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  1. Default San Francisco, CA to Columbus, OH Road Trip Advice

    Hi all!

    My uncle just moved to Columbus from San Francisco and needs to transport his car. He recently has back surgery, so I offered to make the trip for him with a friend during my winter break. This will be my first time west of Chicago, so I want to make the most of the trip back and see the country. The only major issue is that we only have about a week to make the trip.

    We plan to fly to San Francisco on Dec. 26th and arrive around 8AM. We need to be back in Columbus by Jan. 1st as both my friend and I have class on Jan. 2nd. We'd like to see Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, but nothing else is set in stone. Here is the trip we have planned so far, with 8-11 hours of driving per day.

    Jan. 26 - Arrive in San Francisco and spend the day there with family
    Jan. 27 - Depart from San Francisco around 7:00 AM for Las Vegas, NV and spend the night in Las Vegas.
    Jan. 28 - Depart from Las Vegas around 7:00 AM for the Grand Canyon (Possibly stop at the Hoover Dam on the way). Arrive at approximately 12:00PM and spend an hour there max. Leave for Albuquerque (Or Santa Fe?) and spend the night there.
    Jan. 29 - Depart Albuquerque/Santa Fe for Oklahoma City.
    Jan. 30 - Depart from Oklahoma City for St. Loius.
    Jan. 31 - Depart from St. Loius for Columbus, OH.

    What I'm looking for are suggestions for places to stop after the Grand Canyon (must-see sites, amazing restaurants, etc.). Or even alternate cities to stop in other than the ones we've selected. Or alternate routes that are more scenic. I fully realize that this trip will feel super rushed, but due to time constraints this is the best that we've come up with. Falling up to a day behind schedule is also fine.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default That Second Day

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    In general your plan is fine, with one very notable exception. You are absolutely right to not try to do any driving after disrupting your sleep to catch a very early flight to San Francisco. Take that first day to relax and catch up on your rest before leaving. Because your first day's drive to Las Vegas is going to be a long one. 570 miles by the time you circumnavigate the Sierra Nevada to the south. You'll arrive in Las Vegas in the evening with some time to enjoy the Strip, but don't pan on spending too much time on the casino floors or doing any drinking.

    Then there's day two which as it stands now is impossible. You have it penciled in for 700 miles and a stop at Hoover Dam and a long detour to and time spent at one of the wonders of the world. That's just flat out too much. With all you want to do on this day, you should plan on getting no farther than Winslow, certainly not Albuquerque. You'll then have to adjust your plan stops for each of the next few days as well. Stops that would work are Amarillo, TX and Springfield, MO.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I have to agree that your plan to see the Grand Canyon simply isn't reasonable. Saying you will just be there for an hour isn't going to happen, and if that's what you are planning on doing, then I'd say don't bother. Just getting into the park, finding parking, and getting to a viewpoint right in the village will take up an hour. That's not even the time it will take to reverse the process and leave. I'd also say that you certainly will not have seen the canyon if you only stop at one viewpoint, as the interesting part of the canyon is how huge it is and how different it is at different points along the rim. A half day would be a very rushed perspective, but that should really be the minimum for you to even bother with the 2-3 hour detour you'll need off of I-40.

    If you want to get to Albuquerque, then skip the Canyon, if you want to see the canyon, then take Buck's advice and don't try to go farther than winslow (and even that would be pushing it).

  4. Default Good Point

    Thanks for the advice!

    We've decided that the only stops that are truly important to us on this trip are las vegas, the grand canyon, and st. louis. So, what we're going to do is spend more time at the grand canyon and then try and make it to winslow. Then, the following day we're going to drive straight to oklahoma city, with pit stops along the way. According to google the 3rd day of driving is going to take us 13 hours which is going to be horrible, but worth it to make it St. Louis. In reality, the 13 hour drive will be more like 16 hours, so if we leave at 7:00am on the 3rd day we should get to oklahoma city a little before midnight. Then, we can drive to st. louis the following day and enjoy ourselves.

    Typing that out makes it seem like a horrible idea, but it's the best i can come up with without pushing back our deadline or eliminating our stop in st. louis.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Not really.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sasan0806 View Post
    Then, we can drive to St. Louis the following day and enjoy ourselves.
    This is where I think you could be grossly mistaken. You will be so exhausted, there will be little chance of enjoying anything. The wisest thing you could do is follow Michael's advice, and drop the Grand Canyon. There is always another time. It has been there since time immemorial, and will still be there in years to come, when you may have a chance to really enjoy it. As it is, you will be taking unreasonable risks for a mere fleeting glance of this great National Park. Just not worth it.

    And you have not allowed any leeway in case you strike adverse weather conditions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sasan0806 View Post
    Typing that out makes it seem like a horrible idea ...
    I'm glad you recognise that. Act accordingly to create a safe and enjoyable trip.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default more bacon than the pan can handle

    You are right that your plan sounds like a horrible idea.

    Winslow to OK City is more than 800 miles, and not only are you right that it will take much closer to the 16 hours you've mentioned (plus you'll lose an hour heading east), but it your plan is still essentially unworkable.

    Even from there, its a full 9 hours on the road to St. Louis, and I assure you that after being on the road for 800 miles the day before, you'll be in no shape to drive another 500 miles, and you certainly won't be in any shape to do anything in St. Louis other than collapse into a hotel bed.

    Your problem is very simple, you're trying to do more things than you have available time, and as Lifey mentioned, you've left zero room left for the distinct possibility that you will see some bad weather that will slow you down more. If you want to see Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and St. Louis, you need to add more time - period. Otherwise, something has to give, or you're going to have a pretty miserable trip that also borders on unsafe.

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