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  1. Default Chicago - Los Angeles Road Trip: Some Advice Needed

    Hi Everyone,

    I wanted to start by thanking those who maintain such a wonderful community - it has extremely useful information!

    My girlfriend and I are taking a road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles (one way) towards the end of this month. We are moving to the LA area but will only have a couple of bags (nothing too valuable) with us in our car (1999 Mazda 626).

    We have around 8-9 days for completing the trip, and would like to limit the driving to around 400-450 miles a day (maximum). We would also like to take a break of 2-3 days in Colorado near the Rocky Mountain National Park. I have a couple of questions about the route, and would really appreciate any advice. We would like to keep to the Interstates mostly, so no Route 66 for us this time.

    1) The fastest route seems to be via Nebraska, Colorado and Utah (80, 70 and 15). However, we have seen a bit of Nebraska already, and are wondering if it is worth taking a detour up to Rapid City to see Mt Rushmore and the Badlands (90W from Chicago with a halt somewhere in between). We can then take 25S to Denver from there and get on to 70W. This adds about 300 miles to our trip. I have never been in that area before - can someone please tell me if it is worth the extra day of driving? Also, I am guessing we will probably take a day off at Rapid City to get some rest and see the nearby sights (Rushmore, Crazy Horse etc)

    2) Could you please let me know what is the best place to stay in if one wants to be close to the Rocky Mountain National Park? Is denver a good access point? I have heard Grand Junction is good too, so should we stay there the last night and then move on from there?

    3) Finally, what is a good point to break between Colorado and LA? The drive from Grand Junction to Vegas is approx 500 miles so is that doable within a day? Or is it worth stopping somewhere in between?

    Thanks very much for your help!

    Subbu

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Nice time of year to be on the road!

    Quote Originally Posted by kingsubbu View Post
    I wanted to start by thanking those who maintain such a wonderful community - it has extremely useful information!
    A very active roadtrippers community says thanks! and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    We have around 8-9 days for completing the trip, and would like to limit the driving to around 400-450 miles a day (maximum).
    That should be doable and reasonable.
    We would also like to take a break of 2-3 days in Colorado near the Rocky Mountain National Park.
    1) The fastest route seems to be via Nebraska, Colorado and Utah (80, 70 and 15).
    That is the shortest route, but the fastest route is to stay on I-80 to I-15 and then into LA
    However, we have seen a bit of Nebraska already, and are wondering if it is worth taking a detour up to Rapid City to see Mt Rushmore and the Badlands
    Mt. Rushmore has never enthralled me, but the Badlands is very special. But you ought to read this field report!
    2) Could you please let me know what is the best place to stay in if one wants to be close to the Rocky Mountain National Park? Is denver a good access point? I have heard Grand Junction is good too, so should we stay there the last night and then move on from there?
    You might want to grab a map or look at one of the free online planners, (here are our suggestions), -- Denver is certainly the largest city close to Rocky Mtn National Park, but you might find the ambiance nicer in either Boulder, Loveland or Ft. Collins. Actually, I really enjoy staying just outside the park -- either at Estes Park (on the west side) or Granby at the southern exit. Grand Junction is a nice city, but it is west of the major passes and you can not reach Rocky Mtn Park (without a day's drive) from Grand Junction.
    3) Finally, what is a good point to break between Colorado and LA? The drive from Grand Junction to Vegas is approx 500 miles so is that doable within a day? Or is it worth stopping somewhere in between?
    Yes, that is a reasonable drive. Be sure to look at this field report for info about some of the amazing views you will see along I-70 (now some of the area in western Utah was burnt this week) but it is still a beautiful drive.

    Happy Planning!

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Try this

    Howdy,

    I just ran some mileages and came up with this itinerary. The numbers represent nights spent at each spot.

    1 Mitchell, SD - Corn Palace

    2-3 Rapid City/Keystone SD area - Badlands, Rushmore, Wind Cave, Custer State Park, etc.

    4-5 Estes Park, CO - Rocky Mountain National Park.

    6-7 Moab, UT - Arches National Park

    8 Las Vegas

    9 LA

    This give you at least one full day in each major location, and you can add more as you see fit (Las Vegas doesn't count because you can easily do a trip there from LA after you've settled).

    Obviously, I feel that the Black Hills area is worth your time and a little extra driving. And you should stay in Estes Park, just outside the park. It is a fairly slow drive from Boulder to RMNP so you might as well stay close...and it is a cute town. When you leave, you can either A: continue on through the park and go south through Winter Park to I-70, or B: you can go to Boulder, Denver, and across I-70. A is more scenic, but if you'd like to see the cities, B is nice, too.

    I put Arches in the mix because everyone should see Arches and you'll be going right by (kind of). It is definately worth your time. Before Moab, if you are interested in Native American pictographs at all, get off I-70 at Thompson Springs, UT, turn right and follow the road northeast into town, across the RR tracks, and continue on north about 3 miles to the Sego Canyon petroglyphs/pictographs, indicated by a small BLM parking lot on the left. On the walls of the canyon west and north of the parking lot, you'll see an impressive array of images dating back hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. A little further around to the north you'll see a most impressive panel of spooky, alien-like figures painted in red on a high wall. Well worth an hour of your time.

    Have a great time!!!

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  4. Default

    Thanks so much for your inputs everyone - I really appreciate it!

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