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  1. Default Around the Southwest....Suggestions?

    In celebration of my finishing grad school and my husband's getting out of the Navy, we've planned a 3-week jaunt around the Southwest. Initially we had planned to drive the whole way from our home in NY, but given our limited amount of time and the fact that my husband really wants to spend some time at Utah's national parks we've decided to fly to Denver, rent a car and go from there. Since we're flying back out of Denver as well, we're going to do a loop through Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. I'm not much of a camper, so we'll probably do some car camping, but nothing too strenuous. Ideally we'll alternate between budget hotels with a little splurge thrown in here and there. We've never been west of the Mississippi, so any suggestions would be welcome...especially when it comes to food!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    Quote Originally Posted by AlohaMeg
    In celebration of my finishing grad school and my husband's getting out of the Navy
    Congratulations to the both of you!

    Three weeks is plenty of time, especially if you're flying out (I would consider that a good amount of time even if you were driving out there).

    I'm not much of a camper, so we'll probably do some car camping, but nothing too strenuous.
    Car camping generally isn't strenuous - there's no hiking for miles to your spot, etc.

    Here is a link to a field report of some great sites in Utah.

    Some more good info can be found here, and here (Winter-centric but still useful).

    You'll find that West of the Mississippi River that the roads are generally more open and easier to relax on through most of the rural country, though sometimes you can find yourself going at a high rate of speed without thinking about it - I think the sky has something to do with that.

    Be sure not to miss I-70 coming into Utah. It is quite the transition.

  3. #3


    Congrats on finishing grad school!

    In addition to the states you listed, I might also recommend hitting Wyoming. The landscape is gorgeous, especially around the Bighorn Mountains and the Grand Tetons. You could always use it as an opportunity to visit Yellowstone, too.

    Good call on the Utah National Parks. Zion and Arches are beautiful, but remember to drink lots of water while there.

    In addition to those, I'd also recommend Mesa Verde National Park in S. Colorado. That park features guided tours of ancient Native American ruins that were built into cliffs. Very cool!

  4. #4


    If you are driving I70 through Colorado, a great hike is Hanging Lake directly off the East bound lane of I70 10 miles East of Glenwood Springs. A bit rough at the top, but a beautiful hike along a cascading stream filled with many waterfalls and a combined waterfall & lake at the top. Some photos in the middle of my Waterfall page.

    Some other places worth seeing if they are close enough to your route:
    Maroon Bells, CO
    Highway 12, UT
    If you get to Yellowstone, The Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph's Highway, both East of the park.
    I agree with Zion & Arches, and add Bryce Canyon as well as the Tetons. If you have time, a bit West of the Tetons is Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, which is an interesting place to spend a day.

    The reality is the Southwest has far too much to offer to see in 3 weeks, let alone 3 months, so you will have to pick & choose. I'd spend some time at the National Parks Website, and The American Southwest , as well as a search on this website.

    Don't forget to get a National Parks Pass if you plan to hit more than a couple of them.

    You asked about food - check Roadfood. Our favorite meals seem to always be the ones we found driving through small towns well off the interstates, ordering the local foods.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default RTA's Road Food Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by AlohaMeg View Post
    ...especially when it comes to food!!
    Here are a few suggestions about eating well on the road.


  6. Default Thanks!

    Thanks for all the information! The links have been really helpful. Just another general road trip question...How much of the trip do you actually "plan" before you go? Obviously we want the freedom to go out and do what we want, but we also don't want to drive around looking for a place to stay for a few hours every evening. Specific to the Southwest, do you usually have to reserve spots at the parks (for camping) very far in advance?

    Thanks again for all the help!

  7. #7


    Unless its a holiday weekend, I usually have not had a problem finding a camping spot with no reservation. Some campgrounds have a designated amount of first-come-first-served sites as well, so as long as you're sure to get there early in the morning, you'd be fine. I'd check in advance, though.

    I like to travel spontaneously, so I'll usually set one place I for sure want to go, and make reservations there, then spend the rest of the time driving to wherever seems fun. Usually the best suggestions come from other people in the campground, so this works out great.

  8. #8


    I agree - making too many reservations ties you to a schedule you might not want to follow. Just watch for holiday weekends and local festivals that might fill up the motels & campgrounds...

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