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  1. Default Vegas to Orlando via DC - 3.5 weeks combination Air & Road - HELP - Nov 2011

    We are currently in the planning stages of a family holiday/road trip combined with a work trip but would like some feedback/opinions/thoughts to help us decide and plan our journey. We are a family of 5 coming in from Australia - kids are 10, 7 and 2

    We have work commitments in Las Vegas the first week of November and in Orlando in the first week of December. The 3 and a half weeks between work commitments are up for grabs and we are looking at a road trip.

    After finishing work in Orlando, we plan on doing the Disney World and associated Theme parks, so that won't eat into our road trip time. Kids are fine with road trips - they've enjoyed/suffered/survived (depending on the trip and the child) a number of road trips here at home, including a couple of 14 hour drives with minimal stops, but I'd prefer much shorter driving days to enjoy the sights as we travel.

    As Aussies, snow is pretty much a foreign substance, so weather conditions will play a large part in our decision making. I have done some driving in Alaska many years ago during October, but it didn't snow and the roads were pretty empty, so it wasn't a challenge - I just don't want to be stuck in a snow storm, in a large town/city trying to follow a map with 3 grumpy kids in peak hour if you get what I mean.

    We want to take the kids to the Smithsonian for a few days in DC, so are thinking that either a drive from Vegas to DC, then fly to Orlando is on the cards, or alternatively fly out from Vegas to DC, then drive to Orlando.

    We have some MUST DO/SEE items on our to-do list:
    - Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam
    - Smithsonian/Government buildings/War memorials in DC
    - Cape Canaveral (there is a rocket launch scheduled for Nov 25 which ties in well with our commitments in Orlando).

    We are pretty flexible, so don't mind mixing the travel up a bit. I guess after we take out the days for flights and our to-do-list; we probably really only have 2 weeks for the road trip. Maybe Vegas-DC is just too far and ambitious for that amount of time? Which may leave us with hiring a car for a few days in Vegas, then fly onto DC and drive to Orlando.

    On previous trips we've driven with 2 of the kids from LA to Vegas a couple of times, San Fran to Vegas via Yosemite and Tioga Pass; and on our own we've driven from DC to New Orleans over 3 weeks spending a few days here and there along the way.

    We all enjoy looking at historical places, places of interest and nature. (Yosemite was a big hit, except it was end of Oct, first snow hadn't hit and the waterfalls were dry).

    So, any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    Welcome!

    With 3.5 weeks, you actually have time to make it a 100% road trip - to drive from LV to DC on Interstates without sightseeing can be done easily in 5 days, and from DC to Orlando is 2 days. This gives you more than 2 weeks to sightsee. We recommend that daily drives be kept down to no more than 500 to 600 miles - this would generally be 9 to 12 hours. In November, there is of course a chance of encountering snow at higher elevations, but once out of the Rockies heading east the chances are not great at all.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the information. We've taken up your suggestion and will road trip it the whole way!

    Mapping it out is going to take some time; so our plans at this stage are:
    Las Vegas - Grand Canyon Village (stay for 2 nights most likely outside the park) - Colorado Springs.

    From Colorado Springs we have no idea on what to see or visit on our way to DC, but we do want to visit some friends in Indiana and Illinois.

    We are also considering expanding our trip to include Niagara Falls and NYC. If we were to travel to NYC, I'm guessing taking a car isn't a particularly wise move - so where would you park a car for a couple of days and train/bus it into the city?

    And, lastly it looks like we've picked up a passenger for our road trip. My sister has asked to join us; so with now housing 6 people is there any particular motel chain that caters for larger families that will house us all in the one room?

    Thanks
    Buddybee

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

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    Your best bet for finding rooms that will be large enough for 6 is to look for hotels that focus on suites (they will generally have the word "suites" in there name). These places do tend to be more expensive, and sometimes the 3rd bed is a pull-out sofa sleeper.

    There may be cases where it will be cheaper to just get 2 rooms. In some cases, motels will offer adjoining rooms, where there is a door between two rooms, and that would be another option.

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

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    I can give you a route suggestion from GC to Colorado Springs:

    Leave the GC by the east entrance and take AZ-64 to US-89. Take that north to Cameron, stop at the Cameron Trading Post. Then take US-160 to Kayenta, and US-163 through Monument Valley. From there, there's a few ways to get to Cortez. Stop at Mesa Verde and continue on to Durango. Take US-550 north (Million Dollar Highway) to Montrose, then US-50 to Poncha Springs. Take US-285 north to US-24 to Colorado Springs. From there, you can take US-24 to I-70 to head towards IL and IN. This is where you can make up some time, you can drive from COS to Kansas City in one day and not miss anything significant.

