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Trip Planning - New Mexico/Colorado - 8-9 days


Sep 9th, 2012, 03:56 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
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Trip Planning - New Mexico/Colorado - 8-9 days

I could use some help planning a trip to Colorado/New Mexico in early Oct. for DH and myself.

We are thinking about flying in and out of Denver with the following stops along the way:
Great Sands, Mesa Verde, Taos area, Santa Fe area, White Sands (time permitting).

Does this itinerary make sense? How many days in each place? Any suggestions on order? We love to hike but also want to have time to tour the galleries of Santa Fe/Taos, see the area and explore small towns along the way.

Any advice would be appreciated.
curiousgirl964 is offline  
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Sep 9th, 2012, 04:59 PM
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I have sometimes considered flying in/out of Denver for a similar trip, but have chosen Albuquerque instead. In fact, I'll be traveling to Denver tomorrow for business and then on to Albuquerque for a similar vacation (Taos, Durango, Mesa Verde).

We visited our son in El Paso in early July, and visited White Sands while we were there. So, in my mind, you are concentrating on mostly New Mexico with a northward trip over the border into Colorado and down south into almost Texas. As I am sure you are aware, White Sands might be a bit too far off path for this trip, given Denver.

That being said, I really think that you might rethink the Denver routing. Think Albuquerque.
sludick is online now  
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Sep 9th, 2012, 05:24 PM
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I agree; fly into ABQ and you will save yourself time, mileage and perhaps money.

If you live in area where southwest serves, I would check out the fares. The further out, the lower the prices. Car rentals should also be lower.

Early October is a VERY busy time here in NM with the ABQ Balloon Fiesta.

8- 9 days, does that include travel days? You have an awful lot for a pretty short period of time with some driving added in.

Durango and Mesa Verde will take about 4 hours from ABQ by car. You need at LEAST one full day at the park. IF you wanted to spend a day in Durango besides MVNP, that will take 2 half days for travel and 2 full days for visiting the park and Durango.

From Durango to Taos will take you 3 hours; so I would go there next. A day in Taos, then drive to Santa Fe [around 1.5 hours] a day or 2 there, and then a day or 2 in ABQ.

I have lots of threads here on all of these areas including what to see, places to stay, restaurants etc.

If you are from sea level, keep in mind that hiking at altitude can be challenging. It is still very sunny here at that time of year. Be prepared - drink lots of water as you hike [several bottles]; sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, chapstick are a must.
DebitNM is online now  
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Sep 9th, 2012, 07:52 PM
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Yup, everything DebitNM said. Fly into Albuquerque, and if you can be here for a day or so during the Balloon Fiesta, that's even better.

Lee Ann
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Sep 10th, 2012, 07:06 AM
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The 9 days does include travel time. We will be coming from the DC area and are used to driving distances. We did a loop a few years ago through Southern Utah and flew in and out of Salt Lake City. We actually looked at flying into ABQ but the airfare and car rentals are significantly more expensive than from Denver. I was pretty surprised by that. The other advantage is the that there are a lot more options for nonstop flights that way.

I suspected that White Sands might be out of range so will rethink that. Anyone been to Great Sands? Also, how will the fall colors be the second week in Oct. From my reading, it looks like it might be past peak time but I know that varies from year to year.
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Sep 10th, 2012, 07:32 AM
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I would stick with just CO or just NM. You'll find plenty to do at either.

I have been to the Great Sands and White Sands both. They are very different. Both offer sled rentals for sledding down the hills. Be sure and apply wax. There is more big wildlife at Great Sands(deer, elk, possible bear). White Sands almost looks like snow.

You can see the Great Sands, but in my opinion, you should also drive the primitive road there. The road is great around the first of June(because Medano Creek is running at that time). It is also great at Fall Colors. You absolutely must have a high clearance 4 wheel drive to drive this road(a subaru isn't going to make it, in other words). Lots of birding at Great Sands, certain times of the year. There is not much there in the way of food, so I would bring your own. There is a decent place or two to stay and one little cafe/burger joint.

If you go the White Sands, then I would for sure also go to Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park(fall folliage is good here around Nov 1-I'm going there myself that weekend). Guadalupe is somewhat like Big Bend, if you have been to that one. You won't find very many people at it. The wild cave tour at Carlsbad is spectacular, if you are up for just a bit of adventure.

A few days a year the White Sand are closed, because of Millitary Missle practice range that is also worth a stop to see/tour.

Mesa Verde is spectacular. I think you really need 2-3 days there. See as many of the ruins/homes as you can. Petroglyph trail there is a nice hike. Far View Lodge is the place to stay and the dining room there is a few steps above typical national park food.

We really enjoyed www.soaringcolorado.com--zipline/train ride in Duragno. Super expensive, but hands down far far above any zipline that you can do anywhere else. I have zipped several places and this is nothing even comes close to this one.
spirobulldog is offline  
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Sep 10th, 2012, 07:35 AM
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Are you sure about the car rental. Denver airport is typically the highest place that I have ever rented a car. I mean it is triple/quadruple the price sometimes.

I'm not sure about the fall colors this year. Pretty dismal year most likely
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