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Author Topic: Trip to New Mexico  (Read 3030 times)

CtrlAltDel

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Trip to New Mexico
« on: September 06, 2016, 05:10:41 PM »

I am planning a trip from (my new home of) Johnson City, Tennessee, to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, but it turns out that I've already been on many of the Interstates in the area. But I don't really know any of the other roads or money-hungry communities in the way. What I was hoping for is any suggestions as to a good routing this trip. Just about the only ones I haven't been on are I-40 east of Oklahoma City and I-30, and I would like to cover those, but I would like to explore some of the US highways in the area, and so any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated.


I'm thinking about taking I-40 and I-30 (blue) to somewhere in the general area of Texarkana and then either the light blue or the light purple dashed line to New Mexico (pay not attention to the arrow direction here). Then taking the other of the light blue or purple line back to somewhere near Texarkana, and then either the orange dashed line or I-20 back to Birmingham.

I know US-84 goes from I-20 in TX to I-40 in NM, but I don't know if that's a good road, or if there's something better. The same thing goes for US-287 an US-82 along the Red River border with Oklahoma.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2016, 05:15:57 PM by CtrlAltDel »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2016, 06:20:26 PM »

You could stop in Carlsbad to see the Caverns and take US 285 north to either US 82 or US 70 west to cross the mountains.  Ruidoso is a beautiful town with horse racing if you are looking for something that wants to take your money.  Cloudcroft is on US 82 and 8,000 something feet above sea level.

US 41

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 11:34:22 PM »

I recommend driving I-25 (and NM 1 where possible) from Albuquerque down to El Paso. I think driving through El Paso traveling eastbound at night on I-10 is a must. It's kind of a weird feeling to be able to look at a foreign city of over 1 million people. You can literally see the whole city too. It's very neat. As far as crossing over to Juarez, I wouldn't personally recommend it. The lines are long and it is a border city with lots of crime.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2016, 11:38:06 PM »

I recommend driving I-25 (and NM 1 where possible) from Albuquerque down to El Paso. I think driving through El Paso traveling eastbound at night on I-10 is a must. It's kind of a weird feeling to be able to look at a foreign city of over 1 million people. You can literally see the whole city too. It's very neat. As far as crossing over to Juarez, I wouldn't personally recommend it. The lines are long and it is a border city with lots of crime.

Not too far removed from thousands of cartel killings a year....  Funny how El Paso is consistently among the lowest US cities over 500,000 for murders with all that going on across the Rio Grande.  You want to feel like you are the end of the Earth?....US 180/62 east of El Paso to Carlsbad.  75 MPH on a 2-lane highway with giant mountains...in TEXAS with the Guadalupes...very surreal.

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2016, 12:12:12 AM »

I know US-84 goes from I-20 in TX to I-40 in NM, but I don't know if that's a good road, or if there's something better. The same thing goes for US-287 an US-82 along the Red River border with Oklahoma.
By "good road", do you mean high-speed, or scenic?  US 84 departs I-20 near Sweetwater TX, and it's four-laned all the way to Clovis NM.  For most of that stretch, it feels pretty much like an interstate, except through a few places like Lubbock and Post.  West of Clovis US 84 is two lanes, but very little traffic up to I-40, so passing is usually a breeze.  The segment between I-40 and I-25 is very scenic, but traffic is a little heavier.

US 287 between Amarillo and Ft. Worth is essentially the same: high-speed four-laner that feels like an interstate almost the whole way.  I have not driven US 82 through north Texas, but it looks like about one-third of the stretch between Wichita Falls and Texarkana is four-laned.
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Jbte

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2016, 02:00:29 AM »

I recommend driving I-25 (and NM 1 where possible) from Albuquerque down to El Paso. I think driving through El Paso traveling eastbound at night on I-10 is a must. It's kind of a weird feeling to be able to look at a foreign city of over 1 million people. You can literally see the whole city too. It's very neat. As far as crossing over to Juarez, I wouldn't personally recommend it. The lines are long and it is a border city with lots of crime.

