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family road trip from Illinois to New Mexico/Colorado

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May 10th, 2012, 04:33 PM
  #1
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family road trip from Illinois to New Mexico/Colorado

Hi, I am planing a trip for June 30 with my family. Three kids 9, 7, and 4 and the hubby. We will be leaving from Peoria, IL. We have two weeks and plan to drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico for our first part of the trip. I know we will have to stop at least once on our way to Santa Fe. I have a lot of ideas on where we will go in that area. Bandelier, Taos, Madrid, Albuquerque, Capulin Volcano, any some others. I am thinking after eight days (Checking out from the Inn of the Governors on July 9) we will drive up to Durango, CO and do the train ride. This is where I need help. We will have to rest of our second week to travel around and I'm not sure where to go after Durango. My return home route brings me home through Denver and across Nebraska and Iowa. I am having a little more difficulty finding things to do in these areas. We don't want to do zoo's and museums. Kids get bored with that stuff. We want to site see and experience to beauty of the west. Any ideas or suggestions would be really great. This is the farthest we've traveled with the kids and the most time. We went to South Dakota a few years ago for a week. A week is easy to plan. South Dakota was great by the way!! Thanks a lot for any help or input

Kathy
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May 10th, 2012, 04:55 PM
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The kids would find Mesa Verde NP interesting. Maybe Great Sand Dunes NP.
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May 10th, 2012, 05:39 PM
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I was going to say that we have a great zoo and children's museum here in Albuquerque. It's nice sometimes to have an indoor/shady option in the summer.

Capulin Volcano isn't exactly in the Santa Fe area, but you could stop there on your way to Santa Fe.

With three young kids, I would consider taking two days to get to Santa Fe. It's a long drive!

Lee Ann
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May 10th, 2012, 05:40 PM
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Whoops - I meant spend two nights on the way.

Lee Ann
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May 10th, 2012, 08:15 PM
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Glad you meant two nights as one was going to be a lot of driving. Besides Bandelier, the cliff dwellings at Puye Cliffs are great and you get a member of the Pueblo as a guide. There's not much for the kids to do in Madrid. The age range of the kids is challenging. There's a lot for the 7 and 9 year olds, 4, not so much. A rafting float trip would be great if the 4 year old can sit still for a few hours. Albuquerque's Explora Science Center and the Botanic Gardens at the Bio Park might be fun for the entire family and Petroglyph National Park of the 4 year old can hike a bit. Also, the tramway, Capulin is a long car ride from Santa Fe, there are closer places that might be better. Tent Rocks is wonderful, again, the 4 year old may not be up to the canyon hike there. If you do go to Capulin, stop at Fort Union on the way. it's an old Civil War era fort out on the prarie- many of the exterior adobe walls are still standing and it might fascinate the kids.
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May 10th, 2012, 08:24 PM
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Oops! Forgot the part about after Durango. You're probably planning to go to Mesa Verde- if not, it's a great spot and I think the kids will love it. Take a look at Breckenridge, about 11/2 hours west of Denver. Peak 8 Fun Park would be loads of fun for the kids and there's a gold mine where you can pan for gold and great bike trails. If you stay a few days, there are float trips on the Colorado River south of Kremling that the family would enjoy. Denver is a great place for kids- Botanic Garden, Butterfly Pavilion, dinosaur sites and more. Nebraska has Fort Kearney and they have Sandhill cranes who summer therea. Iowa has the Amana Colonies. We've driven from Denver through Nebraska and Iowa a number of times and I can't wait to get where I'm going.
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May 11th, 2012, 04:55 AM
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After Durango, you might consider Glenwood Springs--huge hot springs pool--the kids would love it. http://www.ci.glenwood-springs.co.us/
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May 11th, 2012, 05:40 AM
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Wow, thanks so much for all the replies already! Soo many great suggestions! I love the idea of the hot springs. I saw that northern New Mexico has some hot springs too. Just not sure if we can make it up to the Denver area after all. After Durango and Mesa Verde, I was thinking of driving east to the Great Sand Dunes. I think we need two days in Mesa Verde and 1 1/2 days in Durango. So that only leaves one day at the dunes. Not sure how much time we need there? After the dunes we would be heading home through Colorado Springs, Kansas, and Missouri. Mapquest has us going that direction due to the sand dunes. If we head towards Denver then we would head home through Nebraska.
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May 11th, 2012, 07:02 AM
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After Durango how about Moab Utah and Arches & Canyonlands NP. Lots of things to do and it is only a short trip to I70 for the return trip home.
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May 11th, 2012, 11:06 AM
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That sounds really tempting! I was thinking of a calm rafting adventure on the Rio maybe. Maybe swimming too! I would love that with the kids! any suggestions on companies? I see that there are many choices.

With all these beautiful National Parks in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah it's hard to decide which ones to pick!
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May 17th, 2012, 07:38 AM
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OK, this is what I'm thinking:

Day 1: July, 1, Check in at the Inn of the Governors and hang out in town. ( arriving after a long drive)
Day 2: Bandalier hike, and look at a cave, then stop at El Rancho de las Golondrinas
Day 3: Head down to Albequerque by way of the Turquoise Trail for the day
Day 4: Fourth of July celebrations on the Santa Fe square and spend the day relaxing
Day 5: Tent Rocks and maybe Ghost Ranch
Day 6: Take a river raft ride with Kokopelli, clean up, and head over to Taos for the pueblo
Day 7: Saturday, go to the Santa Fe Wine Fest!!
Day 8: Check out of hotel and head up to Durango
Day 9: Durango train ride with bus back, spend the night
Day 10: Mesa Verde
Day 11: Mesa Verde for the morning, then drive up to Moab, UT for Canyonland and the Arches
Day 12: Moab area again
Day 13: Moab in the morning and then start our drive back to Peoria , IL ( Drive 1/2 way)
Day 14: Saturday, Drive the rest of the way home

Am I missing anything worth seeing? It's a pretty full schedule I know!!

