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Southwest - Points of Interest

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1. Posted by farleyUL (Full Member 125 posts) 10y

Aside from the obvious things to do such as the Grand Canyon, Hollywood, Vegas, Yosemite, etc., what are some not quite as well-known things to do in the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona, LA-San Fran area)? Any help is appreciated.

2. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 10y

Best unknown things to do in the Southwest:

Moab, Utah--this is the kicking off point for a lot of wilderness adventures around the area. Everything from Arches National Park and Dead Horse Point (both right close by) to Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, and Durango, Colorado.

California coast (Calif Hwy 1)between San Luis Obispo and Monterey. Absolutely spectacular scenery, Hearst Castle, 17 mile drive, Monterey Aquarium, Cambria, and Morro Bay are must sees. If you are old enough for a winery tour, go inland to Paso Robles to the wineries, then cut west on CA-46 to the coastline.

Cedar City, Utah (in summer)--has a fabulous Shakespeare Festival and is a good in-between spot to stop on the road from Salt Lake City to Vegas. (not too far from Zion, Cedar Breaks, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon parks)

Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM (both great cities to visit in the summertime). Albuquerque has the balloon races in May and a great central square. Santa Fe has the culture, the pottery spots, and the interesting shops. Both have great Mexican-American food.

Lake Tahoe (Calif/Nevada border)--great snow skiing spots in the winter and good place to cool off in the summer--and there's the casinos and nightlife as well. (also its not too far to the old western town of Virginia City.) Another great skiing spot is Mammoth Mountain about 3-4 hours drive south.

Spring break/Labor Day/Memorial Day spots--Lake Havasu, Nev and Palm Springs, CA

Enjoy.

3. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 10y

ARIZONA: The Grand Canyon Caverns are a nice departure from the more touristy areas of the Canyon. Heading towards Central AZ you may want to visit Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona. Continue on to Camp Verde where Montazuma Castle is nearby. Not nearly as spectacular as Mesa Verde in CO but not nearly as crowded either. Also Montazuma Wells is a nice place to hike a bit. Camp Verde has a small historic Park of it's original fort which has the barracks, the Commander's House, Second Officer's home and the Doctors residence. Head over to Cottonwood and Clarkdale and you may catch the Verde Canyon Railroad which has lovely scenery. Then head up the mountain to Jerome, once a thriving mining town then a ghost town and currently a very funky little place with lots of history. In the late afternoon you may look over the Verde Valley and catch the rays of sunlight dancing across the red rocks of Sedona beyond.
If you're really brave head to Horse Thief Basin and take the dirt road up to Crown King, a tiny little town built around the old Saloon and general store. Very original, with the Saloon's restrooms still the old outhouse 'round back.

NEW MEXICO: Lots to see in Santa Fe including the "Miraculous Staircase" in Loretto Chapel. The Chapel was built by French and Spanish artisans that modeled the building after Saint Chapelle in Paris. Santa Fe also has the oldest house and church in the U.S.
If you are into the art scene, Santa Fe has lots to offer between it's museums and galleries. Canyon Road is a nice stroll with very high end galleries and some wonderful restuarants with great live music. (Tip for live music at no cost; The El Dorado Hotel which has some of the greatest 6 string guitarist playing there every Saturday night in the mail lounge). About 7 miles out of Santa Fe is Shidoni which has one of the largest bronze founderys in the States and acres of outdoor sculpture by various artists. If you decide to splurge somewhat, go to Ten Thousand Waves up in the pines and enjoy the hot tubs and cool mountain air. If you enjoy hiking head up to Bandelier which is an Anasazi dwelling dating back to 1200 AD. You may skirt up the steep wooden ladders into the dwellings and there are numerous hiking trails. For the adventurous spirit, head up to Taos and go white-water rafting on the Rio Grande. Level four rapids and a real blast!

Hope that helps a bit.

4. Posted by Ladymacwil (Full Member 170 posts) 10y

OOPS...make that the main lounge not the "mail" lounge at the El Dorado.

5. Posted by farleyUL (Full Member 125 posts) 10y

Awesome, thanks for all the advice. We'll definitely need some fillers and some less-touristy attractions along the way. I appreciate the responses! Keep 'em coming!