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Author Topic: Route Planning Help Needed- Nova Scotia- Utah- New Mexico- Texas, Tennessee-  (Read 561 times)

NSRoadtripper

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Looking for some route planning help-

We plan on leaving Nova Scotia March 15th- with a Class A- I've tried some demos of route tripping apps but haven't found one I like enough to pay for....this is our planned desitnation stops- we can do the route in reverse too it doesn't matter to us we have nothing booked in advance but the rv off rvezy (big mistake?)- we are trying to plan the route to best avoid any winter weather on the way there....every trip planner I use wants us to go through Michigan and Illinois- I'm trying to go a state or two below-

Nova Scotia- start March 15
1st Night-Portland/Scarborough Me - Walmart parking lot
2nd night- Pennsylvania or further (we want to do long days of driving to get to where we are going and intend to spend a few days)=
1st initial multi day stop- in Utah near Zion- so do we go down through Indianapolis- Kansas City etc?
Spending a few days in Zion we want to move into Alberquerque NM for a couple days than Carlsbad for a couple days?
Forth Worth for a couple days
Nashville for a couple days
Smoky Mtns (Dollywood Pidgeon Forge for a couple days?)
Back home through West Virginia and up through?

P.S. The RV we have rented is winterized with heated pipes tanks etc- so that is not an issue if we do hit wintery weather-

Thanks for any help!

SeilerBird

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I would not want to be in an RV in Zion in March. The weather could be beautiful but the odds are it will still be snowing.

msw3113

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In Maine there's a highway-convenient Cabela's in Scarborough where you can park in your RV overnight; it also offers a dump station.

However Nova Scotia to Scarborough is a 9-plus hour drive in a car.  The CAT ferry may be operational by the time you leave, which would cut several hours off your drive (albeit at a cost).  Otherwise maybe consider stopping north of Portland for the first day of your adventure.  Bangor would be a reasonable target.

How much time have you set aside for your trip?  You indicate that you're willing to do long days of driving, which is reflected in your ambitious itinerary.  Do you have experience driving a Class A RV?  For many, 9+ hours is indeed a long, tiring day behind the wheel.  Be open to the concept that the journey is as important as the destinations, and be flexible to adapt your expectations to road realities.

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NSRoadtripper

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Thanks for your replies!

It is only 5 hours from our door step to Bangor Maine, we live in Northern Nova Scotia right on the New Brunswick Border- we do this route ALOT in our regular vehicles.  Typically though we drive right through in one day to Vermont on ski trips- so while I see your concern but in reality Portland/Scarborough is definetly doable for us for a day.  I'll definetly do the cabelas overnight instead of walmart- likely quieter too!  I know this area very well- just didn't realize overnight was allowed at Cabelas- is this normal for Cabella's/Bass Pro's accross the USA?

My husband - driver- has years and years of hauling me and my horse trailer with living quarters all over Eastern Canada and USA to rodeos, as well he drives Semis, heavy equipment etc- so he would drive 20 hrs a day if I would let him !

We plan to base ourselves in areas for a few days and rent cars in these areas to do our excursions into National Parks such as Zion, Carlsbad, etc.

Does anyone recommend a good base point in Utah near Zion?  In New Mexico near Albequerque and Carlsbad?  In Texas near Fort Worth?

We have been to Nashville before so I know that state quite well....

Would love some ideas and tips for things along our route as well?

LarsMac

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In Maine there's a highway-convenient Cabela's in Scarborough where you can park in your RV overnight; it also offers a dump station.

...

The Cracker Barrel at Scarborough does not have a favorable parking area for a sizeable RV with Toad.
The Cabella's is a much better choice.

Near Oneida, NY, there is a really nice RV park that is decent price for overnight stay. It is associated with the Turning Point Casino. If you stay out of the casino it is a pretty cheap stay.

Also, Erie PA has a Cracker Barrel that is well placed with easy in/out access. Though you are sitting up on a hill, so of the wind and weather start acting up, it can be a bit uncomfortable. 

When you get to the East side of Cleveland you can take I-271 down to I-71 southbound. Then at Mansfield, take US 30 West.
US-30 is a nice run across Ohio, that can take you to Ft Wayne. From there follow I-69 to Indy.
You can skirt around the north side of Indy on I-465 get to Westbound I-70.

This is a little bit longer, maybe than going down to Columbus and taking I-70 from there, but I-70 from Columbus through Indy is a nightmare.

Compared to Indy, KC and St Louis are easy-peasy.

