My husband and I are contemplating a two-week vacation in September – likely starting in Albuquerque and driving counter-clockwise through Colorado, Utah, and Arizona before returning to Albuquerque. We would appreciate any tips, warnings, recommendations, etc., anyone could offer us. Such as: What weather can we anticipate during that time? Are there some roads we should avoid (we’ll be renting a medium size sedan – not an SUV)? Anything in that general area which is considered a must-see/must-do (keeping in mind I’m 55 and my husband is 65)? Or anything else you’d deem that we should know before we go. Thanks for your help!
Landing in Albuquerque, NM and driving counterclockwise through Colorado, Utah and Arizona then returning to Albuquerque. First: If your husband is 65, he can buy a National Park Pass that will get you both into all these places for free. I’m not sure of the cost any more but we paid10 for ours a few years ago and they are good for life. Just don’t lose it. To see: Don’t miss Santa Fe, NM and Taos, NM. Be sure to visit the Taos Indian Pueblo. On the way from Santa Fe to Taos, if you want a side trip, have lunch at Rancho de Chimayo in Chimayo. Directions at their web site: ranchodechimayo.com/index.ht... Then drive to Durango, Colorado and take a ride on their steam engine train. I know you have those in New Hampshire, but this one comes with the Rocky Mountains. From Durango, a real must-see is Mesa Verde National Park. http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm Did you want to visit Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs and Denver? I’d be tempted to drive up to Denver and continue through Boulder and into Rocky Mountain National Park. Then up to Roosevelt National Forest and through Steamboat Springs over to the Dinosaur National Monument. All right, from Dinosaur Natl. Monument you head into Utah. Go through Vernal over to Salt Lake City since I expect you will want to see that too. Take time to visit the Mormon Temple in the city. They offer guided tours and it is fascinating. You’ll head south toward Arizona, but in Utah there is plenty to see. The state is incredibly beautiful. Particularly outstanding are Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Zion National Park. In Arizona, the top of everyone’s must-see list is the Grand Canyon, also a free (with the pass) National Park. In the West that Park Pass really pays for itself. I highly recommend a visit to Flagstaff. It’s in the mountains so cooler than much of Arizona and very green and pretty. Then head back to Albuquerque on I40. On the way you can visit the Acoma Indian Pueblo for a completely different mesa-top pueblo experience. There is also Petroglyph National Park if you enjoy Native American petroglyphs. I believe you said September so you should be aware that winter can start early out here. We have had road closings in September in the mountains, so have an alternative plan . . . or enjoy the snow. Check the weather on your tv news because the storms are nearly always well predicted. For most of the trip it won’t be a problems, but the Denver area can get snow nearly any time of year. We ran into snow in August in the Roosevelt Natl. Forest one year. Ditto in Steamboat Springs. It wasn’t bad and didn’t affect our trip except we didn’t camp in the snow; we drove on for a while. If you need to cut some of this, I’d cut the Pike’s Peak/Denver/Salt Lake City section. Just go from Durango, CO over to Grand Staircase Escalanate Natl. Park and do it, Bryce and Zion before heading down to Arizona. The whole area is gorgeous so you should have a grand trip. You do not need an SUV. We drive our compact car all over the west and have never had a problem. Of course we don’t do off-roading . . . Have fun.
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PJ, the weather should be beautiful in September. It normally starts to cool off then. I have a list of Things to Do around Albuquerque ("Things to Do Around Albuquerque" - Near Albuquerque Tip by AlbuqRay ). You will probably be more interested in the overnight and long trips. You won't need a SUV to go to most places. A sedan can make it easily, even to places like Chaco Canyon. BTW, if you came a little later, the weather would still be nice and you could go to the balloon fiesta.
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