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Southwest Road Trip Adventure - Itinerary help please :)

Southwest Road Trip Adventure - Itinerary help please :)

Old Mar 23rd, 2021, 09:40 AM
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Southwest Road Trip Adventure - Itinerary help please :)

We are working on rescheduling a trip to the Southwest that we had planned for last year. Weve decided to drive cross country (east to west) starting in mid May with our travel trailer and our 5 year old son. We have around 26 days to make the trip. Wed like to do a combination of camping in the travel trailer (RV parks and free camping) with a handful of nights at a hotel. Weve come up with an itinerary of places wed most like to visit. Since we are unfamiliar with this part of the country, wed love feedback on our itinerary from the experienced and the experts here - i.e. sights not to be missed and/or best travel routes we might not be aware of, any issues you see, etc. Many thanks in advance for your help!!

Days 1-4:

Drive North Carolina to somewhere near White Sands National Park, New Mexico (averaging 6 hour drives each day)

**Any suggestions where to stop along the way? Fun stops for kids? Best/Most interesting route?**



Day 4:

Spend the night near White Sands.

**Best town to camp near White Sands National Park?**



Day 5-8:

Visit White Sands National Park in the morning, then Drive to Tucson, AZ - (5 hours drive)

Weve booked a ranch stay for a few days to recover from the long drive out.



Day 9:

Drive to Sedona, AZ (3.5 hours drive)

Visit Out of Africa Wildlife Park on the way

**Any suggestions where to camp near Sedona?**



Day 10:

Sedona, AZ

Hiking

**Best hiking or sights in Sedona with kids?**



Day 11:

Drive to Page, AZ (3 hour drive)

See Horseshoe Bend

**Favorite RV park or camping location near Page?**



Day 12:

Spend time on Lake Powell in the morning, then

Drive to Zion National Park/Springdale, UT (2.5 hours)

**Recommendations for where to camp with a travel trailer near Zion?**



Day 13:

Zion National Park, UT

Hiking



Day 14:

Zion National Park, UT

Hiking



Day 15:

Drive to Bryce Canyon, UT (2 hours)

**Suggestions for camping near Bryce and/or shorter hike/activity for day of arrival?**



Day 16:

EITHER stay at Bryce Canyon for a second day of hiking OR travel to Escalante to see Peek-a-boo slot canyon

**Suggestions?**



Day 17:

Drive to Moab, UT (4.5 hours)

Making stops at Fruita District/Gifford Homestead in Capitol Reef (2.5 hour drive from Bryce), and then stop at Goblin Valley State Park (1.5 hour drive from Capitol Reef)

**Is this a feasible day with these two stops? Also any suggestions for scenic camping near Moab?**



Day 18:

Moab, UT

White water rafting on the Colorado River



Day 19:

Moab, UT

Arches National Park - kid-friendly hikes



Day 20:

Moab, UT

Canyonlands Island in the Sky District (45 minute drive)

**Must-do activities here?? Hiking? 4WD Shaffer trail?**



Day 21:

Moab, UT

Arches National Park - kid-friendly hikes



Day 22:

Drive to Santa Fe, NM (6.5 hour drive)

**Could use some guidance on this day please- do we drive all the way in one day or is there a must-see stop along the way that were missing? Also, best places to camp near Santa Fe or Bandelier National Monument?**



Day 23:

Santa Fe, NM

Visit Bandelier National Monument in the morning, then tour the plaza and possibly OKeefe museum



Day 24:

Start the drive back east to North Carolina

Days 24-27

Drive an average of 6 hours each day

**Any suggestions on best/most interesting route and stops along the way?**



THANK YOU so much for any feedback or input!!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2021, 11:07 AM
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The 6 to 7.5 hour drives coming from Asheville NC are: Jackson TN, Texarkana (AR or TX), Abilene, TX and Alamogordo NM. There is a White Sands/Alamogordo KOA which is the best you will find near White Sands National Monument
While you are in the Tucson area, be sure to see Tombstone and the Queen Mine near Bisbee.
Turn off I-17 at one of the Camp Verde exits to Rt. 260 east to get to the Clear Creek NF campground. You can call for a reservation.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2021, 01:33 PM
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I would suggest you stop for a day and night at Mesa Verde, between Moab and Santa Fe.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2021, 02:00 PM
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Day 17. After Capitol Reef drive to Goblin Valley SP. There is a campground there with trailer sites (back in sites) up to 45 feet. I do remember a campground inside Arches but I don't know if it has trailer sites. There is also a campground in the town of Green River along the river.
In Arches you will walk through a slot canyon to get from the parking area out to Landscape Arch. The other big hike to do in Arches is out to Delicate Arch.
If you are looking for a cheap motel I do recommend the Robbers Roost motel in Green River. My wife and I stayed there rather than pay high prices for lodging in Moab.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2021, 08:02 PM
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We bought toboggans and went sledding at White Sands. Maybe not as exciting for those who get snow but a fun way to spend time at the park.

