13 Days Driving Southwest USA [Part 3]

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I finally hit my destination all the way down in southern New Mexico! On the last 7 days of my travels I ventured through 5 states and completed over 28 hours of driving!

Part 1 can be found here, and Part 2 can be found here!

Day 7 – White Sands National Monument, New Mexico to Pagosa Springs, Colorado 

The day I had been looking forward to the most was finally here! I was going to see the reason I had driven this far south today and I was beyond excited.

White Sands National Monument is situated in southern New Mexico and borders a Missile Testing Range, Yikes! There is often times where the road is closed in both directions to enter the park due to active missile testing, they tell you not to touch any suspicious looking items you may find during your ventures in the national park, Yikes!

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White Sands National Monument is something that can only be described as surreal. From the moment you drive into the park, massive gypsum white sand dunes tower above you and as you drive further into the park you are met with endless views of beautiful white sand and strikingly blue skies in every direction.

I had gotten an early start on the day knowing that hiking in the Alkali Flats trail (8 Kilometres) would be extremely hot by noon in this barren desert.

The Alkali Flats Trail is a marked trail winding up and down dunes through to the furthest end of the park boundary and is a must do if you have the endurance to hike in the desert heat. Be sure to bring lots of water, food, sunscreen and UV protectant clothing as it is HOT out there, folks!

If you are not a hiker, you can rent saucers to slide down the sand dunes, there is also backcountry camping and a few scenic viewpoints along the drive through this small but very beautiful park.

I had ground to cover and places to be, meaning I was off to my next destination Pagosa Springs, Colorado!

Day 8 – 10 – Pagosa Springs, Colorado to Moab, Utah

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After spending the last several days in a hot desert it was a surprise to wake up to frost on my windshield! A stark contrast from yesterdays 40 degree weather.

I had arrived late on Day 7 to the friendly town of Pagosa Springs, Colorado but enjoyed my 24 hours thoroughly,
I stayed at Healing Waters Resort and Spa in the downtown area with their own personal hot springs at their resort!

Before leaving Pagosa Springs, I squeezed in a small stroll to some beautiful nearby waterfalls called Treasure Falls.

My next destination today was to drive back to Utah and camp in Moab for two nights and explore the nearby parks: Arches, Canyonlands and Deadhorse Point.

I spent the evening once I had arrived sightseeing in Arches National Park and enjoying the beauty of Moab. I had stayed at Archview RV Resort & Campground just outside of Moab and enjoyed the peace and quiet on the outskirts of the city.

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Day 9 was spent driving through Canyonlands, Arches and Deadhorse Point Park, all enjoying the tourist stops to take photos in each area.

I wanted to take it easy due to the excessive amount of driving and spent the day leisurely enjoying the sights of the high desert.

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Day 10 – Arches National Park

Day 10 was spent hiking the Devils Garden in Arches National Park to see the various feature arches throughout the hike. I decided against hiking the entire loop as it was long and did not much have offer on the return portion of the loop. I had hiked to the Double O Arch and had turned back the way I came.

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Day 11 – Moab, Utah to Capitol Reef, Utah

Day 11 was spent driving through Capitol Reef National Park and staying in nearby Torrey,  Utah at Thousand Lakes RV Park the day was spent exploring Capitol Reef.

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Clouds were rolling in quickly, but despite being assured there was no storm rolling in by locals I decided to go for a hike to find desert “pools” and view old petroglyphs written in the rock walls.

On the way back the wind had started to pick up, the sky had become dark and it was definite that a severe storm was coming in. As the wind picked up I hustled back to my vehicle, suffering what could be the worst nosebleed I had ever had in my entire life – I had contributed this nose bleed to dozens of different factors including the elevation and climate difference in the last week, the sand and the heat.
Driving back as fast as possible to the cabin with a bleeding nose is not a fun experience – Take it from me!

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That night was my first experience with a true desert storm and WOW – was it ever something! I was so fortunate to had chosen a cabin to stay in that night as I am sure I would have blown away in a tent.

Day 12-13 Torrey Utah to Butte, Montana, to Home!

The long drive back home had been broken into two days. I had broken the drive time in half by staying in Butte, Montana before driving back to Kimberley, British Columbia. The last two days were uneventful and spent driving from dawn until dusk.

Although the driving was exhausting, It was well worth every minute spent in my vehicle. Half of the adventure is driving to each location and visiting the small towns that each highway runs through, finding hidden gems along the way.

I love life on the road, it is such a fun, unique experience to visit different towns, meet different people and gather new experiences. I knew this was the very beginning of a new way of life for me.

That wraps up my three part series on my first ever road trip through the Southwestern United States!  I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed recounting my experiences throughout the United States!

 

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