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Meandering Law Student
05-13-2008, 11:06 AM
I am moving from Phoenix, AZ to Des Moines, IA in August. I made the reverse trip three years ago when I came to AZ for law school via Nebraska, Colorado, the corner of Utah, and Arizona. I would like to spice up my return journey. I would like to spend about seven days on my road trip. I'm open to just about anything. I've never seen most of the Western U.S. I'll be traveling with one other person. We are open to staying in motels or camping. I'd like to see some cities and some national parks. My only set requirements are total trip mileage under 3,000 and no backtracking.

I have thought about going from Phoenix to Las Vegas to Salt Lake City to Yellow Stone to Kansas City to Des Moines. Does anyone have any great destinations close to this path that would contribute to an exciting trip?

Or, does anyone have suggestions for a trip with the same beginning and end cities veering through New Mexico and Texas? I've considered a route from Phoenix to Albuquerque to Houston to New Orleans to Birmingham to Memphis to Des Moines.

Thanks for the help!

PNW Judy
05-13-2008, 01:36 PM
Finishing law school is a big achievement. Good luck with the bar exam. And welcome to the Roadtrip America forums!

Going home via Vegas, SLC, and Yellowstone would be a nice route. It's about 2200 miles and can easily be done in 7 days with an extra day spent in Vegas and a day for Yellowstone. I see no reason to go through Kansas City. Obviously, you could veer down there if you want to but it would add about 200 miles to your trip and it's so close to Des Moines that it seems like you could visit there on a weekend trip sometime. I would suggest saving that 200 miles so you have more time at Yellowstone. This map (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=3391016918683851533,36.175120,-115.159820%3B6012629752815977305,44.569810,-110.816370%3B8248180129809789267,39.081620,-94.680670&saddr=Phoenix,+AZ&daddr=US-95+N+%4036.175120,+-115.159820+to:Grand+Loop+Rd%2FUS-191%2FUS-287+%4044.569810,+-110.816370+to:41.376809,-95.932617+to:Des+Moines,+IA&mra=dme&mrcr=0&mrsp=3&sz=5&via=1,2,3&sll=41.869561,-104.414062&sspn=12.655994,29.707031&ie=UTF8&z=5) shows you the quickest route taking in the sights you want to see.

The route (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=3656456756701552892,35.106930,-106.701430%3B1807303403379669164,29.680370,-95.390710%3B9236587620048286856,29.963160,-90.074100%3B8589782582016029615,33.543820,-86.826680%3B9540585026611345402,35.146260,-90.124540%3B15286747422545341422,41.339350,-96.029790&saddr=Phoenix,+AZ&daddr=I-40+E+%4035.106930,+-106.701430+to:I-610+E+%4029.680370,+-95.390710+to:I-10+E+%4029.963160,+-90.074100+to:I-65+N+%4033.543820,+-86.826680+to:I-55+N+%4035.146260,+-90.124540+to:Des+Moines,+IA&mra=mr&mrcr=0&via=1,2,3,4,5&sll=40.245992,-104.589844&sspn=12.969749,29.707031&ie=UTF8&ll=36.173357,-97.69043&spn=13.710052,29.707031&z=5)through New Orleans, etc. is about 3100 miles...putting it a bit above your maximum limit. Plus it will be hard to cover these miles and still have time to sightsee along the way. You could do it but you'd really have to keep moving along.

With the time you have, I would suggest doing the shorter route so you can enjoy it more and have more out-of-the-car exploring time. Obviously, what you want to see the most will be a factor though. Looking at a map, I think that you're fairly equal distance from Des Moines to points west and southeast so you will likely have a chance to explore the areas you don't visit this trip another time.

Please keep asking questions so we can help you fine-tune your trip, and make it a great one to celebrate your graduation!