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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Posts
    7

    Default Not sure where to start looking.

    Hi everyone.
    I'm a newbie from the South Pacific and unsure of the locations of some of the threads as I don't know which States fall into the categories.
    I know you will point me in the right direction.

    I will be in flying into Dever,Colorado in May 2007, and after a conference, driving back to LA, California. I am looking at maybe a month or less, so am open to suggestions and advice. I am aware of the one way car rental costs, but find it weird that rental companies are not fond of renting convetibles one way.

    One thing I would like to try is a day circle or 3/4 circle trip, which looking on the map is "4 States in a day" Utah Route 191, Arizona Which road?, New Mexico Route 666, Colorado 666. Is it possible or am I only dreaming.

    The rest of the trip I haven't really looked at yet, but would like to visit Las Vegas, perhaps San Diego, pop over the border to Mexico, (bus not car as I cannot take my rental over the border). My budget, well everything is twice the price for me due to the NZ dollar, so any suggestions to reduce my cost would be great. I will be travelling with my man and 2 children (11 and 4) so how much should I allow for basic accommodation, eg own shower, but can have shared cooking facilites, as I guess we will eat out at most places.

    Have fun.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default I'd Say Here is a Pretty Good Place

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Our forums (categories) are more set up by season than area, so putting your post in with Spring Road Trips is appropriate. Our seasons are the opposite of yours. The states that you might cover include Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California. You can use the search function on the tool bar just above your initial post to look for posts and threads that list those states, and then also be sure to look at the bottom of the first page of posts in any thread for the list (with links) of "Similar Threads". Just poke around a bit and I'm sure you'll find more attractions than you can possibly visit, even in a month, which is a goodly amount of time to explore this little corner of the US. Once you (and the children - be sure to include at least the 11 year old in the planning!) have an idea of what appeals to you, people can then hone in with more specific suggestions.

    Let's take your 'circle trip' as an example. If you're coming down from Denver, then I'd suggest that you use US-285 down to Poncha Springs and then take US-50 west through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to Montrose. You would then drop south on US-550 (the Million Dollar Highway). At Durango, you'd turn west again to take in Mesa Verde National Park. Turning north on US-666 at Cortez would take you by Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and on into Utah where US-191 and US-163 would bring you down through Monument Valley. At this point you'd be poised to head farther south into Arizona to see such places as Canyon de Chelly National Monument and Petrified Forest National Park, or turn west for the Grand Canyon. But I wouldn't try to do all that in just a day. 3 or 4 would be more like it. It is also possible to go to the Four Corners Monument and stand in four states simultaneously.

    Budgets come up quite frequently. You're not alone in wanting to save a few dollars (US or NZ). A couple of our regular contributes have written on the Art of the Cheap Road Trip, while another has laid out some considerations in budgeting. Those should help get you started. Also, since the southwestern US is home to some of our best National Parks, be sure to get a National Parks Pass either before you come or at the first park you come to. Almost all American motels come with private showers and can accommodate four people in two king or queen sized beds. A typical cost might range from $50-$80 (US) but can be higher in some places at some times.

    The current exchange rate is $1.42(NZ) = $1.00(US) or $1.00(NZ) = $0.71(US). And gas goes for about $2.25-$2.50(US) per US gallon at the moment, although it tends to rise during the spring and summer months when people drive more. I would not expect it to get much above $3.00(US)/gallon or $1.12(NZ)/liter, but is subject to many unpredictable vagaries. You can use those figures, and a rough guess of 20 miles per gallon (or 5.25 mi/liter) and our Fuel Cost Calculator to get a first rough estimate of your total fuel costs.

    Hope that gets you started, you do have plenty of time to set this up.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Posts
    7

    Default

    Thanks for the info, I have started to read some of the links. I never knew about Four Corners, my daughter thinks that is cool, being able to be in 4 States at once, as we were planning to do the 4 states in a day circle trip. Still want to do that, but will use Four Corners in that circle trip. We would be visiting the states more fully, but wanted to try a round driving trip just for a day.

