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CO/AZ/NM question

Jenny

Angel Diva
Let's say someone was visiting ABQ this fall, and didn't necessarily need to fly into there, but was considering flying somewhere else and then stopping to see some sights while working their way over there. What would you suggest? Fly to Denver or Phoenix? I've never seen Mesa Verde, for example.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
If you can go via Phoenix, that's a much smaller airport than Denver. I did that once for a Taos Ski Week and was much happier. I remember thinking that I'd like to do that again in the future. But Southwest doesn't have that as an option nearly as often so I usually end up flying from RDU via MDW or DEN.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
To me there isn't an obvious fly into X then see Y and Z on the way to Albuquerque. There are tons of amazing places in NM, but it probably makes more sense to just fly into ABQ then take whatever route you need to. Same with visiting SW CO, which is a really great area. Mesa Verde is closer to ABQ than it is to Denver. The San Juan Skyway/Million Dollar Hwy would be really beautiful in fall and it's easily combined with Mesa Verde. And there is so much in northern NM, though I know you've been there.

I have driven to NM from Phoenix on a couple different routes (I-40 and Hwy 60) and don't think there is anything appealing about that.

The tough thing about this year is how absolutely mobbed national parks and outdoorsy destinations are. I suppose fall could be better (or the end of fall anyway), but parks are breaking visitation records left and right, and people are waiting hours at entrance booths and then finding full parking lots. I can't say for sure that is happening in NM, but it's worth looking in to since it's happening elsewhere all over the West.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Ah, obviously I answered the wrong question. Oops. :redface:

I'd still prefer Phoenix from a pure logistics standpoint in terms of dealing with getting a rental car. From a touring standpoint, being in places that are less popular and farther away from a major metropolitan area and tourist destination like Denver and the Front Range has value in Summer 2021. The fast spread of the Delta variant is an issue to consider, even for people who are fully vaccinated. It's hard to say when things will settle down in the fall after schools start up.
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
To me there isn't an obvious fly into X then see Y and Z on the way to Albuquerque. There are tons of amazing places in NM, but it probably makes more sense to just fly into ABQ then take whatever route you need to. Same with visiting SW CO, which is a really great area. Mesa Verde is closer to ABQ than it is to Denver. The San Juan Skyway/Million Dollar Hwy would be really beautiful in fall and it's easily combined with Mesa Verde. And there is so much in northern NM, though I know you've been there.

I have driven to NM from Phoenix on a couple different routes (I-40 and Hwy 60) and don't think there is anything appealing about that.

The tough thing about this year is how absolutely mobbed national parks and outdoorsy destinations are. I suppose fall could be better (or the end of fall anyway), but parks are breaking visitation records left and right, and people are waiting hours at entrance booths and then finding full parking lots. I can't say for sure that is happening in NM, but it's worth looking in to since it's happening elsewhere all over the West.
Not to mention that some of the things that there are to visit (pueblos, for example) probably aren't really welcoming people at the moment, anyway. The Taos pueblo website still says they are closed, and IIRC the Acoma pueblo activities are seasonal, anyway, even without Covid considerations. Also, saw that the Cliff Palace road in Mesa Verde is closed for construction, and who knows when that will be open. Maybe we'll just have to drive back to Bandolier from ABQ.

We're headed down to visit mom and for the balloon festival, which makes flights expensive, so I was trying to come up with alternative airports, just to see if anything made sense. But once you add a rental car (assuming there's one available), it likely doesn't save anything anyway.

@marzNC - I actually hadn't realized that Phoenix's airport is so much smaller than Denver's.

My husband's brother and his wife live in Mesa, so we could still end up doing it that way, but we'll likely end up just flying into ABQ, assuming I haven't dithered around about this too long. We may just drive to Chicago and leave from there.
 

teppaz

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Re: rental cars. It's worth checking the rates all the time because the fluctuations are crazy this year.

I needed a car at the Denver airport for a weeklong trip in July. In May I reserved a compact for $550. Right after that the rate jumped to $850, where it stayed for weeks. Then early July rates for all types of cars started falling: I rebooked a compact for $450. A week later I rebooked yet again, this time an SUV for $390.
 

RachelV

Administrator
Staff member
I may be too late here, and I meant to jump into this thread sooner, but depending on what kind of sight seeing you're looking for, the drive from Denver to the ABQ is really lovely and you've got a bunch of options. You'd want to take 285 down to Salida, and from there you can either go mostly straight down to Taos / Santa Fe / ABQ, or head further west to Telluride / Durango on your way. If you like mountain driving and would be into mountain-centric sightseeing it's a really lovely drive, with lots of nice mountain towns along the way.
 

badger

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Agree with @RachelV that the 285 is about as peaceful and lovely as you can get coming from Denver. Using Sky Harbor to go to ABQ is doable but an awful drive . It's boring, can be quite slow in sections, and filled with traffic. Driving in New Mexico is also bad. Worst of any place I have ever driven.
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
Thanks, all. Given that they are now saying the latest surge could peak in October, I am extremely doubtful that well actually make it there, but we’ll see. It was right about this time last year that I bought the tickets and then everything got cancelled. Plus prices are high!
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
Well, tickets purchased. Decided just to take the easy way and fly from here to there. Could have played around with other options, but they involved a lot of moving parts for not much savings, so went with convenience. But we have a car available to us, so now we can look at things within a reasonable drive. And there's the balloon fest, which we've never seen.
 

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