Road To Maker Faire, Literally

Hot off our inboxes, from Mikey:

We are driving to the Austin Maker Faire from the SoCal area.

We’re planning on taking our time on the drive there — I was wondering if there’s anyway I can ask the collective intelligence to suggest some places to stop at along the way that would be fun/interesting to makers.

Dear readers, where would you stop?

Here’s an idea of what the route might be like:

View Larger Map

Please comment below with suggestions for where to stop, and if we’re lucky Mikey will send us photos and more!

To get us started, I’ll propose a detour to the Earthship community in Taos, New Mexico. These off-the-grid rammed earth houses are a beautiful example of architecture in harmony with nature. And, there’s a really nice hot springs within 2 miles!

34 thoughts on “Road To Maker Faire, Literally

  1. RobJ says:

    The Trinity site in New Mexico is only open on two days a year and if you’re passing through on October 4th they’ll be open (but you’ll need to sign up in advance).

  2. rautiocination says:

    go up to los alamos and hit the black hole surplus co. I took the detour when i drove across country this summer and it was totally worth it!

  3. John Kiniston says:

    I see you driving through Tucson Arizona, We’ve got Biosphere two which might be interesting.

  4. justfred says:

    Titan missile museum, south of Tucson

    Airplane boneyard, Tucson

    Tombstone, AZ

    White Sands National Monument
    is a great place to take pictures.

    If you go through Taos, of course the Black Hole as mentioned above; you could also get to Austin by way of Amarillo and the Cadillac Ranch
    (not to mention the Big Texan )

    If you can make the Trinity Site tour I (and millions of geeks like me) will be very very jealous!

  5. Jeff Kashou says:

    Definitely hit up Sedona, AZ, Flagstaff, AZ, Meteor Crater, Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest. All require only a slight detour. Albuquerque is pretty awesome too.

  6. cyenobite2 says:

    DIY environment…
    North of Phoenix.

  7. Stephanie S says:


  8. Mark says:

    Carlsbad Cavern is the most amazing cave I have ever seen. It is not too far from El Paso. This is a must see, once in a lifetime destination. Be sure to take the natural cave entrance and not the elevator. This puts *all* other caves to shame.

    Also, the Titan missile museum, and the boneyard in Tucson are worth going to.

  9. xyc0n says:

    I was hoping I would be the first to mention The Black Hole, but I’d like to reiterate how wicked rad that place is. Go if you can. Amazing electronic surplus, and the owner might demonstrate the geiger counter.

  10. Anonymous says:

    at night on the first fridays each month in downtown phoenix we have an artwalk in a few parts of the city… I suggest the Roosevelt Row section if yall are in the area.

    Basically Central ave to 7th street on Roosevelt(more so the half block from 3rd to 5th street south)

    /also sorry for the distraction that will be on 3rd Street and Roosevelt with the cult of scientology moving in on our turf. But feel free to stop by and check out my light up protest signs if so inclined.

    <3 ya guys, oh and the shop on 3rd St and Roosevelt has the best magazine rack in the city, clearly not compleate without Make and Craft right out front.

  11. Jarod says:

    Detour a bit more north through NM and check out the Very Large Array.

  12. Tim says:

    Your drive from El Paso to Austin will be long and boring with the route you have posted. If possible I would shoot through Midland/Odessa and Abilene.
    Commemorative Air Force Museum
    Petroleum Museum
    Odessa Meteor Crater
    Dyess Air Force Base
    Paramount Theater
    Joe Allen’s BBQ

    Lots more where those came from.

  13. ttrentham says:

    Titan Missile and Black Hole would be cool. Trinity is a great idea…as is Very Large Array and White Sands. A recent episode of Tony Bourdain’s No Reservations featured the Titan museum. He drove roughly the same route from LA to Ted Nugent’s place in Waco.

    The drive from El Paso to Austin is definitely a bore to be avoided if you have time. Cadillac Ranch is a decent suggestion. Or detour through Llano for Cooper’s BBQ and Enchanted Rock. Fredricksburg has the Nimitz Museum of the Pacific as well. Odd spot for a naval museum, but that’s where he’s from. You could also check out LBJ ranch and Pedernales Falls.