Not too far removed from thousands of cartel killings a year....  Funny how El Paso is consistently among the lowest US cities over 500,000 for murders with all that going on across the Rio Grande.  You want to feel like you are the end of the Earth?....US 180/62 east of El Paso to Carlsbad.  75 MPH on a 2-lane highway with giant mountains...in TEXAS with the Guadalupes...very surreal.

Not anymore, killing dramatically reduced in Juarez since 2014, that was something common between 2007 to 2013... but still not a good idea to visit for Americans, and despite there's not much to see in Juarez.

My suggestion:
https://goo.gl/maps/yG65bLi3a7G2

-From I-20 near Big Spring Tx, take 176 then US 62 to Carlsbad, NM, visit the Carlsbad Caverns National Park, you can also visit the Guadalupe Peak, but IMO not worth, its just a desert mountain, nothing interesting.
-Continue US 62 to El Paso make sure to visit downtown, take the scenic drive at Franklin Mountains State Park for the mountains views of the metro city of El Paso and Juarez, the highway 375 section of the mountain is scenic.
-Take I-10 to Deming, exit at US 180 and head north to Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument, great scenic road and historical tourist attraction.
-Go back to route 152 and take I-25 north, visit Albuquerque and the Sandia Peak Tramway.
-Take I-25 to US 550 then continue to San Ysidro and take route 4, it's an scenic route within its main attraction the Bandelier National Monument.
-Go to Santa Fe using US285 then continue using 285 to I-40 then go back. Unless if you want to make a quick visit to other areas and depending the days you will invest in your trip.

Cheers
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US 41

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2016, 08:33:01 AM »

Here's what I drove last November in NM. I really enjoyed driving on US 60 across a lot of the state. Here's some of my pics along the route. https://goo.gl/maps/vig6FBegaZt


I-40 eastbound somewhere around Tucumcari


US 60 heading towards I-25


I ran into snow in Datil, NM. The snow made mt trip a lot slower, because it did get pretty heavy, but it made the views that much better.


More snow along US 60.

I unfortunately don't have any photos from AZ to El Paso. It was nighttime and I couldn't see anything anyways. When you're driving eastbound on I-10 you also pop over a hill and can see almost all of Las Cruces too. I tried to take pics of both Las Cruces and Juarez, but my flash kept turning on and my windshield was dirty.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2016, 08:38:05 AM by US 41 »
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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2016, 11:16:24 AM »

I recommend driving I-25 (and NM 1 where possible) from Albuquerque down to El Paso. I think driving through El Paso traveling eastbound at night on I-10 is a must. It's kind of a weird feeling to be able to look at a foreign city of over 1 million people. You can literally see the whole city too. It's very neat. As far as crossing over to Juarez, I wouldn't personally recommend it. The lines are long and it is a border city with lots of crime.

Not too far removed from thousands of cartel killings a year....  Funny how El Paso is consistently among the lowest US cities over 500,000 for murders with all that going on across the Rio Grande.  You want to feel like you are the end of the Earth?....US 180/62 east of El Paso to Carlsbad.  75 MPH on a 2-lane highway with giant mountains...in TEXAS with the Guadalupes...very surreal.

Not anymore, killing dramatically reduced in Juarez since 2014, that was something common between 2007 to 2013... but still not a good idea to visit for Americans, and despite there's not much to see in Juarez.

There was an article in one of the Juarez daily papers this past New Years Day talking about how the murder rate was down to the 300s, roughly on par with, say, Baltimore. Damning with faint praise, perhaps, but no one would look askance at you if you said you were going to Baltimore.

