Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Grand Canyon National Park

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  • Website link: Grand Canyon National Park.
  • Cost: $35.00 per car
  • Accommodations in the park: Lodges at the north and south rims. Campgrounds at the north and south rims.
  • Backcountry camping available.
  • Mule trips available at both rims.
  • Day hiking and many longer trails available.
  • Commercial and non-commercial river rafting trips available.
  • Restaurants, deli’s, stores available at both rims.
  • When to go: South Rim – anytime. North Rim is closed during the winter months.

For years, we shied away from Grand Canyon National Park. “Who wants to look at a big hole?” we would say, but then while on another trip, we decided to go. We arrived at the South Rim and were terribly disappointed when our first view was of…nothing! Zip, zilch, nada – no big hole at all! Turns out the canyon was experiencing a fairly rare weather phenomenon called an inversion. The entire canyon was full of gray clouds, which is kind of great now that we know we have witnessed a rare phenomenon, but it was disappointing at the time.

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Yep, this ↑ was our first ever view of the Grand Canyon. And to make matters worse, we were not prepared for high wind and torrential rain! (We are much better prepared travelers now, thankfully.) Finally, the storm blew past, the sun came out, and our trip was saved. Once we saw the breathtaking scenery, we couldn’t believe that we had been so stubborn about going. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Everyone should see this park.

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Getting There

Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim) is approximately:

230 miles from Phoenix, Arizona280 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada410 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico

We are starting our trip in Phoenix, Arizona. Stock up on your road snacks, and let’s get going!

*Recommended hotels in Phoenix: Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn.

From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff.

Bonus stop: Sedona, Arizona. Beautiful red rock scenery, lots to see and do. Great city to visit! (See our post about Sedona.)

At Flagstaff, take US Highway 180 to Highway 64. Take Highway 64 north to Grand Canyon National Park. Drive time between Phoenix, Arizona and Grand Canyon National Park: 3.75 hours.

⇒Alternate route: take a two hour and fifteen minute train from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim. The train leaves Williams daily at 9:30 am.

Destination: Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)

All of the roads on the south rim can be driven in your own vehicle, however, it is so much better for you (and for the park) to take the free hop-on hop-off shuttles. There is so much to see and do in this part of the park, you could stay for days and never see it all. With that said, we are only going to to be able to give you a taste of what you will see at the south rim.

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Hopi House at Grand Canyon Village (South Rim). Originally a workshop for making and selling Native American arts and crafts. Built in 1905.
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Historic El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon Village (South Rim). Wonderful food in the dining room here. Opened in 1905 as a Harvey House, and is now a National Historic Landmark.
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View of the Colorado River meandering through the Grand Canyon
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Desert View Watchtower (South Rim)
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Ceiling Artwork In Desert View Watchtower

While visiting (or before you go), you may want to learn about Mary Colter. She is the architect who designed many of the historic buildings at the South Rim, including Hopi House and Desert View Watchtower, among others. Her story is extremely inspirational, especially for young women and girls, as Mary Colter was a woman who was decades ahead of her time. While you’re at it, pick up a copy of The Harvey Girls – Women Who Opened the West, a wonderful book by Lesley Poling-Kempes. The book tells the story of the women who for years catered to travelers in many historic locations, including El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park. Very interesting read.

Now, let’s go to the the North Rim!

Getting There

The North Rim is approximately:

123 miles from Page, Arizona210 miles from the South Rim265 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada

We will start this trip from Page, Arizona since it is the closest city with an airport, though it is a small municipal airport with mainly tour and commuter type services.

*Recommended hotel in Page: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Page: El Tapatio – 25 S Lake Powell Blvd.

Campgrounds available in and around Page.

Travel tip: While in Page, check out the many activities this area has to offer, including Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam, or take a side trip to Monument Valley.

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Bison near the North Rim entrance

From Page, take US Highway 89 south for 2 miles. Bonus stop: Horseshoe Bend. Hike to the scenic viewpoint above the Colorado River for a breathtaking view. Be prepared for parking issues, large crowds, and high heat. Take water and good hiking shoes/boots.

Continue on US Highway 89 for 39 miles to Navajo Bridge. This is a very scenic drive to Marble Canyon, Navajo Bridge, and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.

