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Ideas for a southwest trip? New Mexico and Arizona

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Old 09-27-2012, 09:15 PM   #1
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Ideas for a southwest trip? New Mexico and Arizona

In Nov. I have a friend flying in to Phoenix from Germany and we are going to do a road trip around Arizona and New Mexico, and I'm trying to put together a somewhat logical itinerary. I live in Arizona (still new though) but when I ask people about places to see in New Mexico I get vacated stares, muted responses, and suggestions that California is much more interesting, and then I hear the laundry list of why I should not visit New Mexico. What ever happened to the land of enchantment??

I was thinking something like this-
Drive from Phx to Canyon de Chelly Nat. Monument and see the Navajo canyons. Anyone ever been here?

Then head over to New Mexico and see the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon. Is this worthwhile? Any other good ruins to see?

From here I'm thinking of driving down to White Sands Nat. Monument. Is this worth visiting?

I'm out of any furher concrete ideas. Is the Otero Mesa grassland worthwhile? What about the Gila Nat. Forest?

When we come back to Arizona I was thinking of visiting the Chiricahua Mountains and maybe even Sycamore Canyon. Are there any cool ghost towns around here? If time permits I'll try to work in Sedona and the Grand Canyon, but I actually want to enjoy some of the places and spend some time out of the truck. Do you have any input as to what is a "must see" in these places, and of course, anywhere to avoid?
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:22 PM   #2
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All your choices are great, when are you planning the trip? The "Inner Basin" in Flagstaff in unreal with fall colors, you take a nice mountain single lane up to the San Francisco Peaks, the highest peaks in Az. I live in the Show Low area, the area up here is nice in the fall too, you could go through the Salt River Canyon, from PHX up to Show Low area, I would look at taking "Devils Highway" HWY 191 from Alpine, AZ to Silver City, NM. The drive is windy and scenic, one of the best roads in the state. I guess it all depends on when your doing this. PM me if you need anything
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Old 09-27-2012, 09:54 PM   #3
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In Nov. I have a friend flying in to Phoenix from Germany and we are going to do a road trip around Arizona and New Mexico, and I'm trying to put together a somewhat logical itinerary. I live in Arizona (still new though) but when I ask people about places to see in New Mexico I get vacated stares, muted responses, and suggestions that California is much more interesting, and then I hear the laundry list of why I should not visit New Mexico. What ever happened to the land of enchantment??

I was thinking something like this-
Drive from Phx to Canyon de Chelly Nat. Monument and see the Navajo canyons. Anyone ever been here?

Then head over to New Mexico and see the Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon. Is this worthwhile? Any other good ruins to see?
A very interesting place, the road getting there is rough, I think to help keep people out, lots of great ruins to see there

From here I'm thinking of driving down to White Sands Nat. Monument. Is this worth visiting?
A great big white sand box, while in the area go to Cloudcroft some good camping spots and fire roads to travel on. Pick up a free map at the ranger station across from downtown Cloudcroft.

I'm out of any furher concrete ideas. Is the Otero Mesa grassland worthwhile? What about the Gila Nat. Forest? The otero Mesa is vast a huge open area that is next to McGregor Range a military base. Herds of antelope running free on the range, you can enter the area close by White Sands on NM 506 Owen Prather Highway and roam around, exit in Tx and head for Carlsbad Caverns back in NM.

Lots to see in the Gila also, Cliff Dwellings, The Catwalks over by Glenwood & Mogollgen a ghost town but people live there. Follow the rd out of town towards Snow Lake & Wall Lake, Head towards the VLA (Very Large Array) seen in an older Jody Foster movie Lots to see in NM

When we come back to Arizona I was thinking of visiting the Chiricahua Mountains and maybe even Sycamore Canyon. The Chiricahua Mtns are great also hard to believe 10ft mtns & snow in the winter time that fae south in AZ also worth a trip Good camp sites and views.
Are there any cool ghost towns around here? If time permits I'll try to work in Sedona and the Grand Canyon, but I actually want to enjoy some of the places and spend some time out of the truck. Do you have any input as to what is a "must see" in these places, and of course, anywhere to avoid?
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Old 09-27-2012, 10:11 PM   #4
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I think you have some great ideas of places to visit and I encourage you to see them. New Mexico has some very beautiful and interesting places to visit! Just a thought if you happen to be driving by Tent Rocks, it's an amazing hike on the shorter side but it would be well worth the visit. Have fun!
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Old 09-28-2012, 12:44 PM   #5
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Chaco Canyon is an excellent place to visit. It would take a couple of days to see it all.