Thanks for your input
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May 17th, 2012, 08:23 AM
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Days 3 and 7 don't have much for the kids, are you planning on doing something kid oriented on those days. It seems like you will be spending a lot of time in the car, is there something you really want to do with the kids in Albuquerque?
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May 17th, 2012, 10:18 AM
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I think you are selling Bandelier short. North of Santa Fe headed that way is Camel Rock. That is a great picture op and fun stop. Loop around through White Rock to Bandolier. Take a picnic lunch with you. In the park itself there is an excellent overlook and fire tower. Then in the main valley there are several sets of ruins. The visitor center has a nice (brief) history of the valley and how the people lived. It would be a good primer for visiting Mesa Verde too.

If they have one of the nature or lore walks starting when you get there they are quite interesting and fun.

Have a nice picnic there or at the little cafe try the Indian fry bread either with honey or as a Navajo taco.

There is a second hike down to the upper falls which is nice too. Will give everyone a good stretch.

From Bandolier head north to Jemez Springs. You'll go through the Via Cauldera - the largest extinct volcano in North America - it might be the world, but my old memory is going a bit on this point - you'll have to read the marker)The hot springs are various degrees of hot, but you can park and walk to them. It is a very small town, but you'll see the signs.

Turn around and head back down through Los Alamos. Depending on the day they have an amazing interactive Science museum and for such a small town a good historical museum. The first Atomic Bomb was built there and it continues to have a great science tradition. If you can stop at Ashely Pond's Pond and get the story of how the city came to be.

Continue back to Santa Fe down "Main Hill Road" It is one of the prettiest drives in the central valley.

All of this would be one very long day. You'd never make it back to El Rancho de las Golondrinas befor it closes.

For Albuquerque the tram to the top of Sandia Crest is fun for all ages. There are several trails at the top as well as a restaurant (a bit over priced, but the view is what you are paying for). On the west side is Petroglyph park. You'll have seen old town Santa Fe so Albuquerque isn't too much different.

A side note make sure you bring at least light jackets. Santa Fe is at 7000 feet and cools off at night to where if you are watching fireworks it will be uncomfortably cold.

You need to make sure to check the schedule for the Pueblo and make sure it is open when you want to go. They close it for various religious festivals and ceremonies. Also the hours. I'm not sure how late the are open. It is at least a 90 minute drive from Santa Fe to Taos.

Other things: Chili is a vegetable not a stew with beef and beans. Enjoy a green chili cheese burger at Blakes-lot-a-Burger. If someone asks you red or green they are asking what chili you want on your plate (unless you have a tollerance for spicy ask which is mild or get it on the side).

Enjoy the differences between the southwest and central Illinois.
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May 17th, 2012, 10:18 AM
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Hi, well we plan to do the atomic museum, visit a Rt. 66 Diner, and Rattlesnake museum in Albuquerque, and maybe the Petroglyph Nat. Monument on the way back to Santa Fe.
The website for the Wine Fest list kids activities and I thought it would be neat to do something that is annual for the Santa Fe area. Also we are planning to take the kids to Twirl in Taos. They love hiking and being outside instead of museums. The car time does concern me, but I don't see any way around it.
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May 17th, 2012, 10:49 AM
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Thank you Diane60030 for all of your suggestions! I will have to look at a map to figure out where these places are located. We can't wait to experience the SW and all the food it has to offer!! I will also look into the tram.
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May 17th, 2012, 10:56 AM
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We were also thinking of trying to see Nambe Falls and checking out the Jackalope store in Santa Fe. I should just skip going up into Utah and spend our time in NM and Colorado. I'll have to see for now. Too many great spots to see!!
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May 17th, 2012, 11:00 AM
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Day 3 - The Turquoise Trail is a nice drive, but it doesn't have a lot to offer your kids. I'd just head down I-25 instead.

The National Atomic Museum is interesting, but I think your kids would enjoy Explora more - it has tons of fun hands-on activities. It's on the north side of Old Town, so since you're planning to visit the Rattlesnake Museum it's close by.

We like Rt. 66 Diner on Central - good food, great shakes. You might also consider the Frontier Restaurant on Central for a slice of kitschy Albuquerque fun and tasty food.

Day 5 - Tent Rocks is partway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, while Ghost Ranch is northwest of Santa Fe near Abiquiu. It would make more sense to visit Tent Rocks on the way to Albuquerque on your day 3, then head to Explora. Visit the Rattlesnake Museum if you have time, have dinner, and go back to Santa Fe.

The visitor center at Bandelier is currently closed due to fires and flooding there last year. Check www.nps.gov/band for visitor information and be sure to check the park alerts.

Be sure to use sunscreen, wear hats, and drink a lot of water. It's really dry here, and some people struggle with the higher altitude.

Lee Ann
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May 17th, 2012, 12:07 PM
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It's Chile here in NM and refers to the red and green peppers.
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May 18th, 2012, 01:32 AM
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Chama, NM, on the way to Durango is headquarters for the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad (or was last time I looked). It has most of the rest of the narrow gauge equipment that is not on the Durango line, and you can get close to it, even if you don't take a ride. Also several places for a lunch break.
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May 18th, 2012, 06:42 AM
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Oh great, thanks Ackislander! I will have to stop off and take a look. What a trip this is to plan! I think I'm in over my head. I am going to have to leave some wiggle room on our destination stops. Soo much to see. The most important thing is for my family to have fun and enjoy each other no matter where we are
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