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

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Tucked snugly beneath the cool pines in the mountains of southeastern New Mexico, Ruidoso is a year-round vacation destination that has something for everyone. With its towering peaks, such as Sierra Blanca pictured above, and quaint alpine village setting, Ruidoso is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We started going there as kids with our parents and grandparents, and we’ve been going back ever since!

The area offers skiing and other snow sports in the winter, along with the sweet, smoky aroma of piñion wood crackling in the fireplace. Summer brings the thrill of horse racing, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, golfing, and just about anything else you can think of to do outdoors. We love Ruidoso any time of year, but if we had to choose our favorite month to visit, we would choose October. We’re anxious to share this trip with you, so let’s get going!

Ruidoso is approximately:

140 miles from El Paso, Texas180 miles from Albuquerque, NM250 miles from Lubbock, Texas287 miles from Amarillo, Texas

Our trip is going to start in El Paso, since it is the closest city with a major airport. Drive time between El Paso and Ruidoso is 2.5 hours.

*Recommended hotels in El Paso: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express. (Links for these hotels are located in our Places/Links section at the top of the page.)

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From El Paso, take US Highway 54 north toward Tularosa via Alamogordo, then take US Highway 70 northeast to Ruidoso.

⇒Alternate (recommended) Route: from El Paso, take I-10 north to Las Cruces, New Mexico. At Las Cruces, take US Highway 70 northeast to White Sands National Monument. Drive time between El Paso and White Sands: 1.5 hours.

Bonus stop: White Sands National Monument. Here’s the link: White Sands National Monument. Currently $5.00 per adult to enter the monument. Entrance is free for kids 15 and under, and there is a shop at the visitor center that rents sand discs for sledding on the dunes. Even if sledding isn’t your thing, the scenery is out of this world. There are plenty of places to park along Dunes Drive, so get out of the car and climb the dunes for spectacular views and photo ops with the mountains as the backdrop. Travel tip: before you go, check the website for park closures due to testing at White Sands Missile Range. Closures typically last three hours or less.

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From White Sands, take US Highway 70 to Alamogordo.

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Bonus stop: New Mexico Museum of Space History/International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo. Here’s a link: Space Museum. Plan to spend a couple of hours here, as it is a fantastic museum that both kids and adults will love. Alamogordo offers many  hotel and restaurant choices, as well as a state park, wineries, and a zoo. While you’re in town, be sure to be on the lookout for the world’s largest pistachio! 

From Alamogordo, take US Highway 54 north to Tularosa (13 miles), then take US Highway 70 northeast to Ruidoso.

⇒Alternate (recommended) Route: from Alamogordo, take US Highway 82 east to Cloudcroft. (19 miles of steep two lane road.) This route through the Lincoln National Forest is very scenic. Travel tip: when you see the “Tunnel Ahead” sign, slow down for a pull out. The view of White Sands from the viewpoint is pictured below.

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Continue east on US Highway 82. Right before you reach the village of Cloudcroft, there is another pull out. Stop and get out of the car, stretch your legs, and breathe in the fresh mountain air. (The elevation here is about 8650 feet.) Learn about the historic Cloudcroft Railroad/Mexican Canyon Trestle pictured below. This only remaining portion of the old rail line is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Bonus stop: Cloudcroft. Stop here and have a look around the village that is home to Ski Cloudcroft. The village also has shopping, restaurants, history, and a totally laid-back atmosphere.

*Recommended restaurant in Cloudcroft: Dave’s Cafe – 300 Burro Ave. Good food and good service.

Bonus stop: Sunspot Solar Observatory. Head south from Cloudcroft on Highway 130 toward Sunspot, New Mexico via the Sunspot Highway (aka Highway 6563). It is an extremely scenic drive (a total of 19 miles in the Lincoln National Forest) that ends at the observatory. Along the road, be sure to stop at the scenic viewpoint pull out for fabulous views of White Sands and the Tularosa Basin. At the observatory, check out the visitor center, the telescopes, and the beautiful scenery. The elevation at Sunspot is about 9200 feet.

