Mapquest recommends US 285 as a route (shortest) to Carlsbad from Albuquerque...  anyone know from experience whether any other routes (I 25) are faster?  Which drive is more scenic?

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285 is fastest, but not particularly attractive.  I suggest taking it on the way back if you just want to get home as soon as possible.  I25 south to the 380 East is much more attractive and has a lot of great stops: Socorro Springs Brewery in Socorro for great Italian, The Elk Bar or Owl Bar in San Antonio for a green chile burger.  Drive past the entrance to the Trinity Test Site (only open twice a year), then stop in Carrizozo for cherry cider.  It's nice in Capitan and great to stop Lincoln to check out some Billy the Kid / Smoky the Bear memorabilia.  The NM Military Institute in Roswell is worth seeing when you make it that far, then drop down to Roswell.  Have breakfast at Calloway's.

Fabulous time had by all.  With young ones, so no bars toured...  Went past Trinity entrance, and we did take a RR break at the Smoky Bear museum; hit all the gift shops in Roswell...  We shoulda stopped in Carrizozo! (they wanted big bucks for like a pint of that stuff down in Carlsbad Caverns).  You can purchase the cherry cider here in abq though, right? 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnhDeuBc5Fk 

Sure can.  The raspberry is my favorite, though.  It's like sno-cone syrup.  Glad you enjoyed it!
Brendan has said it all . . . . . . hope ya'll have a great time!
Yes, the 285 Route is awful, awful, but it is a lot faster.  So much more to see and do down the 25.  Have fun!

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