Ideas for a Southwest U.S. Trip

Nov 2nd, 2008, 09:20 AM
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Ideas for a Southwest U.S. Trip

I'm in the preliminary-thoughts stage of a southwest U.S. vacation for our family, including 14yo DS and 10yo DD. I'd love some initial suggestions - I need some help narrowing the possibilities down.

What I do know: We live in Denver, and would drive. We'd probably have 10 days to 2 weeks, probably mid-June. We're very active, primarily hiking, but as we do that a lot on weekends, we'd probably do less of that on vacation. Big into history. Both kids have said they want to visit Native American sites - I would too. Oh, and we love good regional food.

Mesa Verde is at the top of the list - the kids haven't been yet. So maybe start from Denver, through Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Stop in Ouray, Durango, and/or Telluride. DH and I visited here when DS was a baby (and I traveled this entire area as a kid). I remember not being too thrilled with Durango. We'd probably skip the train ride.

After that, ???? I'd like to end up with some time in Taos and Santa Fe, which we've visited a bunch but love, but it's not necessary.

Canyon de Chelly, I'd love to get to, maybe Chaco Canyon? Bandolier, north of Santa Fe - the kids haven't seen that.

And then further west. More time in the Navajo Nation, maybe visit the Hopi Reservation? (I remember visiting there as a kid - very compelling memories).

And there are so many national parks in that area that my head's spinning - Bryce and Zion I remember as a kid, but others, near Moab, are closer. If we have to choose, which should we consider? And, of course, I don't want us spending most of our time driving!

I know there are Fodorites who can provide great help for this region, so thanks in advance.
Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 10:45 AM
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If Hovenweep works into your itinerary, I thought it was incredible.

mlgb is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 12:29 PM
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Two of my very favorite things we have ever done-

ziplinning on the Durango/Silverton Train-you only ride the train half the way on this one

Canyoneering in Arches with Desert Highlights

I would not rate these above rafting th Grand Canyon, but they are certainly equal. Speaking of rafting. What about a 2 or 3 day Cateract Canyon raft trip through Canyonlands. Petroglyph trail is a good hiking trail in Mesa Verde.

So spend 1 o2 2 days in Durango. 2 or 3 days in Mesa Verde and 4 or 5 days in Moab seeing whatever else along your way.

here are several picutres of the area that I have done in the last two years.
spirobulldog is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 03:13 PM
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Thanks for the ideas. I hadn't heard of the ziplining in that area, or canyoneering, though the kids have ridden ziplines and done rock climbing in our area.

Hovenweep is an area I'd read about - I'll put that on my list.

Anyone else?
Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 03:34 PM
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Your kids may be fascinated by it or bored stiff, but I was amazed at the differences in architecture of the ruins at Chaco Canyon, Aztec Ruins, Mesa Verde and a couple of others that we visited. BTW, Aztec Ruins is in Aztec, NM just south of Durango.
rm_mn is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 03:54 PM
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There are so many "lesser known" national monuments in New Mexico and Arizona that you could visit. Many of them have a connection to Native American sites. Even though this is not an NPS park/monument, we and our kids were fascinated by Acoma Pueblo's Sky City (New Mexico). Others we enjoyed in New Mexico/Arizona were: Casa Grande Ruins National Monument El Morro National Monument, and Aqua Fria National Monument. I hate to admit it, but if you do a search on Wikipedia, there's a great list of all these monuments and where they are located.
longhorn55 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 04:35 PM
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Mesa Verde is definitely a must. There is also a great museum in Cortez, CO that covers what the Wetherhills found in Grand Gulch, Mesa Verde etc. Hovenweep is not something that is all that thrilling IMO and June is big time season for nasty biting flies. Chaco is not to be missed. I did not like Canyon de Chelly because you just ride in a truck and look up at dwellings--you don't get to go inside them. Monument Valley and Gouldings Lodge are very interesting.

As for Ancestral Puebloan dwellings etc, the Cedar Mesa Plateau (a triangle between Bluff, Blanding, and National Bridges NP) has some amazing sites. There are some great "ruins" that are accessible from the road outside Blanding. The museum in Blanding is very good. You can check at the Kane Gulch Ranger station for other places--a day hike into Grand Gulch is possible but long.

Moab is very interesting as far as uranium mining goes (there is a good museum in town) and Arches is fascinating. (the Delicate Arch hike is truly not to be missed) Fun mountain bike and rafting trips. Some great rock art in the vicinity as well.

Canyonlands has some of the most awesome scenery I have ever seen--the Chesler Park region is beyond words.

The Pueblos in New Mexico are very interesting--Acoma is fascinating (I believe it is the longest continuously inhabited town/city in the US). Zion is awesome. Bryce is the weaker of the two, IMO. YOunger kids love Goblin Valley. And it really is fun to lay down on the 4 corners monument and touch all 4 states!
StantonHyde is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 06:44 PM
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Here are my photos from a recent visit to Hovenweep.

I felt it was a special place, the hike around Little Ruin Canyons is not difficult and you can really imagine what life might have been like when it was inhabited. Of course one thing that contributed to that feeling was that there were very few people there, and you don't need a guide. The do have quite a nice visitor center now.

I also like Acoma Pueblo, if you get a good tour guide.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 07:46 PM
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Great ideas, and some ideas on what to include and what not to. Thanks so much.

We've been to several of the pueblos, but only those near Santa Fe, and Acoma Pueblo sounds good to visit.

The Grand Gulch area sounds amazing. It appears that the Gulch itself is very long (33 miles?), but that you can hike shorter sections and see many ruins.

Interesting, your comment re Canyon de Chelly. We're so used to hiking to see whatever we want to see, that I'm not sure it will be the same for us to ride around to see them. We'll have to think about that.
Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 03:17 AM
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Unless this is something that your kids are super into, I think 3-4 days would be plenty for whatever ruins you decide to do. I think Mesa Verde would be the best choice for a couple of days, and then maybe pick one other day somewhere. I haven't been to Canyon DeChelly, but I am sure it is impressive as well.
spirobulldog is offline  

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