Southwest Road Trip Itinerary help

Mar 22nd, 2012, 09:10 AM
  #1  
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Southwest Road Trip Itinerary help

Hey all!

These boards have been so helpful already, I thought I get some personal feedback on what I have come up with. A little about us, we are from Boston so this entire area is very foreign to us but we love it and can't wait to explore! I'll be traveling with my husband, we are mid 30's, we'd like to explore the Southwest in 9 days, try not to do more than 5-6 hours/day of driving, not spend all our time in national parks, but, definitely hit what we can! We are not hikers or super outdoors-y, but we love exploring, scenery, taking photos, star gazing, good food, etc. This is for mid April.

After months of researching, this is what I have:

Day 1 - Arrive in Phoenix, pick up rental car at airport
1/2 day in Phoenix
Phoenix to Sedona
Night in Sedona

Day 2 - Sedona
All Day in Sedona
Night in Sedona

Day 3 - Sedona to Grand Canyon
Lunch stop and a little exploring in Williams, AZ
Onto Grand Canyon
Night in Grand Canyon

Day 4 - Grand Canyon during the day then on to Monument Valley
night in that area

Day 5 - do Monument Valley during the day - maybe do a horseback tour?
Monument Valley to Four Corners Monument
Four Corners to Durango, CO
night in Durango, CO

Day 6 - Durango, CO to Santa Fe via Albuquerque
Night in Santa Fe

Day 7 - Santa Fe to Alamogordo (White Sands) via Roswell
Night in Alamogordo area

Day 8 - Do white sands, then head to Tuscon
night in Tuscon

Day 9 - Tuscon to Phoenix
day in Pheonix
night in Pheonix

Day 10 - Fly to Cabo for our friends wedding!

Here are some points and other things I am questioning:
1. It seems a shame to me that Moab (Arches and Canyonlands) is only 2 hours from Monument Valley, but, I just don't think we have time to fit it in Am I right?
2. I opted for 2 nights in Sedona because we both are dying to go and it is top of our list
3. We have already been to Vegas and want to skip it this time around
4. We have already been in the Grand Canyon, so, we don't plan to explore too much actually in the canyon
5. Not sure about the Santa Fe-Albuquerque area
6. Roswell is out of the way a bit, but, we both think it might be a fun stop off for lunch or whatever
7. Not sure what else to do in NM?

I'd love any help, suggestions, etc.! Thanks in advance, we can't wait to go!!!
Eesmerelda is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 09:19 AM
  #2  
 
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It's way more driving than I'd want to do. If it were my trip (and I'm taking a slightly shorter trip in June), I'd either stick to Arizona (you can add time in Page, Tucson, and perhaps around Flagstaff; or fly in and out of Las Vegas and spend time in the Utah parks.
Shanti is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 09:28 AM
  #3  
 
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YOU may want to spend at least one more night in Tucson to see some of it's gems, Sabino Canyon, Mission San Xavier del Bac, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Lots of good food too.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 09:38 AM
  #4  
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thanks! My husband loves to drive and originally he wanted to do cross country in 10 days... lol. We compromised by trying to focus on one area of the country at a time, trying to find a balance between getting a scope of the area versus being in the car TOO much. We are also following this trip with 4 days in Cabo, where we will relax and unwind... so, I don't mind the Southwest portion of our trip being a bit more fast paced.

I have also considered skipping the 2nd night in Sedona and skipping southern NM (White Sands) to add in two nights in Moab... its so hard to choose! ! !
Eesmerelda is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:11 AM
  #5  
 
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This not how I would travel [too many places, too little time to actually see anything of merit] but if it is how you like to do things, that's your right. Keep in mind driving distances here in SW are very different than in NE. Things are pretty far apart here. The roads are not interstates here, for the most part.


"Durango, CO to Santa Fe via Albuquerque
Night in Santa Fe- "

You don't go to ABQ from Durango to go to Santa Fe.

Mid April can still see snow so keep that in mind. Actually, April in SE Colorado and NM is about one of the worst months to visit - lots of high wind with blowing dust and sand. Early May isn't much better. It is NOT like spring in the Boston area, at all.

All that said; I would skip southern NM, way better things to see and do in ABQ/SF/Taos area. I would absolutely include Mesa Verde NP on the way to Durango.
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:36 AM
  #6  
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Thanks, I appreciate your feedback! I just read about the winds, ughhh! Well, nothing we can do now, our time frame is not flexible. Is it like that in Arizona and Utah as well?

I already calculated the approximate driving distances and the longest stretch we have is approx 5 hours, which I am ok with.

I think we'll skip southern NM and make the trek up to Moab, UT, I think I'm going to regret it if we don't...
Eesmerelda is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:53 AM
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Be aware that the town of Sedona is T-shirts stores, art galleries and restaurants that close at 9PM.

The real beauty of Sedona is getting out into the Redrocks. I was there several years ago and it's great. But you may want to add a few short hikes or maybe a Pink Jeep tour. Maybe Broken Arrow.

