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  1. #1

    Default Chicago to San Francisc Roadtrip ideas?

    Hello. I am rather new to the site but am finding everything I read fascinating. I am taking a roadtrip in a couple weeks from Chicago to San Francisco and really want to make it a good one. I'm pretty much in the dark as far as which roads to take, what places to stop by to eat or walk around or experience. My buddy and I are up for anything--does anybody have any suggestions on route or stop ideas? Or anything along the way?

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    What are your interests, and how many days do you have for this trip?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default anything

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    The fastest route would simply be to take I-80 all the way there, which you could comfortably do in as little as 4 full days on the road.

    Other than that, you really haven't told us enough about you, your interests, what sorts of time and money constraints you have, etc. Being up for "anything" is great, but since there are billions of possiblities while traveling across the western half of the continent, it doesn't really doesn't give us any place to start to narrow things down into helpful advice.

  4. #4

    Default

    We have 3 weeks. Since we haven't been out west we would like to experience the things each state or area has to offer along the way (or even off path). We aren't touristy people so I'd like to stay away from attractions that are a bit gimmicky.

    Nature is a plus, and one-of-a-kind, interesting places that you can't find anywhere else (ie- routes, restaurants, motels, anything that is random and/or pretty).

  5. #5

    Default

    As far as budget goes, we don't have a large one. We're not planning on spending money on attractions really, unless it's under $20 a person. Most of it's going towards gas, food, camp sites, and motels. Anything free is a plus.

    I'm a photographer, so I'd love to just get out of the car and snapshot everything I see. I'm definitely going for the beauty/interesting factor. Hope this helps.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    There are just so many things to see - but if you want me to focus you on what I consider to be true beauty, I'd do a grand tour around Colorado and Utah. Buy a national parks pass for $80, this covers admission to any Federal fee-based facility for a year, camping fees are not covered.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,747

    Default So much to see.

    Yep, the National parks pass is great value if you intend on visiting a number of parks. And if you are into photography and great views, these offer some of the best that are easily accessible when "rolling through". The best way to check them out is here. From Denver to SF some of the highlights could include, Rocky NP, Colorado NM, Arches, Bryce canyon, Zion NP, Monument valley, Grand canyon, Death valley amongst many many more, and I would highly recommend driving through Yosemite on the way to San Fran. You would have to check whether the Tioga pass [120] is open through Yosemite before deciding a route though. It is closed at the moment but progress is being made with the snow plowing efforts.

    Get the map out, choose things that appeal along the way and then start joining the dots up. As you build your trip, ask questions along the way and I am sure we can help you fine tune it.

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks guys! The National Parks website was a big help. After doing some more research, we've decided to focus our route on the national parks and scenic drives that the states we go through have to offer. On that note, here is a slightly more accurate itinerary of our route:

    Bloomington, Indiana (mid/southern part of the state)-->
    through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas/Nebraska (depending on if there's anything worthwhile in Nebraska), Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California (SF)

    Being from the midwest, I'm rather familiar with Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. Most of our attention at the moment is on Colorado and Utah. Both are very appealing to us and I've found some really nice scenic drives in the later: http://www.utahvalley.org/things-to-...ic-drives.aspx

    Are there any other scenic drives you would recommend from Kansas onwards? Also, where would be some great places to hike?

    Thank you again, for all your ideas!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    777

    Default For photographers...

    Monument Valley is a must; take at least a half-day guided tour, better a full day.

    As good as that is, Antelope Canyon (near Page, AZ) is an absolute must for a photographer. It is on reservation land so you HAVE to book a tour. Make sure you book the longer "photographers" tour, and one that will have you in the canyon at/around high noon (when sunbeams will come in). It is dark, you will need a tripod. I tended to shoot 15-30 second exposures.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    You have several options through Colorado. You could go up through Rocky NP, assuming Trail Ridge Rd is open for the season, and work your way across to Utah from there. Or, you could go to Colorado Springs and climb Pikes Peak - then head over 24 and 285 to 50 and go through Gunnison, then down 550 to Durango and head over to Utah from there.

    You could head on down my way on I-44, then take US-400 all the way across Kansas, then continue through Colorado on 50, 10, and 160 to Durango. This will take you through Greensburg, the town that got wiped out by the tornado and is rebuilding, and Dodge City.

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