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OaktownTraveler Mar 5th, 2004 09:53 AM

The Ultimate Trip Planning Chllange: Help Oaktown Traveler With Her Trip To The Southwest!
Hello Travelers:

If you are here then roll up your sleeves, roll out your maps, dust off the photo albums, scrapbooks and give me what you got!

What You Need To Know:

*I have researched ALL threads Southwest...

*I have read my Fodor's, Frommers and AAA and other travel books, magazines on all things Southwest...

* I define the Southwest as anything involving South Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Lower Utah...does not have to include all of these.

* Please do not add in California spots...we are natives and travel "Cali" extensively.

Now if you have a "knock your travel socks off" Cali suggestion then go ahead...The Amtrack ride from the Bay would count as an example.

What I Would Like For This Trip:

* A Little bit of what YOU consider to be the best of all things Southwest.


Budget: Wide Open...let's make some good "buys" though. Gotta sell "it" to the sensible and fiscally conservative(stingy)hubby too...Ha-ha.
Budget Plan B= What he don't know won't hurt him!

Days of Travel: 21

Month of Travel: Mid September 2004

How Many In The Travel PARTY: and the darling hubby

Transportation: You suggest the options.

Point of Trip Orgin: The Greater Bay Area.

Activity Level: medium low, like dancing, horses, walking tours and bikes and no day long hikes. We are night owls and like to sleep in.

While travelling we like museums, parks, special events, and "secrets".

I like to do some spa stuff for 1/2 to 1 day.
I like to shop but not at the expense of missing "something".

Ok: Let's see what ya got!

Please, if you are submitting a suggested itinery could you specify the amount of days and the order? No worries if not...

Many, many thanks for your FUN Help.

Oaktown Traveler

OaktownTraveler Mar 5th, 2004 09:56 AM

yes, I know...I missed the "a" in challange...sorry...

Oaktown Traveler

utahtea Mar 5th, 2004 05:14 PM

Hello fellow bay area poster. I'm up for the challenge, but before I invest time in planning a route, I wanted to know what kind of traveler are you.

Do you like to spend a lot of time in one location and really get to know it or do you like to keep moving?

Do you like driving or would you rather fly in to a place and rent a vehicle?

Do you want to hit the big name places like the Grand Canyon? Have you done any travel in this area?

I guess I should warn warn you ahead of time, I'm a National Park kind of person. Not really into the shopping and spa thing, but I'm sure I could figure out one place.


Jocelyn_P Mar 5th, 2004 05:39 PM

Oaktown, we'll help you, as long as you promise not to gush. ;)

OaktownTraveler Mar 6th, 2004 01:18 PM

Is giggling ok?? LOL

Ok, gee, I thought I told you everything but here goes more info...this better be one heck of a suggestion or two...SMILE

LOCATION: Just enough time to get the
"idea"...longer if the place warrants it. Rememeber I only have 21 days.

DRIVING/FLYING: Does not matter. Whatever makes sense based on what things you suggest.

I like National Parks too. Their are plenty in this region so, put together what you think is best.

There will be no camping and all day hikes on this vacation... I think I mentioned that.

I have travelled to this area, on business and on a golfing junket to AZ.
I have never been to NM and look forward to going their.

So, treat me as a newbie to the Southwest.

Again, a 1/2 or 1 day spa is the max for this trip and no need to block shopping in as I am not going here for that. Of course now that I said that folks will tell me how I just have to buy thus and so if I am in this town or that...which is fine.

Ok, for those of you who are "travel suggestion shy"...give me a restaurant, hotel or excursion full monty needed.

Oaktown Traveler

karens Mar 6th, 2004 05:22 PM

Hi Oaktown. I love the southwest, but know that my favorite thing would be to hike all day in all the amazing national parks. But I don't camp, either, so we're alike that way.

That being said, here are places I think would interest you:

Southwest CO: This is my favorite area of Colorado. Telluride is a great town to explore. The ruins at Mesa Verde are interesting. My favorite small town in the area is Ouray. The jeep tour high in the mountains above Ouray to Yankee Boy Basin is amazing. In July there is a profusion of wildflowers. In Ouray, the hot springs pool is a nice relaxing way to end the day, but don't go expecting a high-end experience. It appears that this place is enjoyed by a wide variety of people - locals and tourists alike. To me, that's part of the appeal. Ouray also has the one of the most interesting historical musems in the western US. It's not big, but it has lots of interesting stuff.

