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  1. Default Detroit to Los Angeles - How much time should I allow?

    Hi everyone,

    this is my first road trip ever across the USA...I'll be driving solo from Detroit, Michigan to Los Angeles, California.....I plotted out the route using the map wizard and it looks like I'll be going through these states:

    Illinois [northern part]
    Iowa [south central]
    Nebraska [Omaha, Lincoln]
    Colorado [Denver]
    Utah [central]
    Nevada [southern tip - Las Vegas]
    California [south]

    Here are some things that looked interesting to me:
    Iowa state capitol
    Grand Canyon
    Skywalk and Hualapai reservation (near Grand Canyon)
    Grand Canyon – Parashant’s National Monument
    Glenwood Hot Springs (CO)
    Colorado National Monument (CO)
    Arches National park (UT)
    Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas

    1) I'm estimating it's roughly a 2400 mile trip (assuming I drove straight from Detroit to LA)....If I leave mid-January or thereabouts - will 2 weeks be enough time to see it all? Or do I need more time?
    2) In your experience, how expensive do you think this will be? (I'm guessing at least $300 for gas based on the fact my car gets around 30-32 mpg highway).
    3) My current plan is to stay in cheap motels (or possibly find a campground and sleep in my car) along the way - should I pre-plan my lodgings before I go?
    4) I'm pretty open to other routes as well, I just picked this one since that's what the map wizard suggested...

    Any other help appreciated. Thank you very much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Filling in Some Details

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    A few things you should know about some of your intended destinations. The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is BLM land, not the National park, and most if not all of its roads call for 4WD rather than your typical rental sedan. Likewise, the Skywalk is on the 'West Rim' of the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Indian Reservation rather than in the National Park. Access is over a poorly maintained dirt road although tour busses are available, and it is relatively expensive and a considerable investment in time as well. You will not be allowed to take a camera out onto the walk. The best views of the Grand Canyon are from the Rim Road along the South Rim in the National Park north of Flagstaff. This would require a two day round trip drive from Las Vegas. Your itinerary is also notable for some of the places you have left off, such as the Amana Colonies in Iowa, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks in Utah. In mis-January you will find some of the roads in some of the parks closed, and some parks (the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, for example) closed entirely. You can also expect to lose a day or two to weather related delays. Also in mid-January, I don't think you can count on sleeping in your car anywhere along this route. It will simply be too cold. I'd say $300 is the minimum you can expect to pay for gas, given that it is already around $3/gal and rising at a time when it traditionally falls in price. And two weeks will be a comfortable amount of time to make the trip and allow for the inevitable weather delay(s), but there is never enough time to "see it all".

    AZBuck

  3. Default thank you

    Awesome, thank you AZBuck....I will definitely add your suggestions (Amana Colonies in Iowa, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks in Utah) to my itinerary for sure! I didn't know about them (first time road tripper) because the map wizard didn't suggest them.

    If anyone has any tips on food and lodging to help keep costs down, that would be great. Right now the plan is to bring my own snacks and stay in cheap motels near the exits off the interstate - I'm thinking that might be $700 for lodging and $400 for food?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Open up your options.

    .....I plotted out the route using the map wizard and it looks like I'll be going through these states:
    ....I will definitely add your suggestions (Amana Colonies in Iowa, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks in Utah) to my itinerary for sure! I didn't know about them (first time road tripper) because the map wizard didn't suggest them.
    Search the forums and utilise all the other RTA pages above, the Map Centre will help you to plan routes and find attractions along them. Don't get tied down to a mapping program route, the wonder of the Roadtrip is to go your own way and to see places you want to see. Play around with different routes and look into what appeals to you and build your own trip, you won't regret it !

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    If hotels such as Motel 6 are acceptable, you can probably do it for $50 a night at ones at Interstate exits away from larger cities. Once you get away from the Interstates and get around major tourist attractions, that price is going to go up unless you can find a "mom and pop" motel that's livable. Even those can be costly - for example, if you want to stay in Tusayan (just outside the south entrance to the Grand Canyon) you will be looking at close to or over $100. It's a lot cheaper staying in Williams or Flagstaff.

  6. Default

    thank you Southwest Dave and glc, those are great tips......

    Forgot to mention I'll be driving a front wheel drive sedan - so hopefully I won't have too much trouble with the weather around the Grand Canyon.....