Bonus stop: Navajo Bridge/Marble Canyon. Stop at the interpretive center for information about the area. The original Navajo Bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. Look for rare California condors along the Colorado River in beautiful Marble Canyon.

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Navajo Bridge and Vermillion Cliffs
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Marble Canyon view of the Colorado River from Navajo Bridge

Continue on US Highway 89 to Highway 67. Turn south at Jacob Lake, Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park. Drive time between Page, Arizona and North Rim: 2.5 hours. Drive time between Jacob Lake, Arizona and North Rim: 1 hour.

  • North Rim Website link: North Rim Grand Canyon.
  • Cost: $35.00 per car.
  • Accommodations: Grand Canyon Lodge and one campground located inside park.
  • Alternative camping available outside the park
  • Dining services available in the park.
  • North Rim has fewer crowds than South Rim.
  • When to go: May through October.

Destination: Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

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Stop at the visitor center for information about the park, then head to the patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge for exceptional views of the canyon. You might even get up close and personal with a cute little chipmunk, but remember: it is illegal to feed any wildlife.

Hike the trail to Bright Angel Point for the spectacular views. Or, drive the park roads to the other viewpoints at the North Rim. See the park map at the website link above.

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North Rim View

 

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View from Point Imperial (North Rim)

With everything there is to do and see at Grand Canyon National Park, it is easy to see why more than five million people visit the park annually. If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, we hope that you are now inspired to go see this amazing park. (Don’t be like we were and keep putting it off.) This is a fantastic vacation destination for the entire family! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye  

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Sedona, Arizona

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Nestled in the heart of the American Southwest, Sedona, Arizona is truly one of the prettiest cities we have ever visited. Life there seems to move at a slower pace, and the city offers great places to relax, shop, and eat. Sedona is a dark sky community, which means there is an ordinance against light pollution. On clear nights, the Milky Way can be seen arching across the sky from horizon to horizon! By day, the red rock scenery is enchanting, and the weather is usually great.

Sedona is:

  • Perfect for a couples getaway.
  • Perfect for a long weekend or extended stay.
  • Perfect as a hub for several national parks and other attractions.
  • When to go: Anytime. We like October.

Sedona is located approximately:

275 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada117 miles from Phoenix, Arizona350 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico

This trip starts from the closest major airport city: Phoenix, Arizona. Drive time between Phoenix and Sedona: 2 hours.

*Recommended hotels in Phoenix: Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn. Also, there are many choices for camping in and around Phoenix.

Phoenix attractions include: a zoo, an aquarium, water parks, museums, hiking trails, golf courses, among others. Click here for more information: Visit Phoenix. But for now we’re anxious to get on the road to Sedona, so let’s go!

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Getting There

From Phoenix, take I-17 north toward Sedona. Bonus stop: Montezuma Castle National Monument. See ancient dwellings tucked high into the side of a mountain. Here’s a link: Montezuma Castle National Monument.

Continue on I-17 north to Highway 179 north to Sedona.

Destination: Sedona, Arizona

*Recommended hotels in Sedona: Best Western Plus Inn of Sedona – 1200 AZ-89A. Here’s a link: Best Western Plus Inn of Sedona, or Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express.

*Recommended restaurant in Sedona: Oak Creek Brewery and Grill – d201 336, AZ-17. Here’s a link: Oak Creek Brewery and Grill.

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Here’s a tour, featuring our favorite things to do in Sedona:

Sedona 2007 067 1. Hop on a trolley. Take a tour of the city and get some great information about the area. Travel tip: do this first to familiarize yourself  with the city.

2. Shop. Tlaquepaque (Tuh-lockee-pockee) is the can’t-miss venue. Here’s a link: Tlaquepaque.  We also recommend walking downtown Sedona. There are many shops worthy of a look.

Travel Tip: don’t be fooled by time share vendors who offer free tickets for tours or offer something else free for attending their program. These folks can be be pretty sly and are paid to be very persistent.

3. Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross – 780 Chapel Rd. Gorgeous church with spectacular views.

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The Chapel of the Holy Cross

4. Red Rock State Park. If there really is something to that vortexes thing people talk about in Sedona, then this place might just have it! We experienced peaceful calm – an almost spiritual feeling – at this park. Hike one or all of the trails, or find solitude along the banks of Oak Creek. This park is an excellent picnic destination.

