Las Cruces & Around
Las Cruces and her older and smaller sister city, Mesilla, sit at the edge of a broad basin beneath the fluted Organ Mountains, at the crossroads of two major highways, I-10 and I-25. There’s something special about the combination of bright white sunlight, glassy blue skies, flowering cacti, rippling red mountains and desert lowland landscape found here.
Montrose is an agricultural center and a wholesale supply point for Telluride, 65 miles to the south. With the lofty San Juan Mountains to the south, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to the east, the Grand Mesa to the north and the Uncompahgre Plateau to the west, it's a handy starting point for adventure.
Fire raged through Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott (press-kit) on July 14, 1900. Quick-thinking locals managed to save the town's most prized possession: the 24ft-long Brunswick Bar that anchored the Palace Saloon. After lugging the solid oak bar across the street onto Courthouse Plaza, they grabbed their drinks and continued the party.
A remote and rural area, Northeastern Utah is high-wilderness terrain (much of which is more than a mile above sea level) that has traditionally attracted farmers and miners. Rising oil prices spurred oil and gas development in the rocky valleys, which in turn has led to increased services in towns like Vernal.
I-80 is the old fur trappers' route, following the Humboldt River from northeast Nevada to Lovelock, near Reno. It's also one of the earliest emigrant trails to California. Transcontinental railroad tracks reached Reno in 1868 and crossed the state within a year. By the 1920s, the Victory Hwy traveled the same route, which later became the interstate.
I-40 East to Texas
As you head across the eastern half of I-40 towards Texas, it can be pretty tempting to keep the pedal to the metal – or set the cruise control – and power on without stopping. If you have a little time, though, some interesting historical detours beckon you off the interstate, from the days of the dinosaurs to the worst of the Wild West and some classic Route 66 kitsch.
From Flagstaff east to the New Mexico line, the most dominant scenic feature often seems to be the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway freights that run alongside the interstate. But there are some iconic Route 66 sites along here, and a few spots that will surprise you just off the road.
Arguably Utah's most diverse and stunning route, Hwy 12 Scenic Byway winds through rugged canyonland, from near Capitol Reef southeast past Bryce Canyon – linking several national parks on a 124-mile journey. See how quickly and dramatically the land changes from wooded plateau to red-rock canyon, from slickrock desert to alpine forest, as it climbs over an 11,000ft mountain.
Previously a remote and sleepy ranching town, Carlsbad received a huge boost in 1923, when Carlsbad Caverns, a 25-mile drive southwest, became a national monument. Now elevated to national park status, the caverns continue to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Carlsbad itself, however, currently has other things on its mind.
Unplug, sit back, unwind and absorb the beauty. Comprising highways 522, 38 and 64, this scenic, looping 84-mile byway is generous with its views – crystalline lakes, pine forests draped with feldspar, alpine highlands rising to Wheeler Peak, and rolling steppes carpeted with windswept meadows.
Ouray & the Million Dollar Hwy
With gorgeous icefalls draping the box canyon and soothing hot springs dotting the valley floor, Ouray (you-ray) is one privileged place, even for Colorado. For ice climbers, it’s a world-class destination, but hikers and 4WD fans can also appreciate its rugged and sometimes stunning charms.