Also, When you get to St Louis, you may want to consider the option of taking I-44 down thourgh Missouri OK City and run I-40 across, then work your way back up to Zion from Flagstaff.

Getting across the Colorado Rockies, or Wyoming in March can be a whole OTHER adventure.

 
« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 02:45:54 PM by LarsMac »
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Back2PA

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Normally I would discourage someone from attempting that ambitious of a trip - that's a lot of miles. But with your husband's driving experience and your riding experience you seem to know exactly what's in store. So.... have a great trip, you'll have a blast I'm sure.
Scott
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Hfx_Cdn

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      We would drive from Dartmouth to the cottage in Shediac, and then drive to the Interstate rest stop near Kennebunkport.  There is plenty of places to park, it is a bit noisy with trucks, but never too bad.  As long as there was no snow predicted, we would head for the Flying J in Harrisburg PA.  The third night in Knoxville and from there you are on I 40 going west and you should be below snow, but be careful of heavy thunderstorms throughout the midwest.
       As for Zion, we saw lots of RVs when there in February 2 years ago, But we also saw lots of snow there and at Bryce Canyon, you are leaving at sea level, and those locations are around 9,000 and 5,000 feet respectively, in fact we hit a major snowstorm in West Yellowstone in early June.
       We found that most campgrounds out in the high plains were small with minimal amenities, and few RVs.  They seem to gather in the large snowbird campgrounds.  But we have loved our trips west, it is certainly different from the "Seabound Coast"  I'm sure you will love it too.

Ed
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Larry N.

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  • Westminster, CO
Quote
In New Mexico near Albequerque and Carlsbad?
Albuquerque and Carlsbad are quite a few hours apart, so I think you'll want two bases. The Albuquerque North KOA (actually in Bernalillo) is a place we've found works for us, just an hour from Santa Fe (Santa Fe Skies there is good, too), and a few minutes from Old Town in Albuquerque (La Placitas has decent New Mexican food). It's maybe an hour and a half from Sky City (Acoma Pueblo) west on I-40. And it's about 30-60 minutes (depending on traffic and what you stop to see) up to The Peak (Sandia Peak), which has great viewing in all directions (when haze/smog isn't bad), boasts the "Forest Of Steel," which is a large group of radio and TV transmitting towers/antennas. You can also take a walk south from the Peak parking area past Kiwanas Meadow (where I've seen big horn sheep) to the top of the tramway, which also puts you at the top of the ski lifts for the Sandia Ski Area. And the restaurant there isn't bad.

It also is not too far from the Balloon Fiesta site. I don't know if you can still get there (it's been years for me) but it's kinda neat to go up on the west mesa and go to the "J hills," small volcano cones with the letter 'J' in white. That's getting somewhat near the Double Eagle airport on the west mesa, too.

South, to Socorro, west to Magdalena, the Very Large Array is a worthwhile visit. Further south, perhaps enroute to Carlsbad, Elephant Butte Reservoir might be worthwhile for you (there are campgrounds there), and Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge could be fun, for many folks.

I know there's at least one campground in White City, near Carlsbad, but it's been years since I was down that way.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2020, 04:14:38 PM by Larry N. »
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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muskoka guy

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How do you plan on getting around when you get to your location. Driving an A class to Zion would be a pain. There is a fairly long and narrow tunnel if you enter on the east side, as well as a very large hill with switchbacks once you exit the tunnel. Traffic has to be stopped, and large vehicles have to drive down the middle of the tunnel to have clearance. We drove around the south side of the park, and stayed at Hurricane when we were there. When we went to Carlsbad, we stayed at the KOA. Its about a half hour away from the caves. There is a park close to the caves, but it was full and got bad reviews. In Albuquerque, we stayed in town at a park, I cant remember the name. It had 24 hour security. Other than going up the Scandia Peak tramway, I didn't see anything else worth mentioning there. Many mention of the high crime rate there. Of all the places to pick, what is in Albuquerque that made you want to stop there. You will be going right by the Grand Canyon, but perhaps you have already been there. Page Arizona is very scenic, with slot canyons, the Glen Canyon Dam, the Horseshoe bend on the Colorado River and Lake Powell. It is not very far from Zion either. Just a thought. I have been to all the places on your list except Fort Worth. My daughter went there last year, and had a great time. It will be on my list next time Im in Texas. As stated, this is a very ambitious trip. How long are you going for. We did somewhat of the same trip from Ontario two years ago. We went for two months. We followed Route 66 from St. Louis all the way to the California border. We had already did the California side on a previous trip. Safe travels.

msw3113

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I know this area very well- just didn't realize overnight was allowed at Cabelas- is this normal for Cabella's/Bass Pro's accross the USA?