From Cloudcroft, take Highway 244 north to US Highway 70 to Ruidoso. Highway 244 is also a scenic route through the Lincoln National Forest. Drive time from Cloudcroft to Ruidoso: 1 hour. Travel tip: watch for deer and elk along this road.

Did we mention why we like this area in October?

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Destination: Ruidoso, New Mexico

*Recommended resort hotel in Ruidoso: Inn of the Mountain Gods. This resort has everything, including a gorgeous, yet challenging golf course, and a casino! Here’s a link: Inn of the Mountain Gods.

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View from the terrace at Inn of the Mountain Gods

*Recommended hotel in Ruidoso: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended Mexican food restaurant: Casa Blanca – 501 Mechem Dr.

*Recommended restaurant for dinner: Texas Club – 212 Metz Dr.

*Recommended restaurant for lunch: Anaheim Jacks – 1097 Mechem Dr.

We have heard that Sacred Grounds – 2704 Sudderth Dr. – is great for breakfast. We haven’t been there, but we have seen the crowded parking lot!

Here are our picks for some of the best things to do in Ruidoso:

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  • Bet! Enjoy the excitement of summer horse racing at Ruidoso Downs. The adjoining Billy the Kid Casino is open year-round.
  • Gamble! Play the slots or try your hand at one the gaming tables at Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino.
  • Shop! Ruidoso’s downtown offers a variety of great shops and art galleries. There is bound to be something for every heart’s desire.
  • Play! There are public golf courses, a public swimming pool, tennis courts, public parks, a bowling alley, miniature golf, bumper boats, go-carts, and horseback riding stables, just to name a few. img_4710.jpg
  • Ski! Head up to Ski Apache for wintertime fun in the snow. There is also a site for sledding and tubing near the ski area.
  • Learn! Check out the Hubbard Museum of the American West, located just east of Ruidoso Downs race track.
  • Hike! There are many hiking trails in the area, along with bike trails.
  • Canoe! Area lakes provide the perfect setting for canoeing, kayaking, or fishing.IMG_4654

⇒Side trip: For history buffs, head northeast on Highway 48 (aka Billy the Kid Trail) from Ruidoso to Capitan for a visit to Smokey Bear Historical Park. Spend an hour touring the museum and nature area, and see Smokey’s final resting place. Tickets are $2.00 per adult and $1.00 for kids between the ages of seven and twelve. Kids under six are admitted free.

Travel tip: stop in at the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway Visitor Center in Ruidoso Downs (next to the Hubbard Museum of the American West) before traveling to these sites. Here’s a link: Billy the Kid Scenic Byway.

Next, head east on US Highway 380 to Fort Stanton Historic Site. Take a tour of the grounds and learn the importance of this historic fort. Here’s a link: Fort Stanton.

The third stop is Lincoln, New Mexico for some Old West history. (East on US Highway 380 from Fort Stanton.) Learn about the Lincoln County War, Sheriff Pat Garrett, and Billy the Kid, while touring the historic buildings in town. Tickets for entrance into all of the designated buildings are $5.00 per person at the visitor center. There is also a nice hiking/nature trail along the Rio Bonito. The slides below show some of the sights around Lincoln.

We’re going to end this post with one last side trip idea. (While in any area, why not see everything. Right?)

Just a short drive east (one hour) from Ruidoso is the city of Roswell, New Mexico. (Remember the 1947 Roswell incident?) Well, whether or not you believe a flying saucer crashed there, a trip to the International UFO Museum and Research Center might be something you want to add to your itinerary.

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Go ahead and admit it…we know you want to see this place. So go, even if it’s just so you can say you have been there! Telling about your trip to this museum will make for great campfire or cocktail party conversation, too.

Okay, that’s a wrap. Hopefully we have inspired your wanderlust, and if a trip to New Mexico is on your radar, we sincerely hope that you will make plans to visit Ruidoso and surrounding areas in the future. 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 Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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  • Website link: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per vehicle
  • Campgrounds available in the park.
  • Hiking, climbing, rafting, scenic drives, and fishing available in the park.
  • Hotels and restaurants available in Montrose, Colorado, 20 minutes west, via Highway 50.
  • When to go: Anytime. We recommend May through September. Some park roads close during the winter months.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is probably one of the least crowded national parks we have visited so far, and we don’t know why. We were in awe of the park’s extraordinary features, especially the depth and beauty of the canyon itself. This is a wonderful park! As with all of our national parks, it definitely deserves a visit.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is approximately:

228 miles from Colorado Springs, Colorado250 miles from Denver, Colorado73 miles from Grand Junction, Colorado

This trip is going to start from Grand Junction, Colorado. The city does not have a major airport, but it does have a regional airport that is served by several national and regional carriers.