El Morro National Monument in eastern New Mexico is interesting. Indian ruins on the mesa and rock engravings made by travelers over the centuries. http://www.nps.gov/elmo/index.htm

The Acoma Indian reservation along Interstate 40 is worth seeing. Centuries old dwellings on a mesa still in use. http://www.indianpueblo.org/19pueblos/acoma.html

As to places to avoid, I would suggest California should be at the top of the list.
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:07 AM   #6
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Chaco Canyon is awesome, my parents were friends with the head park ranger there when I was a wee little kid, we went there a lot.

I've heard lots of good things about Santa Fe and Taos, they're popular spots but never spent much time there myself.

Bandelier National Monument (cliff dwellings and volcanic rocks) is very cool, and the Salinas Pueblo Missions (Spanish salt missions, for some cool archeology) are also fun. The Jemez Caldera is a nice drive and there's some great geology to see (if you're into that sort of thing I suggest The Roadside Geology of New Mexico, an excellent guide to the geology along commonly traveled routes).

If you find yourself way out in the northeast corner of New Mexico (up by Oklahoma), might as well stop at Capulin, an extinct volcano. It's a nice place to stretch your legs but I wouldn't make a special trip for it.

And if you find yourself way in the southeast corner (down by Texas), Carlsbad Caverns is pretty amazing.

Geez. Trust a geologist to send you on a geology tour of New Mexico. Sorry, that's how I roll Have fun on your trip!
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:06 PM   #7
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santa fe is a neat place w/ great food! taos pueblo, and lots of indian reservation areas around... lots of great vistas in AZ and NM....
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:06 PM   #8
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Thanks for all of your responses, I appreciate the detail and local knowledge. The trip starts in about 5 weeks, so I'll be finalizing the route and getting some gear. I'll be sure to post some pics once it is done.
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:19 PM   #9
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We left Tempe and took 60 E to Globe. Then headed up to Show Low through the Salt River Canyon. There are some really nice views up there. I can't remember exactly, but at one point I think we went through three different Apache reservations within 15 minutes (two for sure)! I haven't read the history of these, but I wonder if it has something to do with the old government policy of breaking up large tribes into small groups so they would be less likely to unite in rebellion.



From there we made it to the Gila Forest and wanted to camp in Glenwood, NM. It was deer season and there were crazy NM people covered in mud hanging around every open spot on the road. Asked some locals about going to the Catwalks and they said it was all burned up and not really worth the hike anymore so we moved on.

Rolled into Silver City and was surprised to see it was an artistic town with a bit of counterculture. Had a nice lunch and went to a replica of Billy the Kid's cabin. From there we went to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. It is a little ways north of Silver City but well worth it.

It is really amazing to think that there were people building a life here and living protected from the elements. Around the time the natives were living here, watching the creek below, and hunting for deer the Europeans were in the middle of a violent fight for the Holy Lands in the Crusades. I asked a guide if the Spanish ever found this place, and he said with certainty they did not- had the Spanish found it they would have destroyed it. He said when it was first discovered it still had a timber roof, but when the first archeologists came 7 years later they were gone. No one knows what happened, but they were probably burnt up by cowboys staying the night.



From there we made our way to White Sands. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, I would make the trip back. Highly recommended. There was a rocket launch the day before and the day after we were there so we got lucky the park was actually open. We went on a 5 mile hike through the park and had the whole place to ourselves. During the day it was hot, but the gypsum in the sand doesn't get warm at all and you could walk around barefoot if you wanted. As soon as the sun went down it got near freezing within an hour.