Can't speak for Bass Pro but most Cabela's allow overnight RVs.  Not all have dump facilities. 
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LarsMac

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Can't speak for Bass Pro but most Cabela's allow overnight RVs.  Not all have dump facilities.

The Cabella's at Scarborough has a Dump station, and allows RV overnight parking.

2000 Itasca Sundancer 430V
2007 Saturn Vue

“All I ever needed was a wheel in my hand and four on the road.” -- Apologies, or Thanks, to Jack Kerouac

Isaac-1

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I would tend to organize the trip the other way around, in mid march it is likely to still be cold in the western mountain states. Where the eastern half of Texas and much of the southeast will likely have pleasant spring weather much of the time in mid March.
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NSRoadtripper

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When we stop in areas for a few days we plan on using a campground as home base and renting a vehicle.  We do NOT plan on taking the Motorhome through Zion or any parks....

I'm debating the reverse trip too-start in Tennessee/Texas and then up into New Mexico then Utah.

I have been to the Grand Canyon and i have PTSD from it- no joke- youtube the mule trip down the grand canyon- then envision snakes and spiders jumping on your mule on a sheer cliff.....Oh and not to mention the albino eels in the Angel creek- long story and not one I wish to rehash or return to mule or not....If we do skirt into Arizona it would be the southern part near the NM border...Nevada would be more likely though- we LOVE Red Rock Canyon...

We plan on doing this in 1 month (31 days) - Yes I know it's ambitious- but I also know we don't plan on dilly dallying on the way to where we want to go- my husband is a well seasoned driver who LOVES to drive- so we envision 3 days of long driving then 3 or so days of exploring our destinations.

Carlsbad I picked because of the Caves - Alberquerque because of it's history- is there a better place to explore New mexico?

What is a good area to base ourselves out of for Zion?

Many thanks again for the input!

Isaac-1

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I would suggest Sante Fe and the surroundings vs Albuquerque for a base camp point for exploration and cultural center.  Also be aware many of the roads, particularly in Texas near Carlsbad are in very bad shape at the moment due to all the oil field trucks.  Also I don't know how important budget is to you, but be aware some rental car rates in your target are are insanely high, we were considering renting a car in Page, AZ on the UT border in October, until we saw the rental rates there were around $225 per day for cars that would rent for $40 elsewhere, and off road shops had Jeeps renting for $400+ per day.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

NSRoadtripper

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Thanks for the heads up- Santa Fe it shall be!  How bad of shape are the roads?  Like the highways themselves or side roads?

As for rental cars- I honestly have a million aeroplan points so I'd be booking using them- they are pretty standard amounts and don't change vs the high/low season- it's always a rip off with points I understand that to use for rental cars- but honestly I have so many and if the prices are high I'll just use the points! 


muskoka guy

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We went to Carlsbad two winters ago. When we left, we went south on hwy 285 to meet our friends at the gulf coast in Texas. The road was probably the worst we had been on. It was non stop tractor trailers going north, and there was pot holes big enough to cause damage if you hit them. We had trouble avoiding some of them, as the tow car had a much smaller footprint than the rv. If the rv missing the holes, then the car would hit them. I don't know if they had improved that highway since, but maybe heading east from Carlsbad might be better. The caves were very interesting, and worth the trip. Another cave we went to, which I would say would be pretty much on par with Carlsbad, was the Kartchner Caverns. It is very close to Tombstone Arizona. If you have any interest in Tombstone, they are an added attraction to the area. Tombstone is a tourist trap, but then what place isn't that has anything interesting to see. Cheers.

NSRoadtripper

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Wow- Ok going to try and avoid Hwy 285....Definetly head east instead of south some other way!  I didn't realize this was such an 'oil' area- but then again I haven't been here yet!  I honestly thought the oil fields were in more Southern Texas area! So I APPRECIATE this input!

Yes I've heard good things about Tombstone as well- but if I had to choose between Tombstone and Texas- this rodeo girl would choose Texas- albeit Hubby may have other ideas and he IS the driver!  The Karthcner Caverns sound worth checking out!


Larry N.

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Quote
I honestly thought the oil fields were in more Southern Texas area!

There are oil fields all over Texas, and over a fair chunk of eastern New Mexico, as well.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
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Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL, Bounder, Beaver
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NSRoadtripper

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My hubby will like seeing the oil fields! 

My dream this trip is to see an Ocelot in the wild- I know fat chance....