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Cathedral Rock from Red Rock State Park
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South Rim of the Grand Canyon

5. Take a Pink Jeep tour. This tour company, known for their signature pink jeeps, can arrange a variety of off-roading adventures, hiking tours, and trips to the Grand Canyon, among others. We highly recommend the Grand Canyon tour. Here’s a link to their website: Pink Adventure Tours.

6. Oak Creek Canyon. Scenic 14 mile drive between Sedona and Flagstaff. This is a slow road because of the corkscrew twists and turns, but the scenery will take your breath away!

7. Slide Rock State Park. Beautiful park in Oak Creek Canyon featuring a natural rock water slide. Go to play in the water, go to hike, or go for the scenery in this historic park.

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Slide Rock State Park

8. Gaze at the stars. There are several astronomy tours available in Sedona, and the state parks host them periodically, too. Learn about the constellations and take a peek into space through their telescopes. We recommend Sedona Star Gazing – Evening Sky Tours. Here’s a link: Evening Sky Tours.

9. Watch the sun set. We love a great sunset (or sunrise), and Airport Mesa is the place to be in Sedona just before the sun goes down. Here’s the one were lucky enough to catch.

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10. Take a side trip: 

  • Grand Canyon National Park is 2 hours north of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Petrified Forest National Park is 2.5 hours northeast of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Page, Arizona and Lake Powell are 2.75 hours north of Sedona via US Highway 89.
  • Tuzigoot National Monument is 30 minutes southwest of Sedona.
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument is 45 minutes northeast of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Saguaro National Park is 3.5 hours southwest of Sedona via Phoenix and Tucson.

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That was a whirlwind tour, but we sincerely hope that we have inspired your wanderlust. While we can’t guarantee anything, we are pretty sure that you will love Sedona as much as we did. Please leave us a comment below. We would love to hear about your favorite road trips. Until next time…

Travel save, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Rocky Mountain National Park

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  • Website link: Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car (7-day pass).
  • Accommodations: Campgrounds for RVs and tents, as well as backcountry camping in the park. Additional hotels, campgrounds, and other amenities, including restaurants, available in Estes Park, Grand Lake, Lyons, and Loveland.
  • What to do: hike, bike, climb, backpack, fish. Spectacular scenic drives. Horseback riding is also available in the park (seasonal).
  • When to go: Anytime. Summer and early fall are the best times to go, however, the park is most crowded during these times.

It’s no wonder that almost 4.5 million people visited Rocky Mountain National Park in 2017, with almost one million people visiting in July alone! The park is spectacular from top to bottom and everywhere in between. We can’t figure out why it took us so long to get there, but we’re so glad we finally went. In fact, we didn’t want to leave, even after spending several days in the park. Rocky Mountain National Park is a UNESCO international biosphere reserve and is home to a multitude of animals and birds, as well as glaciers and one of the few alpine tundra ecosystems in the lower forty-eight states. So, pack your bags and hop on board for our tour of one of the great treasures of the national park system.

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Rocky Mountain National Park is approximately:

70 miles from Denver, Colorado470 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah500 miles from Amarillo, Texas515 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico740 miles from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

IMG_4133Getting There

Our trip is going to start from Denver, Colorado, the closest major airport city to Rocky Mountain National Park.

From Denver, take E-470 (toll road) to I-25 north toward Longmont, Colorado. Continue north to Loveland, Colorado. At Loveland, take US Highway 34 west to Estes Park. Drive time between Denver and Estes Park via this route: 1.75 hours.

Travel tip: the drive from Loveland to Estes Park is very scenic through the Big Thompson River Canyon. The road has been newly rebuilt and the scenery should not be missed.

At Estes Park, continue on US Highway 34 west to the Fall River entrance and visitor center OR take US Highway 36 to the Beaver Meadows entrance and visitor center.

⇒Alternate route: from Denver, take I-25 north to Highway 66 west toward Lyons, then take US Highway 36 to the Wild Basin entrance station and continue north to Estes Park. Drive time between Denver and Estes Park via this route: 1.5 hours.