*Recommended hotels in Grand Junction: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

*Recommended restaurant in Grand Junction: El Tapatio – 1145 North Ave. – fantastic Mexican food.

Now, we’re off to Black Canyon of the Gunnison! Grab a backpack and your hiking shoes. Get ready for fabulous scenery, dizzying heights, and a bonus destination that is going to knock your socks off. Let’s go!

Getting There

From Grand Junction, take Highway 50 south to Montrose, Colorado. Continue east on Highway 50 to Highway 92 north to the park entrance and South Rim Drive.

*Recommended hotel in Montrose: Holiday Inn Express.

*Recommended restaurant in Montrose: Camp Robber – 1515 Ogden Rd.

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Colorado Sunrise

 

For those traveling from Gunnison, Colorado, take Highway 50 west via Curecanti National Recreation Area to Highway 92 north to the park entrance.

Destination: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Stop at the visitor center to get information about the park and to access the trail to the Gunnison Point overlook. Spectacular views and unlimited photo ops. Then take South Rim Drive for more spectacular scenery. Travel tip: there are other ways to see the canyon and the park besides from South Rim Drive. Click the website above for details about the North Rim, the East Portal, and hiking trails.

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The Gunnison River and Black Canyon as seen from Gunnison Point
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Canyon View
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Painted Wall

Bonus Destination: Curecanti National Recreation Area – Morrow Point

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From Montrose, Colorado or Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, take Highway 50 east to Curecanti National Recreation Area. At mile marker 130 take the Pine Creek turnoff and proceed to the parking lot. Drive time between Montrose and Curecanti NRA: 1 hour.

We’re taking a boat tour on Morrow Point Resevoir in the Black Canyon! But first we have to get there. Get ready for a fantastic hike.

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Travel tips:

  • Bring a picnic lunch, snacks, plenty of water, sunscreen, sturdy hiking shoes, and a hat. Dress for the weather.
  • Allow one hour to hike the trail to the boat dock. There are 232 steps leading down to the trail, and then another (easy) mile to the dock.
  • The park ranger-guided tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours.
  • Advance reservations needed.
  • Campgrounds available at Curecanti National Recreation Area.
  • Here’s a link to the website: Curecanti NRA.

Below are a few of our favorite shots.

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Chipeta Falls
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Stunning Scenery on Still Water
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Rocky Reflection

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There is a lot to see and do in Western Colorado. Curecanti NRA has plenty of campsites available, and we hear that the trout and salmon fishing is great in its three lakes. At left is a shot of Blue Mesa Reservoir, and Dillon Pinnacles.

After you have enjoyed your time at these parks, head back to Montrose, and take Highway 550 south to the scenic town of Ouray. Continue on south to Silverton and then Durango via the San Juan Skyway, one of the most scenic drives in the U.S. Or, head north from Montrose back to Grand Junction, and check out Colorado National Monument.

That is our trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison and the Morrow Point Boat Tour. We enjoyed sharing our trip with you. Our hope is that our trip gives you some ideas on how to plan your own vacation adventure in Western Colorado. Until next time…

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 Butte, Montana

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Butte, Montana: The Richest Hill on Earth. The town was established as a mine site in the mid-1800s. Gold, silver, and most of all copper, has been mined at Butte. Mining operations attracted workers from all over the world. At one time, the population of Butte was close to 100,000 people, so they claim, but today the population is a little over 36,000. Famous in the past for its rather notorious Red Light District, Butte today is famous for the Berkeley Pit, which is part of the largest environmental cleanup in U.S. history. With an interesting and storied past, Butte, Montana is great for a short visit or a longer stay.

