Fun/Outdoorsy Road Trip from LA to Austin
Replies: 22 - Last Post: Jul 22, 2012 6:33 PM Last Post By: gawkabout
Jun 29, 2012 2:23 PM
Fun/Outdoorsy Road Trip from LA to AustinHi All! We are 3 females in our mid-twenties planning a road trip from Los Angeles to Austin the last week of July. Looking for advice on places to stop/see along the way. We are leaving LA on July 24 and have to be in Austin on August 1. This is what we have so far:
-Vegas, NV (not my first choice, but friends want to go)- 2 nights
-Flagstaff , AZ- 1 night
-Sedona, AZ (camp)- 1 night
-Santa Fe, NM- 2 nights
-(possibly camp in Big Bend NP)- 1 night
-Marfa, TX- 1 night
We are thinking of stopping by Faywood hot springs or White Sands in NM; possibly Carlsbad Caverns and either Guadalupe Mountains or Big Bend Nat’l Park.
Our interests vary so we are hoping for a balance of comfort (laying by the pool in Vegas should take care of that), outdoor activities (hiking West Fork trail, fishing, camping in Sedona), and experiencing local culture, music, art. Would like to see dramatic Southwest scenery. Would like to visit a Navajo reservation in some part of the Navajo Nation. We are not opposed to camping and are looking for unique lodging (I have heard that you can rent teepees to stay in some places in TX?)—we are doing this trip on a budget.
We most need advice on the Santa Fe→ Marfa, TX leg of the trip. Will we have enough to do in Santa Fe for 2 days or would you advise us to keep moving? Should we stop in Big Bend Nat’l Park of Guadalupe Mountains after Santa Fe? Is it worth the trip out of the way between Santa Fe and Marfa to visit Carlsbad Caverns?
Any general recommendations on quirky sights or “must-sees/dos” along the way are wanted as well.
Thanks in advance for your advice!
Jun 29, 2012 2:34 PM
1It's currently 102 degrees in Vegas. Based on personal experience, laying out in the dry insane heat is not fun. It's a bit more enjoyable if you're in a pool, but still crazy hot. If the pool scene experience matters to you (& some of the well known pools aren't free), you need to research further.
Oh and it's currently 99 in Sedona and the temps don't really go down at night. That's not camping weather.
Maybe temps will be lower in a few weeks but I would try to stick to higher elevations if camping is a must for you.
Jun 29, 2012 2:45 PM
2Hi Suze, thanks for the response--
Yea, the pool Vegas thing: I know it is going to be hot, but we know people there and my friends really want to do it--I'm sure we can make it work. We will either be in a hotel with a/c or in a pool.
As for camping in Sedona, I considered that it would be hot during the day but cool at night so we would just wake up early and spend time near the water. Maybe it makes sense to get lodging in Flagstaff (I have heard the town of Sedona itself is not great) and day trip it down to Sedona for a day. We really want to hike, but it is not neccesary to camp.
thanks for the heads up
Jun 29, 2012 2:50 PM
3I suggest you drive Vegas via Kingman-"Old rt. 66-Seligman... At Ash Fork, drive the 89 to the 89a into Sedona... Next Am,continuing on the 89a into Flag & on that day to Santa Fe for a two night visit...Follow the 285 (lunch in Roswell) to Carlsbad and the Caverns...Camp at Whites City... AM in the caves and taking the 220 cut off to Malaga, drive up to the cool Davis Mtns. to camp there... Next day to Marfa...Driving the scenic 90 into Del Rio & the 377 to the I-10 at Junction. Follow the 290 through Fredricksburg to Austin... This trip may require "iron asses" of all concerned ... enjoy...carracar
Jun 29, 2012 2:55 PM
Then skip Marfa.
Jun 29, 2012 4:25 PM
5Thank you all for the input. We had a chat and it looks like we won't be camping at all. (The trip's purpose is to move our friend to Austin so space in the car for equipment will be very tight).
It now looks like we will be staying to places where lodging is feasible and day-trip to hikes, etc. I will have to do some further research. I am now leaning towards Guadalupe over Big Bend. We do want to go through Marfa as we will be catching a concert there on the 30th.
thanks again for the advice all!