If you're not into major hiking, you can see a lot of amazing red rock scenery around Moab. Arches NP is a great drive through park where you can see lots of amazing scenery with only a short (or no) hike. Nearby is Dead Horse SP, a Grand Canyon-type view. There are also lots of accessible petroglyph panels around Moab. I find them fascinating.

Sedona, AZ. I think this might be the place where you'd find a spa. The scenery is amazing, and lots of interesting shops.

If you want a day or two of some more strenous activity, the Narrows hike in Zion is awesome. It's not an all day hike if you don't want it, but you are hiking IN the river, so this might not appeal.

Some of our most memorable experiences involve the Grand Canyon. One year we rode the mules down to Phantom Ranch. This past May we hiked into the Havasupai Indian Reservation to see the waterfalls there, which are incredibly gorgeous. I do not think the hike would appeal to you, but if you want to see the falls, there are helicopter excursions to Havasu out of Las Vegas. They are very expensive - at the time I had checked, they were more expensive than our airfare (from Phila to LV!)

Never been to NM, so can't comment there. Karen

razzledazzle Mar 6th, 2004 05:34 PM

As a native of Tucson for the first 25 years of my life and now a Sonoma County resident I offer the following as a taste of what I consider to be the best of all things Southwest:
The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum-go to their website-a must do for a Southwest trip.
In the same west side area of Tucson-
Saghuaro National Monument. This lovely cactus only grows in the Sonoran Desert
and a bit of New Mex. You can hike a
little if you like.
Sabino Canyon is lovely -over on the eastside of Tucson- (if azgirl tells you the water is cleaned up since the Mt. Lemmon fire.
Tubac-south of Tucson, an artist's colony representing some fine southwestern art and craft.
Kitt Peak Observatory-run by the University of Arizona, a car trip south and west, you can do an overnight and stay up with the astonomers for a world class tour of the the sky-it's so clear out there! Might be fun for the night
owl in you!
I'm gonna let you plug in the days-I'm to lazy after building bookshelves all day (wasn't it gorgeous today?) and Dungeness crab is waiting for me and Mr.R5.
Will be checking back to see how your
plan is coming along!

April Mar 6th, 2004 05:57 PM

I loved easy-to-get-to Montezuma Castle in Arizona... but haven't been to Canyon de Chelly yet.

I can hardly wait for your trip report. :-)

Rich Mar 6th, 2004 05:58 PM

We did a similar trip albiet in reverse, starting from Texas and ending in California last year. Most memorable experiences were:

Carlsbad Cavern
Painted Desert on the way to
Grand Canyon
Hoover Dam


utahtea Mar 6th, 2004 05:59 PM

Ok, I?m ready to show you what I?ve got?.So let?s get down to business. It's pretty long so I had to do it in two parts.

I?m using Oakland, CA as my starting and ending destination. My route can also be done in reverse order. I suggest purchasing a National Park Pass at your first opportunity or order one on online. You will get more than your $50.00 worth out of it!

Day 1 Drive thought Yosemite to, then staying on Hwy 120 to Benton, CA. then Hwy 6 to Tonopah, NV. Spend night in Tonopah. 355 miles. Driving the high country of Yosemite is always a favorite of mine and continuing on 120 is very scenic.

Day 2 Fill up your gas tank in Tonopah, NV then continue on Hwy 6 to Warm Springs, then take Hwy 375, The Extraterrestrial Hwy. A stop in Rachel, NV at the Little A'Le'Inn is fun. Watch out for UFO?s. At Crystal Springs pick up Hwy 93 to Interstate 15 in Utah. South on I-15. You will pass the Kolob Section of Zion National Park and if you feel up to it you might want to spend an hour and see this section of the park. Hwy 17 In La Verkin take Hwy 9 into Springdale, Utah and Zion National Park. Spend the night either in Springdale, Utah or Zion National Park. 350 miles.

Day 3 Explore Zion National Park. I?m not an all day hiker either, but I don?t mind a few miles here and there. The Riverside Walk hike is one of my all time favorites. It?s an easy hike along the Virgin River. Another nice hike is to Lower and Middle Emerald Pools. The upper pools is a more strenuous hike, but worth the effort.

