Best of the Southwest?
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Apr 17, 2012 11:40 AM Last Post By: Usher73
Apr 17, 2012 4:32 AM
Best of the Southwest?Hi y'all
We are doing a whirl wind trip through the sStates in late July/August this year with 4 days in San Francisco, 10 days in the southwest (flying SFA to Albuquerque) and a week in New York. We want to have 3 days in Sante Fe (and do a day trip to Taos) and then 7 days around the Four Corners area. Ideally we would like to get to Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef NP, perhaps to Moab, Monument Valley and Mesa Verde. Have been to the Grand Canyon and Sedona etc before so no need to go that far. Can anyone tell us which of the above is a MUST see, if I have missed anything really awesome out, whether you think we can cover this area in 7 days, and if you know of any interesting, cheap but funky places to stay - cabins, bnbs (have looked at airbnb options) etc. Also, does anyone know of any accessible slot canyons to photograph - we are keen photographers. P.S. we are hiring a car from Albuquerque so have wheels.
Thanks so much for your help!
Apr 17, 2012 4:44 AM
1It would help a lot logistically if you could fly out of Las Vegas to New York.
You could then do a very straightforward road-trip from Santa Fe to LV taking in all the places you listed above - and quite reasonable in seven full days, as a brisk road-trip. Your major drama will be securing accomm in specific places on your desired nights - book it all now.
BTW there is no reason to visit the literal Four Corners point - there is nothing there really.
Apr 17, 2012 5:51 AM
2Instead of making Taos a day trip, spend the night there and then continue driving west to Mesa Verde the next day. Spend the night in Durango -- there are motels and very frontier western ambience. Take Highway #550 from Durango north over the Million Dollar Highway through spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery. Ouray is billed as the Switzerland of the USA with the backdrop of the steep mountain cliff behind it. That might suffice as a funky place, but I don't know about the cheap part -- it has older, vintage-style motels and cabins. Turn west at Highway #62 at Ridgeway, which will take you toward Utah. Telluride is nearby and it is also a preserved western frontier village.
In Santa Fe, there are 300 art galleries. It is fun to walk along Canyon Road before the galleries open in the morning to see the many unique sculptures in the gardens in front of the galleries. You will miss the crowds of tourists that way. At the top of Upper Canyon Road is the Randall Davey Audubon Center, with a beautiful view overlooking Santa Fe and the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There are trails up to the headwaters of the Santa Fe River. The architecture of the adobe-style homes in the foothills with beautiful gardens is a lure for photographers. The oldest church in the USA is seen from Canyon Road. The 400-years-old cathedral is also the oldest in the USA. There is a free shuttlebus every 15 minutes along Lower Canyon Road, the Plaza and Cathedral area, and the Railyard farmers' market, garden, and galleries.
Apr 17, 2012 5:57 AM
3Since you are based out of Albuquerque for your southwest leg, and have budgeted seven days to explore outside of Alburqurque and Santa Fe, I'd junk the idea of trying to bag all those canyonland parks you have listed - way too rushed for a seven-day trip with long-distance driving involved.
If your priority is seeing Utah's southern canyonlands then pick one or two, no more, and explore them (Bryce and Zion would be good choices).
Another ideas is to head southeast into Texas to Big Bend National Park which is magnificent and seeing Carlsbad Caverns andthe Davis Mountains along the way.
Anywhere you go inthe desert southwest, it will be hot, hot, hot in July/August.
Apr 17, 2012 6:27 AM
4I'd rate your points of interest as follows:
2. If you mean Arches NP and Canyonlands NP by "Moab."
3. Bryce Canyon NP
4. Capitol Reef NP
5. Mesa Verde NP (Actually, Walnut Canyon is closer but the ruins are not as impressive.)
6. Monument Valley
7. Slot Canyon photography: An obvious choice is Antelope Canyon but you have to be in any of them when the lighting and weather are exactly right. I doubt that you'll reproduce the widely published pictures of slot canyons during a stop of a few hours. Slot canons tend to be very dark most of the time.
8. As noted above, you'll likely find that Las Vegas is much closer and probably much cheaper than Albuquerque.
9. "Cheap but funky places to stay - cabins, bnbs (have looked at airbnb options) etc." Cheap and "funky" are REAL EASY to find. I do my damnedest to avoid the latter. Perhaps there is a language problem here?
Just my opinions.
Have a great time.
Apr 17, 2012 10:40 AM
5Please, quit worrying about checking all the "Must See!" items some ridiculous list. There is no freaking way you'll visit even 1% of the worthy destinations in the area. If you are truly into photography, you'll slow the heck down and stick around a given location long enough to immerse yourself in the environment and get some decent pics.
There are roughly half a Bazillion neat slot canyons in the area. About half of these - http://www.americansouthwest.net/slot_canyons/map.html - feature pretty, non-technical sections that can be reached with a modest hike.
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