Day 22: Drive to Santa Fe, NM (6.5 hour drive) **Could use some guidance on this day please- do we drive all the way in one day or is there a must-see stop along the way that we’re missing?---You are absolutely missing Mesa Verde!!! This is a fabulous place to visit. Sadly due to covid most of the cliff dwelling tours are not being offered. Still worth checking out. You are going through Durango and we love doing the roundtrip train between Durango and Silverton.

Is there a reason you have decided to skip the Grand Canyon? I would say this is a not to be missed site in Arizona if not all of the southwest.
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Old Mar 24th, 2021, 04:57 AM
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Thank you all for your input!!

Tomfuller, it's so helpful to know good stops on the way out! I wasn't aware of the campground at Goblin Valler SP, so maybe that's a better idea rather than continuing on to Moab that day.

There's SO much to see in this area! We've been having trouble narrowing it down. Suzanneaz, Mesa Verde (as well as Monument Valley) was on our bucket list for the trip (my son would love to climb the ladders!), but we weren't sure if we'd be able to tour the Cliff Palace at that time of year and/or due to covid. If the tours aren't running, are there recommended hikes that make it a worthwhile stop? Suggestions for where to overnight if we add this stop to the itinerary? The Durango train sounds fun too. Thanks for the suggestion. We've been to the Grand Canyon on previous trips so that's the reason we didn't include it this time.

When driving from Moab to Santa Fe, do you all recommend a specific, more scenic route? Would it be better to stay closer to Bandelier or get closer to Santa Fe and then day trip to Bandelier?
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Old Mar 24th, 2021, 10:35 AM
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You are kind of doing a drive by without spending much time in any one place, which is fine if that is your style. But, you are going right by Grand Canyon between Sedona and Page without stopping to see it or hiking down into it a bit. IMHO it is worth more than time spent at Horseshoe bend or most of the other places on your route. At least look into taking a smooth water raft trip on the Colorado river from the dam in Page to Lees Ferry, it goes through horseshoe bend and gives a little bit of a feel for being in the Canyon. The hike out to see Horseshoe bend is through soft sand and there was no fence,railing , or barrier at the edge when we went so keep a hand on your child near the edge if you go there.

There are Native American ruins along the route to Page, before you get to the turnoff to GC, look for signs to Wupatki on the right. Or stops at Taos Pueblo and see people still living in the pueblos.

Bandelier would be a nice complement or replacement to Mesa Verde, and will be fun for your son to climb up the ladders into the ruins.
It may be quite hot when you are at Zion and in Moab. Look at higher elevations for generally cooler temps. Plan on hiking very early in the morning if it is hot. Lots of the areas in Arches are easy for kids, the Windows, and Devils garden area are quite kid friendly, but might be hot. Drink twice as much water as you think you need and be sure the little one does too.

Have a great trip.

Last edited by oldemalloy; Mar 24th, 2021 at 10:39 AM.
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Old Mar 24th, 2021, 11:59 AM
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If the tours aren't running, are there recommended hikes that make it a worthwhile stop?

We visited Mesa Verde last June and pretty much had the park to ourselves due to COVID.

We felt it was very worthwhile - we spent the better part of a day there, having visited as a side trip from Durango. We're going back in May to check out the tracks we missed the first time.

https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/hiking.htm




Bandelier is an easy day trip from Santa Fe. Just get an early start, it'll probably be hot.
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Old Mar 24th, 2021, 12:12 PM
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When you are in Page, I would definitely recommend visiting Antelope Canyon. My kids really enjoyed it and it is a photographer's delight.
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Old Mar 24th, 2021, 12:56 PM
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Not sure if Antelope Canyon will reopen for tours by May. There's currently no anticipated reopening date.

Be aware that you'll need to purchase shuttle tickets in advance for Zion. Here's the schedule for when those tickets are released https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvis...le-tickets.htm

Which ranch in Tucson? Just curious.
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Old Mar 25th, 2021, 04:30 PM
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Just before you get to White Sands you will pass by Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Do you plan to stop there. I think you can see the 'main event' there in just a couple of hours.

In Tuscon be sure to spend some time (few hours) in Saguaro National Park. Also in that area is the Sonora Desert Museum (gardens and animals, not a 'normal' museum) and Old Tuscan Studios. Here's my photos of those places - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p338965114

You mention you want to get out on Lake Powell. How do you plan to do that? Do you have your own boat? The boat tours from the Marina in Page are currently not running due to Covid. Also, yes Antelope Canyon is an absolute must if open, but I rather doubt it will be by May. Photos of it - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p720018711

I agree that unless you all have seen the Grand Canyon that you should plan a half day at least. You really don't need to spend a long time, or see all the overlooks but just to see it is amazing. You don't need to do any hiking to enjoy it.