These days I wouldn't outright warn against an American crossing over, at least if they're just going to check out the central plaza area, which has been redone to be totally car-free over the last few years. As long as you stick to the heavily trafficked areas and just use the same street smarts you'd use in any major city you should be fine. The lines still can really suck trying to get back into the U.S., though if you have a Global Entry card you can use that to greatly expedite the process via special fast lanes. Or if you're up for it you can just walk using the Paso del Norte Bridge which goes directly between Downtown El Paso and Juarez Centro, as there's almost never a substantial wait time for pedestrian crossing (would maybe avoid doing this at night to be completely safe).

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2016, 01:12:13 PM »

By "good road", do you mean high-speed, or scenic?

By "good road," I mean a good choice of road to travel down. But that, I realize, is vague. Overall, what I mean is a road in decent condition, without too much traffic, with gas stations not too far apart (say less than 100 miles), and not too many towns to drive slowly through. Four lanes isn't necessary, provided that it's easy to pass and there aren't too many trucks.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2016, 10:12:45 PM »

So this is why you might want to swing by US 62/180 via Carlsbad to El Paso, this was back in January on the way home from a work conference in Dallas:

Carlsbad Caverns National Park





Guadalupe Mountains National Park





You want a good road...like I said US 62/180 is it.  You'll be rocketing 75 MPH on the two-lanes west of the Salt Flat above to El Paso.  It's a tinge over 100 miles from gas in Carlsbad, NM to El Paso but it moves very quick.  I would suggest swinging up US 54 to Alamogordo and west on US 70 to Las Cruces.  That way you can pass White Sands National Monument and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument before hooking up with I-25.  If you do cross US 70 make sure you have the number for White Sands Missile Control ready just in case the road closes for a test; 575-678-1178.  Also US 70 and US 54 are high speed four lane roads for the most part around the White Sands Proving Grounds and Holloman AFB.

Funny about the murders in Juarez dropping to 300 something.  I still get plenty of stink eye from family members when I visit the old home town of Detroit...I'm sure I would also for Baltimore.

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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2016, 10:34:19 PM »

If you just have to cross over to Mexico than use the Ft Hancock POE southwest of El Paso. There are never any lines down there. Also make sure you have Mexican auto insurance.

Although it's a little out of the way, Ojinaga is a great place to cross at and there's a lot more to see down there like this canyon I took photos of in February. It's a 45 minute drive west of Ojinaga. (You don't need a FMM / TIP to drive to this.) I spent like 5 hours down there and it's perfectly safe, even if you are by yourself.




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Re: Trip to New Mexico
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2016, 01:24:28 PM »

I lived in Johnson City as a kid. One of the better times of my life. If I could raise my kids there now, I probably would.

Why not take US 412 most of the whole way? You've got some tolls in Oklahoma, but it's otherwise a pretty interesting road, and it would allow you to clinch it (if you're interested in that). The part in the Ozarks is pretty nice. I mean, the Ozarks are better if you get off onto the smaller state routes, but if you're only interested in US routes, then that's the option. But you have to side trip to Eureka Springs, if you've never been. And the Walmart visitors center in Bentonville was pretty funny when I was there a few years ago, but I believe they've built a larger one, so it may not be the same surreal experience.

Maybe I'm missing it, but it didn't seem clear from your post why you're dropping all the way to Midland. Unless you want to see Carlsbad Caverns, the southeastern part of NM, the Llano Estacado, is pretty dull. People visit Roswell for that stupid alien museum but it's really quite a dump of a town. If you must go down there, I would suggest cutting west across either 82 or 380, over the mountains. Lincoln and Capitan are interesting little towns, and the terrain up there is beautiful. 82 is more desolate, and doesn't have anything of obvious interest except for Cloudcroft. If you're looking for some hiking in the wilderness though, then that's a great place to do it.

I should also put out that Las Vegas, New Mexico is one of my favorite towns in the country. Really interesting little city that's kind of hidden from most, because they don't venture off of the main commercial strip near I-25. There's a hot springs, a grand "castle" that's now a school for foreign students, and a really quaint plaza, among other things. It's also the first place on I-25 that you can get true New Mexican food, at the Texan n' Span.
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