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  1. Default chicago to cali 1st timers

    I'm a first time road tripper driving from Chicago to California with a friend and my dog. We've got about three weeks in total, with one week spent in California not driving. With the exception of Vegas, I haven't been anywhere between Chicago and California, and I'm really excited for the trip...but I have many questions:
    1) Which route do we take? On the way there, I was thinking of heading toward Colorado and then south, and on the way back, taking the southern route...Do I want to go these different routes? Is one preferable than the other?
    2) Regarding motel reservations, should I make these ahead of time, especially since I have a dog? How do I know where I want to stop/stay on the trip?
    3) What about stopping for food? I'm not comfortable leaving the dog in the car and/or the motel room. Will one of us have to go in somewhere to get food and bring it back to the car? Are there outside restaurants that allow dogs?
    4) I'd like to drive between 8-10 hours a day (roughly). What time should we start each day?
    5) What are the coolest sites/places to stop on my trip?

    ANY thoughts/advice/suggestions are most appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Places to turn

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Quote Originally Posted by julietraci View Post
    1) Which route do we take? On the way there, I was thinking of heading toward Colorado and then south, and on the way back, taking the southern route...Do I want to go these different routes? Is one preferable than the other?
    I am usually a fan of taking one route one way and then finding another route for the trip home, so this sounds like a good idea to me.

    2) Regarding motel reservations, should I make these ahead of time, especially since I have a dog? How do I know where I want to stop/stay on the trip?
    You might want to pre-book to make sure you find pet friendly places, but it really depends upond your personal goals. Here's an article that discusses the pros and cons. And Here is a book that highlights pet friendly hotels And here is an article that is chock-full of ideas and suggestions for traveling with a pet!

    3) What about stopping for food? I'm not comfortable leaving the dog in the car and/or the motel room. Will one of us have to go in somewhere to get food and bring it back to the car? Are there outside restaurants that allow dogs?
    This shouldn't really be any different than what you have to do at home. If you go somewhere with the dog, what do you do right now? Check out this article on Summer Travel with Pets for some more ideas

    4) I'd like to drive between 8-10 hours a day (roughly). What time should we start each day?
    Only you can answer that. Its totally a matter of personal preference.

    5) What are the coolest sites/places to stop on my trip?
    Well, there are several National Parks that could be on your route, there are also some fun cities. It depends upon what route you decide to take and what sort of things you find cool and interesting.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-22-2007 at 11:07 AM. Reason: Added link to a new article

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Dog Travels

    Michael gave you great advise so I'll just add a few tips.

    When traveling with dogs, I think the key is ensuring that you are stopping at dog-friendly motels. Also, size of the breed can be an issue. I have heard of situations where dogs are allowed in hotels but only up to certain sizes. So you might want to contact motels ahead of time to clarify this.

    For food, I would suggesting eating at least some of your meals out of your cooler, picnic-style. You can make a wide variety of foods by shopping at grocery stores, especially in the deli-sections. Find a nice park or other place where the dog can get some exercise and where you can enjoy a good meal at a picnic table or by sitting on a blanket on the ground. This is far more enjoyable for you and your dog than eating in a car. Of course, you can also order take-out from a restaurant and do this. But I still wouldn't eat in the car. You and your dog could use the exercise and stretching your legs.

    Most of us agree that on a maximum of 500 miles/day driving. Of course, if you have time, drive less than that so you can play more. You and your dog will be happier if you plan a stop every 2 hours or so to take a walk and stretch your legs. Watch for parks, hiking trails, scenic overlooks, etc. for good places to do this.

    I also prefer to drive new roads. One way there and one way back is great. However, if you find that you need to drive the same route, it does look a bit different from the other direction. I suggest you look at a map and identify things between Chicago and your CA destination for things that you've always wanted to see. And then create your route from there.

    Once you decide what route you're taking or, at least, have a more clear idea of what route you might want to take, come on back and we can give you better tips on what to see and do and help you tweak your route. Please give us an idea of what you like to do and what your interests are. We can then give you advise more tailored to fit you.

  4. Default Rt-66

    This would be a good chance for you to take RT-66 it starts in Chicago and ends in southern cali. I havent done it yet but will be doing 80% of it on my road trip in three weeks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    234

    Default echo that

    I would echo route 66, but, do you have the time? If you don't, maybe you could do a part of it.
    Route 66 is a destination by itself.
    Tip: If you are doing this, please stop by at the wigwam motel in AZ or CA for atleast a night(I am not sure if they take dogs).
    Here are some of the interesting things you can do along the drive.


    cool
    Last edited by cool; 05-22-2007 at 07:38 PM. Reason: added link

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    The Great Midwest, Illinois to be precise
    Posts
    527

    Default Definitely Route 66

    Check out this Route 66 field report.

    If you get behind on time, as you probably will with all the great stuff to see along 66, you can always get back on the interstate to amke up lost time.