Jun 29, 2012 4:32 PM
Jun 29, 2012 5:37 PM
7Another possibility is wait to make a decision on Big Bend until a few days before you get to Texas, so you can check weather. Last summer was exceptionally hot in August, with many areas experiencing 105-110 degree temperatures. Perhaps you can make a reservation but check what its cancellation policy is?
If it's too hot, consider adding another day onto Santa Fe. It's at 6000 ft, so the temperatures are cooler, and there are lots of day hikes in the area.
Jun 29, 2012 5:56 PM
Jun 29, 2012 6:02 PM
9Ever hear of the Grand Canyon? At 7,000 ft elevation, it will be lovely and cool at night.
I wouldn't bother with a side trip to Sedona.
Jun 29, 2012 6:18 PM
Jun 29, 2012 10:44 PM
11Opinions on Sedona vary, but I lived in Flagstaff for a long time, and I never got tired of taking day or weekend trips down that way. We still do occasionally make a day trip down there when back in Flagstaff visiting family. There's great hiking, gorgeous scenery, some fine swimming holes on local creeks, and I can mostly ignore the tacky tourist trap that is the town itself. It's a great place to buy an ice cream cone after a hot hike and cold dip in Oak Creek, but beyond that, you'd best have a sense of humor about it. I'd definitely spend the night in Flagstaff though - it'll be cheaper, less of a tourist trap, and if you wanted to go out at night, more fun.
Jun 29, 2012 10:45 PM
12Oh, but I wouldn't skip the Grand Canyon to make time for Sedona.
Jun 30, 2012 1:45 PM
13It's going to be a hot trip through the deserts and high plains at the end of July -- but of course, these recent years, that's going to be true anywhere in the U.S., I suppose. White Sands will be intolerably hot, but the Carlsbad Caverns are magnificent -- and cool!
Santa Fe is very definitely cool in the hip sense, and since it's at 7,000 feet, it's going to be cooler in temp. than almost anywhere on your trip as well. You can hike pine or aspen forested mountain slopes (peak is 12,000 ft!), visit both extant and archaeological Pueblo Indian sites -- Santa Clara Pueblo has both -- and is near the Bandelier National Park which has a nice visitor center and marked trails to sites where you can crawl into caves with petroglyphs and charcoal smoke on the ceilings from 1,000-1,200 A.D.
Santa Fe claims over 200+ art galleries, many of them in 100-300 year old adobe homes on Canyon Road. Try to walk this on a Friday evening -- it's a floating party as all the galleries serve wine and hors d'oeuvres and have their openings of new shows. The hottest restaurant at the moment is Restaurant Martin (pronounced Marteen), chef Martin Rios, but you can hardly go wrong anywhere.
It's not an especially cheap city to stay in, but a very nice, inexpensive place in a sort of commercial strip is the El Rey Inn -- individual whitewashed adobe cottages and gardens. Or rent a condo -- it might work out cheaper: Aqui Santa Fe offers luxuriously equipped freestanding small homes with gourmet kitchens, Frette sheets http://www.aquisantafe.com, or http://www.santafevacationrentals.com has a wider selection, also upscale.
Jun 30, 2012 2:03 PM
14I should have added that you will have plenty to do in Santa Fe to justify spending more than two nights there if any of your other hoped-for stops are intolerably hot. Museums devoted to Georgia O'Keeffe, to Folk Art and Native American arts and crafts (contemporary and historic), concerts outdoors and in, science (just because you're female doesn't mean automatically that you won't be fascinated by the Santa Fe Institute or Los Alamos National Laboratory), spiritual experiences (Upaya Zen Center, Sikh temples, Tibetan Buddhists, renegade Catholics Los Hermanos who split off from the mother church in the 1500s when they had no priest), beautiful cathedral basilica and Loretto Chapel with its mysterious spiral staircase (http://www.lorettochapel.com). Take a 90-minute open-air motorized tram tour to see all the key spots and get some funny but informed commentary from the driver/guides (http://www.toursofsantafe.com), look at new, green, energy efficient, and below-market homes to buy (because you'll be tempted): http://www.homewise.org, or look at the multimillion dollar homes...visit the Eaves Movie Ranch, go horseback riding at Broken Saddle or at Bishop's Lodge Resort (cooler on the mountain), take great hot tub/spa experience at Ten Thousand Waves...
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