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Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

Tuval, Israel
Level Contributor
11 posts
45 reviews
Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

My wife and I are planning a roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas in May. We have about 12 days and want to include Bryce/Zion /Grand Canyon. We would like to visit Mesa Verde as well, but I fear that it is too much travelling and not really in the right direction.

I would appreciate views, tips and even an itinerary...

11 replies to this topic
Albuquerque, New...
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for New Mexico, Albuquerque
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1. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

You might want to post this on the Road Trips forum.

I would also post this in the Utah forum, for more information on the Nat'l parks there. You could do Mesa Verde as there are several ways to go from Santa Fe to Vegas.

Kalispell, Montana
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for Glacier National Park, Santa Fe, Sedona
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2. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

You can certainly do this if you have enough time...we do it all the time and its a lovely scenic trip. The miles you drive are not all that bad either...and we don't like long days on the road.

After a bare minimum of 3 nights, two full days stays in Santa Fe:

Night 1...Drive to and stay in Durango, Colorado. Drive up via Taos NM and Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Be sure to visit the International Heritage Taos Pueblo before heading on to Durango. We actually like staying in Durango, a very nice and fun town, and drive to Mesa Verde in the morning. http://taospueblo.com https:/…

Night 2...Stay inside Mesa Verde at Vair View Lodge or in Cortez NM after a full day inside the park. https:/…lodging.htm

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g60857-Co… We stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites.

Night 3...Drive to Monument Valley for the night...The View Hotel is primo or Gouldings Lodge 2nd choice...this is a very special place. Navajo Spirit Backcountry tour in the morning. http://monumentvalleyview.com

http://www.gouldings.com The home page for Gouldings actually shows the view from the View Hotel and not Gouldings.

www.navajospirittours.com/monument-valley

Night 4 & 5...end up in Grand Canyon...Stay in the village area for 2 nights after you take the tour above in the morning and drive the 180 miles to GC Village . You will have time to stop at some of the Desert Rim Overlooks...be sure to stop at the first one...the Watchtower/Desert View. El Tovar is the Historic Lodge on the rim. But there are several other hotels there. Spend the next day there at leisure.

Night 6...Page, Az for the Upper (easy) or Lower (lots of stairs and narrow passages) Antelope Canyon tour and visit to Glen Canyon Dam. A beautiful area after a drive up through a large section of Painted Desert. Horseshoe Bend is also popular but is a 3/4 mile long slog in sugar sand and then back...not so good if you are not avid hikers. We stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites there too, but there are now lots of nice new hotels. https://navajotours.com/tour-packages/ https:/…

Night 7...End up at Bryce Canyon for a night. Bryce is pretty small and compact but very different and beautiful from all the other places you will have seen or will see later. The loop drive through the park is wonderful and sunset views over the main canyon are stunning. Unless you want to hike more or take a horseback ride there...one night is actually enough. Stay at either Ruby's Inn or at the Best Western Plus there.

Nights 8 & 9...Zion National Park, staying in Springdale or at Zion Lodge. Springdale is right at the entrance to Zion Canyon. Again we stay at the Hampton I & S, but there are a lot of others there and Zion Lodge. Take your time driving into the park on its eastern side...you will be absolutely awed by the red rock formations...stop at Checkerboard Mesa and other stops along the way to the Summit Tunnel. Then do the same all the way past the tunnel into Springdale. If you are hikers, the second day is for hiking up in Zion Canyon.

Night 10...Las Vegas via St George with a side drive if desired into Valley of Fire State Park.

..................

This gives you a logical and mileage-economical auto tour. You can adjust the number of nights in places according to your own tastes, but keep the order in line. If there is any chance of adding days, you could also include a couple of exploratory days down in Sedona near GC...its an area many people have never heard of before. Its gorgeous and has a lot to do there.

**Make a decision quickly on your dates and make hotel reservations asap...particularly in/near the National Parks and at Monument Valley. In a pinch, if Monument Valley is booked, make a plan B reservation at the Kayenta Hampton 30 miles beyond MV. Kayenta is not a great place but it does have that nice hotel there. Staying in MV gets you a spectacular sunset from your balcony room and the ultra special tour in the morning.

Let me know if you have any questions, I will try to answer them quickly for you.

Tuval, Israel
Level Contributor
11 posts
45 reviews
3. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

that's great advice. Thank you very much for taking the time. I appreciate it.

