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  1. #1

    Default Toddlers on Tour USA- LA Aspen Santa Fe ...

    Just found this forum and hope you can help. We are travelling to the States this Friday from Sydney and afraid to say that our road trip of a life time is not finalised at all! We arrive in LA on Friday and head to Las Vegas before going onto Aspen for a week of skiing and then return via Santa Fe and Grand Canyon and Palm Springs to LA to do time in LA for Disneyland. All up we have 4 weeks.

    I have a rough route but no must see destinations or preferred scenic routes for this road trip eg route 66?. Any advice? - at this time of year I imagine some roads are closed...

    We have 2 toddlers with us (aged 2 and 4) and this is their very first trip. The other big consideration for us is that they both have severe life threatening food allergies so McDonalds etc on the road side is not an option - any suggestions here would be so greatly appreciated. Thanks so much

    [Moderators note] I have moved your thread into the Fall and Winter section to maximise viewing]
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 02-14-2009 at 05:53 AM. Reason: Info

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Some suggestions.

    Hello and welcome to R.T.A.

    Have you a set time for the journey between Vegas and Aspen to meet booking arrangements? The quickest route is I-15 and then I-70 and 82 into Aspen, but if you have time to spare you could get off I-15 after St George and head through the lovely parks of Zion and Bryce Canyon. You could continue on scenic 12 to Torrey and 24 through Hanksville and back to I-70 and take a detour to Moab and Arches NP.

    From Aspen you could head to Twin lakes and South on the 285 and 17 and stop at the Great sand dunes NP and Taos on the way to Santa Fe. Another option would be to head towards Montrose and the Black canyon of the Gunnison and down the Million dollar highway through Silverton and Durango and a side trip to Mesa Verde.

    When you are heading for the Grand canyon you have the chance to visit the Petrified forest and Wupakti NM. I would head into the Grand canyon from the East entrance by way of the 89 and 64 and get you first glimpse of the canyon and Colorado river at the watch tower. The Desert view drive takes you into the South rim village with spectacular viewpoints on the way. Leave by the South entrance and back onto I-40 where you could hop onto an original part of '66 with quirky towns, stores and diners. This is through Seligman, Kingman and Oatman and once again back to I-40.

    I am sorry I can't comment on the food allergy, other than to say that the US is not all Mc Donalds [despite popular belief, Lol] and you shouldn't have trouble finding what you require.

    Keep updated with road and weather reports while you are on the road and you should be fine, but some disruption is possible.

    Any other questions, just ask. If you would like to post your preferred itinerary we may be able to help you fine it.

    Dave

  3. #3

    Default

    Welcome to the USA. I have lived in both LA and Denver and have driven most of the routes between the two towns so know most of the variations. I have also made many road trips with my now grown up children and I congratulate you on taking your kids on what I hope will be a lot of road trips to come. Diapers and childrens supplis are easily available just about anywhere you go. so a few suggestions on the route.

    Four weeks is a lot of time but you have a long distance to travel. Its roughly a thousand miles between LA and Denver. If you are going to Aspen, you will do mountain driveing and although roads are good in the US, they do curve, you will probably find driving the mountain passes in Colorado somewhat challenging in an exhilarating way especially if you get off the Interstate which you should do if you want to see the best of the Southwest. Make sure to plan stops for the kids to get up and exercise a bit. Also remember we drive on the right in the US so make sure you are okay with driving the twisty roads on what will be the wrong side of the road for you.

    I would probably do LA for a few days before hitting the road rather than driving strait through to Vegas. Its a long flight from Sydney and you will probably need a bit of adjustment for the Jet lag. Stay near the beach if possible. There is a nice pier with a kid friendly amusement zone in Santa Monica. The Getty Art Museum has a tramway and nice patios and view points to get some idea of the LA basin. Its not to far from the beach. There is not that much to do for the kids in Hollywood, but Griffith park has a small railroad, a pony ride, the Zoo, and the Autry MUseum which is a must if you are interested in the history of the American West or cowboy movies. Actually there is enough to see in Southern Cal to last the whole four weeks. If you let me know what you are interested in, maybe I could make some other suggestions.

