Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Grand Canyon NP

Summer of 2014 we explored several National Parks in the Southwest region for the very first time. We traveled west from North Texas to New Mexico, Arizona, up to Colorado (a bit of West region), and back to New Mexico again before we headed home. We visited 5 National Parks and 3 National Monuments as well as 3 museums and some other interesting places along the way, all in 13 days. Sounds crazy and ambitious, huh? But I tell you, it was one of the very memorable vacations for us. And no, it’s not ‘been there done that’ kind of a holiday. Trust me.

Our Itinerary

 

Day 1: Home (North Texas) to White City, NM (about 7 hour).

Place Visited:

Entrance Fee:

  • Free with National Park Pass; or $10 for 16 and older, free for 15 and younger. Good for 3 days.

Accommodation & Meals:

  • We stayed at Rodeway Inn and ate dinner at Velvet Garter Saloon and Restaurant by the entrance. Both were pretty bad but we came for the caverns. You can stay and eat at better places in Carlsbad for an extra 30 minutes driving (one-way).

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Carlsbad Caverns
Carlsbad Caverns NP, White City, New Mexico.

 

Day 2: White City, NM to Alamogordo, NM (about 3 hours).

Places Visited:

Entrance Fee:

  • NM Museum of Space History: Adult (13-59) $7; Senior (60+) $6; Children (4-12) $5; Tots (3 and under) Free.
  • White Sands NM: Free with National Park Pass; or Adults (16 and older) $5, Children (15 and younger) Free.

Accommodation & Meals:

  • Plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from in the city. Some hotels fee included snow-saucer to use when you visit the park.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - White Sands NM
White Sands National Monument, Alamogordo, New Mexico.

 

Day 3: Alamogordo, NM to Tucson, AZ (about 5 hours)

Places Visited:

Entrance Fee:

  • Saguaro National Park is free with National Park Pass; or $15 – vehicle weekly pass; $5 – individual weekly pass (entering by foot or bicycle); $10 – motorcycle weekly pass.

Accommodation & Meals:

  • We stayed at Hilton Hotel by the park and it was the cheapest hotel we had during the trip: $69/night including tax. It’s an old one but they upgraded all the rooms like the new ones. You can find all kinds of restaurant around the area.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Saguaro NP
Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona.

 

Day 4: Tucson, AZ to Holbrook, AZ (about 5 hours).

Place Visited:

Entrance Fee:

  • Free with National Park Pass; or $20 – auto/7-days pass; $10 – bike/person; $10 – motorcycle (flat fee).

Accommodation & Meals:

  • Choice of roadside hotels and restaurants in Holbrook, AZ.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Petrified Forest NP
Petrified Forest National Park, Holbrook, Arizona.

 

Day 5: Holbrook, AZ to Grand Canyon National Park, AZ (about 3 hours).

Places Visited:

  • Meteor Crater in Winslow, AZ (about an hour from Holbrook).
  • Grand Canyon National Park, south rim (about 2 hour from Winslow). Explored part of the park.

Entrance Fee:

  • Meteor Crater: – Adults $18.00, Seniors $16.00 (age 60 years and over), Juniors $9.00 (age 6 through 17 years), 5 and under are free, Non-Active Duty U.S Military/Veterans (with I.D.) $9.00, U.S. Military Youth (age 6-17) $5.00, Active U.S. Military (with I.D.) FREE. – Family/Group Rate (8 or more paying guests) Adults $16.00, Seniors $14.00 (age 60 years and over), Juniors $7.00 (age 6 through 17 years).
  • Grand Canyon NP: Free with National Park Pass; or $30 – vehicle permit; $25 – motorcycle permit; $15/person – individual permit when entering by foot, bicycle, park shuttle bus, Grand Canyon Railway and private rafting trip. Individuals 15 years old and younger are admitted free of charge. (For 7 days, incl. North and South Rim).

Accommodation & Meals:

  • We stayed at Yavapai Lodge and ate at the restaurant in the village.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Meteor Crater
Meteor Crater, Winslow, Arizona.

 

Day 6: Explored Grand Canyon National Park.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Grand Canyon NP
Grand Canyon NP. Photo credit: AlexW93.

 

Day 7: Grand Canyon NP, AZ to Page, AZ (about 2.5 hours).

Places Visited:

Entrance Fee:

  • Antelope Upper Canyon Tour price is varied, depends on time of tour; Adult $48-58, Children (6-12) $40-48.

Accommodation & Meals:

  • Page is a vacation destination with its Lake Powell, so lots of hotels and restaurants to choose from.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona. Photo credit: tlemens

 

Day 8: Page, AZ to Mesa Verde, CO (about 4.5 hours).

Visited:

  • Horseshoe Bend Overlook, Page.
  • The Four Corners, Teec Nos Pos, AZ.
  • Mesa Verde National Park, CO.

Entrance Fee:

  • Horseshoe Bend Overlook is free.
  • The Four Corners: $5 per person, ages 6 and younger free.
  • Mesa Verde NP: Free with National Park Pass; or Private vehicles (Jan. 2 – April 30 2017 & Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 2017: $15; May 1 – Oct. 31: $20); Motorcycle (Jan. 2 – April 30, 2017 & Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 2017: $10; May 1 – Oct. 31, 2017: $15); Cyclist or individual on non-commercial bus (Jan. 2 – April 30, 2017 & Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 2017: $7; May 1 – Oct. 31, 2017: $7). Good for 7 days.

