Options from Moab to the Big Bend…

Moab to Big BendWe had an interesting discussion yesterday about the need for rest during the journey. Originally it was built into the plan with pickup days between the various travel legs, but as we refined things we have (on paper, anyway) decided to split up some of the drive days, eating into those pickup days. And adding on the Zion Narrows required further reworking the schedule, stealing a bit more from the “rest” time.

This has left us with a segment from Death Valley through Moab which may be a bit of an endurance challenge for the driver (though not exactly, as there is a big difference between driving 12 hours from point A to point B on the highways and doing an off road jeep trail through the canyons and deserts we came to explore…). However, we do always have the option on those off-road trails, of just stopping and staying in place (that is the beauty of the road side camping … we don’t have to have an approved pre-determined campsite) — though for the Death Valley segments I think we just need to be aware of environmental factors, and make sure if we decide to hold up somewhere, we chose a wise location…

So with the discussion of “rest” still in mind, I am looking at the post-Moab segment of the trip… the long ride down to the Big Bend… and seeing how best to approach it…

In the original plan we had Day 33 (our exit from the White Rim) staying in a hotel in Moab (btw, should we go back to the one we had last time? The Big Horn Lodge…), then Day 34 canyoneering, with the option of leaving Moab that evening…

But perhaps we stay that night in the Moab hotel again… (allowing for a good night’s rest before hitting the road again)…

Then the following day we have a couple of options. Basically we have 3 days to get down to the Big Bend (we need to be in the area on the night of Day 37, as we have the river trip starting the morning of Day 38)… And to put it in perspective, the total distance from Moab to Big Bend is just about 100 miles less than Nesconset, NY to Orlando, FL (where we went to Universal Studios park)!

so Option A:

Day 35 – rest in Moab till lunchtime, then drive 2 – 3 hours to cortez colorado, settle in there and  see the indian dancers at 7pm… (overnight in Cortez area)

Day 36 – drive Cortez to Elephant Butte or El Paso (8 – 10 hours drive depending on how far we go)

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

Option B:

Day 35 - depart moab after breakfast and get as far as we can either Aztec or Albuquerque… (it is 6 – 8 hours to Albquerque… if we could get that far, or stop around farmington/aztec NM area which also has a number of lodging options)

Day 36 – drive Aztec to Elephant Butte or El Paso (7 – 9 hour drive)

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

Option C:

Day 35 – early wake up and marathon drive to Elephant Butte (approx. 12 hours)

Day 36 – day off / rest

Day 37 – drive Elephant Butte/El Paso to Big Bend National park (5 – 8 hours depending on start point)

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have No Comments

The Santa Fe option…

So am continuing with the trip plans, and refining the itinerary a bit more, and realize we will definitely need to make a choice about which alignment we take in New Mexico, and that choice will effect more than just the parts of route 66 we will see. It will effect the itinerary for the following days all the way through to Arizona…

MQ_NM_Route66_map

While we may not have to make that choice now (or even necessarily BEFORE departure… ), it would be a good idea to think about the options and how each would impact our experience.

The basic choice is whether we  go: Tucumcari > Santa Rosa > Santa Fe > Albuquerque

OR more directly: Tucumcari > Santa Rosa >  Albuquerque…

While at first glance we might want to say “take the shortest route,” on a trip like ours the whole point is the journey… rather than how quickly we can get to our destination… so the question is really more about which alignment would present the most interesting experience in the time we have…

Those who have done the drive recommend the Santa Fe loop “if we have the time”… particularly to see the Pecos National Historical site (which seems like it might be interesting)… and personally, the big attraction of the Santa Fe loop for me is a part of the drive on a dirt road thru La Bajada (explanation below is from Legends of America: Rte 66 site) :

…the Mother Road continued on a particularly nasty stretch down La Bajada Hill toward Albuquerque. One of the most challenging sections of Route 66, the 500 foot drop along narrow switch backs struck terror in the hearts of many early travelers, so much so that locals were often hired to drive vehicles down the steep slope.