Travel tip: the Fall River entrance (US Highway 34) leads to Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved highway in the U.S and designated All-American Road. Weather permitting, this road is a must-do while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. For spectacular views, stop at all of the pull-outs along the road, as well as the Alpine visitor center which is about half-way between the east and west sides of the park. A cafe is available at this visitor center seasonally.

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View from Alpine Visitor Center

Destination: Rocky Mountain National Park

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We are taking the Highway 34 (Fall River entrance) to start our tour. First stop: Sheep Lakes area for a little elk watching. Elk rutting or mating season occurs during the first few weeks of fall, and we were able to see several elk bulls with their harems during our time in the park. What a thrill to see nature at it’s best! The ones above are young bulls.

Our next stop is at the Alluvial Fan. This fan was created during a natural dam break at Lawn Lake in the 1980s, which sent trees and boulders tumbling four miles down the mountain and flooded the surrounding park areas and the city of Estes Park with millions of gallons of water. Today, this is a popular hiking and picnicking area featuring the Roaring River, cascading waterfalls, and huge boulders.

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Alluvial Fan

Now we begin our climb to the top of Trail Ridge Road, along which are several scenic pull outs with amazing views. Here are a few of our favorites taken from below the treeline.

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Mountains and meadows
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Fall colors
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Ypsilon Mountain (13,520 feet)

And, our favorites from above the treeline in the alpine tundra as we make our trek up to the Alpine Visitor Center.

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Late summer on the tundra (Sundance Mountain – 12,466 feet)
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Terra Tomah Mountain with glacial cirque and icy remnants (12,723 feet)

With only about a six week summer season, it is amazing that wildlife and plants can survive at this elevation, but they do. Did you know that the cute little animals below spend 80 percent of their lives hibernating?

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Yellow-Bellied Marmot
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Pika

In addition to these animals and the elk, we also saw big horn sheep, deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, many different birds, as well as trout in the clear water of the alpine lakes. And speaking of alpine lakes, Rocky Mountain National Park has a lot of them. We loved hiking to and around several of the lakes on the Beaver Meadows side of the park. There are numerous hiking trails throughout the park, providing adventures for every level of hiker, backpacker, or climber.

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Sprague Lake with Hallet Peak, Tyndall Glacier, and Flattop Mountain in the background
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Bear Lake with Hallett Peak Reflection
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Bear Lake with changing trees
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Nymph Lake with water lilies
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Dream Lake
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Emerald Lake and Hallett Peak

The hike from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake took us about four hours round trip, including stops. There is about a 600 foot elevation gain along the trail. The elevation at Emerald Lake is 10,110 feet.

Travel tip: the parking lot at Bear Lake fills quickly during peak seasons. Arrive early in the morning to secure a parking space, or take the shuttle from either the Estes Park Visitor Center or the park and ride lot near Glacier Basin inside the park.

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Bull elk and part of his very large harem

It was wonderful getting to see the park as it was changing into its fall colors. Doesn’t the picture above remind you of autumn? This bull had about twenty cows in his harem, plus their calves.

Over on the west side of the park, which is accessed via Trail Ridge Road, there are many pull-outs and scenic vistas, along with several trailheads and the Holzwarth Historic Site, which is open from mid-June through September. Here’s a link: Holzwarth Historic Site. Drive time between Estes Park and Grand Lake via Trail Ridge Road: 1.5 hours without stops.

Bonus stop: Estes Park. This beautiful mountain town is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. It features unique shops, wonderful restaurants, and a multitude of lovely hotels. The most famous hotel, The Stanley, opened in 1909 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. A stay at The Stanley inspired Stephen King to write The Shining. We recommend taking one of the interesting tours of the hotel. Parking is $10.00 plus the cost of the tour.

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The Stanley Hotel

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During peak seasons, parking can be difficult in downtown Estes Park, but there is a large free parking lot next to the police station. The restaurants we recommend are Claire’s on the Park – 225 Park Lane, and Hunters Chop House – 1690 Big Thompson Avenue.