    Travelling down from Las Vegas to San Diego, the family have been talking about visiting Mexico for the day. Is Tijuana the best bet, or maybe Mexicali which would reduce my driving time from Vegas. I have read on threads that it is about 5 hours drive from Vegas to San Diego, so have been thinking of stopping maybe Blythe, or Brwley or El Centro on I-80, and visiting Mexico from there. Suggestions please.

    Reading several threads, the family have much to discuss about Utah and Colorado, but New Mexico and Arizona seem to loom as great driving expanses, with the Grand Canyon to look forward too. My man has mentioned Route 66, but I am going to have to read more threads about this as I can only seem to find it from Seligman to Kingman.

    Also, the family thought it could be neat to attend a sports event, probably in Arizona or New Mexico. I don't know what is on at that time of year, basketball? baseball? football? Are the games held in the big cities like Alburquerque or Phoenix?

    Also one last dumb question, what is the difference between a National Monument and a National Park? Thanks for the advise about the National Parks Pass.

    Have fun
    Ruthless

  4. Default Arizona on to San Diego

    There are a bunch of interesting places to visit in Arizona, and in the dessert areas of the SW, through NM and Arizona.

    If you're heading down from the 4 corners area, some interesting places to visit in Arizona might be

    - Petrified Forest National Park (and the Painted Dessert).
    - Meteorite Crater (privately owned, but the best preserved meteorite crater in the world -- huge. A bit toursity for me, but very interesting to visit)
    - Sedona Arizona and the red rock canyons near there. A very nice artists community in the red rock canyons in central Arizona.
    - Montezuma's Castle National Monument (Indian Cliff dwelling north of Phoenix about 2 hours).
    - Phoenix/ Scottsdale (large metropolitan area with musuems, etc).
    - Prescott/ Jerome (mining towns). Also Bisbee in the south.
    - Kitt Peak National Observatory (large astronomical observatory at the top of a mountain, west of Tucson)
    - Tombstone (as in Gunfight at the OK Corral -- Wyatt Earp, etc.) - but this may be a bit south for you.

    At least one moderator on this board hails from Arizona, and I'm sure he can add some more interesting places to visit.

    This is all in addition to the usual spots like Monument Valley,
    If you're heading towards San Diego from the East, depending upon the time you have and your specific route, you might consider visiting in California
    - Anza Borrego Dessert State Park (including Borrego Palm Canyon -- about a 2 mile (each way) hike up to a real dessert oasis) near Borrego Springs, west of the Salton Sea.
    - Julian (an old mining town up in the mountains on the west side of the dessert)

    If you'd like to visit Mexico, my suggestion would be to go to San Diego and then take the trolley (light rail) down to the border and walk across to Tijuiana. Its a good alternative to use instead of driving, and there are a number of places near the border there to visit, including shops and restaurants. But please take your passport with you, and check about visas and etc.

    For sporting events, it depends upon what you'd like to see. May will be a time to see baseball, I believe. There are professional sports teams in San Diego, and LA, as well as lower level professional teams in a number of smaller towns.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default A little more detail

