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  1. #1

    Default Driving Chicago to LA via Denver & Albuquerque Please Help : )

    Hi There

    I am really looking for as much help as possiable : ) I stupidly went off and booked flight in to chicago and home from LA and rented my car with out even thinking about any thing else : )

    I basicly have 16 nights 3 in Chicago ( Booked ) and the rest i just dont know
    Im travelling with my husband 3 year son and 20 year sister ( lol )

    We all have our differnt idea which arent really that far apart i dont think !! We would like to visit Denver / Albuquerque and stay 2 nights in Vegas and a few in LA ie heading to Disney after putting my son through all this : ) !

    Has any one ever dont this trip before and if so where is good to stop along the way " little towns bigs town donnt mind " what to see i was thinking of not driving more then about 4 hrs a day give r take may an extra hr 4 1 or two days at the start !!!

    All ideas help would be greatly appricated im doing this for my 30th Birthday " what was i thinking sceared and exited all at one "

    Thanks in advance ( from Ireland )

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Endless amount of options.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You can relax now the booking is done and sit down together and enjoy the planning. I would keep looking around the RTA site for ideas and inspiration and most importantly get a good map of the USA and study it, see what appeals and research some more, it's all part of the fun !!

    You have a list of City's that you agree on, but what is it about each one that draws you there, something in particular or just a familiar name ? This is where research comes in and what your main goals and interests are. From Denver to LA you will be going through some spectacular and diverse scenery from Alpine to Red rock to Desert and you will be close by to some of the great National parks of America. Add to that the mountain towns, Indian reservation lands, bright lights of Vegas and one of the wonders of the world, the Grand canyon, and you have no end of options. Too many to start listing at this stage in fact. Between Chicago and Denver I will leave to others, but the same applies. There will be no end of interesting options and historical places to visit and you will need to get some dots on the map.

    If natural beauty/nature and small towns are your 'thing', I would certainly look at the possibility of continuing to Southern Utah from Colorado [home to Rocky mountain NP] and checking out some of it's great parks like Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce canyon, Zion and dropping down into Arizona for Monument valley and Grand canyon.

    Get researching and as you get some idea of your plans and new questions come up just ask and then we can help fill in the blanks.

  3. #3


    Hi Southwest Dave : )
    Thanks for the reality check your right need to enjoy it : )
    I basic have to different routes
    Route 1 Chicago 3 nights
    Des Moines 1 night
    Lexington?? 1 night
    Denver 1 night
    Coloado Springs 1 night
    Raton / alternitive 1 night
    Albuquerque 1 night
    Winslow ??? Alternitive 1 night
    Bull city 1 night
    Las vegas 2 nights
    LA 3 Nights

    Route 2
    Chicago 3 nights
    Des Moines 1 night
    Lexington/ alternitive ?? 1 night
    Denver 2 nights
    Rockies ?? some where
    Grand Junction
    Stop randon along the way 4 a night after 3.5 hr drive
    Las vegas 2 nights
    LA 3- 4 Nights

    I have based all this on time and driving route its me that wants to go to Albuquerque so i dont mind changing my mind.
    To be honest i think i am so overwhilmed by the amout of things you could do im going mad ahah!! Would really like to stay in the rockies too and see Inian land / little towns ect not overly mad on the forests as my son is still to young to enjoy hilking ect

    Would it be ok driving around denver Rockies Utha if there was snow ?

    Would love advise on nice accommadation not for the big citys just for the 1 night stops : )

    I am open to all advise that any 1 has i understand i cant do every thing lol but would love to !!!!!!!!!

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

    Default It's a start.

    Snow can be an issue in the Rockies during Spring and some high passes may be closed. But it's more a case of you having to find them then they causing you problems. Interstates and main Highways are a priority to keep clear and the traffic moving and as you would at home, keep up to date with weather and road conditions as you go.

    When are you actually travelling ?

    I'm sure we can recommend some nice areas/places to stay when you are a little further along with your planning and nailed a possible route down. There is never a 'one route suits all' type recommendation, as I mentioned earlier it will largely depend on your own interests and what appeals to you as a family.

    Now that you have a couple of route options you need to look along them and use your search engine to gather more info. You still have a lot of 'wiggle' room to adjust your 2 routes to take you to appealing places. Once you have the dots in place you can find ways to join them up and create a route of 'interest' rather than just a route.

    Examples would be on route choice 1, why go to Raton from Colorado Springs ? It's fine if it's what you want to do but you could head to the Great Sand dunes NP and/or Taos Pueblo through Santa Fe to Albuquerque. You could instead head west past Canon City [Royal Gorge Bridge] and take US 50 over Monarch pass, through Currecanti Rec area and past Black canyon of the Gunnison to Montrose and skip Albu etc. If you head south on US550 from here, you would go through the wonderful mountain towns of Ouray and Silverton to Durango, home of the famous mountain steam train ride on the Durango/Silverton line. Nearby is the wonderful NP of Mesa Verde and the ancient remains of the villages from earlier inhabitants.On route to Vegas you could go through Monument valley [home to many of the John Wayne Western films] to Grand canyon to Vegas.

    On route 2 you could head to Grand junction as you mention [nearby is Colorado National Monument and the rim drive through the tunnels is cool] to the wonderful town of Moab UT. Moab is home to Arches NP and Canyonlands. You could continue along I70 towards Bryce canyon and Zion NP to Vegas or head south towards Monument valley as described above.

    Your right about one thing, you won't be able to do it all, but you can get to decide where you want to go the most and not let a route decide for you. All those things listed are easy to find by Googling and when you have pieced parts together we can help link it up.

