As we enter the New Year, you’ll no doubt have a list of resolutions to fulfil in the months ahead. It could be anything from finally getting round to clearing out your back yard or garage, to embarking on a life changing fitness regime. If, however, it involves hitting the road in search of new adventures on America’s great roads, then we’ve got plenty of great ideas for you to consider.
Get 2015 off to the perfect start by booking a car rental and exploring the fascinating winter landscapes of New Mexico and Arizona…
Breaking Bad in Albuquerque
Unless you’ve been residing under a rock for the past seven years, you will no doubt have either watched or constantly heard about the adventures of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad. The smash hit TV show may have aired its final episode in late 2013, but it still retains a huge fan base who simply can’t get enough of what is widely regarded asone of the most successful TV dramas of all time.
So what’s this got to do with Albuquerque? Well, this just so happens to be the city in which the show was filmed. As a result, several location tours such as the ABQ Trolley Bad Tour have sprung up in recent years. The ABQ tour enables you to hop aboard the trolley bus for a 3.5 hour location tour of the city and take in instantly recognizable buildings such as Walter White’s house, the car wash and The Crossroads Motel.
Hit the slopes of New Mexico
Soaring heat and sprawling desert landscapes may be the first things that spring to mind when you think of New Mexico, but as temperatures plummet during the winter months the state takes on an entirely different look. Follow US Highway 85 north of Albuquerque for an hour or so and you’ll reach the capital Santa Fe, which is in many ways the gateway to several fantastic ski resorts.
So if you’re after a family-friendly skiing trip to kick off the New Year, look no further than the slopes near Santa Fe. Angel Fire Resort is a two hour drive north east of the city and offers varied terrain suitable for all abilities. Choose from 79 runs serviced by high speed chair lifts and blessed with over 200 inches of annual snowfall.
Alternatively, head up to the Ski Santa Fe resort, which is of a similar size yet much closer to Santa Fe and Albuquerque. A total of seven lifts offer access to the 77 trails across 600 acres of terrain.
Winter in Flagstaff
Should you feel like heading west after your New Mexico adventure, then follow the Interstate 40 from Albuquerque into the neighboring state of Arizona. Not only will this enable you to drive along parts of the historic Route 66 trail, but you’ll also be heading straight for the charming town of Flagstaff.
Sitting at an elevation of over 7,000 feet, the town is a hotbed for lovers of the outdoors all year round – but it truly comes to life during the winter months, when skiers and snowboarders fill the surrounding slopes as well as the atmospheric restaurants and bars of downtown Flagstaff.
The Arizona Snowbowl mountain resort is less than 20 miles outside of town and offers superb skiing conditions over more than 700 skiable acres. And with 260 inches of snowfall a year, you can look forward to carving up the powder as you make your way down the slopes.
Snow sports aside, Flagstaff is of course also renowned for its close proximity to the world famous Grand Canyon, which is just an hour’s drive north. Winter conditions may mean you’ll have to slow down and add some extra time to your journey, but rest assured it will be worth it. And if you find yourself growing impatient, spare a thought for those who ventured here back in the old days when the journey from Flagstaff took no less than 12 hours by horse and carriage.
Follow Highway 180 for a spectacularly scenic drive to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and keep an eye out for local wildlife as you approach the first viewpoint. The Grand Canyon Village is by far the most popular observation area, but you should also take the opportunity to follow the road east for equally impressive views of the vast canyon landscape at both Grandview Point and Desert View Watchtower. And whatever you do, don’t forget that camera…