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Things to do in Northwest NM?

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Things to do in Northwest NM?

Am considering a trip that starts and ends in Albuquerque. I want to go east then north from ABQ to take in Monument Valley and up to Moab to see Arches National Park. I'll have 3 full days to get from Moab back to ABQ. Is there anything to see on the way back that would make ABQ a good place to start and end this trip?

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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1. Re: Things to do in Northwest NM?

Mesa Verde NP is in SW Colorado near Cortez well worth a visit. In NW NM Aztec Ruins NM. Chaco Canyon NHP and Bisti Wilderness are off rough roads that most rental car companies do not allow their cars on.

You could spend time in Taos and Santa Fe as well. Since your main focus is in UT, you may want to look at flying into Salt Lake City and visit from there.

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Los Alamos, New...
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2. Re: Things to do in Northwest NM?

Yes, this is a part of the state where driving on dirt/gravel roads is required for many of the big attractions, and therefore a problem with a rental car. When is your trip? If you happen to be in the area at the time of a Navajo rug auction in the tiny town of Crownpoint, rearrange the rest of your trip (I'm serious about this) to attend it; it's the most interesting evening you'll spend on the whole trip (and I say this as one who loves Arches NP, etc.) from a cultural viewpoint, as well as the best chance you'll have to get a Navajo rug at a good price. Unfortunately, there's only one auction a month, on a Friday night. See their web site, http://crownpointrugauction.com/ , for schedule.

This said, there are numerous "smaller" attractions that are more accessible. On the archaeological side, in addition to CA's recommendation of Aztec Ruins (no problem driving to that), you can try Salmon Ruins Museum in Farmington, another archaeological site with an interesting museum developed around it. Web site https://www.salmonruins.com/ . I see that they advertise "guided tours" of Chaco as well, which might be a way of getting around the rental-car problem -- I have no experience with those guided tours and can't opine as to whether they're any good, but investigate. You might also consider visiting some of the reservation's "trading posts" (I put it in quotes because many have been 7-11-ized, but some retain some authenticity) for deals on Navajo arts and crafts; the ones at Two Grey Hills and Crystal were interesting the last time I was there (admittedly some years ago), and Farmington and nearby Shiprock have some that haven't been too badly touristified.

How far east do you consider "Northwest NM" to extend? If you consider the mountain town of Chama to be in "Northwest NM" (it's up in the San Juan Mountains rather than in canyon/mesa country of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau), there are TONS of possibilities. Follow CA's suggestion and visit Mesa Verde, a must-see. Then continue to Durango and Pagosa Springs, CO, and to Chama, with great scenery and attractions galore. Turn south at Chama to continue to Abiquiu (Georgia O'Keeffe country), Santa Fe and back to ABQ. All sorts of interesting stuff in this area, please clarify your intentions and we'll expand on it.

One thing: you say you want to go "east then north from ABQ" to get to Moab and Arches. Am I correct in presuming that that's a typo, and you meant *west* then north? Or are you confusing Albuquerque with Phoenix? You wouldn't be the first to do that...

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Ohio
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3. Re: Things to do in Northwest NM?

Thanks the replies, and yea, I meant west from ABQ! Sorry about that. It has been suggested to fly to SLC, but I have never been to NM and am considering it. Will check out your suggestions. Thanks!

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Los Alamos, New...
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4. Re: Things to do in Northwest NM?

OK, with that clarification, and knowing that you haven't been to NM before, here's how I'd do it:

Go north to Monument Valley and Moab by way of the Navajo reservation, as you are planning -- maybe pause at El Malpais and/or El Morro National Monuments near Grants, south of I-40, if you have time. (More on that later.) After enjoying Moab and Arches (a great place), continue to Mesa Verde as recommended above, and overnight in Pagosa Springs, CO. The next morning, get up early and continue to Chama (you could overnight there instead, but Pagosa is vastly better for that, a terrific little town) to ride the Cumbres and Toltec narrow-gauge railroad, scenic and atmospheric. They have the option of either taking the train all the way to Antonito, CO, and a bus back, or stopping at Cumbres Pass, right on the NM/CO state line, and meeting the train coming in from Antonito to take you back to Chama. I recommend the latter. Turn south toward Santa Fe and pass through San Juan Mountains scenery (optional side trip to check out the awe-inspiring Brazos Cliffs just north of Tierra Amarilla) and red-rock Georgia O'Keeffe country, spending the night at tiny Abiquiu -- the Abiquiu Inn there is much better than its roadside-motel appearance and has a good restaurant. Continue from there to Santa Fe the next morning. Santa Fe is worth a trip all by itself but you won't have time for much there; see the many other Santa Fe threads here for ideas. If you're a hiker, there are several interesting short hikes on this route; if an art lover, see the O'Keeffe museum at Ghost Ranch just north of Abiquiu; if looking to satisfy the inner sybarite, skip the train in favor of a dunk in the superb hot springs at Pagosa.

Now back to your trip north: It is unclear from your posts how much of a hurry you're in to get to Moab. If you have to get there the same day you fly into ABQ, you/re not going to have time for many digressions from the direct route to Monument Valley. If you have an overnight en route, things change. You will certainly have time for the pause at El Malpais and El Morro (short hikes at both), and if interested in Navajo arts and crafts, look in Gallup (Richardson's is a reputable dealer) or hit those trading posts (really only feasible if you're leaving ABQ in the morning) or both. Stay in Farmington before heading for Monument Valley the next morning, with an optional visit to Salmon Ruins. Honestly, you might skip this leg in favor of going to Canyon de Chelly in eastern Arizona; it's well worth seeing and combines well with Monument Valley.

Once again, if you're so lucky as to be traveling at the time of a Crownpoint auction, skip much of this stuff and make sure you get to that instead. It's really a remarkable experience.

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Ohio
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5. Re: Things to do in Northwest NM?

canbelto, thanks so much! Now, some research.

6. Re: Things to do in Northwest NM?

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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7. Re: Things to do in Northwest NM?

Kialo great information but you can't promote your business here.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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8. Re: Things to do in Northwest NM?

The post that was removed was for a very interesting tour company out of the 4 Corners Region that sounds wonderful. The owner was new to the forums and did not realize this wasn't a marketing site. BUT I think this is a really cool tour company and one I will be checking out this summer. They have private tours of Chaco and Bisti and also a non-profit that has free guided hikes. Native American owned and I think worth checking out.

https://navajotoursusa.com/

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Hotel Chaco
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Albuquerque, NM
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