    It runs beside 66 much of the time.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-23-2007 at 11:11 AM. Reason: added a link

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default More detail please

    Hi,

    Without getting too personal, it would be helpful to know what part of California you are going to. And what kinds of things you feel like you must see. As you'll have noticed, if you've looked around on this forum at all, is that the whole Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California area has so many wonders to see that making recommendations is tricky without knowing your preferences.

    For example, my wife is very sensitive to heat so long hikes in the Grand Canyon or other places in the desert during summer are out. In contrast, high country excursions in the mountains are great. You may be interested in Native American or Spanish culture so the central New Mexico area would be good for you. You may just like driving and stopping at scenic pullouts, or exploring ghost towns, or be a fan of historic steam train rides (I can think of 3). And so forth.

    Even though 3 weeks seems like a long time, if 1 week is spent in California, you are left with a week to get there and a week to get back. 7 days (about 4 of which are spent driving) is not as luxurious as you might first imagine. The shortest, fastest distance from Chicago to LA is 2,000 miles on the Interstates, and would take about 30 hours one way.

    Give it some thought, look at a map, and try to be a bit more specific.

    Thanks, Craig
    Last edited by RedCorral; 05-23-2007 at 12:27 PM. Reason: typos

  8. Default

    Hi, Craig--
    Thanks for the response. Now that I've got a little more info, here's what I know so far:
    We're going to Los Angeles and have roughly 8 days to drive out there. On the way home, we have roughly 5-6 days. Obviously, we'll do more sightseeing on the way to L.A. I'd like to hightail it out to Colorado (leave Chicago Thursday night taking I-80 through Iowa and Nebraska, and stopping to sleep, of course--not much to see in those states). Arrive in Denver area by Saturday night...--stay overnight? How does this sound staying in Denver? Rocky Mountain Natl. Park does not allow dogs, but Black Canyon of Gunnison Natl Park does, which is roughly 5-6 hours SW of Denver. What do you know about that? Originally, we were going to go to Mesa Verde, which looks awesome, but they don't allow dogs (as most National Parks). However, San Juan National Forest does. So, the question is: do we skip Mesa Verde altogether or drive through some of it? What is this San Juan National Forest like, and should we go there instead?
    The National Parks are quite strict with dogs, but most state parks do allow dogs, as do National Forests...)Other CO ideas w/ the dog?

    After CO, I was thinking of going to Utah, but don't know where. The dog does not do well in the heat (flat nose), so hiking around places like Zion won't work. So, do I go to these places just to look? I know on the way home, we'll stop at the Grand Canyon to view, but not spend a lot of time there because the heat will be a problem. Probably after Utah, we'll get on 15 and head to L.A. via Vegas.

    On the trip back to Chicago, we're going to take the Southern route--stop at the Grand Canyon and New Mexico (don't know where, but I'm very interested in this state). After NM, it's a bad drive home through Texas, OK, and Missouri...

    How does this sound? Any suggestions are great--thanks!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Check into kennels

    Some of the national parks have kennels nearby so people can bring their pets but still explore the park. You might want to check into this because you're really only going to be able to see any of these national parks from the car with a dog along. It's usually too hot to leave your dog in the car for even a few minutes. And dogs are usually allowed in national parks, but only in places like parking areas and campgrounds. Of course, they must always be leashed.

    You do have a bit more leeway in national forests where the dogs can go on the trails. They still must be leashed or under extremely good voice command.

    However, just because you can't take the dog on NP trails, doesn't mean you can't enjoy the sights at the parks. If I'm remembering the layout of Mesa Verde correctly, you might still enjoy a quick tour of it. I believe that most of the dwellings can be seen from the road/parking areas so you could get out and take a quick peek. Same with places like Grand Canyon and Bryce. You can still drive to the lookout areas and have your dog get out on a leash and take a look. You won't see the best of Zion from your car but I believe it's still worth driving through. Awesome viewpoints right from the road in your car. Rocky Mountain NP allows dogs everywhere but trails so you can still enjoy part of that park, too.

    Well, traveling with dogs definitely has its challenges but they are fun to travel with, too, so it can be worth it.


    In New Mexico, you might enjoy White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns (there is a kennel at the visitor center), the Very Large Array, Roswell (and the alien stuff there, kinda fun), Fort Lincoln with its Billy the Kid lore, Albuquerque, Sante Fe, and Taos are beautiful cities with lots of SW charm and architecture, and Tucumcari has a wealth of old Route 66 hotels, neon, etc. There's a lot to see there. One of my favorite states.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default not much to see?

    Quote Originally Posted by julietraci
    (leave Chicago Thursday night taking I-80 through Iowa and Nebraska, and stopping to sleep, of course--not much to see in those states)

    Thanks for the inspiration for this post. Also check out Iowa before heading out. One of the golden rules around here is that there are no boring places!

    AZBuck

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