Butte is:

  • A gateway to Helena, the Capital of Montana.
  • A good place to stop over when traveling to Glacier National Park.
  • The home of Montana Tech University.
  • Rich in copper mining history.
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Beautiful 9/11 Tribute in Butte

Butte is approximately:

118 miles from Missoula, Montana155 miles from Great Falls, Montana226 miles from Billings Montana147 miles from West Yellowstone, Montana

Our trip is going to start in Missoula, Montana. Missoula has an international airport that is served by several national carriers. Drive time between Missoula and Butte: 1.75 hours.

*Recommended hotels in Missoula: Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express.

Getting There

From Missoula, Montana, take I-90 east to Butte via Deer Lodge. Bonus stop: Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site. Tour the historic buildings. Learn about ranching in Montana at this working cattle ranch. Admission: free. Here’s a link: Grant-Kors Ranch National Historic Site. Drive time between Grant-Kohrs Ranch NHS and Butte, Montana: 30 minutes.

Destination: Butte, Montana

*Recommended hotel in Butte: Hampton Inn.

*Recommended restaurant in Butte: The Montana Club – 3540 Harrison Ave.

*Recommended time to go to Butte: spring through fall.

Below are some of the things we enjoyed doing and seeing while we were in Butte.

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Trolley Ride. We started at the Butte Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and booked our ride to familiarize ourselves with the city. The driver gave an excellent overview of the history of Butte.

Our Lady of the Rockies. We read about her and then stopped to take a picture along the highway. Did you know that Our Lady of the Rockies is the fourth tallest statue in the U.S.? Created in the image of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, she was dedicated as a tribute to women worldwide.

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Buildings as Billboards. We became enthralled by the old painted signs on many of the buildings in downtown Butte. Below is a slideshow of a few of them.

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Headframes. These are the contraptions that lowered (and raised) men, equipment, and even animals (mainly mules, which went down but not up – once they were down in the mines, they spent the rest of their lives there) into and out of the mines. Most importantly,  headframes were used to raise ore from the mines. Supposedly there are 10,000 miles of mines under the city of Butte. It is said that all of the underground mines were filled with water during the environmental cleanup of the Superfund Site at Butte.

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One of the historic headframes that still dot the landscape in Butte, Montana today

The Berkeley Pit. Of course, we wanted to pay $2.00 per person to see some toxic waste! Doesn’t everyone? There’s even a gift shop! Interestingly enough, the history of the mine and the fact that it is now an EPA Superfund Site, makes for a great tourist stop in Butte. The water in this huge pit supposedly has the toxicity of battery acid. Loud horns go off every few minutes to scare away birds. If they land on this “lake” they will die. A small mine still operates next to the Berkeley Pit today.

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Beautiful reflections in the toxic water of the Berkeley Pit

Side Trip to Helena, Montana. Drive time between Butte and Helena: 1 hour. Helena is the beautiful capital city of Montana. The Montana Historical Society, located across the street from the capitol building, is in the top three most interesting museums we have ever visited. We also visited the Cathedral of Saint Helena, which opened in 1908.

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Cathedral of Saint Helena

Side Trip to Missouri Headwaters State Park. This beautiful state park is located at Three Forks, Montana, where the confluence of three rivers: Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison create the headwaters of the Missouri River. We went for the scenery, a picnic, and the learning experience. Lewis and Clark camped here. Boating, fishing, hiking, biking and camping are just a few of the popular activities at this park. Here’s a link: Missouri Headwaters State Park. Drive time between Missouri Headwaters State Park and Butte, Montana: 1 hour.

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Headwaters of the Missouri River
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This is one of the few buildings that remain of what was once the town of Second Gallatin City, Montana, located near the entrance of Missouri Headwaters State Park.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Butte, and we recommend a stop for anyone who happens to be in the area. Leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite places. We would love to hear from you! 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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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  • Website: Arches National Park.
  • Cost: $30.00 per car.
  • Lodging in the park: one campground for RV and tent camping. Reservations accepted.
  • Accommodations and restaurants outside the park in Moab, Utah.
  • Hiking and backpacking trails in the park.
  • When to go: Anytime.

