A Taste of the Southwest in Two and a Half Weeks: Part I

3 August, 2010 (16:46) | Southwest U.S., Travel Itineraries | By: darngooddigs

Last week we returned from our two and a half week summer trip to the Southwest – and we already want to go back.  For all those skeptics who wondered why we were traveling to the desert in the middle of the summer, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect (except for a few oven-like days at Mesa Verde and Monument Valley).

Ice Cream Bus at Rio Grande Gorge

Here is our itinerary:

Winslow, AZ: La Posada Hotel (1 night) – Darn Good Digs
Albuquerque, NM: Hotel Andaluz (3 nights) – Darn Good Digs
Santa Fe, NM: Santa Fe Inn and Motel (2 nights)
Taos, NM: Taos Valley RV Park (2 nights)
Durango, CO: Nobody’s Inn (2 nights)
Ouray, CO: 4J+1+1 RV Park (1 night)
Telluride, CO: Telluride Town Park Campground (1 night)
Delores, CO: Lebanon School House (2 nights) – Darn Good Digs
Monument Valley, AZ: The View Hotel (1 night) – Traveler Favorite
Grand Canyon Village, AZ: Mather Campground (1 night)
Tempe, AZ: Char’s House (1 night)

La Posada Hotel Sign

Winslow, an old Route 66 town immortalized by the Eagles song, “Take It Easy”, doesn’t have too much going for it in the way of tourist attractions besides a park tribute to “Standing on the Corner” and a couple of small museums.  But it does house the fabulous La Posada Hotel, a 1930’s Fred Harvey railroad hotel designed by Mary Colter, which was reason enough for us to spend the night.  The husband and wife team, Allan Affeldt and artist Tina Mion, saved the hotel in the late 90’s after it was slated for demolition and resuscitated it back to its former glory – with contemporary touches.  Surrounded by Colter’s southwest inspired architecture and Mion’s colorful art, we loved the hotel – and we’ll be writing it up soon as a Darn Good Digs.  Our five year old son loved watching the trains go out back and wandering through the waist-high hay labyrinth in the garden.  For our first dinner we splurged on the award winning Turquoise Room restaurant. The hotel does not have a swimming pool, but we headed a few miles south of Winslow to Clear Creek Canyon where we cooled down with the locals in the river.

Painted Desert

The next morning we made stops in the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert, and we saw plenty of petrified wood along the Crystal Forest trail   We meant to visit Acoma Pueblo afterward, but we lost an hour when we crossed into New Mexico and arrived too late.  Next time we’ll take more care to plan ahead!

The completely renovated  Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque was a real treat –  our luxurious Spanish-Moorish-inspired room and  the hip Casbah-themed lobby felt luxurious yet we got an unbeatable “summer special”.  We  enjoyed being right in the center of Albuquerque, where we found a few excellent eating spots within walking distance, like the Gold Street Caffe.   Albuquerque highlights included the Pueblo Cultural Center, the Natural History Museum, Old Town, and Nob Hill.  If we didn’t have a five year old boy with us, we definitely would have hit the Art and History museums as well.

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo

We drove along the Turquoise Trail on our way to Santa Fe, stopping at the quirky Tinkertown Museum and Madrid art galleries along the way.  Peacocks strutted outside our window as we lunched at the San Marcos Feed Store.  We particularly liked the southwest-style tile floor and wall in our hotel bathroom at the Santa Fe Inn and Motel, and we also appreciated the hearty breakfast buffet.  The brand new New Mexico History Museum behind the Palace of the Governors was a Santa Fe highlight, and helped frame the fascinating history of this entire region for our whole trip.  Another highlight was having dinner with Cousin Sue at the Cowgirl BBQ!

Hiking along the Rim of Rio Grande Gorge

From Santa Fe we drove along the High Road to Taos and enjoyed the scenery of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  We stopped at the old Church in Chumayo and picnicked at a road stop along a mountain crest.  In Taos we set up our tent at the Taos Valley RV Park, within a short drive to Taos town.  Benjamin loved playing in the yard at Twirl toy store.  We took a guided tour of Taos Pueblo  and hiked along the Rio Grande Gorge.

Soon we’ll post the second part of our trip, beginning with our drive from Taos to Durango, Colorado.

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Comment from Leslie
Time August 8, 2010 at 4:43 pm

what a great pic of the colorful ice cream bus!

Comment from lynn
Time August 10, 2010 at 6:13 pm

loved the commentary and the photos

Comment from Sandia Courtyard Hotel
Time January 3, 2012 at 8:17 pm

The sunshine here looks incredible! I love how it lights up the red rock in an amazing way. What gorgeous scenery!

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