Best Routes to Moab from New Mexico

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txarmour

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We are planning a trip to Moab Next week from Dallas, we thought we would make a stop in Santa Fe area for a night and continue on to Moab the next day. Thinking of the HWY 491 to 64 to 191, We have not driven these roads before and wanted to see if anyone had a better route, thanks.
 

Clay L

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I would take 25 west to to 550 to 64 to 491. A lot of 4 lane and misses some mountain travel that can be problematic this time of year, plus it's a beautiful drive.

This routes through Farmington and Cortez.

EDIT: Boy, have they changed the road numbers since the old pocket atlas I was looking at was published. I changed the ones above to the new numbers.
I graduated from high school in Farmington , NM (1958) and lived in Grand Junction, CO for ten years. We have relatives in Grand Junction and are there now. I know the roads in the whole area but not the numbers.
 

ianmarg

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Highway 666 has changed -- I think it is now 491.  64 to 491 to 191 is the most direct -- I don't recall specifically any troublesome road sections, although you are going through mountains.  There has been some snow in southern Colorado, but only in the mountains -- the roads are fine.  We've driven all of this this summer and I don't remember anything that caused major trouble.  I dont recall exact mileages, but it's a longish drive for one day.  The roads are narrow and don't always allow for making the best time.  Besides, you're travelling through some of the prettiest country around -- why hurry? ;D

Margaret
 

txarmour

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Thanks I believe that its around 350 miles from Gallop, NM where I get on 491.  I also looked at going up to Chamma on 84 and staying on that through Durango & Montezuma but once again I think 491 looks most direct with the exception of having to backtrack from Santa Fe to get down to Gallop.
 

BernieD

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Garmin, set for truck routing, shows taking US84 north from Santa Fe to US 160, west to 491 to 191 and north to Moab, about 8 hours of driving 371 miles. This route takes you thru Durango.

We've driven Moab to Gallup and it was a very easy, smooth ride. Garmin shows the Gallup/Moab route to be 249 miles taking about 5:15 hours. Santa Fe/Gallup is about 200 miles and a little over 3 hours, all Interstate.
 

ianmarg

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We used to live in Santa Fe and have driven most of these roads frequently, although not so often with the RV.  Also, this summer, with the RV, we've been all over this part of the world and have driven from Santa Fe to Farmington, to Cortez, to Moab and back again. ::)

Unless you really don't want to go through northern NM, going through Gallup adds at least 3 hours to the trip.  You also have to take into consideration the possibility of hitting rush hour going through Albuquerque.  Unless you're there before 8  a.m. you will spend at least an extra half-3/4  hour on 25 north of Albuquerque until you hit the I-40 intersection.  The last time we were by there, also, there was construction west of Albuquerque on I-40 that slowed things down considerably (and was not fun with the RV -- the lanes are narrow and winding).  That may have been finished by now (it was a couple of months ago) but they've been doing construction somewhere on I-40 between Albuquerque and Gallup as long as I've been driving it -- over 10 years! ::)

It's much more efficient to go north on 285 from Santa Fe, take 84(it splits from 285 at Espanola) to Pagosa Springs CO, where you pick up 160 as suggested, or get onto 64 (I think iit splits off at Chama -- somewhere north of Tierra Amarilla, anyway) and go west through Farmington to 491(at Cortez).  491 dead-ends into 191 south of Moab.  Only one warning, that applies to every route:  Mountain Directory West says "South of Moab, US 191 includes many climbs and descents that are either short and fairly steep or long and fairly mild.  About 14 miles south of Blanding there is a short hill known locally as "Driveshaft Hill".  It is only about 1/2 mile long but very steep -- about 11%. . .It is a northbound climb, southbound descent."  If you take 491, you hit 191 north of this steep hill.  By the way, we've taken this road southbound and it's not nearly as bad as I expected. ;)

As you can see, there are a number of alternatives, but the longest by far is going through Gallup, IMHO. 


Margaret
 

txarmour

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Thank you all for your help! I will plan on doing the North from Santa Fe alternative and not mess with Gallop. Has anyone stayed at Santa Fe Skies? Is it close enough to get into town or should we look for a park closer to the old town area?
 

