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Old 12-23-2018, 02:54 PM
 
2 posts, read 1,033 times
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Hey y'all! I am going to be doing a solo road trip to the Taos Ski Valley area and I am going to be driving in January. Given that I have not really done a road trip West of Kansas City, I was hoping to get some input as to what route I should take.

It looks like I really have a handful of options, per Google Maps:
1. Kansas: I-70 to US-40; Colorado: Rural cities like Kit Carson, Eads, Rocky Ford, Fort Garland; New Mexico: Highway 522 [time: 11h 24m, dist: 704 mi]
2. Kansas: I-70; Colorado: I-70 to US-25 to US-160; New Mexico: Highway 522 [time: 11h 59m, dist: 806 mi]
3. Kansas: I-35 to US-50 to US-56 into Oklahoma, New Mexico: Highway 412 to 58 or maybe 518[time: 11h 24m, dist: 698 mi]
4. Kansas: I-35 to US-400 to US-54 to Hugoton, rest same as #3 [time: 11h 25m, dist: 704 mi]

As you can see, Goole Maps would call all of these routes about the same time. Obviously the big difference is in miles. As a driver, I generally do not take two lane roads very often. However, if these routes are fun to take, low deer issues, cops/getting stuck behind slow drivers are relatively minimal, I could be persuaded into taking one of these. My bigger priority is a mixture of safety, time, and drive "funness" (seriously, if these are boring routes I do not want to take them over a highway).

Barring a snow storm hitting one of these routes but not the other, what would you recommend and why?
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Old 12-23-2018, 09:25 PM
 
Location: Overland Park, Kansas
764 posts, read 1,187,116 times
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I would personally chose 3 or 4 having done both myself. There's not a whole lot to see or anywhere to stop in for the first two once you get out of Kansas, especially in the likes of Rocky Ford Eads, Kit Carson, etc. We drive back from Colorado Springs though Eads and Kit Carson and there usually aren't any open bathrooms or businesses of any sort between the eastern suburbs of the Springs and Lamar.

Taking 3 would take you though Overland Park, Olathe, Emporia, Strong City/Cottonwood Falls, Hutchinson, Kinsley, Dodge City, and Hugoton. Emporia, Cottonwood Falls, Hutchinson, Kisnley, and Dodge City all have at least one interesting thing to stop and see. Kinsley has a neat little sign that's popular with people passing though on 50-56-183 because the town is supposedly exatcly halfway between San Francisco and New York City.

Taking four would also take you though Emporia and then Wichita where the old town district, the zoo, and the Old Cow Town museum are all neat. Later on Greensburg has the Big Well Museum.

In the summer during a wetter year both are gorgeous drives though Kansas.
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Old 12-24-2018, 07:54 PM
 
Location: Kansas City North
5,936 posts, read 9,856,667 times
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I have driven #4 Several times. The portion of 400/54 which is two lane is not terribly busy. The road is so flat it’s not hard to pass, and every 5 to 10 miles there is a passing lane if you get behind some slow truck or RV.

My biggest suggestion, if you’re traveling in the winter, is to pay close attention to the weather forecast. Western Kansas on any highway is not where you want to be in a blizzard.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:04 PM
 
116 posts, read 81,365 times
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I once lived in west Texas and skied at Taos frequently. Not my favorite ski area, although it does has its assets, but that's another discussion. It's far and above the best in New Mexico though. Another Route is to head west to I-25 in Colorado (via a variety of route), head south over Raton Pass and then take US 64 southwest from Raton through the Cimarron and a spectacular canyon west of there to Eagles Nest. From Eagles Nest, it's a fairly scenic drive west to Taos. I think US 160 from Walsenburg west is perhaps the fastest route but maybe not the most interesting and scenic.

I've driven all of the roads you mention. 412 is rather dull, consider 87 through Clayton to Raton (and my route from above for Raton to Taos). 87 through Clayton backtracks a little but it's a very pretty drive through the NE New Mexico volcanic tablelands at a fairly high altitude and lots of Pronghorn Antelope to watch along the way.

518 is very slow and mountainous. Scenic but slow.
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