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Aug 15, 2007 11:12 PM

A Road Trip From LA to Durango - Where to Eat?

We'll be leaving on Aug. 22nd for a trip to Colorado and back. What help can the Southwest Hounds offfer on where to get the good chow along the way? Not to run afoul of the Rules regarding geographic exclusivity, we'll pick up the trip in Kingman, then Flagstaff, via Fwy 10, 15 and 40. Then Flagstaff to Mexican Hat on Routes 89, 160, 163 through Grand Canyon, Tuba City, Monument Valley and Mexican Hat. Then Mexican Hat to Durango, Colorado via Routes 160 and 491 through Dolores, Cortez, Telluride, Dunton Hot Springs. Then Durango to Winslow via 491, 40 through Cortez, Shiprock, Gallup, Winslow. Then Winslow to Sedona via 40 and 89-A through Flagstaff. Then Sedona to LA via 89-A, 40, 15 and 10. Cut-off at the california border.

All that said, and recognizing that driving doesn't necessarily put you into a burg at mealtime, what can you folks recommend (outside of California) in the cities we'll go through but especially along the side of the road in between. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. We try to avoid chains unless there is no alternative; the opportunities for regional food would seem abundant. We are experienced world travelers and prefer good food no matter how improbable. Who would expect some of the best Thai food in Las Vegas? Any help you can provide will make that l.o.n.g drive much more enjoyable. If you need Southern Cal recs, I'll be one of the first to reply. Thanks so much.

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  1. Don't expect anything in the way of Chow-ish food in Navajoland -- and don't expect wine, beer or cocktails either. When you're going through Winslow, don't miss La Posada. A true landmark. whether you eat there or not. Dunton Hot Springs is worthwhile stop, but it's not really along the road. In fact, it's 10 miles off CO 145 (not 491) down an unpaved road. Are you staying there, or do you just want to look and maybe eat? In my experience. Flagstaff offers mostly acceptable but not great cuisine. Perhaps try Pasto's or Josephine's, assuming they are still around. Lots of really good food in Telluride and Durango, both of which have been covered extensively here.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ClaireWalter

      La Posada is a must. The Turquoise Room at La Posada, offering Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, is rated as one of the best restaurants in Arizona. Just a treat to be there. Spend a few minutes walking the grounds and enjoying the trains.

      In Navajo Land, we have always enjoyed having Navajo Fry Bread with honey and powdered sugar. You can find it sold by Natives in Kayenta, just before you head North on 163, and in Monumant Valley, as well as many other areas. Great treat, hard to beat. Depending on hunger level, one serving can be enough for two folks.

      I've also heard good things about the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat, but haven't been there.

      Jerry Saywell

      1. re: Jerry Saywell

        Fry bread is about the ONLY reliably available specialty in Navajoland, but while it is tasty while you (not YOU specifically, but you generally) are eating it, IMHO it sits in the gut like a large lead sinker when you get back into the car fo the next leg of a road trip.

        If the San Juan Inn is the one along the west side of the road, nestled up again some dramatic red rock formations, that's the place we usually stop too. Underwhelming food -- but oh, the sceney on that stretch. A detour into the Monument Valley Tribal Park (admission charged) is very worthwhile.

        Glad you seconded the La Posada motion. It's a wonderful place indeed.

    2. First of all, your routing looks a bit off to me and I live in Dolores so let me see if I can help a bit. If you are going from AZ to Durango and are going directly -- you would take 160 east and it will take you right to Durango. To get to Dolores, you will have to take 145 north. If you continue on that road you will go see the West Dolores Road which takes you by Dunton Hot Springs. It is my understanding that if you don't have reservations there, they will not let you in. The grounds are gated and the gate is locked.

      Continuing up 145 will take you through Rico and then to Telluride. To go to Durango from Telluride you will have to continue on 145 to Ridgway and then head south on 550. It will take you over 2 hours to get to Durango from Telluride. You will go through Ouray and then pass Silverton on the way to Durango.

      Also you mention taking 491, 40 through Cortez. 40 isn't anywhere near Cortez, but I figure you know that??

      There are some decent restaurants in Cortez and Dolores [and microbreweries too]. Telluride has great restaurants [at a price]. Durango has lots of places [Steamworks Brewery for good beer and ok food].

      Let me know if you want specific names. I am pretty sure I've posted them on here before. Try a search and if you can't find them, I'll repost.

      Welcome to 4 Corners area and SW Colorado.

      3 Replies
      1. re: DebitNM

        Re Telluride to Durango, I think it's more than two hours via Ridgway, Ouray and Silverton. It's about two hours going through Rico and Dolores, which I know is the opposite direction "TomSwift" wants to go. Another option, for a real CO experience (and w/ a somewhat rugged vehicle and a penchant for off-road driving) is to take FS Rd 630 and FS Rd 679 (I think) thru Ophir and Ophir Pass.Fewer miles but not a lot faster due to the road conditions, but simply gorgeous San Juan Mt scenery..

        1. re: ClaireWalter

          You really should have a 4x4 to do Ophir Pass and experience in driving on narrow, no shoulder with BIG drop offs kind of roads. I would not recommend this as a commuter road. We drive these off roads a lot and I have seem too many near misses with visitors in regular vechilces, and not knowing rules of road [right of way etc] getting themselves in trouble.

          As for the travel time [on 145/550] it varies greatly by the # of vehicles in front of you, their comfort level of driving on roads that twist and turn and their speed which is often very slow and even time of day. 550 from Ridgway to Durango is a main transport road and has 18 wheelers on it.


          1. re: DebitNM

            Debi - You're right, of course. That's why I wrote "a somewhat rugged vehicle and a penchant for off-road driving" -- but perhaps I wasn't forceful enough in my description. I've taken my Subaru Outback over it a couple of times, including once en route from the Telluride Mushroom Festival to Durango w/ a car full of my son's stuff and his bike on the roof. I've seen sturdy non-4WD, non-high-clearance vehicles on the west side (as far as Ophir Pass); mainly 4WD's on the pass itself and far fewer vehicles of any sort on the east side. I just thought I'd throw it out there in case TomSwift has an appetite and a vehicle for that sort of thing and wants a change of pace from pavement. US 550 indeed has 18-wheelers, which can be slow, and also monster RVs that can be even slower. That route over Red Mountain Pass in itself is a memorable attraction for many visitors.

            I hope, TomSwift, that you'll report on your trip -- and enjoy a good meal whenever and wherever you can find it. Perhaps Debi can confirm whether the Absolute Bakery & Cafe in Mancos is still in biz and still good. If so, I'd recommend stocking up on some treats there before venturing up CO 145 and detouring to Dunton Hot Springs en route to Telluride.