⇒Side tripLoveland. This city has a small town feel with big city amenities. Loveland has great shopping (The Promenade Shops at Centerra), a state park, beautiful city parks, and natural spaces. There are also many nice hotels (Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn, among others) and RV parks (Riverview RV Park, which is located next to the Big Thompson River). Take an after dinner stroll around Lake Loveland, or take a Sunday afternoon walk through the Benson Sculpture Garden. (Website link: Benson Sculpture Garden.) One of our favorites was an early evening hike on Wild Loop trail at Devil’s Backbone Open Space. (Website link: Devil’s Backbone Open Space.) The restaurant we recommend is McGraff’s American Grill -1602 E Eisenhower Blvd. Drive time between Estes Park and Loveland: 40 minutes.

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One of the beautiful sculptures at Benson Sculpture Garden
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Devil’s Backbone Open Space

We will end this post with one last picture. Below is Longs Peak, the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, standing at 14,259 feet.

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Thank you so much for joining us on our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park! We always love having you along for the ride. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own. ©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Taos, New Mexico

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Taos Pueblo

Northern New Mexico is a breath of fresh air – literally. The air is clean, the skies are bright, and the mountains are majestic! While visiting Taos you will be able to learn about its historic past, see world class art, and enjoy great food, all in a casual, laid-back atmosphere! Taos is also a year-round hub for a multitude of outdoor sports, and opportunities for sightseeing abound.

  • The perfect destination for a long weekend.
  • A great get away for couples.
  • When to visit: anytime, but we like September and October. Snow sports enthusiasts will love Taos in the winter months.

Taos is approximately:

133 miles from Albuquerque, NM70 miles from Santa Fe New Mexico295 miles from Amarillo, Texas290 miles from Denver, Colorado

This road trip is going to start from the closest major airport, which is in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We’re so glad to have you along for the ride!

Getting There

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express, several locations to choose from.

procsimpleOX63LBZ7*Recommended restaurant in Albuquerque: Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen – 5011 Pan American Freeway NE.

Travel tip: We highly recommend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which takes place every October. Click this link for information.

From Albuquerque, take I-25 north to Santa Fe. Drive time between Albuquerque and Santa Fe: 1 hour.

Alternate recommended route: (Scenic Turquoise Trail) From Albuquerque, take I-40 east to Highway 14 north toward Madrid. Bonus stop: Madrid, New Mexico. Once a ghost town, Madrid is now a thriving artist community. Drive time between Albuquerque and Madrid: 1 hour. Continue on to Santa Fe via Highway 14. Drive time between Madrid and Santa Fe: 40 minutes.

Bonus Stop: Santa Fe. 

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Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (Santa Fe)

Travel tip: If you can’t spend a few days in Santa Fe, at least stop for a few hours to explore the plaza. Plan a trip back when you can spend some time exploring everything this historic city has to offer.

*Recommended attractions in Santa Fe: Santa Fe Plaza, Palace of the Governors, Canyon Road Art Galleries, Loretto Chapel, San Miguel Chapel, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe Railyard. (We have heard that Meow Woof is a must-do in Santa Fe, but we haven’t been there yet.)

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Rail Runner train at Santa Fe Railyard

Suggested hotel in Santa Fe: Holiday Inn Express.

*Recommended hotel in Santa Fe: Inn on the Alameda. Within walking distance of the plaza and Canyon Road galleries. Free breakfast. Click this link for Inn on the Alameda

*Recommended restaurants in Santa Fe: The Shed – 113 E Palace Avenue, at the plaza, and The Pink Adobe – 406 Old Santa Fe Trail.

⇒Side trip: Pecos National Historical Park. From Santa Fe, take I-25 toward Glorietta, then Highway 50 east to Pecos, New Mexico and follow the signs to the park. View the ruins of a pueblo that was built around 800 AD. Allow at least two hours to see the site via a self-guided walking tour. The visitor center museum is extremely interesting. Drive time between Santa Fe and Pecos National Historical Park: 40 minutes. We highly recommend a visit to this park! Click here for information.

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Church building at Pecos National Historical Park

(High Road to Taos) From Santa Fe take Highway 84/285 north toward Pojoaque, then take Highway 503 east via Highway 98 to Chimayo. Bonus stop: historic Santuario de Chimayo. Learn about El Posito, a hole with supposed healing powers in its dirt. From Chimayo, take Highway 76 north to Cordova, then Truchas. Continue on Highway 76 toward Penasco. Bonus stop: historic Church of San Jose de la Gracia in Las Trampas for a quick photo op and a brief history lesson. Highway 76 takes you all the way to Penasco where it merges into Highway 518, which takes you to Ranchos de Taos. At Ranchos de Taos, turn east on to US 64 to Taos. Although these directions sound complicated, they’re not. This drive is scenic and definitely worth the time. Drive time between Santa Fe and Taos: 2.5 hours.

