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  1. Default San Francisco to Chicago Road trip – Aug to mid Sept

    Hi there,

    As a newbie to this forum I thought I would put our trip out there to see what info people may be able to offer.

    My wife and our friends (another couple) are planning a road trip and will be leaving in a week or so. We are looking for any advice we can get on places to stay and things to see and do that are slightly off the beaten track. I know there are a number of posts on here about parts of our road trip but thought I would put this one up to save some time sifting through hundreds of posts. We are planning on hiring a car in San Francisco and making our way across the central states to Chicago and have 3 weeks to do it! The key stops are:

    • San Francisco
    • Yosemite
    • Las Vegas via Death Valley
    • Ouray via Monument Valley and Million Dollar Highway
    • Denver
    • Kansas
    • St Louis
    • Champaign
    • Chicago

    I have put a link to the route here:

    These will be our main stops but we are looking to stay at smaller places places off the main routes along the the trip too. We have booked accomodation in the main cities and tourist hotspots e.g. Yosemite, but not the small stops on route. We are going at the end of August and are working with a mid range budget (60 – 120 dollars a night for a room). Are there any good B&B/Guesthouses along the route, especially the stretch from Denver to Kansas?

    Any information or tips on things to do and see will be greatly appreciated. We want to try and get off the main tourist spots where we can :-)

    Many thanks

    Last edited by jamie488; 08-16-2011 at 05:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default in the middle

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    3 weeks is a very nice amount of time for this trip, and it looks to me like you've got a nice start.

    There are a few pretty big stops you've left off - the Grand Canyon being the largest one. There are also lots of other scenic stops and national parks that you could include. The Coast Highway south of SF, Sequoia NP in California. There are several stops in Utah you could look at. Mesa Verde, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Rocky Mountain NP's in Colorado are all right near your route. There are a lot more, and I'd suggest you check out RTA's map center for lots more ideas.

    One note about lodging, B&B's in the US are quite different than what you may be used to in the UK. B&B's here are tend to be more upscale/romantic getaway time places, rather than an alternative to budget motels.

  3. #3

    Default Colorado cruising

    Hello jamie488,

    Something you may wish to consider is heading north from Gunnison, CO to Taylor Park Reservoir, thence up and over Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista, CO. The only time I traversed that pass was in 1994 and it was well-maintained gravel from the Reservoir to the Pass, then paved all the way down the BV side. We did it in rental sedan (Chevy Caprice) and it was not in the least a difficult drive. Cottonwood Pass is 12,126' above sea level so is above timberline. Several of Colorado's "Fourteeners" are close by.

    Part way down the BV side lies Cottonwood Hot Springs and there are overnight accomodations there. South of BV lies Salida and more hot springs. North of BV lies Leadville, CO and its historic downtown and many accomodations. One could go from Leadville over Tennessee Pass back to I-70 near Vail, or pass east of BV to US 285 and on towards Denver, or you could skip Denver and head east towards I-70 from BV.

    I must assume there are ample accomodations up at Crested Butte, CO, where ski condos probably rent out during Summer and Autumn.

    Enjoy the planning and the RoadTrip!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Time scale ?

    It's a nice route you have laid out and looking at the map you seem to have the GC covered. As you leave Ouray you could head east on US50 past Black canyon and through the Currecanti Nat Rec area and cross the continental divide over Monarch pass. That would take you to Poncha Springs where you could head north on the 285 through Fairplay, or what I would do is head past Twin lakes to historic Leadville on 24, which happens to be the highest incorporated town in the US. You could then head to Dillon and I70 and possibly take a little detour on US6, once again across the continental divide at almost 12000ft on the wonderful Loveland pass. If you decide to continue to Grand junction as per your map, a small detour towards Fruita will take you to Colorado National monument which has a wonderful rim drive.

    Another that Micheal has mentioned is Rocky mountain NP. From I70 near Georgetown, head north to Grand lake and take the Trail ridge road [34] across the park. This is the highest continuous paved road in the US and will take you to Estes park, a nice place to spend a night. Spectacular scenery !

    A lot will depend on how much time you have allowed for segments of your trip, between the bookings already made, for instance the time scale from Vegas to Denver..

  5. Default

    Many thanks Foy and Dave for your suggestions and comments...there is lots we need to think about but we have a bit of time to work out the exact route. I think we will be pretty stretched in time travelling to some of the places but we will try to get off the main highways where we can.

    Thanks again,


  6. #6


    We stopped in between Yosemite and Las Vegas at the Comfort Inn at Lone Pine which was good value and very friendly, and has beautiful views of Mount Whitney:

    It seemed to be way cheaper than spending the night actually in Death Valley.

    I'm just starting to plan a very similar trip to yours for next year, you have me feeling impatient!

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