    You will also discover another million and one possibilities and that's why it's best to find a couple of places that stand out where you think ..I want to go there for sure !! It will seem overwhelming to start with, but it will soon start taking shape when you get into it.

    Enjoy and let us know what you come up with and we will go from there.

  5. #5


    Both routes give plenty of wiggle room to view things along the way. The first one would allow you to visit more historic places while the second will give a more scenic mountain view.

    I personally prefer the first. Also remember it is only 350 miles from Denver to Albuguergue and can be made in one day. This would enable you to see/do more there. From Alb. I would take old route 66 (Central Avenue in the downtown area) as much as possible across New Mexico and Arizona, spending the night in Holbrook, Arizona at the TePee motel...Lots of "Cars" type vehicles there too. Be forewarned there is not a lot in Winslow except "Standing On the Corner" tribute and gift shops. From here you could make a side trip to the Grand Canyon. For someone on a schedule, visiting the pull offs will give a good view of what the Canyon is like.

    You might want to spend the night in Flagstaff after visiting the canyon.

    Again, staying on old route 66 as much as possible all the way to Kingman. Be sure to stop in Seligman.

    From Kingman stay on old route 66 to just past Oatman (be sure to stop here) and take the Bullhead cutoff and go to there. Please note there is NO place to spend the night between Kingman and Bullhead City if yu take this route.

    Hope this gives you some ideas to ponder...Just remember

    Have a great trip

  6. #6


    Hay yas
    Thanks for the replys again
    so have a kinda plan now
    3 nights chicago
    1 night Des Moines
    1 night somewhere on route to Denver
    2 nights Denver
    1 night Grand Junction
    1 night some where round Durango r alittle further
    1 night Around Mesa Verde ? the place looks great : )
    1 night around flagstaff after visiting the grand canyon
    2 nights las vegas
    3 nights la

    So how do yas think this looks sooooooo excited now !!!!!!!!!!!!
    hope the weather holds up for us
    Would love to no what people think took alot of davs ideas on board and they all look amazing thanks for the direction : )

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    you could make it from Chicago to Denver in 2 days, if Des Moines is not a priority and you don't mind 8 hour days on the road.

    Also, Grand Junction could be a bit out of the way between Denver and Durango, depending upon which way you plan to go. You could also could really make it to Durango in a day if you wanted to.

    On the flip side, trying to drive from Mesa Verde to Flagstaff won't give you a lot of time for the Grand Canyon. It could be done, but your time would be fairly limited and you wouldn't have time for Monument Valley, which is right on the way. That's really one place where I would try to add more time. You might also find that Williams is a better choice for lodging.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Coming along nicely !

    You are getting there !

    To add a couple of thoughts to what Michael has already said. My first thought turns towards Denver. It might be that you want to spend a couple of days in the City and if so that's just fine, but you could look at a night [or 2] in some place like Estes Park. A nice town and just a short way away is the Bear Lake road in RMNP, which offers some great scenery and easy walks [to strenuous hikes] around the lakes. From Grand junction you could spend quite a bit of the day along the 'Million dollar Highway' [US550] exploring the mountain towns I mentioned earlier. Durango or Cortez would work well for Mesa Verde.

    If you were to visit Monument valley, another possibility would be to stop overnight at the Cameron Trading post just outside of the east entrance to the GC south rim. You could either start out from there and spend a few hours at the canyon before heading to Vegas, or go from from Grand Junction to Cortez, visit part of Mesa Verde next morning and then head to Cameron. That would give you a day at the GC and then stop in Williams or Flagstaff and skip one of the 2 nights around Mesa Verde.

    With regards to Grand Junction, it will make for a good overnight stop, or you could look at the mountain town of Ouray, aka 'Little Switzerland of America'. You could enjoy a soak in the Hot spring and/or take a walk up to Box Canyon Falls. If that appealed you could also consider using US 50 through the Currecanti National Recreation area as an option to I70.

    You are in for a great time and what you have will work, but these are just suggestions for possible 'tweaks' depending on your tastes.

  9. #9


    Ok think this is it , i have added in every thing i want to see and think this is all i can fit as with a 3 year old ill want to stop a good bit : )

    So can you guys let me know what you think and if you have any recommendations for accomodation for us along the way : ))

    Deffo goin to stick with this route hope its a good one to go ie Weather ect !!!!

    Pick up car down town Chicago 10 AM Drive at least 5 1/2 hrs
    Leave Des Moines at 10.00 am Drive at least 6 1/2 hrs
    Leave North Platte for Denver Drive at least 4 hrs
    Denver Full Day No Driving
    Leaving Denver 5 1/2 Drive
    Leaving Pagosa / or alternitive 4 1/2 hrs Dive
    Leave Monument Valley / surrounding area 3 1/2 hr drive
    leave the canyon for kings man 3 Drive
    Leave Kings man for vegas 2 1/2 drive
    Full Day Vegus No Driving
    Leave Vagus for LA Disneyland Drive 4Hrs
    LA No Driving
    LA No Driving
    Flight home today : ((

    Thanks inadvance : ))

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Good.

    Your route looks fine and as long as it takes you to where you want to go, great !

    The drive times look as though they may have come straight from a mapping program, and although perfectly doable days, you should add another 20% to those times for short stops and any possible 'Real world' delays.

    You haven't said when you are travelling, but you can keep up to date with weather and road conditions either on-line, from the TV in the Hotel and/or tune to local radio.

    You could take a look at the RTA reservations link to the top right of this page. It will give you an idea of lodging options and costs in each area.

    If you think of other questions just ask. If not have a great trip and please drop by and let us know how it went.

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