(Low Road to Taos) At Santa Fe, take US 84 West, then 285 North toward Espanola, then take Highway 68 to Taos. Drive time between Santa Fe and Taos: 1.5 hours.

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The Church of San Jose de la Gracia (Las Trampas)

Destination: Taos, New Mexico

Suggested hotel in Taos: The Historic Taos Inn.

*Recommended hotels in Taos: El Pueblo Lodge – Here’s a link, and Hampton Inn.

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*Recommended restaurants in Taos: The Gorge Bar & Grill – 103 East Plaza. Eat outside on the second floor patio overlooking the plaza, and Mondo Italiano Taos – 832 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur. Good Italian food.

We will let you make your own itinerary, but the following are some of our favorite things to do in Taos:

The Plaza. Walk the square, check out the unique shops and boutiques, pick up a box of chocolates at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and stop in at one of the plaza’s restaurants for drinks and a meal. Travel tip: there are some great shops and restaurants just off of the plaza, too.

Taos Pueblo. Take a guided walking tour of the pueblo. Learn the history of the site and of the people who have called this sacred ground home for over one thousand years. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Very well worth the price of the tour and a tip for the tour guide. Plan to spend two hours here.

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Taos Pueblo

Hot Air Balloon Ride. For the thrill of a lifetime, take an early morning hot air balloon flight. Dip into the Rio Grande Gorge, touch down on the river, then float high above the plateaus for spectacular views of the gorge and the mountains with glimpses of the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument. End your flight with a glass of champagne. We recommend Pueblo Balloon Company for this half day excursion! Here’s a link: Pueblo Balloon Company.

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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Take US Highway 64 West from Taos. Park on the west side, and walk across the bridge, which sits 650 feet above the river! Look for desert big horn sheep on the rocks along the gorge. Great photo ops here.

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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Fish. Or spend your day enjoying most any other outdoor sport your heart may desire. Rafting outfitters in Taos can arrange a float trip on the Rio Grande. Stop by Taos Fly Shop for some great fishing gear, a license, and tips on where the fish are biting. Check out the Taos Ski Valley for great hiking and mountain biking, and of course skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

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Fly fishing on the Rio Pueblo

Kick back. Grab a good book and find a cozy spot in the sun, or curl up in front of a fireplace with a warm drink and that box of chocolates you bought at the plaza. Take a leisurely stroll through the art museums and galleries then stop in at Parcht (on the plaza) for a glass of wine and a bite. Or get back on the road for a drive through the mountains and Carson National Forest. The possibilities for rest and relaxation in the Taos area are endless.

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We hope your trip to Taos is historic, relaxing, and everything else you want it to be! Leave us a reply and let us know how much you enjoyed your trip. We would love to hear from you.

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

Featured

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Bryce Canyon National Park

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  • Website: Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car.
  • Accommodations: RV and tent camping in the park, and Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • Hotel and additional RV camping just outside the park entrance.
  • Park shuttle available from April through October (not mandatory as in Zion).
  • Dining available at Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • When to go: we recommend June through mid-September.

Bryce Canyon is undeniably one of the jewels in the crown of the National Park System. The breathtaking scenery leaves most who view it speechless. All we could say when we got to Inspiration Point was, “Wow!”, and it took a few minutes before another word was uttered by either of us. Every stop in the park is incredibly impressive, so let’s go!

Getting There

From Zion National Park, take Highway 9 east to US Highway 89 north toward Panguitch, Utah. Travel tip: when traveling in or with an RV, check with Zion National Park before attempting Highway 9 east out of the park. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, which lies between the east park entrance and the south park entrance, may or may not accommodate your vehicle/trailer. The park has special regulations/fees for RVs traveling this road.

Turn right (east) on to Highway 12 (Scenic Byway 12 – All American Road, and it lives up to its name for all 121 miles!) Drive time between Zion and Bryce Canyon: 1.5 hours.

