We will be relocating across country for job in late Nov 2010 and now are in need of urgent advice here on the route(s) we should take / sightseeing activities we could do for the trip we will be taking from Washington DC -> Mountain View CA.
We will be traveling in a honda civic sedan, probably filled with some stuff with the bulk of the rest already shipped in boxes prior -- so no truck or trailer or anything like that.
Google map provides the "default route" (I-80 W) which we intend to make deviations from it. Much as we would like to visit Yellowstone/Mt Rushmore etc., we are likely not going to try driving anywhere northwards beyond Salt Lake City/Denver because many people seem to advice against it for a winter roadtrip (?). So we are probably leaning towards visiting sites that are more "conducive" during winter: UT/CO/NM/AZ/NV/CA or even TX
Since we will be having 2-2.5 weeks to make the trek across, we want to know what is there to see / best places to stop along the way. We are interested in pretty much anything: city, old relic towns, nature/landscape/national park, architecture, good food, mountains/lakes, skiing, hiking etc.
1) Can anyone tell me anything interesting to see / stop between DC and CO? I have been to Chicago numerous times so dont intend drive towards there and stop there. The only thing I can think of is the St Louis arch in MO, but please enlighten me here as it's a long drive between these two points!
(Note: I havent been to any Southern states except for FL and NC, so let me know if we should consider venturing South-wards to places like TN, OK, TX, etc or will that be too far off the main cross-country route)
2) As for CO/UT/AZ/NV, the places I can think of to visit are the following:
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO (north of Denver)
Garden of the Gods, CO (south of Denver, nearer to Colorado Springs)
Salt Lake City, UT
Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT (south of Salt Lake City, on the way to Las Vegas)
Arches National Park, UT (between Denver and Central Utah)
Bryce Canyon, UT (south of Utah, on the way to Las Vegas)
Zion National Park, UT (south of Utah, on the way to Las Vegas)
Hoover Dam, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Flagstaff & Sedona, AZ
Death Valley National Park, NV
Las Vegas, NV
Please let me know anything below that I could afford to miss, or anything I didnt mentioned which you think we should visit instead!
Please suggest good skiing places too (1 or 2 in UT or CO should be sufficient).
Is there any Native American reservation area I could visit in AZ too?
3) I heard NM is worth a visit too. For now, I know Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park & Mesa Verde is a must-go. Anything else?
4) What's the best route (highway #), in driving order from Washington DC, should we take for best efficiency?
5) I think I might need to use Route 66 for part of the journey -- I heard it's not a highway but it's a two-lane (per way) traffic with many trucks plying about? Please advice.
Many thanks ahead!!!