Cliff House at Pikes Peak Before I forget where we went and what we did I’ll record our 2016 road trip here – with a small selection of photos. Most were taken with Fujifilm X-T1, and I took with me just 3 prime lenses; The Zeiss 12mm f/2.8, the Fujifilm 35mm F/2 and the Fujifilm 90mm f/2. A few were taken with my Lumia 920 when I didn’t have the camera on me. A rather larger selection of photos than I have included here can be found on my SmugMug page.
We flew Seattle to Salt Lake City – picked up our transport for the journey – a Mazda CX-5 – then headed into the city for a quick walk around Temple Square. Amazed how quiet the city center was – managed to park right next to the temple.Heading South we had planned to take in a scenic drive along Nebo Loop Road – but after 16 miles or so found it was closed due to road damage – so turned back… We were headed for Moab, but wanted to get off the beaten track so took 24 through Capitol Reef National park.
Light rain didn’t spoil the viewing as we took some short walks – and when the rain got heavier – with thunder and lightning this made the already breathtaking scenery even more amazing! Turning North on 24 to pick up Highway 70 the sun was catching the mountains in the distance.
Our first and second nights were to be spent at the Castle Valley Inn just a few miles outside Moab. We found Moab to be particularly busy – and our first choice eating place – the Moab Brewery – was full with a long wait. We ate instead at Twisted Sistas’ Café. Food was good – though a little pricey – but perhaps that is just Moab…
The following day we visited Arches National Park in the morning – probably could have done with getting there earlier. Very busy and difficult to get photos that didn’t contain lots of people! Had to pick your moment.
For the afternoon and early evening we went just a short way to Canyonlands National Park – which quieter and just as beautiful – in some ways more impressive.
That evening we did get to eat at the Moab Brewery – very pleasant and great beer!
The following morning we took in some local sites with a trip along 279, before heading long Highway 128 along the Colorado river – up to 70 then across the border into Colorado. Our overnight stop was planned for Grand Junction – and heading into Colorado National Monument at Fruita and then coming out near Grand Junction was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
That evening was spent at Castle Creek B&B in Grand Junction (“The largest town between Salt Lake City and Denver”) and a short drive into the very pleasant town and we found the Rockslide Brew Pub – excellent food and beer – and a continental feel with outside seating.
The following day was to be our longest drive – out of Grand Junction and looping around the 141 from Whitewater then up to Montrose and heading East on the 50 – past Blue Mesa and through Monarch pass (11,312ft) before descending and heading North to Buena Vista – turning East on the 285 and taking in the view of some of the 14k peaks we had passed between.
Our home for the next two night was in Manitou Springs, Cliff House at Pikes Peak (we had the – where we took some of the waters and enjoyed one of the food and beer highlights of the trip at Swirls Wine Bar where we shared the beer paddle and small plate selection.
We stayed local the following day – taking in the Garden of the Gods, Red Canyon trail – and more beer at Swirls!
Another long driving day followed that as we headed for New Mexico. But not before taking in the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and a trip 1,000ft down the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine at Cripple Creek.
As the roads South on 1 were likely to be harrowing for my passenger we looped back to pick up 11 – then 50 West to Salida before heading South on 17 towards the border – but stopping off first at Great Sand Dunes National Park.
We hit the border with New Mexico using 159, then South to Taos for our overnight stay at El Pueblo Lodge – with a very welcome pool. Dinner was at the Alley Cantina. Following a good breakfast on the terrace we headed of to see Taos Pueblo and the Rio Grande gorge and bridge – then South to Santa Fe on the High Road – taking in the Sanuario de Chimayo.
Our home in Santa Fe for two night was the Inn at Vanessie – and dining took us to the Pink Adobe and Coyote Café cantina . Our day out from Santa Fe took us to Bandelier National Monument, then up to Los Alamos and a walk around the historical park – the White Rock Overlook – where a guide told us rattle snakes don’t usually rattle – then finally to another part of the Bandelier Park – the Tsankawi prehistoric site where we discovered they certainly can rattle – if they happen to be sunning themselves on the trail and your wife nearly trips over one (no pictures!). It was a very nice trail though – another of the highlights of the trip.
The final day was spent with a short visit to Pecos National Historical Park – interesting history lesson – then along the turquoise trail to Albuquerque for the flight home – quick stop for lunch at The Hollar in Madrid for Buffalo Burgers (Excellent!) . Alaska were very keen to get us onboard and away as soon as possible – Donald Trump was due to land shortly after – and they didn’t want to get grounded in the Trump carnival…