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Tunnel on Highway 12 – All American Road

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 south to Cedar City: Drive time between Salt Lake City and Cedar City: 3.5 hours. At Cedar City, take Highway 14 east toward Cedar Breaks National Monument. Bonus stop: Cedar Breaks National Monument. Deep canyon featuring gorgeous red rock formations and hoodoos. The perfect prelude to Bryce Canyon. Here’s a link: Cedar Breaks National Monument. Continue on Highway 14 east to US Highway 89. Take US Highway 89 north to Highway 12 (Scenic Byway 12 – All American Road) and turn right (east) to Bryce Canyon. Drive time between Cedar City and Bryce Canyon: 1.5 hours.

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Bonus stop: Red Canyon Visitor Center. Hiking, biking, camping, and picnicking here. Another prelude to what Bryce Canyon holds in store. Great place for a rest stop or a picnic, plus some great photo ops.

 

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Formations at Red Canyon

Suggested accommodations in the area: Ruby’s Inn at the entrance to Bryce Canyon. Here’s a link: Ruby’s Inn. There is also camping available and a small grocery store near Ruby’s Inn. Days Inn in Panguitch. Here’s a link: Days Inn, Panguitch, Utah. Campgrounds available in Panguitch. Drive time between Panguitch and Bryce Canyon: 30 minutes.

Suggested restaurant in Panguitch: The Original Kenny Rays – 80 N Main St.

*Recommended restaurant in Panguitch: Cowboy’s Smokehouse – 95 North Main.

Destination: Bryce Canyon National Park

From Highway 12, turn right (south) on to Highway 63 to the park entrance. Stop at the visitor center for park information, then continue on Highway 63 south. The park road is 18 miles long with stops for each “canyon” and “point” in the park. Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point to Inspiration Point is a popular hike. Inspiration Point sits at an elevation of 8100 feet.

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View from Inspiration Point

Continuing along the road, stop at all of the pull outs (there are at least 14 of them) for different views and formations. As far as we know, there is nothing else in the world like Bryce Canyon, and you will want to see it all. Outstanding photo ops at every stop! Here are a few of ours:

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There is a wonderful picnic area and overlook at Rainbow Point, which is the last stop on the park road. Rainbow Point sits at an elevation of 9100 feet. Travel tip: dress in layers, as temperatures in the higher elevations may be much cooler than at lower elevations.

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View from Rainbow Point

Click the website link at the top of the page for details about hiking in Bryce Canyon. We liked the Mossy Cave Trail. The trailhead is on Highway 12 east of the park entrance. The trail runs along a shallow stream to a small waterfall. There is no shade on this trail, so come prepared if the weather is hot.

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Along Mossy Cave Trail
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Waterfall at Mossy Cave Trail

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⇒Side trip: Kodachrome Basin State Park. Take Highway 12 toward Tropic, Utah, and then Cannonville, Utah, and follow the road to the park. Drive time: between Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome Basin: 30 minutes.

  • Cost: $8.00 per vehicle
  • RV and tent camping available
  • Bunkhouses available

Drive through the park on paved and unpaved roads for views of the rock formations, or get up close and personal with the park’s features by hiking the easy trails.

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Above and below: spectacular scenery at Kodachrome Basin State Park.
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Some believe that the tower or pinnacle formations, such as the one above, are ancient thermal features, or parts of ancient springs, or geysers, perhaps. Whatever they are, they are interesting formations that probably can’t be seen anywhere else.

 

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View from Highway 12 near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

When leaving Kodachrome Basin or Bryce Canyon, take Highway 12 east toward Escalante, Utah and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Travel tip: Use extreme caution on Highway 12 through Grand Staircase-Escalante. There are twists, turns, and high points on the two lane road with no guardrails in some places. The scenery is spectacular and very worth the road trip. Continue north to Highway 24 east and Capitol Reef National Park or,

Take Highway 12 west back toward Panguich and then north on Highway 89 to Highway 20 west to I-15 and back to Salt Lake City.

Bryce Canyon is one of the parks that everyone should get to experience. We hope that you enjoy your visit there as much as we enjoyed ours. Please drop us a note below and tell us about your trip to Bryce Canyon, or any other trip, for that matter. We would love to hear from you.

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

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