Day 4 Exit Zion National Park via Hwy 9 and the Zion Tunnel. Stop to see Checkerboard Mesa on your way out. At Mt. Carmel Junction take Hwy 89 north to Hwy 12. Take Hwy 12 east thought Red Canyon and on to Bryce National Park. Stay either at Ruby Inn or the Park. 87 miles. Spend time at the overlooks. If you feel up to a hike do the Navajo ? Queen?s Garden hike about 3 miles round trip. I?ve never done the horseback rides but if you do decide to do this make sure you book the tours with park concession to actually ride in the park.

Day 5 Take Hwy 12 and continue east. You might enjoy a stop at Kodachrome Basin State Park just 10 minutes of Hwy 12 out of Cannonville, UT Then continue on Hwy 12 thought the Grand Staircase ? Escalante National Monument. This is one of the most beautiful scenic highways IMHO. I love it. Spend time at the overlooks. In Boulder there is the Anasazi Indian Village and the Burr Trail if you feel like a little drive out of your way?just make sure you come back to Boulder before heading to Torrey, Utah Spend the night in Torrey, Utah 115 miles. If you have time you might go explore Capitol Reef National Park just a few miles away and watch the sunset in the park.

Day 6 Spend the day exploring Capitol Reef. Take one or both of the easy hikes either in Grand Wash or Capitol Gorge. Make sure you see the petroglyphs along the highway.

Day 7 Taking Hwy 24 east to Hanksville and then on up I-70. Travel east on I-70 to Crescent Jct. and then south on Hwy 191. Before you reach Moab, Utah take Hwy 313 into Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky District. Green River Overlook and Grandview overlook are my favorite. If you feel like doing a little hiking either take the Grandview hike or the hike to Mesa Arch. Then go back to Hwy 191 and down to Moab, Utah. 210 miles

Day 8 Go explore Arches National Park. Many of the arches along with other great scenic views can be seen from your vehicle. There are many places to get out of your car and get closer. If you feel up to a 3 mile round trip hike then I highly recommend the hike to Delicate Arch. If you have time you might drive along the Potash Road to see the petroglyphs and it?s a scenic drive along the Colorado River going west. Spend the night in Moab, Utah.

Day 9 Leave Moab going north on Hwy 191, before you cross the Colorado River take Hwy 128 east. This is a scenic drive along the Colorado River with high sandstone walls on both sides of you. Watch for river rafters. (BTW, if you wanted to spend an extra night in Moab, then I would recommend a river rafting trip.) You will also pass by Fisher Towers before you get to the old one lane Dewey Bridge that has been closed, but in the 1970?s we crossed over on that bridge. They have since built a new two-lane bridge. At Cisco we always go left to get on to Interstate 70. At Fruita, CO take the exit to Hwy 340 to go into Colorado National Monument. This road will take you though the National Monument and will put you in Grand Junction, CO. From Grand Junction take Hwy 50 down to Montrose. Spend the night in Montrose. 200 miles

Day 10 From Montrose take Hwy 50 to Hwy 347 to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Visit some of the overlooks before returning to Montrose and then head south on Hwy 550. The Million Dollar Highway. Depending on how the weather is and the time of September you might be treated to some beautiful autumn colors of the groves aspens trees. Ouray & Silverton might be good places to look around shops. We had wanted to spend some time in Silverton the last time we were there but it was raining so hard and only the main street is paved so we moved on. Durango is a big railroad town if that interests you. From Durango head west on Hwy 160 to Cortez, CO. Spend the night in Cortez, CO. 185 miles.

utahtea Mar 6th, 2004 05:59 PM

Part 2

Day 10 From Montrose take Hwy 50 to Hwy 347 to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Visit some of the overlooks before returning to Montrose and then head south on Hwy 550. The Million Dollar Highway. Depending on how the weather is and the time of September you might be treated to some beautiful autumn colors of the groves aspens trees. Ouray & Silverton might be good places to look around shops. We had wanted to spend some time in Silverton the last time we were there but it was raining so hard and only the main street is paved so we moved on. Durango is a big railroad town if that interests you. From Durango head west on Hwy 160 to Cortez, CO. Spend the night in Cortez, CO. 185 miles.

