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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm here to call on my New Mexico neighbors in hopes that you will enlighten me to all that is cool and interesting in western NM! We will be taking some extra time on our way up to Ouray for the summit from Phoenix, and I've now reached a crossroads, if you will, in my trip planning. I need to decide if I just continue on through the res on the AZ side, probably skipping CDC (too hot) and going right on in to Cortez, or if we should cross into NM hitting something along the way and maybe even staying the night there then heading into Cortez the following morning.

I've already been told a bit about Chaco Culture National Historical Park, but not a lot of detail and to be honest from the pictures it doesn't look that interesting (although I have not seen a lot of pictures). I have heard you can drive through the park, but again not many details! I guess I'm looking for a natives honest opinion on whether or not this is worth stopping at, and if not where should we go? Also any fun backcountry routes would be preferred, no crazy rock crawling but we are up for plenty of dirt. :bigthumb:

We are camping along the way so any off the beaten path campsites would be great, although I am aware that there is camping at Chaco so that is always an option I guess.

Any information/suggestions welcomed and thanks in advance! :cheers:



**EDIT**
Opinions on Bluewater State Park?
 

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I'm not aware of anything really worth driving out of your way for. I don't recall every being to Chaco park so I can't really tell you anything about it. I haven't been to bluewater in probably 15 years. It used to be nice but who knows now.

There's not a lot of NM people on this board, give it a while and I'm sure you'll get more responses. There are a few that live in the region you're asking about, I'm sure they'll provide some insight.
 

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The Very Large Array radio telescope near Magdalena is pretty gosh-darn cool. And while in the area, the Gila National Forest is very remote and beautiful. Silver City is a pretty cool town and the Black Range is a very nice drive - lots of wildlife and rivers for fishing. If you are more to the north, you can check our the lava flows south of Grants (el Malpais). Western NM is very scenic and diverse. Hope this helps.
 

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x2 for Gila Forest- for sure go to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, Chaco is cool if you haven't seen something like it, If heading south go to White Sands.
 

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If yor heading from the Phoenix area you can take the backway through Payson and head through Snowflake over to El Morro Nat. Mon., NM It is a small bute with signatures carved into it from the days of the Spanish Conquistadors up through the US Cavalry, 100 year old railroad wokers and pioneers. It was a watering spot along their route. Some of the signatures are large 2 feet long or so and dated and highly detailed, they put John Han****'s signature to shame. There is Federal camping there too.
If you backtrack 20 miles back to 602 your about 45 min. south of Gallup. The El Rancho Hotel in Gallup is a Nat. Historic Site and movie stars from the thirties through the sixties stayed there in droves while filming westerns using the Navajo as extras (Indians). Borgart, Spencer Tracey, etc. . .Erol Flynn rode his horse though the lobby to the ba. . .and a heard of others. It's pretty cool if your an old movie buff. Gallup is also THE palce to by Indian pottery and jewelry at half or a quarter of the Phoenix prices. There is a KOA there w/pool. From Gallup it's a straight shot through the rez up 491 to Farmington/Durando/Ouray.
Chaco Canyon is out of the way, but neet if your into old archaeology. Just some ideas, you'd burn a day doing them. Cheers
 

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Chaco canyon is nice, if you like native american history. The ruins are something to see. If you are taking I-25 north you can stop in Santa Fe. There are some great restaraunt and art galleries there. You need at least a whole day at the plaza. If you guys stop that way pm me and I will give you guys a list of places to eat.
-Dan-
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the replies! Right now El Morro and Chaco are the main areas on the radar. We probably won't be spending a whole ton of time at either one if we do, just driving in in the afternoon, camping the night and leaving the next morning to head to Mesa Verde. We also have friends in the ABQ, so there is an option there too. Obviously our priority is to get to Ouray by Wednesday, everything else on the way is just for fun! Thanks for the info!!
 

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If you did El Morro and wanted to see the Gallup stuff, besides the KOA there is also Red Rock State Park in Gallup that has very nice camping facilities, their facilities are more secluded/private and it is five miles or so east of Gallup. It's 2.5 hours from here to Mesa Verde.
 

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I told you they would chime in. Thanks guys. I'm a bad representative for the state because I really don't do the tourist thing, especially between Gallup and Farmington.

Has anyone been to the Ice Caves near Grants? Sounds like a cool :)rofl:) place.
 

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I highly recommended touring Chaco Canyon, El Morro and Aztec Ruins! There is a lot to do and see in the four corners area. Chaco Canyon is listed as a "World Heritage Site" and it has numerous prehistoric sites to see in the park like Pueblo Bonito, Chettro Ketl, Casa Rinconada, Casa Chiquita and Wijiji. Plan on staying a full day if you want to take in some of the most beautiful prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. I may sound a little bias, but as an archaeologist I have been to Chaco at least 15 times in my career and you can't beat the views and scenery. El Morro is another place I recommend if you want to keep it under a day and still make Colorado. It has many petroglyph's and inscriptions from the Prehistoric Indians to the Spanish that passed by. Aztec Ruin is another prehistoric site that is worth a look. New Mexico has a lot to offer. I hope this helps. Chris
 

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I wasn't going to reply to the op as I'm not exactly a local, but since you mention Mesa Verde I'll second the recommendation. Chaco is fun, but quite a washboard drive across the rez from 550 (I believe). The Gila area is a lot of fun as well and the Cliff dwellings are some of the best. On the AZ side, Canyon de Chelly is great as is the drive up through the monument area to Moab. Personally, I like driving across the rez and letting the mind wonder/wander; it's a shock to the senses. The entire area (4 corners) is a sight to behold and we spend days running around out there every chance we get. The list really goes on and on. Mesa Verde is a great place to visit; nothing else around there much (i.e. Cortez-Durango), but the mesa is just plain cool. Anyhow.. That's some of what a Tennessean would recommend.. LOL.. Ron

If you did El Morro and wanted to see the Gallup stuff, besides the KOA there is also Red Rock State Park in Gallup that has very nice camping facilities, their facilities are more secluded/private and it is five miles or so east of Gallup. It's 2.5 hours from here to Mesa Verde.
 

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Done Chaco, really cool. Ya Aztec ruins is good too. You could do Four Corners just to say you've been there. Stand in four states at once. Mesa Verde east of Cortez for cliff dwellings. But it's a National Park, I don't go there, the whole UN thing and I tend to carry firearms, so that's out.

I checked out the Meteor Crater near Winslow a while back, really cool place. Farmington has some good 4 wheeling. Look me up if you will be passing thru, we'll do lunch.

Drove to Cortez last month for dinner when my sister was here. Main Street Brewery has great trout and brews.
 
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