Our Out West Trip – Come Join Us in July 2023
By Marcella S. Meeks
I know it’s only January but July will be here before you know it. I wanted to share with my readers a sneak preview of the places we’re going this summer. Some of it we’ve done before, and some of it is new to us. All in all, it will be a fun-filled and creative trip and one we are looking forward to again and again. Our only concern is that we hope the government don’t shut us down or hike gas prices up again like they done in the past.
We’re heading west – as usual! It’s a ten hour drive to our first destination in Carlsbad, New Mexico (exactly 665 miles one way). We’ll stay one night there and visit Carlsbad Caverns the next morning where we’ll spend the biggest part of the day. After we leave there, we’re driving over to Roswell, New Mexico (seventy-six miles away) and visit the alien museum while we’re there. If we don’t get abducted by aliens, we’ll drive the three and half hour drive (two hundred and five miles) over to Albuquerque, New Mexico where we’re going to be staying the next four nights.
Why Albuquerque, you may ask? Simple – Albuquerque is a mini vacation in itself. It can be mini or as long as you want it to be and actually, there are enough things to do there that you don’t have to go anywhere else for an eventful vacation unless you want to. I’ll highlight some of our favorite things to do and provide links here and there. We’d stay longer in Albuquerque but we love going into Colorado so we try to cram it all in one trip.
When we get to Albuquerque we like to go out to Hinkle Family Fun Center (https://www.hinklefuncenter.com/) for an afternoon of arcades, mini golf, bungy jumping and more. Just bring your credit cards and let Hinkle Family Fun Center provide the fun! It is an exciting place to be for families of all ages. Then there’s the Albuquerque Zoo and the Albuquerque Aquarium. The kids will love this one. Plan an entire day at the Alb. Zoo and the Alb. Aquarium. Then there is the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. You sure don’t want to miss out on this one! There is more to Albuquerque though. Take the kids on a free tour of Old Town. While you’re touring, stop in at the rattle snake museum in the old town section of the downtown area.
Before I forget, if you’re into theme parks, take the kids out to Cliff’s Amusement Park. Be prepared to stay all day for the rides and the next day for the water park. Their prices are affordable and the rides are a lot of fun. My favorite (always has been) is the log ride. But I’m old school and this ride is the only one that doesn’t scare me to death. Except the drop!
If theme parks are a little out of your league, then drop by the Petroglyph National Monument or the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.
There’s more – if your kids love skateboarding, there are a couple of skate parks (for scooters and bicycles too) in town where the kids can spend the entire day or an afternoon enjoying skating for free. That’s the best part of it all. Here are several that we’ve visited through the years but always double check to make sure they’re still in operation and safe for kids. Also, please note this list may not be complete. I did a Google search for skate park information in the Albuquerque area. We’ve been to several of them and of course, our boys loved them. But skate parks are free and your kids can have a hour, a day or a week of free fun – depending how long you intend to stay in Albuquerque. You supply the skate boards or scooters (and the kids) and they provide you with an ample supply of skate parks to choose from. Here’s my list: Los Altos Park Skatepark, North Domingo Baca Park Skatepark, Calvary Skatepark, Río Bravo Park Skatepark, Tower Pond Park Skate Park, North West Modular Skate Park, and Paradise Hills Skate Park.
I’m not even going to try and name all the activities or restaurants in Albuquerque – you’ve just got to be there and experience it your own way. There’s just too much to do, to see and enjoy!
After leaving Albuquerque, we’ll head over to Farmington and most likely, get a room and stay the night. We have family there and it wouldn’t be right not to stop in and visit since we’ve come this far. We’ll also visit the Aztec Indian Ruins in Aztec on our way out, heading to Cortez, Colorado for the next couple of nights. Yes, you guessed it – Four Corners and Mesa Verde National Park is our next on our list before heading back down to Durango. We’ll probably spend a couple of nights in Durango and take a day trip over to Silverton and then on to Ouray. We have ridden the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train so many times in the past that it is not for us. I enjoy it every time but our kids are older now and don’t care for it anymore. If you’re bringing kids and they’ve never rode it, then it’s worth the money you pay for it. But it is slow and usually takes all day, round trip. Because I have done it so many times through the years, it is tiring to me because it is slow and a bit noisy. The first few times I did ride it, I found it exciting and fun.
After we leave Durango, we’re driving over to South fork. We’ll do Pagosa Springs another day. Driving over Wolf Creek Pass has always been exciting and we always stop at the summit and take pictures. You should too. Wolf Creek Pass is a high mountain pass (elevation over 10,000 feet) on the Continental Divide.
When we get settled in at South Fork for at least the night, we always venture up to South Clear Creek Falls, and North Clear Creek Falls near Creede. Creede is about 25 miles from South Fork, and is something to do while you’re visiting South Fork. After a few hours driving to the falls for a picnic lunch, and on into Creede for a little while, we head back down to South Fork and rest up. Sometimes, depending on our trip budget, we stay a day or two. But after leaving there, we drive about thirty-five miles to Monte Vista.
We usually stay in Monte Vista three or four nights because it’s an in-between location of some of the things we like to do while we’re here. Monte Vista Skate Park is the kid’s favorite of all and they spend as much here as they can. The best part is, it’s right across the street from our motel. So convenient! We usually try to book our rooms here on the weekend so that we can go to the Star Drive In Theatre in Del Norte, a little less than twenty miles away. You simply must take the family out to the Colorado Gators. It’s about a twenty-five mile drive from Monte Vista. And don’t forget, Sand Dunes National Park, about a forty mile drive from Monte Vista. And bring plenty of water for this one.
When it’s time to say goodbye to Monte vista, we’re heading over to Salida (about eighty miles away) and we’ll stay here a couple of nights, do some rafting and sight seeing before heading over to Canon City for a couple of nights. We’ll do the Royal Gorge Bridge (an all day adventure). The next day, we’ll spend the day with the kids spend the day at the Cañon City Skatepark. We’ll take a picnic lunch with us and just enjoy the day here.
The last place we’ll stay will be in Colorado Springs. We probably won’t stay here about three days because we’ll be tired and ready to go home by then. There is so many things to do in Colorado that I don’t even know where to begin and usually, we’ll play it by ear and just do one or two things while we’re here. My two favorites are Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings and Garden of the Gods. By the time we do these two, we’re ready to head to our motel room, and rest up for the 1000 + mile drive home and back to our normal life!
But before we actually get home – just out of Colorado a little way, we’ll stop in Raton, NM. and visit the Capulin Volcano National Monument! Yes, we’ve been there many times but since we’ve come so far, we wouldn’t miss it for the world and neither should you. As soon as we’re done with that, we’re heading back home – we’ll probably make it as far as far as Amarillo, Texas if we drive withoput stopping every thirty minutes! But that’s okay if we’re certainly in no rush to get back home to our normal… I’d rather spend hours on the road with my family enjoying them every moment rather than coming home, taking them home and get back to life as we know it. It’s more fun being on vacation!!!
I know our trip seems awfully long but it’s worth every minute we put into it. Come join us if you dare!!!