There are some spectacular sights in Page. Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. They don't normally require more than 3-4 hours together.

Canyonlands isn't one of my favorites (along with Capitol Reef and the Grand Canyon) but Arches is definitely worth the effort. Even one complete day.
Myer is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:57 AM
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I'd skip Tucson if you're going up to Moab. There's lots to do and see in Moab, so you could use the extra time, and it wouldn't be enough time to see much in Tucson anyway.
Shanti is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 11:08 AM
  #9  
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Thanks, this is SO helpful everyone!!!!

I was thinking that too, if we go up to Moab, skip Tuscon too. What I have to do is really look at these places and just make decisions... I am enchanted by Canyonlands, it is calling me! lol. I think I'd choose that over southern NM and Tuscon (as great as those places look).

Do you think its a waste to go all the way up to Moab and not have time to do the drive through Capitol Reef? Maybe we should be working that in while we are up there?
Eesmerelda is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 11:48 AM
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I don't know why you're setting aside a day for the Grand Canyon since you're already been there and don't sound real interested in it (compared to everything else).

Also, skip Williams and spend that time in Flagstaff instead. Maybe go to the observatory to satisfy that stargazing interest of yours?

I agree that southern NM and Tuscon don't seem to fit with your trip, given your excitement about Moab. I personally would not try to squeeze in Capitol Reef, just save that for a time when you fly in/out of Las Vegas and see Zion/Bryce at the same time.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 12:18 PM
  #11  
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Good points, all thanks again!

I'm not sure what to do at the Grand Canyon when you go via car (last time we went via helicopter into the canyon)? I was thinking stopping off at the vistas, maybe do a little exploring, drive the rim = 1 day? If that is more like a 1/2 day, we can tighten up the schedule and spend more time elsewhere.

Revised:

Day 1 - Arrive in Phoenix, pick up rental car at airport
1/2 day in Phoenix
Phoenix to Sedona
Night in Sedona

Day 2 - Sedona to Grand Canyon
Lunch stop and a little exploring in Williams, AZ
Onto Grand Canyon
Night in Grand Canyon

Day 3 - Grand Canyon during the day then on to Monument Valley (we could just head right to Monument Valley first thing in the morning and save 1/2 a day)
night in Monument Valley area

Day 4 - do Monument Valley during the day - maybe do a horseback tour?
Monument Valley to Four Corners Monument
Four Corners to Moab, UT
night Moab, UT

Day 5 - Moab - Canyonlands
night in Moab

Day 6 - early day in Arches
Moab to Durango, CO
Night in Durango, CO

Day 7 - Durango, CO to Santa Fe
night in Santa Fe

Day 8 - Santa Fe to Flagstaff, AZ
Stop in Albuquerque ?
night in Flagstaff

Day 9 - Flagstaff to Pheonix
day in Pheonix
night in Pheonix

Day 10 - Fly to Cabo for our friends wedding!
Eesmerelda is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 12:34 PM
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Flagstaff had 20 " of snow this week. Mid-April isn't too far away. Just warning you.
DebitNM is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 01:27 PM
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I don't think you can do horseback tours in Monument Valley.

http://www.navajonationparks.org/htm...alleytours.htm

I'd skip Santa Fe...just seems really far out of the way and you haven't said anything about why you want to go there. Seems like it was a stopping point on your original itinerary between Durango and southern NM, but when you decided to skip southern NM you just left Santa Fe in the mix. If you skip Santa Fe that would give you another night to add to Sedona (which is somewhere that you do seem excited about).

I'm assuming you are going to Mesa Verde? Not sure you'd have to go to Durango itself, mid-April is not a great time to visit the mountains.

Grand Canyon - get there in the afternoon, stay in park at the south rim and see the various viewpoints in that area, maybe hike the rim trail for a bit. Next morning drive out the East entrance and stop at those viewpoints as you leave, then head to Monument Valley. So plan on leaving Grand Canyon by mid-morning probably.

If you decide to skip Santa Fe you could go to Mesa Verde directly after Four Corners. Not sure it makes much of a difference whether you go to Mesa Verde before or after Moab though, just an option to throw at you.

Re: Flagstaff - I put that out there specifically for the observatory, not sure if that warrants an overnight stay or not for you. First off, check their hours to make sure they would be open the evening(s) of your specific dates.
http://www.lowell.edu/visit.php
Consider that cloudy weather might make a stop their kind of pointless. Also, you could probably stop there later in the afternoon/evening of Day 8, check out the views from the telescope and then drive to Phoenix - it's a 2.5 hour drive so not too bad. Just a thought - or if the skies are cloudy maybe just skip it and go straight to Phoenix?

Or maybe just schedule that for your first night? Possibly drive to Sedona, check in to your hotel and go up to Flagstaff for the evening if the skies are clear, then back to Sedona that same night. It's only a 45 minute drive and that would at least give you the option to squeeze it in at the end of the trip if the skies are cloudy that first night.

