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  1. Default Advice Needed: SF to LA to St Louis

    College daughter doing last minute road trip with two friends to take car back to college. Two girls starting out in SF and driving to LA to pick up third girl and make way to St Louis where they all attend college. Plan is to do this over 7 - 10 days. Girls are leaving in three weeks, so any advice is appreciated.
    San Fran to LA - US 101 or I-5, or CA1?
    LA to St Louis - I-15 to I-70?
    Girls are on a budget and will try to stay at lower priced hotels along the way (around $100/night). All three girls are busy with their summer jobs/research so I offered to help plan their road trip. I am feeling anxiety over this trip, as I am a planner by nature. Daughter feels no such anxiety and is excited about this "adventure". Does anyone have any comments or other suggested routes and must see stops along the way?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Default Give Her Her Head

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    My own daughter was a bit 'adventurous' in college. That's the perfect time for such activities, and a RoadTrip with friends is a great opportunity for your daughter to stretch her wings a bit. Time is going to be a precious enough commodity on this drive that I would recommend against CA-1, or even US-101 down to L.A. The plan should be to get there, and the three of them all loaded up on the first day, so that the next day they can start out early in the morning, perhaps even before rush hour and start on the 'new road' part of the drive. The shorter route to St. Louis from Los Angeles would be I-40 to Oklahoma City and I-44 the rest of the way, but I think they's have a much better time taking the route you suggest. That would take them through Las Vegas, past Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks over the San Rafael Swell and within easy visiting distance of Arches and Rocky Mountain National Parks, all before they reach the Great Plains. If they do visit Rocky Mountain National Park, then they should at least consider using I-76/I-80 along the Platte River and the old Oregon Trail, a somewhat more interesting drive than I-70 through eastern Colorado and Kansas. NE-2 and I-29 would return them to I-70 at Kansas City.

    On more general notes. If they do plan on stopping at 4 or more National Parks, then they should buy an annual pass at the first park they come to, which will be good for all entrance fees for a year. Six to nine days is plenty of time to enjoy all of the parks I listed above and a few other random roadside stops as well. They should be in no rush.

    Actually, $100 a night should get them some fairly decent motel rooms. I would suggest that you look for places with multiple floors, indoor corridors, and restricted access after dark, rather than the traditional long, low motels where anyone can drive right up to their door. There should be no need to make reservations along the way unless they plan to stay overnight near a major national park on a summer/fall weekend.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Default Needing their input.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    A lot will depend on there interests and whether or not the goal is to get to St Louis or do some sight seeing along the way and have a "mini" adventure.

    Normally I would recommend CA 1 and enjoy the coast route but perhaps they want to start out "proper" as a group of 3, and in that case the quickest route would make sense, I 5.

    Instead of heading straight up I 15 they could make there way East on I 40 and visit the Grand canyon where there are many possible stops and parts of original Route 66 remaining. For a more scenic and inspiring trip they could head through Monument valley and up to Moab, a lively town that is "home" to Arches and Canyonlands NP's. Continuing towards Denver there are many interesting towns and places of interest like the Colorado NM and Glenwood Springs. There are also about another 1001 options open to them if they want to take their time, so although they have left you to the planning, a little input from them would be of a lot of use when it comes to making sure they have a suitable place to stay the night.

    As a straight run I would allow 5 day's for the drive so that they have plenty of time out of the car and are not pushing too far, with 10 day's they could turn it into a memorable trip.

  4. #4
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    Default

    The fastest way from LA to STL is I-15/I-40/I-44. It's 1825 miles and can just be done in 3 long full days on the road. Any extra days they can put towards that could be put to excellent use sightseeing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Not what I would recommend.

    Sorry, but as they are College "kid's" and most likely don't share the same experience as some of us more seasoned road trippers, I wouldn't recommend that they cover 600 miles + a day.

  6. #6
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    Default

    I wasn't recommending that per se - just saying what would be possible as a reference. The original post says that they have 7 to 10 days. It's possible to go from SF to LA in one day on I-5, and with a bit of a stretch on US-101, so I don't really see a time crunch here. If they want to take CA-1, that's definitely a 2 day drive.

    Of course, I recommend that they only drive from after breakfast till dinner time, that's going to be the safest thing to do. That should give them about 10 hours on the road.

  7. #7

    Default LA to STL

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    The fastest way from LA to STL is I-15/I-40/I-44. It's 1825 miles and can just be done in 3 long full days on the road. Any extra days they can put towards that could be put to excellent use sightseeing.
    That is the fastest, but if I were to make the trip I would probably go I-15 to I-70. But I guess it really depends on what they are interested in doing/seeing on the way.

    To OP: Happy to see another Wash U person on here. I got my Ph.D. from Wash U and still do some adjunct teaching there.

    --Jon

  8. Default

    AZBuck - Thank you very much for your helpful tips. Daughter already has a national park annual pass, which we picked up in her name this summer while we were traveling. Also, your safety tips about the motels are great!
    jcorb2d - Go Bears!

    Quick update after doing some research:
    Day 1 SF
    Day 2 SF to LA
    Day 3 LA to Las Vegas
    Day 4 -5 Las Vegas to Cedar City, stopping at Zion NP
    Day 6 - Cedar City to Moab?
    Day 7 - Moab to Boulder
    Day 8 - Boulder to ?
    Day 9 - ? to Kansas City
    Day 10 - Kansas City to St Louis

    I don't want the girls to be on the road for very long periods of time and am trying to break this up into reasonable driving times, except for the SF to LA portion. Does the above look okay? Any suggestions for a good stopping point between Boulder CO and Kansas City MO? Maybe Salina? Sorry, still doing research on this portion, so any input would be great.
    BTW, daughter is a Hilton Honors gold member, so we're trying to book the girls into Hampton Inn, Garden Inn, or Hilton hotels. Free breakfast and free wifi would be a big help for the girls.
    Please feel free to comment on the itinerary above and make suggestions on how this could be improved. Thank you!

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default

    I'd only stop in Moab if you are going to visit Arches and Canyonlands. It's quite a ways off I-70 and I don't believe they have a Hilton property there. Look at Grand Junction CO instead, and there's a Hampton Inn downtown.

    Hays KS is about the halfway point from Boulder to KC, and they have a Hampton Inn. It's a nice relatively safe college town.

    Everything looks broken up quite well - the longest leg other than SF-LA is about 350 miles. Make sure they realize that there are absolutely no services between Salina and Green River UT, a 110 mile stretch. I would advise them to fill the gas tank in Richfield and again in Green River.

  10. #10
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    Default Or...

    As I noted in my original response, I think the girls might enjoy using I-80 rather than I-70 between Boulder and Kansas City, especially if they played the popular Oregon Trail game when they were younger. Going that way adds 75 miles or so to the Boulder - KC leg, still leaving it at two comfortable 350 mile days. Kearney is roughly halfway and has a Hampton Inn.

    AZBuck

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