Kalispell, Montana
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for Glacier National Park, Santa Fe, Sedona
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4. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

Its a great trip and a good amount of time...enjoy yourselves. More questions, ask please or message me.

Tuval, Israel
Level Contributor
11 posts
45 reviews
5. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

I see you're from Montana. We will be driving through Glacier NP and onwards through Montana roughly following route 90 just after 4th July. Any advice would be appreciated.

Los Alamos, New...
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for Santa Fe, Los Alamos
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6. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

One thing to expand on ME's excellent (as usual) advice: If you have the time to add a day/night in Santa Fe, I'd recommend seeing Taos Pueblo as part of a day trip from your Santa Fe base rather than on your route to Durango. That would allow you to do both the classic "High Road to Taos" drive through tiny and old (by American standards...) villages in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and a return to Santa Fe on the "low road" along the Rio Grande. It also extends the time you have available in Taos, which has other attractions in addition to the pueblo.

If you go this way, your route to Durango changes slightly. From Santa Fe head north to Espanola, but then follow US 84/285 rather than the road to Taos. Stay on 84 when the routes divide, and continue through Abiquiu and past some fine red-rock terrain (Georgia O'Keeffe country; some digressions here if you like paintings and other visual art, check out Ghost Ranch, her former home and now a museum). Join the route suggested above at the junction with US 64, outside the town of Tierra Amarilla, and continue to Pagosa Springs (great little town, we live here half time) and on to Durango as ME describes. This drive goes relatively quickly -- about 3.5 hours from Santa Fe to Durango -- so you have plenty of time for side trips.

Tuval, Israel
Level Contributor
11 posts
45 reviews
7. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

we have to make sacrifices somewhere and we have way too little time in the cities. Only 2 nights in Albuquerque and one in Santa Fe, or the other way round if you think.

I actually think we might take an o/night in Pagosa springs before Durango. We have a night and it might be nice to have some hot springs r+r. Everyone says its a great place.

Los Alamos, New...
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for Santa Fe, Los Alamos
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8. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

One night in Albuquerque, two in Santa Fe would be much better. Albuquerque is a relatively pleasant American city with some local color. Santa Fe is ... Santa Fe. It's just unlike almost anywhere else in the United States. The city nickname is "The City Different" and it fits. Spend time there and savor it. Actually, if possible, skip the overnight in Albuquerque entirely and spend all three nights in Santa Fe, freeing you up for a half-day trip or two to the surrounding area, which is rich in attractions as well. But you really can't go wrong on this one.

The hot springs at Pagosa are indeed fantastic. Staying in Pagosa has the advantage that you can hit the springs either early in the morning, when they're much less crowded than after lunch, or at night, when they're particularly atmospheric. The main commercial hot-spring operation is the one I recommend; there are "wild" hot springs in the vicinity that are also fantastic, but you won't have time to find and hike to them on such a short stay.

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9. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

Following with interest. We are planning a trip from LA - Vegas - Page - Santa Fe - Sedona - throughto San Dieago in an C class Rv with 3 kids. Are all routes mentioned in this thread drivable in the RV? Planning for March/April 2019.

Los Alamos, New...
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10. Re: Roadtrip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas

Your biggest challenge in a large RV may be Santa Fe itself. Routes into and out of town are fine, but the downtown area is a maze of narrow, tight streets on the model of old European city centers (reasonable enough considering how old Santa Fe is) with very limited parking. I'd plan to park the thing somewhere nearby (e.g. De Vargas Mall) and walk in to the downtown attractions (Plaza, St. Francis Cathedral, O'Keeffe museum, etc.) if you see them at all. Depending on the age of your kids, that might be taxing for them. You may have to content yourselves with the excellent museums on Museum Hill, which is RV-accessible.

The main point-to-point highways listed above should be passable. There may be size restrictions on what you can take on internal roads in some of the national parks; not being an RV person, I'm not sure of that, but IIRC, Mesa Verde has some restrictions. Taos has the same issues as Santa Fe, with the added complication that there's no avoiding the downtown crunch, and might be best skipped if you have one of the huge, mobile-house RVs. If you simply drive through town to Taos Pueblo (a must-see) and the acrophobia-inducing Taos Gorge Bridge, you should be OK, although you will be sworn at in at least three languages. :-)

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