Accommodation & Meals:

  • We stayed at Far View Lodge in the park. No TVs. It’s very quiet and peaceful in the evening. We ate at restaurants in the park.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona.

 

Day 9: Explored Mesa Verde National Park.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Mesa Verde NP
Mesa Verde NP, Colorado. Photo credit: renrmartinerauschenber

 

Day 10: Mesa Verde, CO to Santa Fe, NM (about 5 hours).

Places Visited:

  • Continued to explore the park in the morning. Then browsing downtown Santa Fe.

Accommodation & Meals:

  • Lots of hotels and restaurants that will match your budget in Santa Fe.

 

Day 11: Santa Fe, NM to Los Alamos, NM (about an hour).

Places Visited:

  • Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe.
  • Canyon Road in Santa Fe.
  • Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos.

Entrance Fee:

  • Loretto Chapel is free.
  • Bandelier NM: Free with National Park Pass; or $20 – private vehicle 7 day permit; $10 – individual 7 day entry permit; $15 – motorcycle 7 day permit.

Accommodation & Meals:

  • We moved to Albuquerque to get closer to places we visited the next day. Again, lots of hotels and restaurants that will match your budget. In Santa Fe, we had lunch at Cowgirl BBQ.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest - Bandelier NM
Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico. Photo credit: werner22brigitte

 

Day 12: Albuquerque.

Places Visited:

  • Petroglyph National Monument.
  • Explora (the science center and children museum).
  • New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Entrance Fee:

  • Petroglyph NM: Free with paid parking ($1 weekdays, $2 weekends).
  • Explora: Free with your museum membership card (check with Explora first); or Children (ages 1-11): $4, Adults (ages 12-64): $8, Seniors (age 65+, with ID): $5, Students or Military (with ID): $5.
  • NM Museum of Natural History and Science: Free with your museum membership card (check with the museum first); or adults (13-59) – $8, seniors (60+) – $7, children (3-12) – $5.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Petroglyph NM
Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 

Day 13: Albuquerque to home in North Texas (about 9.30-10 hours).

 

General tip:

  • We bought National Park Pass for the trip that was also good for National Monument. (Cost $80).
  • Booked hotels in advance, especially for Grand Canyon NP.
  • Found information online, travel blogs, from magazines, and friends who’d been to those places or live around the area.

 

Parks Hopping In The Southwest Itinerary - Road trip

 

 

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Comments

  1. Lisa says:

    I might be driving this way (from the PNW to Austin) this year so I have to check some of these out. Can’t believe I was once a few miles from Antelope Canyon but missed it 🙁

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      Aww… Make sure you put Antelope Canyon in your `next trip.

  2. Katherine says:

    This is my dream roadtrip! You’ve been to some of the National Parks that I’ve been waiting to visit for years! Especially the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. Pinning this to use on my own road trip, thank you!
    Katherine recently posted…Reverse culture shock (stories from the frontline)My Profile

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      You are welcome!

  3. Kristen says:

    Wow, this trip looks awesome! The itinerary is so helpful too because I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I’d love to do this though!

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      Thank you! I hope it will help you when it’s time to make the trip there.

  4. Josy A says:

    I always love your photos!

    The South West is a bit far from me (we live in Canada and didn’t buy a car yet…) but if we ever do a US road trip, i’d love to visit these parks! You have such stunning wilderness in the US.
    Josy A recently posted…Maori Carvings near Lake TaupoMy Profile

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      I hope one day you will make a visit there. On the other hand, visiting national parks in Canada is in our list. I wonder how many weeks do we need?

  5. Amanda Tran says:

    There are so many places here that I wish I visited when I was in the US. Adding to the bucketlist! Thanks so much! Looks wonderful.

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      I hope you can make it next time you come.

  6. Sami says:

    Ah we have been to some of the same places! I loved White Sands!

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      White Sands was fun, but visitors have to make sure they follow the rules.

  7. Chelsea says:

    Wow! So cool you were able to do such a fun road trip! I’ve been to a few of these places, now I’m inspired to visit them all! Thank you!

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      You are welcome!

  8. shan says:

    Wow! This is such a gorgeous part of our diverse landscape of the U.S. This is one area I’ve haven’t been to yet. Thanks for all the info and details! 😉

    shan
    The How-to Guru

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      You are welcome! I hope you will make the trip there in the future.

  9. Kristin says:

    This is awesome. I’m dying to get out there and explore some of these areas! Saved this for future reference!
    Kristin recently posted…Adventure Diary: 27th Birthday Weekend WanderingsMy Profile

  10. We’re big fans of the National Parks, so this is something we’d love to do. I’ve been to most of the Arizona places you listed (we live in Phoenix) except for Saguaro National Park. That’s on my list for this year. My boyfriend has never been to the Grand Canyon, so that might be on our list for this year too.
    Sam | Away She Went recently posted…A Tour of Wrigley MansionMy Profile

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      I wish Texas has more NP or NM like Arizona, so we can use America the Beautiful pass all the time in a year.

  11. Very well written guide to the area. You included all the information that I could think person would need. Now I just need to go!

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      Thank you!

  12. Vanessa says:

    I love Mesa Verde, it’s so cool. I haven’t been back in years, but I think another visit is in order. I’ve also always wanted to go to the White Sands National Park, and your pictures make me want to go even more.

    1. Umiko Buhl says:

      I would like to go back to White Sands and Mesa Verde again, too! White Sands is fun and Mesa Verde is just different.

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