    I agree on taking the I-15 to Las Vegas, this should take about six hours but there is a nice stop just outside of Barstow, the Calico Ghost Town which is an old mining camp that has been tricked up a bit for tourists but will give you the opportunity to get out and stretch before heading to Vegas. Not much to see before you hit the Nevada Border. Vegas is what it is, you either love it or hate it. Remember you cannot take your kids into the Casinos but the lights and road architecture are certainly worth seeing. There is a small aquarium in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and the white tigers should still be on display at the Mirage. Some shows are kid friendly especially the magic shows altough your kids might be a little young. If they are quiet, you should be able to at least catch some entertainment. There are some amusement parks attached to some of the hotel especially Circus-Circus. Again the rides are really for somewhat older kids. You might take a side trip to see Hoover Dam and Lake Mead and Red Rocks park is not really out of the way.

    The routes between Las Vegas and Aspen are relatively limited. I would recommend getting off the 15 after Saint George and taking the Utah state 9 highway though Zion National Park to the US 89 making a slight detour to see Bryce NAtional Park along the way to to interstate 70 on your way to Colorado.

    By the way, since you are a skier, I recommend checking out Park City/Deer Valley and Sundance all just a short way out of Salt Lake City. Generally the powder is actually better in Utah than Colorado and you might be able to fit some Day sking in. his will take you a little out of your way.

    If you take the I 70 into Colorado I would definitely make the detour to vist Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Canyonlands requires a four wheel vehicle but you can find guides and helicopter tours to see the highlights.

    Enjoy the ride though Glenwood Canyon to Glenwood Colorado where you take Highway 82 into Aspen.

    As you guessed the road south out of Aspen is Usually closed in the Winter so you have your choice of how you are going to get back to LA.

    You have three choices. Go back to Glenwood Springs. (This is not a choice.) 1.) Go East to US 24 to US 285. This will take you through Leadville (11,000 feet high) and Taos New Mexico to Santa Fe.

    2.) Go. all the way east to Denver and take Interstate 35 south thorugh Colorado Springs to Santa Fe.

    or 3.) backtrack to Grand Junction and take the 50 and 550 through the so called "Million Dollar Highway" through Ouray, Silverton, Durango, to the 160 visiting Mesa Verde and the "Four corners" but bypassing Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

    A lot of your choice depends on the kind of roads you will want at this point in the trip. If you are sick of mountain driving, go through Denver, you will get the chance to ski a little in Vail, Denver has a lot to see, good night life, the Mint, and some nice museums. Colorado Springs has the Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak (14,000 feet, there is a tramway to the top as well as a road) the Air Force Academy, and the Garden of the Gods. Santa Fe is one of my favorite towns in the US. Mostly adobe construction with a great town square, an Indian market thaat is quite famous, more museums, and is a good jumping off spot for visiting the Indian Pueblos.

    If you like driving mountain passes, by all means take the million dollar Highway; the mountains in this area are some of the most beautiful in the US; we have always had luck spotting mountain goats and other wildlife on this highway. Mesa Verde is one of the most important archeological sites in the USA (if you are interested in pre-Columbian society in the US) and the four corners area has some of the most iconic scenery of the American West. Its where John Ford shot his best known Western Movies and its the most direct route to the Grand Canyon.

    The route through Leadville is a compromise between the two other routes as far as drivability goes and does take you through Taos. Choice is yours.

    If you go through Santa Fe and Albuquerque, you will reach the I-40. Stop at the Petrified forest on your way to the US 89. take the 89 north to route 64 and enter the Grand canyon Park from the east. Try to stay in the Grand Canyon Village itself and enjoy the sunrise and sunset over the canyon, You will probably not be able to obtain tickets for the mule tain into the canyon or a rafting trip through the canyon on short notice. These are spectacular things to do but not with little kids.

    If you go through the four corners, try to stay at Gouldings which is run by the tribes. You might also make a detour through Page Utah and visit Lake Powell. (Like I warned you, there is a lot to choose from on this trip.)

