My husband and I planned a trip out west for our 25th anniversary and I got a lot of great suggestions from this site!
We left the Chicagoland area on October 2nd and arrived back home on October 10th. We covered a lot of ground and saw some really great sights!
When we left, we took I80 through part of IL, across Iowa and into Nebraska where we stayed the first night in Lexington, NE. We continued on I80 until we split off on I70 towards Denver. We went south from Denver to Colorado Springs and stayed the second and third nights near the base of Pikes Peak.
We went up to the summit of Pikes Peak, and unfortunately for me, I got altitude sickness and could only stay up there for about 1/2 hour. The views were wonderful, though, and the drive up the mountain was amazing!
After Pikes Peak, we also went to Garden of the Gods. The scenery was so awesome...unlike anything we had ever seen before!
We stayed our third night and in the morning headed back north towards Denver and then west through the Rockies on I70. The views were so amazing! The aspens were brilliant gold and and the pines were beautiful dark green...it was so pretty and the scenery just never stopped being amazing!
On a whim, we decided to drop down to see Arches National Park, so we entered UT and then headed towards Moab on Hwy 191. The scenery in UT was unreal. At the state line it was so open and rolling and vast. I could picture pioneers in their wagons out in that open land...it set my imagination reeling! When we headed south on 191 to Moab, the scenery changed to red rock awesomeness. I was glued to the window...living in a flat region of IL, we had never seen such wonderous natural beauty! We passed Arches Park and stayed the night in Moab, UT. We were planning to see Arches National Park and then head back up north and over to Vegas, but we changed our plans after seeing the beautiful scenery in and around Moab. Instead of heading over to Vegas after Arches, we decided to spend the day in the Moab area and then head south.
After staying the night in Moab, we went to Arches National Park. My husband and I were astounded by the non-stop scenes of red rock beauty. We drove through Arches National Park and I took picture after picture. The sky was ever-changing. Sunny one minute, raining the next, and even snowing later...it was spectacular! After spending the day in Arches Park, we continued south on 191 to Bluff, UT and then picked up 163 past Mexican Hat and the edge of Monument Valley. It was dusk when we entered AZ near the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. We continued on 163 unil we hit 160 at Kayenta, AZ. By this time it was rather dark, and we were heading to the Cameron Trading Post and Lodge in Cameron, AZ, so we couldn't see much of the scenery for about an hour. Just past Tuba City, AZ we turned on to 89 and headed south to Cameron, were we ate a great meal at the lodge and had some delicious fry bread. We spent the night in Cameron and the next day continued on to the Grand Canyon National Park.
We took 64 west to the Grand Canyon and the scenery was wonderous...it's like there are no words to describe the beauty of the Grand Canyon.
It was breathtaking! It was such a wonderful day weather-wise, too, because it was sunny and chilly and there was a dusting of snow on the ground. The air smelled like snow and pine...heavenly! The funny thing about our trip was, the whole time we were out west, it was chilly and even snowy, but back home in IL, the temperatures were unseasonably warm! We stopped at many scenic overlooks and watched the Canyon change with every passing cloud's shadow! We got to see it snow and rain over the Canyon, the sky was great for picture taking! We finally pulled ourselves away from the Grand Canyon in the late afternoon and made our way south by Hwy180/64 to I40.
Once on I40 we zoomed east and headed for the Meteor Crater near Winslow, AZ. We arrived at the Meteor Crater just in time to go in to the visitor center, watch a short movie about meteors, view the Crater and museum and leave as the sky was turning stormy and the sun was setting. I was so glad to get a chance to see the Crater, I always wanted to see it ever since my husband and I saw the movie "Starman"...yep, that is how I learned that there was a giant meteor crater in America...from "Starman"!
A few miles down the road from the crater, we stayed the night in Winslow, AZ and in the morning ran into town on historic Route 66 and stopped at the "Standin' on the Corner" park. There was a Breast Cancer Awareness walk going on in town that day and the statue at the park was sporting a pink scarf in honor of the walkers! We took some pictures, scanned the radio for some Eagles music, and headed out to Holbrook, AZ, via I40 to see the Wigwam motel. Then we drove and drove and drove...through the rest of AZ, through New Mexico, and stopped in Amarillo, TX for the night. We back tracked west out of Amarillo to quickly stop at Cadillac Ranch! I put my mark on a caddy, and we hopped back on the road through Amarillo and then stopped at The Big Texan to take some pictures and browse the gift shop.
We left the Big Texan and hopped back on I40 and drove, and drove some more, until we made it to Oklahoma City in a driving rain storm and picked up I44. We kept on going all the way through OK and in to Missouri, where we ended up staying the night in Springfield, MO. The next morning it was back on the road again to St. Loius, and then into IL where we picked up I55. We took I55 to McLean and the Dixie Truck Stop on Route 66. We stopped at the truck stop and looked at some of the Route 66 memorabilia. We got back on the road and at Bloomington we took I39 north to I80 and back home!
We had the best time and we were so amazed by the phenomenal scenery of the western and southwestern states! America contains so much beauty, I am so happy that my husband and I got to see just a small sliver of it on our wonderful anniversary trip! Thanks for this great website, the information in it was really helpful to make our trip great.
I uploaded a bunch of photos in the photo share section in an album entitled West Trip 2011. I am not really sure where the pictures went - I hope this links to them!http://www.roadtripamerica.com/photo...ry.php?cat=717
Here's how they appear...
Garden of the Gods