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Author Topic: Bend, OR to Albuquerque - ideas?  (Read 1670 times)


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Bend, OR to Albuquerque - ideas?
« on: June 06, 2015, 09:12:31 PM »


We currently live in Bend, OR, but my fiance is doing a med school internship at UNM in Albuquerque from June 20th - July 20th.  I telecommute, so I'm going with her and calling it a vacation of some sort.  We're planning a 3 night trip down (leave Thursday morning, get there Sunday early afternoon), with a faster drive back (she'll be flying, I'll be driving with the dog).  The fastest route from Bend is US 20 east to Ontario, I-84 through Idaho to Ogden, I-15 to Spanish Fork, US 6/191 (with a brief trip on I-70) to Monticello, UT, then US 491 south to Gallup, then I-40 east.  While this is definitely a nice route (considering I spent 31 of my 33 years living within 250 miles of Washington DC), I've done most of it at one point or another.  The alternatives would be to head south first then east (Bend -> Winnemucca -> Tonopah -> Vegas -> Kingman -> Flagstaff -> Albuquerque), or to head much further east then south.  I'm currently settled on east then south route, with the approximate idea:

  • US 20 to Ontario (boring between Bend and Burns, but the section between Burns and Vale is pretty nice)
  • I-84 to I-86 (boring, but nice 80 mph speed limits)
  • I-86 to Pocatello (sounds boring, but I can clinch a new interstate - yay?)
  • I-15 south to the turn-off to US 30 east
  • US 30 to Kemmerer, WY (I've never seen southeast Idaho)
  • Some variation of US 189/WY 412/414 to Flaming Gorge Reservior
  • US 191 to Vernal, UT (did it once a decade ago, awesome route!)
  • US 40/CO 64 to Rangely, CO
  • CO 139 south over Douglas Pass to Grand Junction
  • US 50 east to Montrose
  • US 550 south (Million Dollar Highway) over some awesome scenery to Durango
  • Either US 550 to the end at Bernallio, or US 160 east to US 84 to Santa Fe
  • I-25 south to ABQ

I've spent way too much time thinking about this, but I think this is a pretty cool "outside the box" route that, after the flatness of the Snake River Plain through Idaho, maximizes the amount of fun mountain passes and scenery.  We'll need to stop and hike a few miles each day for the dogs sake, but we can't do any national parks (so I don't want to tease myself by driving through Moab or Bryce Canyon).  I've never been on US 550 between Ouray and Durango, and I know it's on every roadgeeks must-do list (and I've been a roadgeek since age 3 when I would study road atlases).

Just wondering if anyone had any advice, or some secret route that maximizes scenery that I haven't thought of!


« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 09:15:03 PM by nautachris »


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Re: Bend, OR to Albuquerque - ideas?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2015, 02:57:16 PM »

but we can't do any national parks (so I don't want to tease myself by driving through Moab or Bryce Canyon)

Didn't stop us from taking 191 through Monticello and Moab.  Plenty of scenery to see from 191 without doing the National Park thing.

When we visited, I was impressed with how green the San Juan River valley was.  One can follow it along US 64 between Shiprock and Bloomfield, but that's a bit out of your way unless you're thinking of a side trip to Four Corners.

US 550 south of Bloomfield to Bernalillo is an interesting road.  4 lanes, mostly undivided yet with a 70 MPH speed limit (at least, that's what it was in 2005).  Some decent rock formation scenery in spots too.


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Re: Bend, OR to Albuquerque - ideas?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2015, 03:40:48 PM »

You choice sounds good.  If you have a little time try the below.  The Mokie is not a problem.   

If you could adjust a little and are not afraid of hair pin turns going down a very steep road, part is gravel but good with curves paved.  I did this route 3 years ago on my cruiser motorcycle with no problems.  Drop down to Utah State 24 to Hanksville, UT.  Here Blondy's is a good cafe to grab a bite to eat. Then UT 95 pass up Natural bridges Nat'l Monument (to really see it well you need to hike and Arches is better so pass it up with the dogs), pick up UT 261 down the Moki Dugway with beautiful views (the short gravel section with paved curves and steep but good and consider a stop at Muley Point), to Mexican Hat then through Monument Valley. 

I stayed at a nice little (small rooms and small shower) Native American owned motel (San Juan Inn) with a beautiful view of the San Juan River (you can walk down to it) at Mexican Hat.  Or you could go on across the river and stay at one of the two famous hotels for more $ in Monument Valley, Gouldings Lodge or The View on the Indian Res.

If you go this way buy gas when you see it and have water.  Also, I would not stay in Kayenta, AZ.  I would get fuel and maybe food there but I was advised not to spend the night as I was told theft is high there.  Plus I think it is nasty looking.  Just me.  Either stay at the above places or continue on to Shiprock.

You asked for ideas so here is one. 
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Re: Bend, OR to Albuquerque - ideas?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2015, 03:51:54 PM »

One route you can try is up to I-15, continue into Salt Lake City, hit US 89 and stop at Thistle. There is some remains of the 1983 landslide. Continue on US 6 east into Colorado, and stay on I-70 until Denver. Check out Colorado Springs (via I-25), and head east to US 550. Take I-25 south to Albuquerque, you're about 10-20 minutes north.

If you have a little extra time, head past US 550 and take NM 536 to NM 14, and take I-40 westbound. You're about 20 minutes east of Albuquerque.

Places you can stop at:
Boise, Idaho
Pocatello, Idaho
Salt Lake City, Utah
Green River, Utah
Mack, Colorado
Vail, CO
Denver, CO
Colorado Spgs. Colo.
Montrose, Colo.
Bernalilo, NM
Albuquerque, NM
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