Day 11 Go explore Mesa Verde National Monument. Spruce Tree House can be hiked on your own. I would recommend getting tickets for one of the other ranger lead ruins. They are very informative and each is special. Long House and Cliff House are my favorites. Spend the night in Cortez.

Day 12 From Cortez, CO head south on Hwy 160 about 30 miles or so and then take Hwy 40 & 262 towards Bluff, Utah. Then take Hwy 163 down to Gouldings, Utah and the Monument Valley Tribal Park. You might want to take a tour or just explore the area in your own vehicle. Continue on Hwy 163 to Kayenta and then head west on Hwy 161 for about 35 miles and then take Hwy 98 north into Page, AZ. Spend the night in Page. 260 miles.

Day 13 There are many things to choose from in Page. Take a tour boat ride on Lake Powell or a float trip on the Colorado River. If lake level on Lake Powell was higher I would recommend the boat tour to Rainbow Bridge, but since the have so many years of drought and the lake is so low, there is a 3 mile hike to Rainbow Bridge, so I think the float trip is a good deal. We did it last year and it was so much fun! If you take the morning float trip there is also time to see the Upper Antelope Slot Canyons.

Day 14 Head south on Hwy 89 to Cameron, AZ and then take Hwy 64 to the Grand Canyon. You will find many Navajo venders along the way. If you wait there is a big outdoor mall of vendors at a place on Hwy 64 called the Little Colorado River Gorge. We have found some really nice items here. You will enter the Grand Canyon National Park at the Desert View entrance. Stop at each overlook as you continue towards the Grand Canyon Village. Each is different. Spend the night either in the Grand Canyon Village or just outside the park at Tusayan. 145 miles.

Day 15 You might want to find out when sunrise is to be at the rim of the canyon. Spend the day riding the shuttle buses to different overlooks or walking between a few of them. There are some nice easy sections between shuttle stops. Hopi Point is popular at sunset!

Day 16 You have time if you want to do some more exploring of the Grand Canyon before you drive south on Hwy 64 to Williams, AZ. Williams has some interesting Old Route 66 stuff. Then west on I-40 to Flagstaff. South on I-17 to Alt Hwy 89. Take Alt Hwy 89 down to Sedona. I threw Sedona in for your to shop and spa. Don?t ask me where?I just know it?s a place for this kind of stuff. 125 miles

Day 17 Sedona?enjoy

Day 18 From Sedona head towards I-17 and go north back to Flagstaff. Then take I-40 to Kingman. There are many sections of old Route 66 if your are interested. There is one very good section from Seligman to Kingman, AZ.

Stay on Old Route 66 to Oatman, AZ. This is a neat old living ghost town with burros that roam the street and in the late afternoon they have a gunfight right in the middle of the highway. After Oatman go west on hwy 153 and then north on Hwy 95 to Bullhead City. Gas up here it?s always cheaper than NV! Cross over to Laughlin, NV. You might enjoy spending then night in Laughlin (230 miles) or going up to Las Vegas (330 miles). We always avoid Las Vegas, but I know others like ti.

Day 19 Las Vegas or if that?s not your thing I would spend it at one of the locations already mentioned.
Day 20 & 21 Drive Home

So?how did I do?


utahtea Mar 6th, 2004 06:01 PM

I see that my apostasies got changed into ?. I did this on my word program first. Sorry about that.


Patrick Mar 6th, 2004 06:05 PM

I don't get this apostrophe to ? thing either, but when I got an email the other day from the editors at Fodors, all the apostrophes were ?. Maybe it's a Fodors thing.

April Mar 6th, 2004 06:41 PM

I think this has to do with Word changing them into 'smart quotes' which this site apparently doesn't recognize. You can turn this off supposedly under Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat - although this doesn't seem to be working on my computer today. Or simply hit Ctrl Z immediately after typing the quote and it will change it back to a straight quote.

Tandoori_Girl Mar 7th, 2004 09:04 AM

The big problem with all those states is that they're huge, as you know. I'm most acquainted with southern New Mexico with a lot of family down there.

