Albuquerque to Sedona to Kayenta and back
- geminigirl Jun 19, 2008 04:24 AM
Hi, taking a bit of a road trip flying into Alb. and renting a car. Heading to Sedona for a few days, up to monument valley and probably over to New Mexico/Ojo Caliente (Spa maybe but I've read very mixed reviews) and back to Alb. I've gotten a lot of suggestions about Sedona but wondering if there are spots along the way or in Monument valley that we shouldn't miss...we like local food / all food and will mostly be in hiking clothes....thanks!
The only can't miss spot along the way I can think of is the Turquoise Room at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow. This is a beautiful 30's vintage railway hotel with some very creative Southwestern cooking. You might want to consider spending the night there if the timing works out. I haven't found any other true gems along this route but have had solid meals at couple of different Mexican/American restaurants in Holbrook, one on old Rt 66 just west of the traffic light and another about a mile west.
Cottage Place in Flagstaff for a great dinner. It is more low key but the food is on par with the best Sedona has to offer.
Turquoise Room is very nice. I would recommend against staying the night at La Posada unless you are able to sleep through deafening train noise which is consistent through the night. During the day it's kind of cool to see the trains so close, but it loses its appeal at night.
From Flagstaff to Monument Valley I have found nothing. I even posted a recent question on this site about it and everyone basically laughed at the idea of any legit places to dine on that route.
Second Turquoise Room.
I think the only decent place around Monument Valley is Gouldings Lodge. Fresh and attractively presented but bland. Four Corners was a BIG DISAPPOINTMENT.
Recommendations for your drive:
Canyon de Chelly and Hubbell Trading Post
La Posada (our suite was buffered from train noise and the food at Turquoise Room was WONDERFUL)
Petrified Forest and Painted Desert
And check the Sedona boards for current food recs (my favorite there is Pizza Picazzo)
Monument Valley is extremely photogenic, but I was, as a hiker, disappointed in the area. I'm used to dry and dusty living in Tucson, but for me the area lacked magic compared to other areas of the SW.
Yours will be a long drive with little reward, along I-40. If you have not been to the ALB area before, I highly recommend you stay in NM and drive the enchanted circle, from ALB to Santa Fe, to Taos, and Angel Fire, and back again.
If you want to do Arizona, fly to Phoenix direct, then drive up to Sedona, then to Flag or Williams (for the Grand Canyon RR) and then to both South and North Rims of the Grand Canyon which offer unparalleled hiking.
I hope I'm not being too presumptuous, but I think it' s a great mistake to do Arizona and New Mexico in one trip. There's so much to see in both states and the four corner corridor is the least of it!
not too presumptious at all, thanks for the suggestions, I will be googling tonight! We are from New England so sort of throwing caution to the wind and exploring a new part of the country....we did the santa fe/taos loop a couple of years ago and it was wonderful, we loved it!
I guess it sounds like it will be good to get I-40 out of the way first...any suggestions drivng back from 4 corners to abq? we are thinking of Ojo Caliente but open to other routes esp if there are great chow spots we shouldn't miss...
Pizza Picazzo is on my Sedona list already but glad to hear another endorsement. Thanks again!
Dollie's Cafe in Espanola offers WONDERFUL blue corn enchiladas, among other regional delights, at good prices. I would say Espanola probably has more food options than Ojo Caliente, but it's been a while since I've been up that way, and maybe someone else can weigh in.
Acoma is a drive, but there's no other place like it, and if I'm not mistaken the Indian fry break tacos there were outstanding.
The food options in Navajo Country are few and far in between with bets in Ganado and Chinle. We had a pretty good mutton stew in Chinle at the big cafeteria there; there are few options. I must say, though, the towns have seen better days and the hospitality left a lot to be desired. We are unfailingly polite, respectful and mindful, but we were refused service at several places, for food and gas, and ignored at several restaurants until we had to leave. It left a bad taste in our mouths during our Four Corner sojourn.
I hope yours is a better experience. We have had the opposite experience with the Hopi, and with the Gila River Indian Community (Pima/Maricopa) outside Phoenix, the White Mountain Apache and other nations, and I'd love to hear from others what their experiences were in Navajo territory as there is so much to recommend it.
If you have not been to AZ before and will be in the Sedona area, I think you will have a better time consecrating your trip to Sedona, Flag, and the canyon rims.
will post more later, but just wanted to comment on this with an update: we are touring around the area, and the roast mutton sandwich at the Junction Restaurant (in the Best Western in Chinle) was great! (the pozole wasn't bad either).
Service was fine too, and friendly. Indeed, the only place in Chinle where service was less than good to very good was at the Holiday Inn (which also had inferior food to the Junction and in case you doubt the wisdom of eating in motel restaurants, well, there really isn't anywhere else to eat in Chinle other than fast food, the booths at the flea market, and a pizza place).
Anyway, even at the Holiday Inn they tried, (our poor server was in her first week on the job and looked no more than 15; let's just say she had lots to learn. but she definitely tried!) and certainly served us. Everyone was civil at worst, and nearly everywhere we went (including the gas station and grocery store, not to mention those booths at the flea market), people were in fact friendly. I'd go back in a heartbeat (and eat at the Junction).
The level of hospitality from the Navajo residents in the 4 corners area will no doubt be variable. Unfortunately, there is a strain of racism among some Anglo residents in that part of the State. Down here in Albuquerque we see the news reports of white on red violence around Farmington. The Navajo are looked down on and even viciously beaten up for sport. Usually the victims have had too much to drink and cannot defend themselves. Perhaps you had the misfortune to come upon some people whose cousin or uncle has been recently abused. There are also many Navajo who are hospitable and friendly. Regardless, it is not a bountiful chowhounding area. The grand scale of the scenery is much more likely to impress than is the food.
If you're going to be in the area of Ojo Caliente, I think you might want to try Rancho de San Juan. It's a bit spendy, but worth it. Casual dressy is the order of the day for the place, but you could easily pack something suitable. They also have a wonderful "shrine" on the property called Windows in the World. It's a short, moderately strenuous hike from the inn. Even if you didn't want to go there for dinner, you could stop in for that. It's well worth the time.
Only one place in Kayenta for dinner which is the restaurant in the Holiday Inn. Don't laugh! If they have lamb on the menu, go for it. The flocks are locally grazed on sage so the meat has a terrific natural sage infusion. This is a great way to relax if you've done the hike to Betatakin or backpacked into Keet Seel at the Navajo National Monument. (Ha-ha, Chow Police, I snuck in a recreational suggestion!)
We stayed at the Holiday Inn on our trip from Denver to Durango to the Grand Canyon several years ago. While I don't remember the restaurant being anything special, I think it was pretty decent, especially when there really weren't any other options in the area. Well, there might have been a McDonald's somewhere around there! I thought Monument Valley was definitely worth a drive through, but not a place to spend a ton of time at. It was perfect for us as we spent the night in Kayenta, did a drive-through MV in the morning, then headed on over to the Grand Canyon.
An update on OK places to eat between Moab and Flagstaff. I saw this today in the NYTimes: "The Golden Sands Cafe (at Routes 160 and 163 in Kayenta; 928-697-3684) serves terrific cheeseburgers ($4.75) and Navajo tacos ($7.50)."
And a month ago we had dinner at Twin Rocks Cafe in Bluff, UT. Good fry bread and they make a veggie pizza with it. The service is slow, but the people are nice.