New Mexico Sight Seeing/Pre Scouting Trip?

Doghed

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The Land of Enchantment
We are flying in the Sunday of the festival. Do you think it would be worth rescheduling flights to come that Saturday to see it?
No I don't think I would go to a lot of trouble changing plans just for the Chile festival unless you're really into the food/festival scene. Its fun and great food but I would only do it if you already intended to visit the southern half of the state (Gila NF./White Sands National Monument/Desert Peaks Nat. Mon.). If so then yes it could be fun to visit a very small agg town doing what they do best.
Chile roasting will be happening all over the state when you're here so no mater which way you go you'll get to experience the pleasure.
My recommendation for the first part of September is similar to what some others have said. Go north. Fanta Se and Taos. Drive the Enchanted circle and if you rent a truck maybe you could even get into the Valle Vidal.
 

Jesse Jaymes

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Boundary Co. Idaho
I lived there twice for a total of 12 years. I'll say it once more in caps.....DO NOT LOITER OR WASTE TIME IN ABQ. It is one of the roughest, most crime riddled places in the US. The rest of the state isn't bad. But there is nothing in ABQ that you need. Fly in, get your rental, and bail.

The poster who gives you the travel times is correct.....NM is not terribly popular overall and it's a large rectangle. But even at 80+ mph....it takes a minute to get somewhere.

The Pie Town/Quemado/Datil area is neat, but it's rural and a long way between gas and service. Prep for it. Gila Cliff Dwellings are neat and a nice hike if it's not 100+ F. Shit you wont see in Vermont. White Sands area is a neat stop but you only need a few hours, not an all day. Not terribly uncommon to see Oryx right off the highway near the gate entrance. If you got him on a knob or pulled over a handful of times you'd probably glass some.
 

dtrkyman

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Geogia O'keeffe's old ghost ranch is a cool place, and some amazing scenery around that area, which is Abiqui, lots to see in that general area. And not far from Taos and Rio Grande gorge if you are up that way.

Other than maybe grabbing some food I would avoid the actual town of Taos.
 
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djewell87

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Well, this is the a rough route that I am thinking about taking for the trip. I am thinking about going to most of the spots mentioned and heading to the Navajo Dam area to fish in the area (I'm not trying to fish for trophy trout, I would be happy doing a little fishing on side of the road anywhere if a different route seems better than going to Navajo Dam), then heading south to some areas that I am interested in hunting one day. The north western part of the drive seems like it might not be much to see. Any advice on changes to the route or things that I may have missed that you would recommend are appreciated. Thanks

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dtrkyman

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That is a great plan, however you left out a chunk of route 84 that brings you through Abiqui, that little section has one of the most scenic drives going up past the Ghost ranch.

Then on your way back south to ABQ you are not too far off course from the Bisti badlands.

And when you go through Fence lake area you are close to El malpais national monument.

Look all those places up and see what you have time for, pretty much endless for cool places to see in new Mexico! Enjoy!
 

RS_Non-Res

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The high road (US64)) from Taos is to Tierra Amarilla is a fair trade with and very different from US84 through Abiquiu. Both are beautiful.
I'm not aware of recreation possibilities on pueblo/reservation land (like you said the NW part).
From Bloomfield to Newcomb: consider the road quality (Did you pick some gas field service roads?) and having skipped the view of Shiprock (the rock is worth it, not so much the town). Drive time difference is 7 minutes.

16 hrs is a long drive...Be sure to leave some time for doing stuff at stops.
Have a good time in the Land of Enchantment / Land of Entrapment.
 
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djewell87

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That is a great plan, however you left out a chunk of route 84 that brings you through Abiqui, that little section has one of the most scenic drives going up past the Ghost ranch.
I'm debating on if the US64 route makes more sense on this trip with the our route going to the enchanted circle so I think that's what we are going to do. Do you think that it would be worth the backtracking to see that vs going up US64?
Then on your way back south to ABQ you are not too far off course from the Bisti badlands.
That looks really cool, but I am thinking about going to Shiprock and headed down 491 to Fence lake so I would miss it if I make that change. Do you think that going down this route might be a better choice?
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And when you go through Fence lake area you are close to El malpais national monument.
If I take the route above I wouldn't be far from that area and it looks like they have some cool things to see there.

The high road (US64)) from Taos is to Tierra Amarilla is a fair trade with and very different from US84 through Abiquiu. Both are beautiful.
I think that the US64 route makes more sense on this trip with the our route going to the enchanted circle so I think that's what we are going to do.
I'm not aware of recreation possibilities on pueblo/reservation land (like you said the NW part).
From Bloomfield to Newcomb: consider the road quality (Did you pick some gas field service roads?) and having skipped the view of Shiprock (the rock is worth it, not so much the town). Drive time difference is 7 minutes.
I'm debating between going to Shiprock now and down 491 to Fence lake or going on the route I screenshot above. What do you think about those two options?
16 hrs is a long drive...Be sure to leave some time for doing stuff at stops.
Have a good time in the Land of Enchantment / Land of Entrapment.
We are going to fly into Albuquerque, rent a car and then spend 3 nights in different places on the route that we pick to break it up and come back to Albuquerque and I'll spend one night there before flying out the next day. Once we get the route nailed down I am going to try to decide on where we should stop for the nights.

Thank yall for all the advice so far!
 

RS_Non-Res

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Both the US64 (rolling mountains and high 10k altitude prairies) and US84 (Chama River valley, red rocks, Ghost Ranch, Echo Amphitheater) are beautiful. Based on the rest of your itinerary, I think you should choose one or the other. If you decide to take US84, then consider taking NM503+NM76 "the High Road" from Pojoaque to Taos, and then coming back to Espanola along the Rio Grande on NM68 (see map below). If you decide to take US64, then either of those parallel routes are worthwhile.

Have not been on 371. I bet that, like Shiprock, the Bisti Badlands are cool. Chaco Culture National Historical Park is out that way too but I have only accessed that from the northeast on NM57. Have not considered applying for elk tags there either. When I go through that part of the state, I'm usually in a hurry.

"Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano" is a private cash-to-enter 2-hour attraction. I thought it was totally worth it, once. There are plenty of other spots in the National Monument near there where you can experience El Malpais off-trial and free but without the ice cave, but if you go to Ice Cave, you'll get a taste of El Malpais.

Have not been on the diagonal from El Moro to NM36 toward Fence Lake. It looks to be a good example of pinon and juniper "forest." Take a look at Google maps street view so you don't get surprised that many state and county "highways" don't have pavement.

It's a personal imperfection that I drive so much for so little play/explore/experience time. I think you will come back from your trip wishing you had a day or two more to execute that loop, but it'll give you a broad overview.

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Seth

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Your route from Fence Lake up to Farmington via 371 is much more scenic than up through Gallup and Shiprock. Shiprock is viewable from a distance from 371. You’ll drive near El Morro outside of Ramah. It can be a quick stop, but very neat petroglyphs and inscriptions from Spanish explorers in the 1500’s.
 

dtrkyman

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Personally I would pick an area and stay there as a base for a few days, tons of day trips within an hour of any of them and you can get out and hike/explore more instead of being stuck in the car!

You could head straight to the Caldera from ABQ. depending on when you land, base out of Abiqui and hit all of that good stuff in that section of the state, enchanted circle, Ghost Ranch, Gorge Ojo Caliente if your into hot springs, Valle Vidal, Chama to name a few!

Way too much stuff to see in a few days on that 15+ hr loop!

Great Cafe along the highway near Abiqui across from a dollar store, forget the name but you can't miss it.
 
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