Then we made our way to Roswell, just had to do it! If you grew up watching the X-files and dream about government conspiracies, cover ups, and aliens then you would really enjoy the UFO museum. Not much else out there to see. Then we headed down to Carlsbad and saw the caverns, that was also really amazing! Then we went and hiked the Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, and afterwards began heading back to Arizona.

On the way we passed through El Paso. I have always heard great things about Texas (Austin, Dallas, Houston) and thought hey, a large city in Texas, it must be a nice place to see. It was Friday night and we wanted to check out the bar scene. We went downtown and parked. It was deserted. It really had an unsettling feeling and made me feel like I was in the opening scenes of 28 Days Later. We went to this bar called The Tap and the serves asked me what I wanted in Spanish. I only know "Cervesa" so I ordered that (and it came with a ton of salt!). We were minding our own business, getting ready to play some pool and the largest, most repulsive woman who looked like El Paso's version of Jabba the Hutt threw herself at my German friend and was being really obnoxious and made him feel really uncomfortable so we got out of there. There weren't really any other bars, and he wanted to go see Juarez but I didn't think that it was a good place to visit at night. He wanted to see the famous Rio Grande and the border so we walked about a mile from where we were and headed south. If I live the rest of my life and never make it back there I can look back and say I lived a fulfilled life. I didn't even see a river, just some railroad tracks. We headed back to the Tacoma and left El Paso in the dust.



We made our way to Tombstone, and stopped at a gas station to ask some locals where we could camp. We were told about two different roads and went up there to check them out. As we got near town we found one of the roads and went up there to check it out. I didn't really like it and it started to rain so we headed back into town to find a hotel. When we turned around a hidden SUV started shining its lights on us and we kept going. Shortly thereafter a vehicle was following us, and my German friend was driving. Then the lights came on and Doc Holiday and Wyatt Erp pulled us over- Border Patrol and the Tombstone "marshal" were interested to see what we were doing! The Tacoma was loaded down with camping gear, and they were asking all these strange questions about drugs, guns, and how we knew each other and why a German was on a backroad near the Mexican border. They were checking his passport (his entry stamp was smeared so you couldn't really see the date), and I thought it was strange they didn't check me at all. They let us go and we found a hotel. Tombstone (pop. 1,800) actually had a better nightlife/bar scene than El Paso (pop. 600,000)! We met some interesting clowns (all weekend biker "gangsters") and the next day we went down in some of the actual mines. If you ever think your job is hard I can't even imagine how hard that work was...and I don't think you lived very long. The guide said that the miners made about $4 a day, and that was damn good money. Cowboys at that time made about $20 a month.

Then we went to the Pima Air Museum. They have some really obscure planes and even a few German ones (both modern and WWII era). The boneyard was closed, but I don't think we missed much. The Titan Missile Museum was really cool, and if you are into Cold War lore and history that is a must see. Afterwards we went to a few towns and missions nearby and then went down to Nogales to buy some souvenirs. Once again Border Patrol was sketched out by a German coming through.



Then we made it back home. Arizona has the most epic sunsets.




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Old 12-15-2012, 01:55 PM   #10
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damn..i grew up in El Paso..i wish i could have given you a better recomemdation than the TAP..

eessh! i know where the smoking hot women hang out..
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Old 12-15-2012, 01:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aficianado View Post
damn..i grew up in El Paso..i wish i could have given you a better recomemdation than the TAP..

eessh! i know where the smoking hot women hang out..
Downtown El Paso is a shithole, they keep trying to revitalize it, now they are shoving a ballpark down the tax payers throats.
Downtown's not a place to be, especially towards the border and NEVER in Juarez.
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Old 12-15-2012, 03:40 PM   #12
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I hear you. I did an internship retrofitting downtown the first time. Shithole.
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Old 12-15-2012, 04:01 PM   #13
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right on man. do white sands and show him 89a.I used to live in germany. i go back all the time. and when my friends and family come they always like the grand canyon,ghost towns like the back way to wickenburg and tortilla flats.
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:55 AM   #14
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Sounds like you had a great trip and did some fun and interesting things. I too am a big fan of White sands! I need to explore some other States!
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