You KNOW i want to drive that segment!!!!!  (there might also be the possibility of coming BACK via this segment on our way down from Utah after Moab if we skip Santa Fe loop on the way). Check out what these folks who did the trip in 2003 have to say about this section of the Route… And here is a good explanation of La Bajada possiblities… and HERE IS A JEEP TRAIL (and they rate it as an EASY trail, so i think it should be no problem for us!!!!!). The Jeep Trail actually takes us onto the Cochiti indian reservation, and ends at a ruin… Here is more about the Cochitis… and someone’s photo essay from a trip up La Bajada…

Once we are in Alburquerque, i think it would be great to visit/camp at the Chaco Culture National Historical park!!!!

This Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosting the densest and most exceptional concentration of pueblos in the American Southwest. It is located in a relatively inaccessible canyon cut by the Chaco Wash, and contains the most sweeping collection of ancient ruins north of Mexico. There is a primitive campground inside the park. Tucked amongst the fallen boulders and cliffs of Gallo Wash, the campground offers camping in a rugged environment, surrounded by petroglyphs, a cliff dwelling, inscriptions, and a high desert landscape. There is no shade. The campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

As there are no reservations for campsites there we will need alternative plans in case it is full… the park itself has put together this list of alternative camping options in the area… BTW, the Chaco park has put together a “Before you Visit” introduction online, too…

Anyway, here are some thoughts on planning options…

OPTION1: spend day 10 getting to Santa Fe area, with a stop over at the Pecos national site, and camp somewhere in the Santa Fe National Forest… (which will put us in a perfect location to then do the La Bajada jeep trail the next morning!!!!). here is a good resource on the local campgrounds there. day 11 do the jeep trail, then drive to Chaco national park… (with an option of camping at one of the ranches nearby if the park campground is full)…

Picture 33

Day10 : DRIVE Amarillo / Tucumcari / Santa Rosa / Santa Fe = 350 miles, 8 hours, with a stopover for hike/visit at Pecos National Historical park.
CAMP at one of the Santa Fe National Forest campgrounds (no reservations)

Day 11: DRIVE Santa Fe / La Bajada / Chaco Culture National Historical park = 250 miles, 7 hours, with the La Bajada Jeep trail (4 hours)
CAMP at  Chaco Culture National Historical park Gallo campground OR one of the alternates.

Day 12: HIKE/VISIT Chaco Culture National Historical park
DRIVE: Chaco Culture National Historical park / Gallup = 100 miles, 2 hours
CAMP at campground or motel TBD (possible performance at Gallup Multi-cultural Center)

DAY 13: DRIVE Gallup / Holbrook / Winslow = 150 miles, 3 hours
HIKE/VISIT Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National park
CAMP either Wilderness Backpack camping in Petrified Forest OR primitive campground on Rock Art Canyon ranch

OPTION2: go direct to Albuquerque on day 10, overnight locally there, and then go to Chaco on day 11…

Picture 34

Day10 : DRIVE Amarillo / Tucumcari / Santa Rosa / Albuquerque = 350 miles, 7 hours.
CAMP at campground/motel TBD

Day 11: DRIVE Albuquerque / Chaco Culture National Historical park = 160 miles, 3.5 hours.
HIKE/VISIT Chaco Culture National Historical park
CAMP at Chaco Culture National Historical park Gallo campground OR one of the alternates.

Day 12: DRIVE: Chaco Culture National Historical park / Gallup = 100 miles, 2 hours
CAMP at campground or motel TBD (possible performance at Gallup Multi-cultural Center)

DAY 13: DRIVE Gallup / Holbrook / Winslow = 150 miles, 3 hours
HIKE/VISIT Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National park
CAMP either Wilderness Backpack camping in Petrified Forest OR primitive campground on Rock Art Canyon ranch

OPTION 3: cut out the Chaco Culture park visit…

Picture 35

Day10 : DRIVE Amarillo / Tucumcari / Santa Rosa / Albuquerque = 350 miles, 7 hours.
CAMP at campground/motel TBD

Day 11: FREE DAY

Day 12: DRIVE Albuquerque / Gallup / Holbrook / Winslow = 300 miles, 6 hours
HIKE/VISIT Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National park
CAMP either Wilderness Backpack camping in Petrified Forest OR primitive campground on Rock Art Canyon ranch

Day 13: FREE DAY

posted by Blue Coyote in Planning and have Comments (2)

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