You have Bandelier but not Mesa Verde. I think Mesa Verde is much more impressive and you'll be passing pretty close. I would probably steal a day from other places and in addition to Mesa Verde go from Durango to Silverton while you are right there (and then skip Bandelier). Here's my photos from there - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p702853768
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by oldemalloy View Post
You are kind of doing a drive by without spending much time in any one place, which is fine if that is your style. But, you are going right by Grand Canyon between Sedona and Page without stopping to see it or hiking down into it a bit. IMHO it is worth more than time spent at Horseshoe bend or most of the other places on your route. At least look into taking a smooth water raft trip on the Colorado river from the dam in Page to Lees Ferry, it goes through horseshoe bend and gives a little bit of a feel for being in the Canyon. The hike out to see Horseshoe bend is through soft sand and there was no fence,railing , or barrier at the edge when we went so keep a hand on your child near the edge if you go there.

There are Native American ruins along the route to Page, before you get to the turnoff to GC, look for signs to Wupatki on the right. Or stops at Taos Pueblo and see people still living in the pueblos.

Bandelier would be a nice complement or replacement to Mesa Verde, and will be fun for your son to climb up the ladders into the ruins.
It may be quite hot when you are at Zion and in Moab. Look at higher elevations for generally cooler temps. Plan on hiking very early in the morning if it is hot. Lots of the areas in Arches are easy for kids, the Windows, and Devils garden area are quite kid friendly, but might be hot. Drink twice as much water as you think you need and be sure the little one does too.

Have a great trip.
Yes! I'm struggling with not spending more time in certain locations! There's just so much we want to see!! But we only have a certain number of days for the trip, so we were trying to fit in as much in as possible without feeling too rushed.

We love the Grand Canyon but we decided to use our time this trip on sites we've never seen before.

Thank you for the Native American ruins recommendations! We had wanted to see Taos Pueblo, but read that it is still closed due to Covid.
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
If the tours aren't running, are there recommended hikes that make it a worthwhile stop?

We visited Mesa Verde last June and pretty much had the park to ourselves due to COVID.

We felt it was very worthwhile - we spent the better part of a day there, having visited as a side trip from Durango. We're going back in May to check out the tracks we missed the first time.

https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/hiking.htm




Bandelier is an easy day trip from Santa Fe. Just get an early start, it'll probably be hot.
This looks amazing! We were really disappointed to read that we couldn't tour Cliff Palace. It seems tours don't start until mid June. I'm not sure if that's due to Covid or time of year/weather.

Did you find Durango convenient to side trip from? Debating on driving from Moab to Durango or Silverton and trying to see Mesa Verde en route somehow.
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Patty View Post
Not sure if Antelope Canyon will reopen for tours by May. There's currently no anticipated reopening date.

Be aware that you'll need to purchase shuttle tickets in advance for Zion. Here's the schedule for when those tickets are released https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvis...le-tickets.htm

Which ranch in Tucson? Just curious.
You're correct, Patty. As of now, I don't think Antelope Canyon will be open. We are so disappointed! That was high on our trip bucket list.

Thank you for the shuttle info! The ranch is White Stallion. Are you familiar with it?
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by isabel View Post
Just before you get to White Sands you will pass by Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Do you plan to stop there. I think you can see the 'main event' there in just a couple of hours.

In Tuscon be sure to spend some time (few hours) in Saguaro National Park. Also in that area is the Sonora Desert Museum (gardens and animals, not a 'normal' museum) and Old Tuscan Studios. Here's my photos of those places - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p338965114

You mention you want to get out on Lake Powell. How do you plan to do that? Do you have your own boat? The boat tours from the Marina in Page are currently not running due to Covid. Also, yes Antelope Canyon is an absolute must if open, but I rather doubt it will be by May. Photos of it - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p720018711

I agree that unless you all have seen the Grand Canyon that you should plan a half day at least. You really don't need to spend a long time, or see all the overlooks but just to see it is amazing. You don't need to do any hiking to enjoy it.

You have Bandelier but not Mesa Verde. I think Mesa Verde is much more impressive and you'll be passing pretty close. I would probably steal a day from other places and in addition to Mesa Verde go from Durango to Silverton while you are right there (and then skip Bandelier). Here's my photos from there - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p702853768
Wow, isabel, thank you for sharing your beautiful images! I'm a photographer myself so these got me so excited about the trip! I appreciate all of your great suggestions as well. We had not planned to stop at Carlsbad Caverns, but now you've got me wondering if we can fit it in. I wasn't sure if it would be tough for a 5 year old?

