Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips, by Rick Quinn (2018)

Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips, by Rick Quinn
I love road trips! Having travelled a lot in the southwest, I know this area well for a Canadian; in fact, I estimate I’ve been on more than a third of the trips listed in this book, and for sure I will be back, thanks in no small part to the interesting places described here. There is so much to explore in this area, from historic Native cliff dwellings and the Very Large Array of radio telescopes to alien kitsch and stunning mountain scenery. As GPS has replaced mapbooks, books like this are ever so helpful for making your roadtrip an awesome one. How else are you supposed to discover Pie Town or Slide Rock State Park? Author Quinn spent several months and 11,000 miles exploring two states to come up with these 25 trips that will make crossing Arizona and New Mexico as memorable as possible. The book is divided into four parts, offering sidetrips as alternatives to the two main east-west and two main north-south interstates: I10 from Van Horn, TX to Phoenix, AZ; I40 from Kingman, AZ to Albuquerque, NM; I17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff, AZ; and I25 from Socorro to Raton, NM. The two east-west trips have the most sidetrips (8 each); but they are also the longer legs so that makes sense. Along with a good introduction to roadtrip planning, the start of the book offers a helpful index map that shows all the trips, giving you a chance to see where the sidetrips take you off the direct routes. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, you can plan your sidetrip selections as each sidetrip ends where the next one begins, intersecting at the interstate. That allows you to take a single sidetrip and then return to speedy travel, or if you have time, you can continue onto the next one without getting back on to the interstate. Each sidetrip entry also offers a detailed map showing the highlights you’ll find on the trip, effectively coaxing you off the interstate! Entries begin with a helpful summary of trip miles and drive time, then a brief description of the highlights of the trip. The trips are organized for travel from east to west, and from south to north, and have to be reversed for those travelling in the opposite directions. Directions are clear: “follow the frontage road to Cavern Street, TX 54, and head north toward the distant hills.” Descriptions include recommendations on what to watch for, from flora and hikes to interesting facts about the scenes in the windshield. Quinn recommends stops beyond the obvious – so not just the not-to-be-missed Carlsbad Caverns, but also the grave of the original Smokey the Bear, and the 30-foot tall World’s Largest Pistachio for those of us who enjoy quirky attractions! All locations are highlighted in bold text, and included in the index. The index is quite extensive, and will fill most readers’ needs. I’m guessing it’s a software generated one, though – there are no See references (“Mormons” did not have a See Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints); under Pistachio I found a reference to the World’s Largest Pistachio, but not to the McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch which is indexed under M only. My thanks to publisher Imbrifex Books for the digital reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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