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Topic: New Mexico, Suggestions - day hikes/base town< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 01 2014, 5:38 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

With all of this year's trips planned and booked, I'm starting to think about how to spend my vacation time next year.  My big trip is already booked (Grand Canyon raft trip) but I'm thinking about maybe doing a road trip to New Mexico - other than Carlsbad Caverns, I haven't spent any time there.  I really would like to visit Santa Fe, too.

I could have up to two weeks to drive out from Chicago with my dog), maybe rent a house in one spot and strike out for dayhikes and other activities.  Or, move locations once and stay in two different towns...

So, what is the best time of year to visit?
What would be a good town to base myself in?


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 01 2014, 6:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Probably my fave in NM is the Pecos area. I've stayed in a cabin just to the north (from http://www.markrentscabins.com/ ) that allows dogs and offers good proximity to the Pecos wilderness. The Silver City area is nice as well, with good access to the Gila. I've stayed in the Bear Creek Cabins, which also allow dogs. A few weeks ago we spent a week in the Abiquiu area, which was pretty great. I am also partial to the Eagle Nest area. My favorite time of year to be in NM is any time I can get away. But I guess if I had to choose I'd say August through October.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 01 2014, 6:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For mountain hiking, Taos is probably the best base--you can head north of town to the Wheeler Peak area or south into the Pecos Wilderness (esp the Truchas Lakes/Peaks area).

And, of course, Taos is an interesting, artsy-fartsy type town, if you're into that.

I've done a fair amount of northern NM hiking in mid-June. There's likely still some snow in the high country, but travel is fairly open by then, and the monsoons probably haven't started with a vengeance yet.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 01 2014, 7:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Central to Northern NM is different from Eastern NM (Roswell, Carlsbad) certainly.

Summer into Fall: Either Taos (Wheeler Peak, Columbine-Hondo, or, for a little more driving, Latir Peaks - none had any fire as of last year) or Santa Fe (Pecos NF east of Jack's Ck or around the ski area didn't get burned by last years fire .. or what's left of the Bandelier National Monument after the 2011 fire).

If you want to combine trips, Taos isn't that far from Santa Fe either, though the highway goes through Espanola (lots of lights), then a reservation/casino just north of Santa Fe (more lights).  

Watch out as the thunderstorms get wilder into July and early August - probably want to get an early start to go up and then start heading down a little after lunch as most of the time the clouds increase into the PM.

Smaller towns: Silver City but also Cloudcroft or Ruidoso are mountain towns in southern NM.

As it gets colder and getting into hunting season ... Albuquerque for the nearby Sandia NF (no hunting allowed since the range is so small)


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 3:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ Apr. 01 2014, 6:38 pm)
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For mountain hiking, Taos is probably the best base--you can head north of town to the Wheeler Peak area or south into the Pecos Wilderness (esp the Truchas Lakes/Peaks area).

And, of course, Taos is an interesting, artsy-fartsy type town, if you're into that.

I've done a fair amount of northern NM hiking in mid-June. There's likely still some snow in the high country, but travel is fairly open by then, and the monsoons probably haven't started with a vengeance yet.

This guy knows! Taos in summer, and late June is summer in NM. You could spend weeks on a Taos/Red River/Las Vegas/Pecos/Santa Fe circumnavigation of the best mountains in the state.

Earlier and later in the season I liked the Gila area (Silver City) and Sacramento Mtns (Ruidoso).
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 02 2014, 4:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I guess I've always shied away from Taos, just because it feels so crowded and touristy to me, whenever I've driven through I've had a pretty strong adverse reaction to the place. But it unquestionably gives great access to some fantastic places. I've had a similarly negative reaction to Ruidoso, but I love the Sacramento Mountains, though the fire damage in many areas is pretty bad. My wife camped near Cloudcroft last year and she loved it. I'm looking forward to checking that area out some time soon.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2014, 10:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Coming from Cheecago I'd head for St. Louis and then Oakley, KS for the cutoff to Colorado Springs. You have friends there, and if they can't put you up I've got some friends in your age range there that are the Salt of the Earth. From the Springs I would go to Salida and have lunch before heading South of Poncha Springs to IMO Colorado's most spectacularly located Town, Crestone. Great Restaurants there now. I'll tell you some awesome car camping sites around there. Hike Willow Lake, it will be one of the great dayhikes or overnights of your life.

From there head South and see Great Sand Dunes if you haven't. Another fabulous dayhike in that area, South Zapata Lake, deserves another day IMO.

From there head for Questa, NM and get one of the Sheltered campsites on the Rim of the Rio Grande at La Junta Point, Big Arsenic Springs, or Little Arsenic areas. Hike the Gorge Loop. Most dogs have no problems with the Stairs but if yours does you can get through it with paitence.

Maybe soak at Black Rock/Arroyo Hondo in daylight if you're alone. From the Gorge spend a night or two in Taos. See D.H. Lawrence Shrine, etc.
Abiqui is cool, great fishing on Rio Chama. I'd say go to Chaco but Dog would limit what you could do there.

Bandelier is great but again Dog might be problem for hike down to River, give them a call. Beware San Antonio Hot Springs, criminals have been hitting vehicles at that trailhead for some time now. Too bad. If you could kennel Dog in Santa Fe I'd say definitely hit the trail down to the River.

Maybe do Mt. Taylor, think dog is good to go there.

Head North from Santa Fe and hit fabulous Hot Springs in Las Vegas, NM. From there continue North to Trinidad, CO. Take HWY 12 to Cucharas Pass and then dirt to Cordova Pass and camp there. Get up early and hike 13, 620' West Spanish Peak. 6 miles roundtrip, AWESOME views, Bighorns, etc.

If you still haven't had enough hit Picketwire Canyonlands on your way out and see the Dinosaur Tracks. Can't remember if dogs allowed there or not.

I know New Mexico well. I'd leave the Gila and Lincoln for a shoulder season trip.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2014, 10:35 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Trinity @ Apr. 02 2014, 2:44 pm)
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I guess I've always shied away from Taos, just because it feels so crowded and touristy to me,...

The main street can become bumper to bumper around dinner time.   My backpacking party afterwards descended down to Taos last year to clean up and go day hiking for a few days (we used the Best Western) before the long drive back home.  The afternoon when the kids get out of school into dinnertime traffic goes to a crawl -- but staying there myself for an extra day, I just walked to my microbrew of choice.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 03 2014, 7:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks, guys, this is exactly what I was looking for!  My fall is already spoken for, so this will either be a summer or spring trip - prefer spring as I hate to leave Chicago during our oh-so-short summers!  Sounds like time of year would dictate destination....got a ways to figure it all out, but this gives me a starting place to research a few areas and towns.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 04 2014, 2:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Gila in the spring time would be worth driving from Chicago to see. One of my best trips ever was Gila in May. Snow was always an issue in the Sangre de Cristos that time of year.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 05 2014, 11:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I spaced the one location or move once criteria. If it's a Spring trip Gila could be your best option but if later in May I'd think a base frist in Taos and then in Crestone. I've done a lot of earlier season hiking in the Sangres, it can be fabulous.

If you go to the Gila I'd look for a rental around Glenwood/Pleasanton personally.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 28 2014, 11:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I stopped at the Valley of Fire lava flow, west of the central mountains of New Mexico, quite a large lava flow. Not far away is the Trinity Site, site of the first nuclear detonation. Once a year in April the site is open to tourists! The ride from Roswell through the Sacramento Mountains is nice, I stopped at the towns of Lincoln & Capitan. I took AMTRAK to Albuquerque, spent a couple hours in Santa Fe.

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