You are correct, there are 100's of place to stop....not sure which way you plan to travel from Alabama, I-10, I-20 or even I-40. Just remember if you go I-10 or I-20, a big part of one day will be driving through Texas and not really some of the more interesting parts - . That said, if you go up via the panhandle, might plan a stop at Palo Duro canyon...good camp ground, just south of Amarillo, from there I-40 into NM and then North on almost any road to I-25 makes a really nice drive with lots to see...think I have driven them all at least once.
I-20, I-10 (they meet up near Van Horn) is pretty barren until just West of Pecos (there is a nice stop in Monahans, at the Monahans Sand Dunes - another state park), then a turn North from Pecos will take you to Carlsbad and White Sands. Good camping near both of these as well.
Maybe a loop, from Carlsbad/White Sands the North to SF back to Amarillo would be nice. Lots of windshield time though but lots to see as well. Temps will be a bit more comfortable for camping though.
Most of all, have a blast and shoot lots of film so we can all enjoy your trip too
I actually love the Los Alamos area. I did some work at the National Labs there (which i'm cannot talk about...lol) and would venture out to the Jemez Mts to take pictures. I also went to a few "restricted areas" that had great views to take pictures...although i nearly fell off a cliff doing so...lol. The backroads from Los Alamos to Jemez Pueblo to Albequrque has plenty of spots. Wonderful place, have fun!
Thanks so much you have all given me lots to think about. Including below freezing temperatures but it sounds like we will have no trouble finding something to photograph, well maybe we won't get to photograph everything we want,but there will be plenty to enjoy. We appreciate it.
Here are some places I have seen so far. Carlsbad(canyons are awesome), artemia (oil refinery in the middle of town), Roswell is boring but Just east of roswell is some really cool sinkholes and campground, it might be warm enough you can go swimming there.
White sands(must see). In cloudcroft and T&C there are decent hostels if you want to shower. I think the T&C one has hot springs too.
I have never been to gila wilderness or los cruces.
Then you can head west on 60 and see the VLA radio telescope. A little further west are the sawtooth mountains. Head north from pietown and you can get to the El Malpais lava field.
If you are a easterner like me and have never seem lava before it is pretty interesting. If you go off the beaten path you can get to lava tubes with spectacular arches and caves. The east side of malapias has big sandstone bluffs and another large sandstone arch.
There are indian pueblos all over the place, sky city is pretty close from there.
I don't have many suggestions for northern new mexico, I have only been out here a couple years and haven't gotten up that way.
Originally Posted by photomc
art is about managing compromise
Just got back from there. Cold as a ..... Our water froze several nights when we camped in Chaco Canyon. I would put that as a must stop on your trip. It's out of the way, far from conveniences such as showers, but definitely worth the time. If you're into Indian culture, allow yourself at least 3 days there. I shot about 35 images in 8x10 B&W there. I'm about halfway through developing my images.
If you go to Santa Fe, give Bostick and Sullivan a call and see if they have time for you to visit. They are fine people and they have plenty of material to open your eyes to the possibilities of alternative processing. (And they make the best contact printers on the market.) But beware of Santa Fe; time evaporates quickly there. Go through the Abiquiu valley where Georgia O'Keefe found many of her subjects. We only stopped for a few digital snaps but the memories of that drive was wonderful.
We also went to White Sands simply because I had to take some obligatory dune photos. It's a long ways down to there, but the drive from Cline's Corner (highest gasoline on the trip at $2.70 regular) to Alamagordo through Corona is wonderful.
But my favorite drive was from Milan to Silver City. The quaint town of Quemado is worth a lunch stop. The drive up to Mogollon is pretty intense with twisty single lane road and blind curves. Downtown Silver City, like Santa Fe, can suck a lot of time but there are some good restaurants there and a great coffee shop with wireless. The drive to the Gila Cliff Dwellings is a long, twisty trek, (allow about 90 minutes) but it's a great area.
My regrets are not doing more of the great hiking trails at Chaco, not going up to Bisti after we left Chaco, and not taking more roadside fotos. We'll do that next time, and make it to Taos as well.
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Hmmmm...really big state lots of miles of driving if you really want to see things.