  6. Default

    Thank Michael for your advice - I kind of expected that we'd need 2 rooms. At the end of the day we are just looking for somewhere nice and clean to sleep - nothing fancy, and the occasional motel with laundry facilities.

    glc, we love your itinerary, and it's now the official route! Thank-you. Being foreign to snow, we do have some concerns about the 550. If it's a clear, dry day no problems, that's the way we will travel but if it's wet or snowing we think such a narrow, windy road probably isn't a good choice. We will be watching the weather as we travel, and will modify our route if needed. If the weather isn't in our favour, I'm guessing we'll have the same problems with the 145, so would have to go further west to the 141 and keep heading up to the I70 - or do you have a better fall back plan?

    I looked at Mesa Verde, but it appears that all but one of the attractions are closed for the winter from November 6th. It looks like we miss out by 2 or 3 days, so we will leave this for another trip.

    If we go through the San Juan National Forest it won't be necessary for us to go to CS and Pikes Peak - we just wanted to see some big mountains and the 550 certainly does that! - Australia is roughly the same land mass as the USA and our tallest peak is 7300.

    Thanks again for your help and ideas; I'm looking forward to the next instalment :)

    Cheers
    Buddybee

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Yes, you do need to monitor the highway conditions carefully if you go that way. A very helpful site for that is cotrip.org, and use that in conjunction with weather.com. If the weather is bad, you may have to take 191 north out of Monument Valley all the way to I-70. You can certainly see some spectacular mountain scenery between Grand Junction and Denver. Another option is 160 to I-25.

    The key is being flexible. You certainly don't need to prebook accommodations.

    If you need a reasonably priced hotel in Durango, I can recommend the Super 8 south of downtown about 2 miles south of the 160/550 junction. It's one of the better Super 8's I've stayed in. If you want some good food, there's an excellent BBQ joint directly across the highway called Serious Texas Barbecue.

  8. Default

    Thanks again glc for the advice - we are thinking with 3 young children that 2 nighst at the Grand Canyon is going to be too much - our youngest will only be 2 and a half, so hiking for more than 30 mins really isn't an option, but frequent stops at lookouts and short walks will be fine.

    We've been thinking about driving our first day from LV to Williams AZ stopping off at the Hoover Dam on the way.

    The next day will see us drive from Williams through to GCV and then the scenic route to Cameron trading post, and onto Monument Valley. Is it doable to do both the GC and Monument Valley in the same day? I know Google Maps says it's about 4hr 30 mins of driving, but will we see enough of these amazing sites?

    My husband did a day trip to the CG from Phoenix last year via Flagstaff, Cameron, GCV and then back to Phoenix and he thinks that the time he spent there (a couple of 20 min stops lookouts and an hour stop at both Cameron and GCV) would be more than ample for the kids, but I'm not so sure. If we did do both in the same day, are the towns before Cortez and Durango going to be large enough for reasonable accommodation? And how far is doable without compromising our site seeing?

    I'm also starting to think of the leg around the Great Lakes to Buffalo and NYC. My biggest fear is the further north we travel the more likely we are to be driving in adverse weather conditions. If we overcome our "fear" of snow on an interstate, what would be the chances of black ice? We are not doom and gloomers I promise, we just like to plan and really understand what may lie ahead. I have looked at historical averages for temp, and have even looked at when ski fields open (particularly with the CO leg), but when you come from a country with little snow, little elevation and the coldest winters day still somewhere in the mid 40's it's hard to draw conclusions from the information.

    Thanks again
    Buddybee
    Last edited by buddybee; 02-24-2011 at 05:27 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Certainly in the Great Lakes region you've got a pretty reasonable likelihood of seeing some winter weather in November and December. That said, snow is common in these areas so they are very good at preparing for storms. In many cases salt trucks will be out even before a storm, especially if you're looking at a rain/ice/snow mix, to help keep reduce the amount of ice that forms in the first place.

    There are actually very few areas in the US that are immune from getting winter weather at the time of your travel. I actually get far more concerned with southern areas that still get snow and ice, just not as frequently and they are much less adept at treating the roads.

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

    Default 'Do' both ? Yes. Enjoy them ? Not in my opinion.

    next day will see us drive from Williams through to GCV and then the scenic route to Cameron trading post, and onto Monument Valley. Is it doable to do both the GC and Monument Valley in the same day? I know Google Maps says it's about 4hr 30 mins of driving, but will we see enough of these amazing sites?
    I certainly don't think so, but we are all different. If you stopped at the Cameron trading post for the night you would get a good overview of the Canyon area, but most people spend a couple of nights and at least a full day here. Of course there are those that will jump out of the car, snap a photo of the 'Hole in the ground' [Yes, I have heard people refer to it as such] and move on.

    time he spent there (a couple of 20 min stops lookouts and an hour stop at both Cameron and GCV) would be more than ample for the kids, but I'm not so sure.
    You know your Kid's the best, but do you think they would be happier wandering around in the fresh air or long periods of the day in the car ? I know what mine would have enjoyed more. ;-)

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