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  1. Default Detroit to Los Angeles (mainly CO/UT/AZ/CA)

    Before I get started, let me say that I have looked through some past threads, found some useful information, but still would like to ask some of my own questions.

    I am driving from Detroit to L.A. in mid september. My friend and I plan on taking about six days to make the trip. I personally would like to take much longer, but she's sort of in a rush.

    At first thought, I would like to take I-80 from Detroit to Colorado, and do that as quick as possible. We most likely are stopping through Phoenix, so I'm planning on going through a bit of Utah then turning south. Once in Colorado, coming off the interstate and taking more scenic roads is something I would highly consider.

    I am looking for short hikes in parks/national areas that we could do during the day. We most likely will not be camping unfortunately, but staying in motels.

    So once we get out to Colorado, I'm thinking roughly 3-4 to L.A. I know that doesn't give us a ton of time for sight seeing, but it gives us more than just driving straight through.

    So far, the La Sal Mountains Road Loop outside of Moab looks do-able. It's 28-miles long and should take about 2-3 hours (or so the site says). Then on down to AZ, outside flagstaff, Walnut Creek National Monument has a 1-mile hike that shouldn't take too long. Basically, these are the types of hikes/activities I'm looking for.

    Any destinations like the one's I have listed. Any suggested routes, small towns I should consider having lunch in, etc. Pretty much anything people on this board have comments for, I would highly appreciate.

    If the thread takes off I'll start listing more detailed route data, and we can get more detailed with stops/destinations. For now, any suggestions anyone has, especially in the Colorado/Utah/Arizona/Southern California regions would be great.

    Thanks ahead of time to anyone who helps out...

    Alex

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    You can make it from Detroit to Denver in 2 long days via 94/80/76. This will give you 4 days to get to LA. It's 2 days from Denver direct to LA, so I hope this gives you a better idea just how much you can do in between. Unless you have a good reason to go to Phoenix, I'd pass on that to get more sightseeing time along a more direct route.

    A very scenic drive through Colorado would be 285 out of Denver to Poncha Springs, then 50 to Montrose, and 550 to Durango. An alternate would be go down to Colorado Springs and take 24 to 285, this would allow you to climb Pikes Peak. From Durango, you could head into southern Utah.

    Recommended restaurant in Durango, if you like BBQ: Serious Texas, across the highway from the Super 8 (which is one of the better Super 8's I've stayed in).

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply, appreciated.

    Yea I hope my friend will end up wanting to bypass Phoenix. Her cousin lives there and she wants to visit her but it is kind of out of the way...

    Anyway, the route through Durango sounds like a good one, I'm definitely going to look into it.

    Any particular stop offs/activities besides for the restaurant (which I'll probably stop at, love bbq)?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    Along that route I suggested, you have the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and the towns of Ouray and Silverton. If you take 160 west out of Durango toward Cortez, there's Mesa Verde.

    Too bad you are so time-restricted - you could literally spend weeks in the area. If your priorities are farther west in Utah, you may be better off just taking I-70 west out of Denver, Moab is about 30 miles south of 70 on 191. From there you could go back to 70, go west a bit more, and take 24 through Capitol Reef, then 12 (one of the GREAT scenic mountain highways) to Bryce Canyon, then 89 and 9 to Zion. That will position you for the homestretch run down I-15 to LA.

    Durango positions you better for Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, and would be almost mandatory to do that if you must go to Phoenix.

  5. #5

    Default Cottonwood Pass

    Hello AJR,

    You might have a look at crossing the Divide at Cottonwood Pass. A paved road leaves Buena Vista, CO and climbs to the pass at some 10,000'. The west side provides an absolutely breathtaking view of the Presidential Range (several of Colorado's "Forteeners") and Taylor Park Reservior. The road from the pass to Taylor Park is well-maintained and fairly gentle grade gravel. From Taylor Park, pavement takes you to Gunnison and US 50.

    Foy

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Along that route I suggested, you have the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and the towns of Ouray and Silverton. If you take 160 west out of Durango toward Cortez, there's Mesa Verde.

    Too bad you are so time-restricted - you could literally spend weeks in the area. If your priorities are farther west in Utah, you may be better off just taking I-70 west out of Denver, Moab is about 30 miles south of 70 on 191. From there you could go back to 70, go west a bit more, and take 24 through Capitol Reef, then 12 (one of the GREAT scenic mountain highways) to Bryce Canyon, then 89 and 9 to Zion. That will position you for the homestretch run down I-15 to LA.