Sweetsurrender

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Wow...your trip is like a quest!  Many things to see.  As for Zion, we like to stay in a town called Kanab, Utah.  There are several RV parks there, but the only hitch is you can't rent a car in Kanab.  We took a trip there and had to rent one in St. George.  Maybe you'll find some in Hurricane, we didn't try that.  The advantage to being in Kanab is that you are about 1/2 hour from Zion, about 45 minutes from Bryce, about an hour or so from Grand Staircase.  There are many National treasures to see here.  The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is also about an hour and a half, but still closed in March.

If you are into animals (it seems like you are!) you can also visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab.  It is the largest domestic animal sanctuary in the U.S., and a wonderful place.  If you go, take the tour!  It's free, it's informative.  We like to stay there in our RV, but only in the summer.  My favorite volunteering there is with the pigs and the horses. 

What ever you do out here in the wild west, enjoy yourselves!  It's beautiful out here.  Happy trails!

NSRoadtripper

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Wow- so much info Sweetsurrnder- thank you!  We will defiently check all this out!

Many Thanks!

Mark_K5LXP

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Having lived in ABQ the last 30 years I think I've seen a lot of what the area has to offer.  What to see?  Depends a lot on how much time you're staying and what your particular interests are.  Some folks are all about "gift shops" and "galleries", others hiking and scenic views.  If you're only passing through you get a choice of one or two, if you're here for a week you can take in lots more.  So maybe pass along what kind of sights you want to see, and how long you'd have to spend.

I drive past the Cracker Barrel on I-25 every day and I'd say every other day I see an RV parked there, so it's a popular spot even in January.  Some Cracker Barrels are better than others, not that the store itself is bad but depending on how close to the freeway they are and what's around them.  This one is off an access road so while it's visible from I-25 it's a bit removed and right next to it is a hotel, so fairly quiet.  I've heard the Sandia Casino off of I-25 and Tramway has RV parking but I don't have any details if it's seasonal (balloon fiesta) or if they charge anything.  Isleta casino on the south end of town has a full blown RV park with hookups and a fishing pond.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM

NSRoadtripper

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Hi Mark-

Thanks for your reply!  A NM'er!  Hooray!  We want scenic views, historic spots, and light hiking (I just suffered a rodeo injury in August and am still in Physio - while I can do moderate hikes- i think anything of any constant elevation gain might be pushing it right now).  I do LOVE to shop- but really magnets are what i buy as souvenirs to all of our travel spots! 

Is there any side by side rentals around for exploring the back country?

Many Thanks!

Mark_K5LXP

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The thing about NM is that it's not quite as "dense" as things east of the mississippi.  There are scenic views, and historic places.  But you'll put some miles on traveling between them.  I guess after living on the east coast and visiting antiqity the UK, seeing landmarks here doesn't have quite the same impact but it's all relative.  Frankly I think SW Colorado is more scenic than NM but that's not to say NM doesn't have some worthwhile views.

Just to pass along a few day trips I think are worth the trouble, in order of preference it would be the Enchanted Circle, taking in Nambe and Chimayo along the way on the High Road to Taos.  Taos, Red River and the Vietnam Memorial are the key stops there.  Next would be a loop up through Jemez mountains, past valle caldera, Los Alamos and back down Hwy 14 through Madrid on the turquoise trail.  The mission ruins SE of ABQ is an easy day trip.  After that if you're up for a bit longer a ride there's the VLA near Magdalena, lastly a trip west to see the ice caves and El Morro can check a box.  For hiking there are over 100 miles of trails across the Sandias next to ABQ, some quick and easy some that can be a challenge.  I find the ones towards the south and east side of Sandia Crest to be the most scenic (Eye of the Sandias and CCC trails).    Up by Cochiti lake there's Tent Rock national monument which is a quick trip from ABQ and short/scenic hike with rock formations you'll see nowhere else.  In ABQ proper if you're into museums I think the balloon museum is worth a visit, the nuclear museum and the natural history museum are pretty good too.  A ride on the tram to the crest for lunch or dinner gives a nice view of the city, especially at dusk or dark.  Old Town in ABQ has the typical tourist stuff but is close to the history museum and worth a stop to grab lunch and look at the trinkets.  Go see the live snakes at the rattlesnake museum...