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthless66 View Post
    Thanks for the info, I have started to read some of the links. I never knew about Four Corners, my daughter thinks that is cool, being able to be in 4 States at once,
    It is mostly silly, but just about everyone I know has done it at least once. It is not "free" the land belongs to the Navajo Nation and so there is a small fee to stand at the exact corner location of the four states.
    as we were planning to do the 4 states in a day circle trip.
    I am not sure what you mean by this -- this could be a several hundred mile trip -- a bit of a stretch for a day-trip.
    Travelling down from Las Vegas to San Diego, the family have been talking about visiting Mexico for the day.
    The expense of taking a rental car into Mexico might nix that plan. In fact, very few rental companies will allow it. No matter what, you will need to get additional Mexican insurance to drive any vehicle into Mexico.
    I have read on threads that it is about 5 hours drive from Vegas to San Diego,
    I think that is a bit unlikely. It is about 325 miles by the most direct route (I-15 to I-5) and while it might be possible to do it in six hours, I have never been able to make it faster than just slightly under seven because of traffic considerations.
    so have been thinking of stopping maybe Blythe, or Brwley or El Centro on I-80, and visiting Mexico from there. Suggestions please.
    Even though El Centro is closer (~305 miles) it will take about the same time to to reach it, because you can't travel as fast as you would on the Interstate highways. On the other hand, Mexicali is a much nicer border town than Tijuana.
    Reading several threads, the family have much to discuss about Utah and Colorado, but New Mexico and Arizona seem to loom as great driving expanses, with the Grand Canyon to look forward too. My man has mentioned Route 66, but I am going to have to read more threads about this as I can only seem to find it from Seligman to Kingman.
    Being a westerner, I might bristle at such a comment -- believe me there is gorgeous country all around -- the Grand is only one small element of the wonder of this landscape. Route 66 travels more or less continously from Chicago to Santa Monica. Here is a great way to see photos of what the journey is like. One of the places you could include on your journey is the Route 66 town of Oatman.
    Also one last dumb question, what is the difference between a National Monument and a National Park? Thanks for the advise about the National Parks Pass.
    At its most basic, it is mostly a legal designation that allows the governmental agency who adminsters the park (the National Park Service) to enforce the policies. In most circumstances a national monument is much smaller than a national park. Here is some more information about National Parks and what visitors can do there.

    Hope this helps.

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-31-2006 at 10:30 PM. Reason: Added link to brand new article about Arizona

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default May Sports

    Also, the family thought it could be neat to attend a sports event, probably in Arizona or New Mexico. I don't know what is on at that time of year, basketball? baseball? football? Are the games held in the big cities like Alburquerque or Phoenix?
    In May, you'd have your choices of Baseball, Basketball, and Hockey. Phoenix is the only place in those two states that host major pro teams. There you'd have your choice of the Diamondbacks (baseball), the Suns (Basketball), and The Coyotes (Hockey). Football is out of season, but you might look into taking a tour of the new football stadium just outside of Phoenix, which features a grass field that is moved in and out of the stadium on a giant track.

    Another good option to have sports related fun that time of year would be to take in a Minor League Baseball game. Albuquerque, Tucson, and Las Vegas all have AAA teams, which is the highest level before the majors, while Several Southern California cities have "A" level teams, which are a bit farther away from the big leagues. Either way, they both can be a lot of fun where you can be much closer to the on field action, for a small fraction of the cost of a major league game.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    South FL for now, but in June 2007 - the Pacific NW!
    Posts
    23

    Default

    I think baseball would be your best bet in May. (Besides, baseball is quintessentially "American", ya gotta see it!) Aside from the ones already mentioned, there are also baseball teams in Denver (Colorado Rockies) and several in southern California (LA Angels, LA Dodgers and San Diego Padres).

    Major League Baseball (MLB)'s site has the list of teams, where they play and their schedules.

    However, a baseball game will take around three hours to watch, not counting traffic tie-up time around the stadium or driving time to get there, so plan for that. If you sit along the first or third base lines, you will have a good chance of catching a foul ball hit into the stands. (And players love autographing balls for young children!) Outfield seats are usually cheaper, and home plate seats are the most expensive.

    Have a great time!

    --Southern Oracle
    (Go Braves!) :)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Let's Back Up a Bit

    One thing that we usually recommend that could prove very useful to you is to get a good map of the southwestern US and start plotting out where the things are that you want to see. This should help you greatly in deciding the order in which to go places, and which ones must, unfortunately, drop off your itinerary. It's also important that you get a handle on just how big this chunk of country is that you're setting out to explore. Each of the states you're going to be driving through is roughly the same size as both main islands of New Zealand combined.

    Route 66 has been officially decommissioned and largely replaced by Interstate Highways (I-40 in the west) so it may be hard to find portions of it that still physically exist. Nevertheless, there are a number of organizations dedicated to its enjoyment.