    Durango positions you better for Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, and would be almost mandatory to do that if you must go to Phoenix.
    I know, I wish I could spend the whole summer out along that route, but I'm just a guest on this trip and my friend asked me to do a little planning. I figure if we do get to Denver in two days, which there is no reason not too if we leave Detroit early on the first day, at least I'll have a four days from Denver to LA to look around. I hope we aren't stopping in Phoenix, I have yet to sit down and convince my friend otherwise. If we don't stop in Phoenix I'll definitely be driving some of the routes suggested.

    Everyone's info has already been very helpful, thanks so much.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    Hello AJR,

    You might have a look at crossing the Divide at Cottonwood Pass. A paved road leaves Buena Vista, CO and climbs to the pass at some 10,000'. The west side provides an absolutely breathtaking view of the Presidential Range (several of Colorado's "Forteeners") and Taylor Park Reservior. The road from the pass to Taylor Park is well-maintained and fairly gentle grade gravel. From Taylor Park, pavement takes you to Gunnison and US 50.

    Foy
    Thanks. Just checked out that route. It seems very do-able, especially if I come down to Colorado Springs and come through Garden of the Gods, possibly hit Pikes Peak, then head west. By doing all of that I can still come out onto I-70 into Utah and hit some of the parks and roads (Arches, Zion, Etc.) on the way out to L.A. Honestly, once I'm through Utah I don't mind heading straight for L.A. I could care less about Vegas.

    As long as I don't have to stop in Phoenix I think that's the route I'll recommend we take.

  8. #8

    Default Western/southwest CO

    I hope you'll have time for Cottonwood Pass and I'm sure you'll enjoy it if you go. It's been 15 years since I did it, more than enough time for the road maintenance schedule to change, but the overall gentleness of the grade on the west side surely won't have changed. When we did it in 1994, it was in that all-star of off-road vehicles: a 1994 Chevy Caprice rental from the DEN airport, so it's pretty easy stuff. It's an over-the-pass road which must get some regular traffic, so it's most likely maintained to a high degree.

    I see you contemplating hooking back up with I-70 for Arches/Canyonlands, and those are places I've certainly enjoyed. If you haven't seen it, consider dropping down US 550 from Montrose to Durango on the Million Dollar Highway. That's some VERY serious timberline driving, and both Ouray and Silverton are beautiful little towns. Durango's a ton of fun, too. You could swing back up to Moab from Monticello if you dropped south to Durango on the MDH. I think Monticello, UT is in the neighborhood of your La Sal loop, too.

    Foy

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    I hope you'll have time for Cottonwood Pass and I'm sure you'll enjoy it if you go. It's been 15 years since I did it, more than enough time for the road maintenance schedule to change, but the overall gentleness of the grade on the west side surely won't have changed. When we did it in 1994, it was in that all-star of off-road vehicles: a 1994 Chevy Caprice rental from the DEN airport, so it's pretty easy stuff. It's an over-the-pass road which must get some regular traffic, so it's most likely maintained to a high degree.

    I see you contemplating hooking back up with I-70 for Arches/Canyonlands, and those are places I've certainly enjoyed. If you haven't seen it, consider dropping down US 550 from Montrose to Durango on the Million Dollar Highway. That's some VERY serious timberline driving, and both Ouray and Silverton are beautiful little towns. Durango's a ton of fun, too. You could swing back up to Moab from Monticello if you dropped south to Durango on the MDH. I think Monticello, UT is in the neighborhood of your La Sal loop, too.

    Foy
    The MDH sounds like something that I might be interested in, epsecially if we turn south and end up going to Phoenix before heading to L.A.

    All these roads you mention sound great. I just want to make sure that our fully packed aging Rav-4 can handle it. I see you said you did it in a caprice, so we shouldn't have a problem with our mini-suv?

  10. #10

    Default RAV-4 over Cottonwood Pass

    AJR,

    No, I wouldn't think it'd be a problem to any extent whatsoever. If I were planning this trip, I'd figure out what NF the Gunnison side is in, then what Ranger District it's in, and just call the local phone number for that Ranger District to double-check what the conditions are on the west side.

    From a quick glance at www.cottonwoodpass.net, it looks like the Gunnison (west) side is still unpaved. It also looks like I grossly erred on the elevation: It's 12,100' at the pass, not 10,000'. Whoo Hoo!

    But yes, unless the NF Service has inexplicably let it go, seemingly unlikely for a road over the Divide so great a distance from other passes and paved to the summit on one side, you should be fine in the RAV 4.

    Foy

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