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Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

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Rancho Santa...
posts: 2
Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

We are planning a week in New Mexico - driving from Los Angeles. Does anyone have an itinerary suggestion? We cannot decide if we should drive the full 12 hours in one day or break up the trip. We will probably stay at the Old Santa Fe Inn. Should we stay a night in Taos, or just make a day trip out of it? We are interested in Bandelier, Taos, Los Alamos, Tent Rock and are open to any other suggestions.

Thank you in advance!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
posts: 18,989
reviews: 40
1. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

I wouldn't drive the actually more than 12 hours between LA and Santa Fe in one day. Consider stopping at the Grand Canyon. Try to get lodging inside of the park or just south in Tusayan. IF you don't want to stop at the canyon, then head to Winslow AZ, stay at the La Posada Hotel (restored Harvey House Hotel) with a great restaurant The Turquoise Room. In morning you could visit Petrified Forest Nat Park then maybe lunch in Gallup NM and on to Santa Fe.

How many days do you have total once you get to Santa Fe? I'd stay 3 nights in Santa Fe, 1 night in Taos and 1 night in Albuquerque.

Aubrey, Texas
posts: 10,495
reviews: 144
2. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

I once drove SFe-LA in one go with another driver. We were both zombies at the end. Not worth it. Pick anyplace between for a night. El Rancho in Gallup is historic.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
posts: 3,932
reviews: 63
3. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

Should you wish to wait for the LA freeway traffic to clear ... The Higher elevation Flagstaff-Sedona makes the most sense as a overnight stop over... by turning South at Gallup one can get off the I-40 for a scenic drive visiting El Morro N.M. I would base out of Santa Fe ... Several of your above options can be combined into 1 day trips. carracar

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 57,584
reviews: 42
4. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

850 miles in 12 hours???

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
posts: 18,989
reviews: 40
5. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

Yes it takes that long Tet if you drive the speed limit and stop for fuel, restroom breaks, meals etc! Plus getting out of LA can take a long time! Longer if you want to get out and see something. I've driven this many times, always end up with a night along the way. But then again Tet, we have heard about your lead foot, lol!!!

Rancho Santa...
posts: 2
6. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

Thanks all for your suggestions! We are actually in Orange County and Google Maps/Mapquest estimates a 12 hour drive. We have already been to Winslow, Grand Canyon and many times to Flagstaff. We saw that Grants seems to have some interesting things to see, so thought we might drive the 10 hours there, stay the night, see the sights the next day and then finish the remaining two hour drive to Santa Fe. Does anyone have any insight as to whether there are actually worthwhile things to see there?

Haven't looked at Gallup yet. Any suggestions on what to see / do there?

Thought we might detour to Durango when our time in Santa Fe is up and come home that route. Any insider knowledge on that?

(I'm not asking for much, am I? LOL!)

I really appreciate all your input!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
posts: 18,989
reviews: 40
7. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

I would not stay in Grants, stay in Gallup and then see the sights. No real lodging and dining options in Grants. In Gallup look at El Rancho Hotel for a historic place, many other chains. Dining options include Earls, Jerry's. Then drive south to Zuni Pueblo, El Morro Nat Mon and to El Malpais Nat Mon and on to Abq and Santa Fe.

Durango is nice, plenty to see and do, but plan on spending a night there and then a night partway back to LA.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 57,584
reviews: 42
8. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

No lead foot Casa. Actually it took us longer than 12 hours. Another vote for Gallup instead Grants unless you are a light sleeper because of the trains running through Gallup. Chain motels in Grants are not close to the trains.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
posts: 3,932
reviews: 63
9. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

If you just don't have another hour of driving in you at days end ... Holbrook, offers a train noise free option ... Take the Navajo drive exit turning left,away from town..2nd Holbrook exit,coming from the West ... There are a handfull of dependable chain options . I always stay at the newly renovated & well managed Super 8(did so, night before last) Should you opt for Gallup ... The freeway bypass "nodes' coming into town form both directions are ajacent to the, very busy, main line tracks ... The best choice seems, now to be, the second Gallup exit from the West... The new construction, in front of the Walmart, at the exit where the 491/666 goes North... From Durango ... While it would take a extra day ... Drive the 550 "Million Dolor Highway" to Grand Junction. Follow the I-70 to the I-15 return to LA. ... happy trails ... carracar

Edited: 10:17 am, April 21, 2014
Austin, Texas...
posts: 1
reviews: 2
10. Re: Driving Los Angeles to Santa Fe - Itinerary Suggestions??

If it were me, I'd stop in Sedona for the afternoon and evening the first night. Very picturesque. Then check out the Berringer Meteor Crater (south of I-40) on the drive to Santa Fe. A little pricey for what it is, but worth seeing at least once. Don't know much about either Gallup or Grants, except that driving through I was glad I wasn't staying there.

I would recommend Bandelier. Nice nature trails, cave dwellings, some death-defying ladders to climb (optional). Don't know about the other sites, but I think Los Alamos is right off the same road as Bandelier.

Downtown Durango is fun for a night. And the drive from Santa Fe is very scenic.