    I will second the opinion of those who have suggested that if you want to see an American sporting event during your visit, that you should plan on a AAA Baseball game. It is the American sport, and AAA is just a shade under major league level, but so much more reasonably priced and family friendly. For example, here in Tucson, your entire family can attend a Sidewinders game for $22 and be much closer to the action than you could even dream of at the major league Phoenix Diamondbacks. Refreshments and souvenirs are similarly lower priced.

    If you do include Tucson in your plans, you can make your visit to Mexico by driving About 90 miles down to Nogales, another border town where you can park your car on the US side and walk across to Mexico. Do make sure that you look into whether you will need a visa to enter Mexico and take your passports with you, of course. Other sights in the Tucson area include Saguaro National Park, Kartchner Caverns State Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (more of a zoo than a museum), the Pima Air and Space Museum, as well as the aforementioned Tombstone and Kitt Peak.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-01-2007 at 07:29 PM. Reason: Typo

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Posts
    7

    Default Thanks for the info

    I have been busy cutting and pasting all the suggestions so far, and then I plan to go and look up all the spots everyone has suggested. Thanks.

    I like the idea of
    - Anza Borrego Dessert State Park (including Borrego Palm Canyon -- about a 2 mile (each way) hike up to a real dessert oasis) near Borrego Springs, west of the Salton Sea.
    - Julian (an old mining town up in the mountains on the west side of the dessert)

    I have been wanting to do "something" in this area but wasn't sure, so thanks for the recommendations.

    Thanks for the suggestions for the AAA baseball games, I think this is what we are wanting. I guess each citiy has a list / timetale of fixtures.

    Distances, it is so hard for me to grasp, as I can drive to the bottom of the North Island in 5 hours from where I live, so all the advice I am getting on this forum is so valuable to me, thank you so much.
    So far I have done my looking on line with randmcnally.com for distances, but I am still struggling with miles, and trying to put it into time wise. For example, I can look on a map and see Albuquerque and then look further northweest to the Grand Canyon, and I think it will take 2 days to drive, with stops on the way. Should I allow 3 days with more stops? It's good to know that Las Vegas to San Diego is at least 7 hours drive, so I am going to do that in 2 days and stop off somewhere in the middle.

    Even though El Centro is closer (~305 miles) it will take about the same time to to reach it, because you can't travel as fast as you would on the Interstate highways. On the other hand, Mexicali is a much nicer border town than Tijuana.
    This is really useful info to me, as I had no idea at all of time and distances, and I do not want to spend most of my drinving on the interstate, we really like to go slow and see the country.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-02-2007 at 08:50 AM. Reason: Fixed Quote

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default Distances

    Distances, especially in the west, can be a little hard to grasp - even for people who've lived in the US all their lives. Here are a few good rules of thumb.

    57 mph is about the fastest you can travel in the west over a long distance, once you include your basic stops for food, fuel, and other necessities. Any extended stops are not included in that calculation.

    500 miles is what I consider a very full day of driving. It requires you to be on the road for around 9 hours, but It still leaves time for a little bit of sightseeing and relaxing. If the distance is less than that and you aren't planning on any major stops, you should be able to make it in a day.

    Using those same guidelines for your specific questions. Albq to the Grand Canyon is 400 miles can be done in a day if you are only going to drive from point A to point B. However, if you are going to spend some time exploring places like the Petrified Forest that are along the way, you'd probably be best off staying in Flagstaff, and then making your way up to the Canyon on day 2.

    San Diego-Las Vegas can also be done pretty easily in just one day. That is a trip where traffic is as big of a concern as miles. If you are planning to stop and look around a bunch along the way, you can certainly cut that drive into 2 sections, but it can also be done pretty easily in a single day.


    And finally a tip for using the forum. When you want to use quotes, you just need to highlight the text you want to quote and then click on the "word bubble" icon that's located at the top of the message box. Its in the same row with the features that allow you to use bold, italics, or underline print or add links your posts.

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