We've seen the Grand Canyon, which is why I didn't include it in the itinerary. But I'm wondering if we just wanted to drive by an overlook or two if it would be way out of the way. I'll have to look into that.

I really wanted to include Mesa Verde. The only reason I didn't was because I thought we wouldn't be able to tour the Cliff Palace. The website says tours start in mid-June which would be after we're there. Do you happen to know if you can get close to Cliff Palace if the tours aren't running?

I like your idea of adding a day and going through Silverton! It looks stunning! Any advice coming from Moab and heading towards Santa Fe (we'll be pulling our travel trailer)? Would it be best to stop in Silverton to overnight and then visit Mesa Verde the next day, and then drive on to Santa Fe? Or better to spend the night in Durango? Silverton just looks so beautiful.
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 12:48 PM
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I love White Stallion! Have you been before? I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

If you decide to include Carlsbad Caverns, they're also requiring reservations. Reservations open 30 days in advance. There is an elevator available.

I wouldn't stay in Silverton for Mesa Verde. Durango is OK. The dwellings are actually some distance from the park entrance, at least another 40 minutes or so. Also the Cliff Palace Loop Rd is closed for construction until June 15th so I don't believe you'll be able to see it from any distance https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

The drive from Durango to Ouray is beautiful but twisty so may be more enjoyable without towing a travel trailer. I'm getting ready to start a trip report with some photos from the drive.

Here's a possible alternative slot canyon hike https://www.americansouthwest.net/sl...ss/canyon.html The trail head is about an hour from Page.

Last edited by Patty; Mar 26th, 2021 at 12:56 PM.
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Old Mar 26th, 2021, 07:06 PM
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Click on my user name to find trip reports (with kids) in Bryce, Zion, Page/Kanab, Capitol Reef, Escalante, Moab, Arches, Canyonlands with emphasis on hiking. Peekaboo slot is really cool--just know its 3-5 miles round trip. And you will need to take just your car/towing vehicle on the Hole in the Rock Road. Schedule NOW for campgrounds in the park. The one in Capitol Reef is amazing. Zion is nice as well for camping. Arches--check out websites for BLM camping. Plenty of sites along Route128 on the river.
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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 05:28 AM
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Did you find Durango convenient to side trip from? Debating on driving from Moab to Durango or Silverton and trying to see Mesa Verde en route somehow.

Yes, Durango is only 35 miles from Mesa Verde. Moab to Mesa Verde is just over two hours. If you left Moab early, you could spend a few hours in Mesa Verde enroute to Durango. Silverton is just over an hour past Durango. I'd stay in Durango over Silverton any day.

The photo I posted above is a shot of Cliff Palace from afar. No tours running when we were there last June due to COVID, but that didn't detract from our visit at all. We rather enjoyed having the park mostly to ourselves.

Last edited by Melnq8; Mar 27th, 2021 at 05:32 AM.
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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 07:37 AM
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You are correct there is so much to do. You could spend a week in Moab alone.

Don't shoot the messenger but as I was thinking more about your trip, I realized you very sadly probably should eliminate all the New Mexico stops. They still have extremely strict covid restrictions. Coming from pretty much every state in the lower 48 requires 2 weeks of quarantine regardless of a negative test. https://www.newmexico.gov/2020/10/21...OVID-19%20test.

if you have been to Grand Canyon then you can skip it and spend your time elsewhere. The rafting trip would be incredible but would probably be better of your son would older.
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Old Mar 27th, 2021, 09:35 AM
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If you want to see the Grand Canyon--go to the North Rim instead. Then you are not going so far out of your way. I also have a trip report for Mesa Verde. It is amazing. I would just say--UNDERPLAN everything with a 5 year old. When my kids were that age, we spent an entire day at the Windows trail/parking lot in Arches. We hiked the Windows primative loop in the morning, had a picnic lunch, and they hiked to the arch on the other side of the parking lot in the afternoon and played in the sand. And that was it. It's not like the sights are on/off a highway. You have to drive a long way into Mesa Verde, for example. And you will need to check if visitors centers are open--we were at Arches in February and it was closed. Rangers were outside to answer questions, but that was it. I suggest buying some kids naturalist books--we had "Who pooped on the Colorado Plateau" for years and my kids loved it!! There is a book on Desert Holes, Scats and Tracks, etc. I am pretty sure you can find the park bookstores online--they are usually run by "Friends of Zion", "Friends of Canyonlands" etc. They have great books and great ideas like--Best Easy Day hikes. Check out the nps.gov website for each park. Look at the park newspaper--they will tell you if ranger talks are on, what campsites are available, they list every hike in the park and give it a rating. A great stop is Kanab--the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary tour is a hit! And check out all the critter tracks in the sand where you go--mice, birds, lizards, beetles, etc. Really fun to investigate.
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