Outlined above is way more than you can do in a couple days, so maybe there's enough there to fill the space, or consider with maybe a couple different base locations as you travel through.  I don't know of anyone that does off-road rentals, I've never done that kind of thing before.  The trails I hike usually don't allow any motorized vehicles.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM

Isaac-1

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One more word of warning about route planning in New Mexico, a number of New Mexico state highways are actually dirt roads in places, something I have not seen anywhere else in the US in modern times.  So don't just assume because it is marked as a state highway on a map that it is passable in a motorhome, as even the paved portions of some New Mexico state highways may not be suited for larger vehicles like motorhomes.

An example of this is NM126 off NM4 going west out of Los Alamos to Cuba, NM still has about 4 or 5 miles of unpaved surface.  This is a 68 mile drive if taking NM126, vs being a 97 mile drive staying on pavement the whole way.  There are other similar examples where staying on pavement add a hundred miles or more to potential routes.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

Mark_K5LXP

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One time on a scooter trip going through wyoming there was a sign on the highway, "pavement ends".  Hmm?  This is a highway.  Then, what the...  dirt.  It had rained, the dirt was rutted and for several miles I was standing on the pegs playing dirt bike rider on a harley.  Note to self, pay attention to those signs.

The NM routes I offered are all at least 2 lane highways with shoulders but you're absolutely right about 126.  I took that once in a car and it was pretty rough going, lots of ruts, sharp curves and grades.  There'd be no way I'd try that in a motorhome though no doubt someone has.  I enjoy a couple of campgrounds on the Cuba end of 126 but take 550 and come in from the west, no way to get there from here from 4.  Not sure where you'd find out about those sections of roads, gives one pause to just blindly follow your GPS.  I looked on my Garmin street GPS and notice that on 126 the road color changes from white to gray where the pavement ends and if I check "unpaved roads" in avoidance settings it won't route that way.  So at least make sure that box is checked before blindly forging forth.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM

NSRoadtripper

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Ok noted- uncheck use unpaved roads in GPS!  Eeks!

NMDriver

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  • Turret Class Traveler
Cochiti Lake Corp of Engineers Campground is a good central location for seeing Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Bandalier, Los Alamos, Valle Grande, Tent Rocks etc.
It is 45 minutes to both cities and 15 minutes from a commuter train station (The Rail Runner) that goes to both if you want to save the hassle of trying to park in the city. Santa Fe can be pretty well explored by walking from the final stop. Albuquerque old town, the tram, etc will be better by car and to drive the Turquoise trail, or the Jemez mountain loop past Tent Rocks over to Jemez Springs and up to Valle Grande, Los Alamos, etc.

I personally like the drive up towards Chama on US 84 from Santa Fe then over to Taos on US 64 then down the Rio Grande to Espanola on NM 68.

To head east you can use US 60 from just south of Albu. over to pick up US 84 near Clovis and to US 180 or US 380 depending on which side of Fort Worth you want to end up on.

Anyway, have fun
Turret Class Traveler

Chakara

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Great advice above in NM - seems the rest of your trip is being neglected :).   I know more about NM so I'll re-enforce a couple of things.

- 126 is the exception, not the rule on NM highways.  Almost all are paved.   I spend a lot of time hangin' in the meadows on the west end of 126 off forest road 103 every year.

- Bandelier National Monument is one of my favorites.  Not strenuous hiking, but trails and ruins and just really cool.  Tent Rocks is cool as well, but I like Bandelier if choosing.

- For Zion/Bryce we stayed at a small campground in Mt Carmel Junction - pretty central to the area.  Small town though and you need a car so might want to make sure that gets figured out.

- The tram in ABQ is very cool as well.  The restaurant at the top is recently remodeled and re-named to 10-3 (elevation 10,300').  I've heard it is pretty good but haven't been up since they re-did it.  When I take folks up there, I always try to be there around sunset.  Amazing looking over the city as the sun drops.

- ATVing.  I don't know of anywhere in the Jemez to rent - but if you do the Enchanted Circle (Red River/Taos/Anglefire/Eagles Nest) you can rent them in Red River which has some nice trails to ride.  Goose Lake is beautiful mountain lake you can ride up to.  NM has some great ATVing but as I have one I don't rent.   

Have a GREAT trip!
-Chak


2018 Arctic Fox 27.5L
2015 Chevy 3500 Dually LTZ

Larry N.

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  • Westminster, CO
NMDriver mentioned Chama, reminding me that the Cumbres & Toltec RR out of Chama is a marvelous experience. Personally I like it better than the Durango & Silverton, but we've taken both several times, and they're both good. I'll second Bandelier, also.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
2015 Wrangler Sahara Unlimited toad
Formerly: Trailmanor 2720SL, Bounder, Beaver
  de N8GGG