Western travel tips

 

If you decide to go running on a BLM backroad near Bisbee, Ariz., consider taking a couple of large friends or some dogs as insurance against getting chased (twice) by emaciated-yet-speedy longhorn Mexican bulls. --Sarah Gilman, associate editor

Park the car and take public/mass transit. I know this sounds crazy, as we're talking about the land of the automobile, a region where taking mass transit usually entails spending more time driving to the airport than actually being in the air, or waiting in the seediest part of town to board a Greyhound with an even rougher crowd for an 11-hour ride that would have taken four by car. But the West has its transportation gems, such as the Rail Runner commuter train between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, or the Salt Lake TRAX light-rail and Front Runner commuter trains and the Denver/Boulder RTD system. --Jonathan Thompson, senior editor

Leave the MP3s at home, and listen to local radio. True, hearing Free Bird too many times and bad country & western can be fatal. But it also gives a glimpse into the local pop culture of the day, and even some of the most remote parts of the West get a public radio signal from somewhere. If you're in Four Corners Country, tune into KTNN, The Voice of the Navajo Nation, or KYAT FM, 94.5, two of the only stations in the West where you'll regularly hear a language aside from English or Spanish, not to mention some classic country tunes. --Jonathan Thompson, senior editor

When wandering red-dirt, high-clearance canyon country road in a 1991 Honda Civic, bring a friend to help you rock the car when you end up with three wheels in the air on a particularly steep gully crossing. --Stephanie Paige Ogburn, online editor

In the West, drive. When you drive around other regions, you either have too many trees in thick forests obscuring the contours of the land (New England and the South) or flat land that has no contours worth seeing (the Midwest and Great Plains). In the West, whether you're on a 12-lane in mega-urban Los Angeles or out on a lonely two-lane in the Wyoming boondocks, or anywhere in between, you'll probably be enjoying a horizon stretching dozens of miles, jazzed up by rock-faced mountains or desert cliffs or sinuous dry washes or canyons. --Ray Ring, senior editor

Unattended sweaty items are often eaten by marmots. --Sarah Gilman

Bring a couple of new plastic garbage bags. Handy for lots of things -- keeping your sleeping bag dry, segregating too-stinky-to-be-worn-again clothes from clean ones, storing muddy boots, wrapping souvenirs, serving as a rain poncho in a pinch. Also useful for doing away with obnoxious traveling companions. --Jodi Peterson, managing editor

Watch out for car-munching porcupines. Nothing like waking up to the sound of a buck-toothed porker chewing on your wire insulation. --Paul Larmer, executive director