If you decide to include Carlsbad, then you should at least drive through Riudosa, NM on your way there (if it were me, I'd stay overnight -- the Inn of the Mountain Gods is an Am. Indian-operated resort). It's an old Western town that has shopping and good restaurants. I took a horse-back riding trip in the Lincoln Forest once that I enjoyed, I don't remember who we booked with. Museum of the Horse, and John Herd/Wyath museum are there. Stop at Cloudcroft where you can see White Sands in the immense desert valley below (there is an old hotel/restaurant that used to have a great view but absolutely horrible food). Then go down the mountain and visit White Sands, check out their presentation/museum and drive through this white wonderland. Next stop, Carlsbad.

The big draw is Carlsbad Caverns, and the bat's flight. Many people like the newer self-guided tours. There are many hotels outside of Carlsbad, and a few in Whites City (forego those).

Other interesting things in Carlsbad area are Sitting Bull Falls and the Lost Canyon hike from there (more people should take this incredible hike). This is a day trip with picnic lunch at New Mexico's only falls.

Carlsbad also has an interesting zoological park -- OK for a couple of hours but no more. The Cortez in downtown is a many year tradition for great Mexican food. Don't even think about shopping, it's an abyss.

SW New Mexico is interesting but very remote. The Gila cliff dwellings in the Silver City area are fabulous but there are also some cliff dwellings in other parts of your journey. I suggest you find one elsewhere and forego SW New Mexico as it will take too long to get there.

I've not traveled in Santa Fe, Taos, nor Four Corners areas in awhile, and others would have better suggestions on this highly-evolving area. Suffice to say that it's a must-see. I'd pick at least one or two nights to stay in Santa Fe's old downtown, then a couple in Taos. Bandelier Park is fabulous, don't miss it. Ignore Albuquerque.

Crossing the border into Mexico is time-consuming since 9/11. But if you end up in El Paso, stay at the Camino Real old hotel. The El Paso airport is one of the easiest to access and generally has competetive fares.

Keep us posted and have fun!

benj Mar 7th, 2004 09:39 AM

We had to attend a 10 day class in Alburquerque NM several years ago. We took a side trip to Taos & looked around there. It was really impressive to see the Indian Pueblos & imagine yourself back in time. The plaza had many crafts people & that was fun too.
We are from the bayou country so seeing all that dry area was a big change. I couldn't get over the fact that no one near where we stayed had grass yards. It was all cactus & rock gardens. Beautiful but different.

traveler24 Mar 7th, 2004 10:55 AM

I am not an expert on the Southwest but feel obligated to put in just a couple of comments==sort of pay back for your wonderful Alaska "journal'
Love Zion--I drove in from Vegas (3 1/2) hrs) stayed at Flanigans Inn-nice rooms and great food..Also right across from gas station turned into coffee shop with great pastries.
It will be hot in September but
start early and enjoy the clean fresh air..
You have GOT to include Santa Fe-- of all the towns in the Southwest, I enjoyed it most--food,scenery "crisp" air (about 7,000 ft. elevation)don't miss Georgia O"Keefe's gallery!!!
Utahtea's plan is top notch--so much info and good advice.
Happy trails...

friendlyfrank Mar 7th, 2004 01:20 PM

If you get to Santa Fe, I would highly recommend 10,0000 Waves for spa treatments. We did a SW trip last September & the treatments at 10,000 waves were amazing. Like a Japanese spa. Im sure they have a web site. Or just do a google search.

You will have a wonderful time. I know we did!!!

OaktownTraveler Mar 7th, 2004 06:22 PM

WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh My Goodness!!!

Is this paying it forward or what?

All of your suggestions are incredible, exciting and downright perfect!

Ok, I won't GUSH but, all of you who contributed should certainly gush...big!

I am absolutely floored by the time, detail and efforts put forth.

I gotta go get a nice Sunday cocktail and re-read your postings...

A Very Appreciative,
Oaktown Traveler

artlover Mar 7th, 2004 06:38 PM

Just to add a few comments...I lived in New Mexico for 3 years in another lifetime, so I'm sure things have changed much since then, but Santa Fe and Taos are much more interesting than Albuquerque.

Also, would highly recommend Enchantment Resort in Sedona--it is very special.

And the town of Estes Park in Colorado (a bit north or Denver) is very nice (if my memory serves me correctly.)

Happy Planning!

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