    Going south from the Grand Canyon will get you to Williams and the I-40 which connects back to the I-15 and into LA. But if you are going to Palm Springs, I would recommend backtracking to US 89A and go through Sedona Arizona to Phoenix and pick up the I-10 to Palm Springs and eventually back to LA and Santa Monica.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 02-14-2009 at 07:02 PM. Reason: navigation

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Just takes a little more looking....

    Quote Originally Posted by svs View Post
    ... Not much to see before you hit the Nevada Border.
    Actually, I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is one of my favorite roads in America. One of these days, I may actually get my long-awaited book on the route published. But I-15 is the gateway highway to two national parks (Death Valley and the Mojave Preserve), it passes approximately 55 ghost towns and abandoned mining camps, it parallels one of the oldest trading routes in the Americas and that's just scratching the surface of all of the "attractions" on the way.
    Vegas is what it is, you either love it or hate it.
    You can certainly take your children into the casino hotels -- and for a few more things about Las Vegas, that we truly love -- check out Living-Las-Vegas.com.

    Another route I truly love is I-70 between I-15 and Denver. Here is a field report to the section through Utah.

    Your other recommendations are great and so thanks for joining the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    Mark

  5. #5

    Default Toddlers on Tour USA -5 days to go

    A huge thanks for your replies - wish I had discovered this forum earlier!

    Taking on board your suggestions the plan so far is :

    Arrive LAX friday drive onto LV (stop at Barstow )- (SVS your suggestion to stay in LA for a couple of days makes great sense only I had booked the accomodation in LV already!) We have 3 nights in LV to do the sights of the town and day trips to Red Rocks and Hoover Dam. Great links Mark S thanks.

    LV to Aspen - Need to be in Aspen on Wednesday pm.
    Zion and Bryce via State 9 to US 89 and onto 70 ---> sounds appealing would we have enough time to do this?
    70 --> Arches (is a definite) and maybe Canyonlands.

    Aspen to Santa Fe - this is where we we are still not 100% but I think it will be Leadville, Great Sand Dunes NP, Taos Santa Fe via 285 . (Although the other routes do also sound appealing - It was really helpful to have a few options listed.). Hope to stay in Santa Fe a couple of days but not sure how long this part of the trip would take - I am guessing at least one night if not two . Is there a particular town we should aim to stay at?

    Santa Fe - I25 I40 Petrified Forrest, Wupaktii NP? , Grand Canyon E
    See that Page, Lake Powell, 4 corners were mentioned - also like to do Monument Valley but would this be possible ?- We have a booking in Anaheim on tues 10 Mar for 7 days (trying to change but haven't been able to find alternate for later dates). Seligman, Kingman, Oatman on the way to LA

    Do the LA sights including Disneyland., Griffith Park...

    5 days remaining to do Palm Springs, Joshua tree and....

    I can't wait!!

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

    Default letting the body recover

    If you are landing in LA on Friday after flying all the way from Australia, I really would urge you to spend that first day in LA planning to have a pretty relaxing low key day. I can't imagine that getting in a car and driving 5-6 hours (through Friday traffic!) will really be much fun after getting off a Trans-Pacific flight, nor can I imagine that your bodies, or your kids bodies, will be in a particularly good travel shape while dealing with the jet lag from crossing so many time zones. I think you are really setting yourself up to get a really bad start to your trip by pushing way too hard at the beginning, and starting your trip on a bad note like this can really filter into the rest of your vacation. If you've got 4 weeks for this trip, then you've got some time to work with, and having a day to let yourself recover will be well worth.

  7. #7

    Default Kids and the pool

    Hello fellow traveler,

    A great year-round stop is the Glenwood Hot Springs pool in Glenwood Springs, CO. The facility is a HUGE outdoor swimming pool complex fed by the + 100 degree F hot spring. It is something on the order of 100 yards long and very wide, and it is "zoned" by temprature, allowing bathers to choose between "spa" temprature ranges and lukewarm waters. Given the perpetual natural heat supply, it's open year-round, and Winter is actually a great time to go. A very nice hotel is part of the resort complex, and it's just a short walk over a pedestrian bridge to downtown Glenwood Springs' restaurants and bars. My then 12 year-old son and I spent a week there a few years back while skiing the Aspen area mountains, just a little under an hour's drive down CO 82. I should mention the fine skiing at Sunlight, a bit closer to Glenwood Springs. It's a great little ski mountain ("little" being a relative term--Sunlight is bigger than Buttermilk, I believe). and rather less crowded (and less expensive!) then Aspen/Snowmass.