  14. gunterhausfrau says:

    depending on your route.
    very large array (radio telescope array in NM)

    inscription rock – graffiti from >1000yrs ago continuing until not long ago.

    meteor crater (kinda north)

    mystery castle (not sure about name) at south mountain in Phoenix, a guy built a castle from castoffs and tequila bottles in the 40’s and his daughter now gives tours. definitely a maker.

    if it still is going on the flea market outside of Sante Fe was very cool (but I was there 10yrs ago) Jake’s or Jack’s? something.

    On the border of NM and AZ was a very cool ghost town called Stein, there used to be a forest there but cut down for steam trains. The folks who lived there at the turn of the previous century, just walked away, beds made, tables set. (again, it has been ~10yrs)

    The museum in Los Alamos is cool, can see what fat man and little boy (or is it the other way around). There is the town museum and the lab museum, good to see both.

  15. John Kiniston says:

    @gunterhausfrau Interesting I hadnt heard of a castle up in phoenix like that, For a minute I thought you were talking about the Valley of The moon

  16. GM from Austin, TX says:

    I know this route *extremely* well. I grew up in SoCal (NW OC), and went to school in central Texas in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Lots of driving back and forth (multiple dozens of trips), particularly the route you have mapped out. My parents still lived there until 3 years ago (they’re in the Austin area with me now), so I literally have 30 years worth of experience on this route.

    While the I-10 route does have some attractions as others have mentioned, you see the trend – almost everyone is “pushing” you towards I-40. It is *not* the most efficient route – what you have mapped out is much faster. For any recommendations below, I’ll assume you can Google and get more info on any of the following.

    On the I-40 route:
    * Some of the old remnants of route 66: north on 95 in Needles; east on Oatman road until you finally re-join I-40 near Kingman. You’ll “get” what Pixar had in mind when it made “Cars”.
    * If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon – don’t hesitate to “waste” a day’s journey for it. I saw pictures of it all my life and couldn’t understand what the big deal was. Go once and you’ll understand. North at I-40 at Williams, then back through Flagstaff – a historical town in its own right.
    * If you *really* want to detour, go east from the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation’s reservation (straddles AZ & UT).
    * About an hour east of Flagstaff is the Winslow meteor crater. It costs to view the crater, and there’s not a lot to see but the big hole. If you’re a fan of Jeff Bridges and John Carpenter’s “Starman” – we’ll here’s where it all went down.
    * Just past Holbrook, there’s the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. This is definitely worth a visit – the other-worldly beauty is truly amazing.
    * At this point, if you need to make up some time – take Highway 180 (south end of the Petrified Forest park) and stay on it all the way to I-10 – beautiful mountain country. Otherwise, get back on I-40 going east and follow some of the suggestions others have made.
    * If you do stay on I-40 all the way to Amarillo and start heading south there, a side trip to Palo Duro Canyon may be worth your while. If you do Grand Canyon on the same trip, it may be a bit of a let-down, but it’s still beautiful with lots of wildlife.

    Further on I-10:
    * You may want to detour to see the Marfa lights, and then head a bit north to the McDonald Observatory for a star party. Seriously – they are pretty awesome even if you’re a seasoned astronomy buff. This is the observatory owned by UT Austin, which produces the “stardate” radio program/podcast.
    * As mentioned, Fredericksburg has the Nimitz museum and is one of the main touristy towns in the Texas Hill Country. About 35 minutes north is Enchanted Rock – a very cool large outcropping and gently-sloping hike with a great view at the end.
    * Near Johnson City is the LBJ Ranch – I’ve never actually been in the park, but if you’re interested in that era it’s there for you.

    Well, that’s plenty to mull over. You can’t do it all unless you have at least a week plus to make the transit. There is, of course, plenty to see and do in the Austin area so don’t wear yourselves out too much. As a former SoCal guy, I can tell you – this is my favorite place to live and work (and I’ve lived a lot of different places). Have fun getting here – you may decide to stay awhile!

  17. Mike says:

    Many thanks for all the great ideas!

    We’re currently in Tucson, with plans on seeing the Titan Missile Museum & Biosphere Two today and hitting Rock Hound state park tomorrow.

    Thanks again, and see you all at Maker Faire in Austin!

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Luke Iseman

Luke Iseman makes stuff, some of which works. He invites you to drive a bike for a living (, stop killing your garden (, and live in an off-grid shipping container (

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