    I'm more than happy to stay at a Motel 6, hostels, or whatever is easiest on the budget.

    I've identified other places - I heard Monument Valley, Utah (near the four corners), Big Sur California, and Tuscon Arizona might be worth checking out?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Front wheel drive is helpful but tires are an important part of good results. If you're running on new, open pattern deep tread tires you're in good shape. If you are running the original tires and they are nearly worn out you'll have problems. (I assume you know about this from living in Detroit)

    Sleeping in your car isn't much of an option unless you're good to below zero. If you haven't tried it, you should do a test before committing to that technique on the road. And many campgrounds (most?) close for winter. The ones in the National Forest campgrounds in Colorado are mostly covered in snow and the gates are locked for the winter.

    Winter means that places like Rocky Mtn National Park are mostly winter wonderlands with closed roads. For instance, US Hwy 34 crosses RMNP and shows on the road map. But it closed in November and won't be cut open until Memorial Day because the road goes over 12,000' in altitude. Glenwood Springs may or may not be open during winter since winter isn't their big tourist season. On the other hand the ski resorts are running full blast but everything is expensive there during the skiing season (and the off season as well).

    Cable tire chains might come in handy somewhere along the way.

    Cheap hotels suggest you bring earplugs to sleep with to ensure a good night's rest. (even better hotels cause me to use earplugs just to be sure)

    Preplanning lodging loses flexibility and might lose you a deposit if you reserve in advance but can't make it because of <whatever>. Do be sure to study the road atlas and see where the bigger towns are where there will be more hotels. And don't forget that the road atlas changes scales to put each state on a page. An inch across Delaware is vastly shorter than an inch across Arizona.

    Think it through. Be cautious and enjoy the trip :-)

  8. Default

    Thank you noFanofCB, I will definitely not be sleeping in my car....I'll be doing the cheap hotel/hostel route, so thanks for the tips. I'll be buying a Rand McNally Road atlas to bring along for sure.

    Winter means that places like Rocky Mtn National Park are mostly winter wonderlands with closed roads. For instance, US Hwy 34 crosses RMNP and shows on the road map. But it closed in November and won't be cut open until Memorial Day because the road goes over 12,000' in altitude. Glenwood Springs may or may not be open during winter since winter isn't their big tourist season.
    - thank you, you make a great point.....Out of curiosity I looked up Glenwood online and it looks like the hot springs pool is open year round, so I'm quite excited.....

    If anyone knows has any other tips on checking to see whether places are open while I'm on the road (other than Internet search?) so I don't waste time driving to them, that would be great.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Yes but...................

    I've identified other places - I heard Monument Valley, Utah (near the four corners), Big Sur California, and Tuscon Arizona might be worth checking out?
    These and a million and one others ! The problem is that adding Tuscon and Big Sur to your current route could add up to another 1000 miles !

    Monument valley would be a detour you could add in without too many additional miles. If you are visiting Bryce canyon and Zion NP you could head South through Page and detour into Monument valley on route to the Grand canyon South rim, rather than heading back to GC from Vegas as Buck mentioned earlier. From Vegas you could take a detour across the incredible landscape of Death valley as you make your way to LA. Another to consider as you are visiting Arches NP is the 'Islands in the sky' section of Canyonlands which is close by.

    With these "short" detours your estimated trip of 2400 miles is already past the 3000 mile mark and although you have 2 weeks, if you want a little time to enjoy these great places you won't have time too by adding to much more to your itinerary.

    I would use the RTA Map centre to start creating a route[s] that will take you to the places you want to visit, work out roughly the time factor and see how you can piece it altogether. Throwing names of places around isn't really a lot of use to you until you have sat down and worked out a more detailed route and what you have decided to do what not to do.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    If I'm not mistaken the North side of the Grand Canyon is not normally open in Winter.
    That's something to check on for sure because approaching from the south side might cost a lot of time and mileage if not pre-planned.

    Pretty much any destination that you think you might want to visit should be checked for seasonal hours or closures.

    Co Nat'l Monument would be another to check on.

    In a long ago solo motorcycle trip during April and May I found Dinosaur Nat'l Monument to be on winter hours (i.e. only open 3 days/wk for shorter times) and thus not open when I arrived.

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