Day 10 DECISION: The New Mexico Options

On DAY 10 of the trip, we must decide which alignment to take in New Mexico, and that choice will effect not only the parts of  Route 66 we will see, but also the itinerary for the following days all the way through to Arizona…

MQ_NM_Route66_map

The basic choice is whether we go: Tucumcari > Santa Rosa > Santa Fe > Albuquerque OR more directly: Tucumcari > Santa Rosa > Albuquerque…

There are 4 OPTIONS…

OPTION 1: 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

OPTION 2: 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 both Santa Fe and the Chaco Culture park visit (this is the “quickest and shortest” option)…

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

OPTION 4: Do Santa Fe and La Bajada Hill but cut out the Chaco Culture park visit and overnight in Albuquerque instead.

SantaFeAlbuquerqueOption

Day10 : DRIVE Amarillo / Tucumcari / Santa Rosa / Santa Fe = 350 miles, 8 hours.
CAMP at Santa Fe National Forest campground TBD

Day 11: DRIVE Santa Fe / La Bajada / Albuquerque = 75 miles, 7 hours, with the La Bajada Jeep trail (4 hours)
OPTIONAL VISIT to Santa Domingo Pueblo
CAMP at campground/motel TBD

Day 12: DRIVE Albuquerque / Gallup = 150 miles, 2.5 hours
VISIT Acoma Sky City Pueblo (tour)
CAMP at campground/motel TBD

Day 13: DRIVE Gallup / Holbrook / Winslow
HIKE/VISIT Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National park
CAMP either Wilderness Backpack camping in Petrified Forest OR primitive campground on Rock Art Canyon ranch

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…