The crowds at Arches during the summer months are certainly a testament to the park’s popularity. But what’s not to like? Rock formations, incredible arches, gorgeous scenery, and the park’s location, bordering the Colorado River near Moab, Utah… Well, it doesn’t get much better than that! There truly is nothing else like Arches. You’re going to love this park, so let’s hit the road!

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Arches National Park

Arches is located approximately:

350 miles from Denver, Colorado230 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah110 miles from Grand Junction, Colorado

This trip starts from Grand Junction, Colorado because it is the most scenic route. Grand Junction has a regional airport supporting three major carriers, as well as several regional airlines. The closest major airport city is Salt Lake City. If you are traveling from Capitol Reef National Park, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, too.

Getting There

*Recommended hotels in Grand Junction: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

*Recommended restaurant in Grand Junction: El Tapatio – 1145 North Ave. Our favorite Mexican food anywhere — and we’re from Texas! (The El Tapatio in Page, Arizona is just as good.) The restaurants are family owned, and they have excellent service. Muy Bueno!

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Colorado River Along Highway 128

(Recommended route) From Grand Junction, take I-70 west across the Utah border to Highway 128. Take Highway 128 south toward Moab. This is an incredibly scenic route. Allow time to stop for (hundreds of) photo ops as the road follows the Colorado River all the way to Moab. Travel tip: the speed limit on I-70 in Utah is 80 mph. Drive time between Grand Junction, Colorado and Moab, Utah: depends on how many stops are made, but approximately 3 hours. Highway 128 is approximately 41 miles long.

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Colorado National Monument

Bonus stop: Colorado National Monument. Enter the park at the Grand Junction entrance, then take Rim Rock Drive for 23 miles of spectacular rock formations, spires, and deep canyons. Lots of pull outs and photo ops. Informative visitor center near the Fruita entrance. Hiking, biking, climbing, backpacking, and camping available. Here’s a link: Colorado National Monument. 

Exit Colorado National Monument at Fruita, Colorado and continue on I-70 west toward the Utah state line and then the Highway 128 exit. Drive time between Fruita and Moab: 2 hours. 

For those traveling from Capitol Reef National Park, stay on Highway 24 via Hanksville, Utah, and continue on Highway 24 to I-70. Take I-70 east to Highway 191 south to Arches and Moab. Drive time from Capitol Reef National Park to Arches National Park: 2 hours. Travel tip: top off your gas tank in Hanksville. The next available gas and other services will be in Green River which is approximately 60 miles through desert terrain.

*Recommended hotel in Moab: Holiday Inn Express.

Campgrounds and RV parks are available in Moab. We have heard that they fill up quickly, so advance reservations are highly suggested.

*Recommended restaurants in Moab: Zax Restaurant – 96 S Main St., and Pasta Jay’s – 4 S Main St.

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*Recommended tour company in Moab: Canyonlands by Night & Day. This company offers a full menu of adventures in the Moab area. We highly recommend the Sound and Light Show tour, which includes dinner (good food, by the way) followed by an evening boat ride on the Colorado River. Learn the history of the area and see the sights in the river canyon. Here’s a link to the website: Canyonlands by Night & Day

Destination: Arches National Park

Get ready for some jaw dropping sights!

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Window Wonders
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Magnificent Monoliths

Take your time driving through the park. Stop at the pull outs to read about the formations/arches and learn about how the features in this park were formed.

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Delicate Arch(es)
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Gorgeous Landscapes

Plan to spend a few days in Moab. There is another spectacular national park, Canyonlands, right next door, along with a scenic state park. You won’t want to miss either of those parks. (Stay tuned – we will be covering those in another post.)

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Moab has just about every outdoor adventure sport imaginable! From skydiving to hot air ballooning, the sky is the limit, and Moab is a mountain biking mecca. Off-roading is super popular, and there are several outfitters in town that can arrange almost anything you want to do. There is plenty of shopping on Main Street, and for those who like tourist traps, there’s one of those, too. Quirky Hole N The Rock is worth a quick stop for a souvenir or two. It’s on Highway 191, 12 miles south of Moab. Kids will love this place!

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We hope your trip to Arches National Park is as spectacular as the scenery! Please leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite road trip destinations, or tell us about your trip to Arches. We want to hear from you. 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