BernieD

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We've stayed at Santa Fe Skies since it first opened. Great owners, great campground. I wouldn't worry about Driveshaft Hill. Just take your time and it is fine.
 

ianmarg

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Second the recommendation on Santa Fe Skies.  It's right near the interstate and an easy drive into town (just don't make the mistake of taking Cerillos Road -- take the St. Francis or Old Pecos Trail exit off I-25 and get into town that way.  Less traffic and probably less road construction, although that might have been finished).  It's a great park.
 

Wendy

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ianmarg said:
About 14 miles south of Blanding there is a short hill known locally as "Driveshaft Hill".? It is only about 1/2 mile long but very steep -- about 11%. . .It is a northbound climb, southbound descent."? If you take 491, you hit 191 north of this steep hill.? By the way, we've taken this road southbound and it's not nearly as bad as I expected. ;)

We're sitting in Monument Valley. Started this trip in Cortez (where we live), then to Montrose, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Grand Junction, Moab, Monticello. Just drove down today from Devil's Canyon campground between Blanding and Monticello. The hill sometimes known as "Driveshaft Hill" is nothing unless you plan on turning left at the bottom to go to Hovenweep NM (be ready with the brakes).

We have friends who live in Albuquerque and the fastest from there to Cortez is up Highway 550 to Bloomfield, pick up Hwy 64 through Farmington west to Highway 491 (which used to be 666) and head north. Turn right in Monticello Utah onto 191 and straight to Moab. Plenty of little ups and downs but nothing major, nothing to worry about.

There was 12" of snow at Black Canyon of the Gunnison last Thursday, rain in Montrose and Grand Junction. Moab got enough rain to leave the washes wet and it looks like they had some flash floods. The La Salles in Utah are gorgeous with snow. But the Blues (Abajos) next to Blanding have nothing.

FYI, our friends in Albuquerque insist that although it is more miles going from Albq to Cortez through Gallup, it is easier and doesn't take any longer. Me, I prefer 550 which is much more scenic.

Enjoy.
 

Alaskansnowbirds

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wendycoke said:
We have friends who live in Albuquerque and the fastest from there to Cortez is up Highway 550 to Bloomfield, pick up Hwy 64 through Farmington west to Highway 491 (which used to be 666) and head north. Turn right in Monticello Utah onto 191 and straight to Moab. Plenty of little ups and downs but nothing major, nothing to worry about..... Me, I prefer 550 which is much more scenic.

I agree Wendy, I've driven 550 a couple of times and found it to be a nice drive.
 

joelmyer

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Alaskansnowbirds said:
I agree Wendy, I've driven 550 a couple of times and found it to be a nice drive.

You are not talking about the segment from Silverton to Ouray I assume!  That's an E ticket ride.

I thought about the poor guy how looks at the map and sees this nice straight US highway and heads out in his RV.

pictures

Joel
 

Clay L

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joelmyer said:
You are not talking about the segment from Silverton to Ouray I assume!? That's an E ticket ride.

I thought about the poor guy how looks at the map and sees this nice straight US highway and heads out in his RV.

pictures

Joel

That is a beautiful drive - in a car - but I wouldn't enjoy it in a Motorhome. I know a lot of people do make the trip in one but it just wouldn't be fun for me.

I graduated from high school in Farmington, NM, lived in Grand Junction, CO for ten years and have relatives scattered around the area. I have driven all around there many many times and you can't beat the scenery, but of it can be sort of white knuckley.
 

Wendy

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I was talking about 550 up to Bloomfield, New Mexico. Nice easy road. Highway 550 from Durango to Ridgway is a beautiful drive but you're right, the section from Silverton to Ouray, over Red Mountain Pass, is a bit intimidating. We did it last week in a 28-foot motorhome with no problem and saw much larger rigs coming the opposite direction but I'm not sure the drivers were enjoying the scenery much. And 2 days after we drove it, it was restricted due to snow (chains for vehicles over 16-feet in length).
 

ianmarg

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I agree about 550 to Bloomington-- in fact that 's the way we went from ABQ earlier this summer.  I recommended the northern route just to avoid the backtracking to Albuquerque from Santa Fe, but either is good.  And we drove the Durango-Ouray section earlier this summer also, with our 36' FW.  Scary but doable.  You're right, though, about the driver not enjoying the scenery much -- at least I hope so!  I put on the iPod and closed my eyes -- couldn't watch without whimpering!  But BEAUTIFUL if you're a confident passenger or a driver in a car (quick looks only, please!)
 
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