all.
Explora for the kids and Museum of Art
Catch an Isotopes AAA baseball game at our wonderful stadium
Anderson Abruzzo Hot Air Balloon Museum
Tinker town (near Turquoise Trail)

More here - http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...ew_Mexico.html
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Old Mar 28th, 2016, 10:56 AM
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Thank you, DebitNM!! We've made a hotel reservation in Santa Fe, but will make sure to add in Albuquerque time as well.
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Old Mar 28th, 2016, 04:09 PM
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Don't miss the folk art museum in Santa Fe.

Reserve your tours of cliff houses at the very entrance of the Mesa Verde. Count on doing one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The one that does not require reservations--the closest to the visitor center on the mesa--is closed for restoration work.
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Old Apr 1st, 2016, 10:17 PM
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Maybe you could hit the lavender farms and Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu on your way to Santa Fe? Camp out at Ojo Caliente on your way to Santa Fe? You can enjoy spa like amenities and outdoor hot springs there at the same time. They have cabins and camp sites available. In Santa Fe, you will definitely want to see the miraculous staircase and the Pop Gallery. I know you will be winding down and scrubbing off the camping but there are a ton of great trails to hike here too! I'm not sure which hotel you booked but both downtown and the Railyard district will offer a ton of family friendly activities. Canyon Road is a fun stroll in Santa Fe and Kakawa chocolate house is a not to be missed anthropological chocolate adventure. As for Albuquerque, they have a gorgeous bio park and gondola rides up Sandia peak. Sounds like an amazing trip.
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