Personally I think I'd go straight to Sedona on day 1, spend most of your day there then go to the observatory in the evening (depending on weather). Day 2 in Sedona, morning of day 3 in Sedona then get lunch/Williams and Grand Canyon in the afternoon. Overnight at Grand Canyon. Drive out the east entrance on day 4, go to Monument Valley overnight, then head to either Four Corners/Mesa Verde or Moab on Day 5. Next 3 nights are a combo of Moab and Four Corners/Mesa Verde. Day 8 would be up in the air - maybe Flagstaff if the observatory didn't work out on day 1, or consider it a free day to go wherever you feel like going, possible Canyon de Chelley? End up in Phoenix for the overnight, then spend all of day 9 in Phoenix and fly out the next day for Cabo.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 02:54 PM
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Is there a reason you're going to Durango and/or Santa Fe? You won't have much time to do anything in either place. I'd drop them and add more time to Moab and/or go to Canyon de Chelly.
Shanti is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 03:39 PM
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So you're planning on spending time in canyonlands and effectively going to the entraqnce of Arches.

There are places in the area that are not in a national park that are much worthier of your time than Canyonlands. Just my opinion.

Go to youtube and do a search on "Citibank Accessories". I won't get into who the people are in the video, but the very early part is Dead Horse Point state park just outside of Canyonlands. The Colorado River makes a 180 degree turn.

The end of that video is at Fisher Towers (the Corkscrew or Ancient Art). A hike is required and of course you won't climb up there. I was hiking around the bottom and as I turned a bend I saw somebody just getting to the top. I yelled to him, he turned around, I shot a photo and he called down his email address.
Myer is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 04:33 PM
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Having visited most of the major places in the Southwest/Utah/Arizona(twice most of them)(I haven't been to Tucson)-Monument Valley is my least Favorite. If you are going to be in Durango it would be a huge shame to miss Mesa Verde. I would much rather spend a day in Mesa Verde than Monument Valley. I think the sights you will see in Arches is much better than Monument Valley. Now I'm not saying that Monument Valley isn't a wonderful place, but just saying it isn't my favorite.

Spend the better part of a day in Arches. It is a great place.

Your just going from place to place and not seeing or doing much. I've been to Moab 3 times the past 4 years. Each time spending several days just in Moab/Arches/Canyonlands.
spirobulldog is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 05:31 PM
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Four Corners Monument..great place to buy some jewelry, but that was about all that impressed me there. I would skip it.
Allison is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 06:36 PM
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So helpful, thanks everyone!

Myer - that is great, thanks for those ideas. You think we should spend more time in Arches vs. Canyonlands then?

I originally had Mesa Verde on our list, but, after having to cut things out, it was one I cut. It is very low on my list (just a personal preference when looking at what else there is), but, perhaps with some tweaking we can fit it in.

The reason for Durango was to split up the drive and have an interesting place to stop for the night. Santa Fe is on the hubby's MUST see, so... even though its a bit out of the way, it still breaks up the drive. I'm going to break down the driving times again and readjust.

I know we could spend much more time in each place, but, I did this kind of traveling in Europe and also island hopped in the Caribbean and Greek Islands and we are ok with it. Then we know what we like and can go back to those areas for longer periods of time and explore even more, if we want!
Eesmerelda is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2012, 06:43 AM
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Absolutely more time in Arches than Canyonlands.

Canyonlands has several very distinct parts to it with very distant entrances. Most people spend their time in Island in the Sky. That's the part near Dead Horse Point state park.

We were in this part of Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point for part of a day. We did a few hikes. We stopped at several view points in Canyonlands.

I thought the Mesa Arch hike (very short and easy) is really neat as it's the only arch you approach at the top and not the bottom. There was one viewpoint that I thought was interesting. I forget the name but it's where two rivers (Colorado and Green?) meet in the distance.

I thought there were a few parts of Dead Horse Point that were interesting to see.

Having done this, if there were other things on my list that I was having trouble fitting in, the only thing I would have really missed was Mesa Arch and those sights in Dead Horse Point.

Now Arches.

There's a debate here about when it's better to hike to Delicate Arch. I believe it's for sunset. There's a distant viewpoint but it's very different being several miles away. Don't miss this.

If you're there long enough sign up for the ranger-led Fiery Furnace hike. About 3 hours late in the afternoon. Well, well worth the time. Now you can sign up online.

Balanced Rock. Just off the scenic road. I'm convinced they sneak in at night and patch some cement to hold it up.

Windows section. Very easy access to an amazing collection of arches. North Window, South Window, Turret Arch and Double Arch. All in well under a mile circling the parking area. You can actually go into Double Arch.

Landscape Arch. Requires a hike (don't think it was very long). This is probably the longest arch you'll see anywhere.

Park Avenue. A "level 2" area but still worth at least a viewpoint stop and stop at the side of the road.

There are others but they require more hiking. The above can be done in a long day if you plan right and are efficient. There may be a conflict between Fiery Furnace and sunset at Delicate Arch. If that's the case squeeze in Delicate Arch somewhere in the day.

You can see my photos at:

www.travelwalks.com

Select Utah 2008.
Myer is offline  

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