BTW - I keep all of my cameras handy wherever I go, locking things in the trunk is ridiculous. I've traveled all over the state for over 35 years and have taken photos off of 380 (north end of WSMR), down 54 (east side of WSMR) etc. The range patrols never stop you or even question you because you're on the public side of the fence - and there's nothing to see anyway until you get deep into the test ranges.
If you're coming from Alabama, I'd take I-20 and enter NM at the south end. Now the east side of the state is F-L-A-T. In fact, I think if you look in the dictionary under "flat" it'll say "see west Texas or Eastern New Mexico."
Eastern NM is almost Texas. The southeastern part of the state smells like crude oil (or money depending upon your point-of-view)- and is extremely picturesque with clumps of pump jacks strewn about and forests of wooden power poles supplying electricity to the pumps.
The middle of the east side is heavy duty tilled agriculture, and the northern part of the eastern side is range land.
As you move towards the middle of the state, you run into a ranges of mountains that are oriented north / south and extend all the way from the Texas border to the Colorado border.
Since you're at the south end of the state - I'd get off the interstate at hwy 285, take that north to Orla, and get on the secondary road that takes you over to the Guadalupe Mountains. Lots of interesting things to see along the roadsides on your way to Carlsbad. If you like caverns - okay, do the cavern tour, see the bat flight etc. But, that will take you one day.
Go to Alamagordo via Artesia (mmmm...more great oil smell from the refinery).... I find the road from Artesia to Alamagordo really interesting with lots of weird things to photograph. White Sands is really cool IF you go all the way to the very back, get out of the vehicle and hike into the dunes.
If you go north into the dunes they are medium size and rolling with lots of playas between them. If you go west, they become huge, and on the order of 80 - 120 feet high. There are several problems associated with the dunes. First, everything looks the same and it's easy to get lost. A GPS unit is invaluable. Set your entry point so that you can get back to your car.
Second, is getting access to the dunes when there is good light. In the good old days when it was only a National Monument, it was open 24 hours per day and you could just go in any time.
Now, it has hours. During a full moon they will let you stay out on the dunes until 10:00 pm. Otherwise it's one hour after sunset. If you want to catch the early morning light, you'll have to make arrangements with the staff to meet you at the gate and let you in. Do this as far in advance as possible. There is one campground within the Park, that you hike into. You have to make "reservations" in advance. If that sounds interesting to you - then make your reservations ASAP.
You could spend your entire vacation at White Sands - really, it's that interesting. At the very least, you'll end up spending one day there if you hike into the dunes and see the real dune areas. If you just drive through on the road - you won't see much except the smaller dunes and a bunch of chidren sliding down the dunes. If you get there mid-week there are far less touristas than weekends. If you don't want to spend an entire day there - skip the dunes completely.
It's nearly 300 miles from Alamagordo to Santa Fe. Frankly, Santa Fe ain't what it used to be - I only go there under forced protest or to see the art museum. But, if you like trinketts and touristy thingys - then go ahead if you must.
Personally, I'd head over to the western side of the state and look at the Silver City area with the Gila Mountains. Whip up the western side of the state on 180 along the mountains to 12; and then 12 to Reserve, Aragon, Horse Springs and Datil; then 60 to Socorro. South from Socorro to San Antonio - a quick stop at the Owl Bar for a chile cheesburger and plate of chile fries (mmmmmmmm...). Then on to Carrizozo on Hwy 380. If you want to see lava, there is a lava flow (the Malpais) along 380 at the Valley of Fires state park, just west of Carrizozo.
Just east of Carrizozo at Capitan is hwy 246 that will take you in a loop through some really cool range lands and you'll end up at Roswell. Or, stay on 380 and go to Fort Stanton, and Lincoln and do the Billy the Kid stuff (or not). Once again, at Roswell, the word flat comes into play - but, this is the end of your NM part of the vacation.
Head across west Texas on 380 to 84, then down to I-20 and back to lovely Alabama.
Last edited by steve; 02-20-2006 at 04:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Unfortunate turn of events. We've had a few surprise financial issues and suddenly 300 dollars in gas to get back and forth to New Mexico is more than we can spare and still pay the rent etc. We'll have to postpone until sometime this summer. But thanks to everyone for the advice. I'll be sure to keep it all that way you won't have to answer all my inquiries again. Thanks so much