    Enjoy the planning and the trip!

    Foy
    Last edited by Foy; 02-15-2009 at 08:32 AM. Reason: fat fingers typos

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Timing

    Hi,

    Arrive LAX friday drive onto LV (stop at Barstow )-
    I agree with Michael, add the check in /out times to the flight and collecting baggage and picking up the car, sorting the paper work e.t.c gets pretty tiring. I would check into a Hotel pretty close and drive straight through to Vegas the following day.

    LV to Aspen - Need to be in Aspen on Wednesday pm.
    Zion and Bryce via State 9 to US 89 and onto 70 ---> sounds appealing would we have enough time to do this?
    70 --> Arches (is a definite) and maybe Canyonlands.
    Leaving Tues morning by my calculation ? If so it is possible to get to these places but with little time to see them. I would forget Canyonlands due to the time issue altogether. Unless you could leave Vegas on the afternoon of your last day [stay 2 nights ] and take the drive to Zion for the evening you won't have much more than time for a "whistle-stop" tour of Zion and Arches. I would imagine over 2 days you will be looking at 7 hours of driving each day including the short detours to Zion and Arches. That will allow you a few hours at each one with early [ish] starts.

    Aspen to Santa Fe Hope to stay in Santa Fe a couple of days but not sure how long this part of the trip would take - I am guessing at least one night if not two
    Aspen to Taos could be done in about 5-6 hours plus anytime spent in Leadville and at the Great sand dunes.

    Santa Fe - I25 I40 Petrified Forrest, Wupaktii NP? , Grand Canyon E
    See that Page, Lake Powell, 4 corners were mentioned - also like to do Monument Valley but would this be possible ?-
    It's certainly possible to drive through M/V from Santa Fe via Farmington and the Four corners. Although the Four corners hasn't much to offer other than standing in the marked area where you step from one State to another or put your feet and hands in each one. Depending on your time frame for this part of the journey I would think it's a case of Four corners and M/V or Petrified Forest and Wupakti and the nearby Sunset crater.

    To conclude this part I think you need to work out when you will be leaving Santa Fe and when you need to be in L/A.

    Enjoy the planning and ask when you have more questions.

  9. #9

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    Actually, I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is one of my favorite roads in America. One of these days, I may actually get my long-awaited book on the route published. But I-15 is the gateway highway to two national parks (Death Valley and the Mojave Preserve), it passes approximately 55 ghost towns and abandoned mining camps, it parallels one of the oldest trading routes in the Americas and that's just scratching the surface of all of the "attractions" on the way.You can certainly take your children into the casino hotels -- and for a few more things about Las Vegas, that we truly love -- check out Living-Las-Vegas.com.

    Another route I truly love is I-70 between I-15 and Denver. Here is a field report to the section through Utah.

    Your other recommendations are great and so thanks for joining the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    Mark
    A little clarification. Of course you can take kids into the hotels and in fact I made a few suggestions of kid friendly things to do in the Vegas hotels in my post. I was just saying that if you bring underage kids into the gambling areas themselves, you will be asked to leave. I have been stopped from playing the slots because I was holding my six month old daughter. Of course that was some years ago and since you live in Las Vegas, I suspect you know the rules better than I.

    Mojave and Death Valley are a tad out of the way, and I personally find the Utah desert much more attractive than the California one, that given the huge distances toddlers on tour will be driving, I didn't recommend going out of the way. I suppose they could stop in Baker and see the huge thermometer. I would be interested in reading your article on LA to Vegas. It might inspire me to make a short road trip of my own.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Please do not try to get out of LA on Friday afternoon. The traffic will be horrendous and that is not the right time to get familiar with driving on the right side of the road. Spend Friday night in LA and head to Vegas Saturday, it's only a 5 hour drive tops. Book yourself a hotel near LAX and get rid of the jet lag.

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