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  1. Default Columbus to Los Angeles in June

    Hi, I'm new to road trips and learned a lot by browsing through the forums. I would appreciate some thoughts on this barebones plan for a road trip in June from Columbus, OH to Los Angeles. It's a one way trip and I'll be travelling with 3 people. 2 of us will be switching off on driving duties every couple hours.

    Suggestions for things to see along the way would be appreciated. We are not outdoorsy people. Definitely no camping, and minimal hiking. But we do like photography. Personal highlights for this trip will likely be I-70 in Colorado, Million Dollar Highway, I-163 approach to Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and Grand Canyon since we'll be taking lots of photos there.

    Speaking of which, do these highways have pullout spots for cars to stop for a few minutes and take photos? Or is it okay to pull over on the shoulder temporarily? I'm curious how people take photos along the highways.

    Day 1: Columbus, OH to St. Louis, MO, 418 miles
    Pretty much driving straight through on I-70 to cover as many miles as possible. Will likely stop at the US Air Force Museum in Dayton for a couple hours. I plan to stay at a motel 10-15 miles west of the city for better room prices.

    Day 2: St. Louis, MO to middle of Kansas, 422 miles
    Again, driving straight through with the occasional break. I want to cover more than St. Louis to Kansas City, so I plan to end up somewhere in the middle of Kansas for the night. I'll probably get motel reservations at Salina since it seems like a decent-sized town.

    Day 3: Kansas to Denver, 433 miles
    I-70 all the way...

    Day 4: Denver to Durango, CO, 400 miles
    I read over and over on RTA that this section of I-70 is the most scenic highway in the country. So I plan to take I-70 west to Grand Junction, then south on 50 then 560 to get to the Million Dollar Highway. Will spend the night at Durango(??). Or some place in the region.

    Day 5: Durango to Page, 300 miles
    Will take 160 west to 163, drive through Monument Valley. Then into Page

    Day 6: Page to Grand Canyon to Flagstaff, 210 miles
    Horseshoe Bend in morning, then plan to get a tour at Antelope Canyon for a couple hours around mid-day. Then drive along the Desert View drive of Grand Canyon towards the South Rim visitor's center. Spending night in Flagstaff.

    Day 7: Flagstaff to Vegas, 250 miles
    Hoover Dam on the way.

    Day 8: Vegas to Los Angeles, 250 miles
    I'm very familiar with Vegas and L.A.

    This is obviously just a rough plan for now. You guys are much more experienced at this so any suggestions would be very appreciated! Obviously I will be missing Zion, Bryce, and other NPs in that area that people recommend, but I am still in the middle of confirming schedules. I may likely add an extra day or two for the trip, so suggestions on how to best use those extra days would also be great.
    Last edited by jennyCA; 03-22-2012 at 05:07 PM.

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

    Default a couple thoughts

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Your first few days are really very easy, and if you are planning to drives where you aren't doing much other than driving, then you could certainly try to cover a few more miles. You could still relatively comfortably push up more towards 500 or even 600 miles in a day, and save yourself some more time for later.

    On the flip side, some of your other days later in the trip are really quite full. The biggest being the Grand Canyon day. Trying to see the Grand Canyon, Antelope, and drive 250 miles means you're going to be very rushed. Even without Antelope, that's a lot of driving when you're also trying to see a part as big as the Grand Canyon. I'd also look at staying at Williams instead of Flagstaff to save a few miles.

    You didn't mention Mesa Verde, but that's another park right on your way you could think about.

    For the most part, your trip is pretty good though, that's just a few things I'd think about.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    As I read your post, I came to the same conclusion as Michael. We've driven from Columbus OH to Denver before. We went from Springfield, OH, to Columbia, MO in one day that was 488 miles. It would be a hair further than that from Columbus, maybe just over 500. If I may recommend, stay on the west side of Columbia MO because the traffic gets heavy even there. The Stadium Dr exit has lots of choices, with lots of different prices.

    Then you can easily go as far as Burlington, CO...566 miles. It's another 2 hours to Denver so a little far to go that 2nd day.

    Denver to Durango via the Million Dollar Highway is a bit of a stretch. Take it easy and enjoy the drive!


  4. Default

    How does this look now?

    Day 1: Columbus, OH to Columbia, MO. 535 miles

    Day 2: Columbia, MO to Burlington, CO. 561 miles

    Day 3: Burlington to Denver to Grand Junction, CO. 408 miles

    Day 4: Grand Junction to Durango to Cortez (decent sized town on the map probably with a few motels to choose from). 215 miles + sidetrips
    Can check out Mesa Verde while I'm here if there's time in the afternoon

    Day 5: Cortez to Monument Valley View Hotel, 124 miles + sidetrips
    Can check out Mexican Hat and Moki Dugway on the way. Also, this gives me time to drive inside the valley. I'll be driving a luxury coupe for this entire trip, it should be able to handle the unpaved terrain of Moki and MV, right? Kind of concerned about rock chips though...

    Day 6: Monument Valley to Page to Flagstaff, 260 miles
    Want to do Antelope Canyon photography tour, Horseshoe Bend. Anything else I should look at along this route?

    Day 7: Loop from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon South Rim to Williams. 220 miles
    I've been to Grand Canyon as a kid and from what I remember, we didn't spend close to a full day there since we didn't do much hiking. So I'm tempted to head out to Vegas on Day 7, but I'll listen to your advice. Any brief sidetrips I can make on this day though?

    Day 8: Williams to Vegas. 218 miles
    Hoover Dam on the way.

    Day 9: Vegas to LA

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You could stretch day 3 to Montrose to free up even more time. No need to make reservations anywhere, play it by ear, see how you feel. It's about an hour and 15 minutes from GJ to Montrose. This would give you enough time to take a ranger-led tour at Mesa Verde.

    Your car should be fine on the Moki, but I'd recommend you take a Jeep tour through MV instead.

    Why go all the way to Flagstaff then back to the GC? Book rooms at the Cameron Trading Post or at one of the hotels in Tuba City. You could also try to book rooms *IN* the park, you may get lucky.

    If you are out of the GC early, you don't have to stop in Williams. You could press on to Kingman. Note that there's a long stretch of old Route 66 from Seligman to Kingman that would add about an hour to the trip.

  6. Default

    I was flipping through a guidebook I picked up from the library and came across the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. It has the novelty of being the highest continuous paved road in the USA. Is it worth taking a detour for though, considering I will already be driving the Million Dollar Highway and will presumably have my fill of scenic mountain driving? :)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Only if you have the time to spare and if it's open. It is quite spectacular. If you can add a 9th day, I'd recommend it highly!

    It would take you about 4 hours to get from Burlington to Estes Park, so you would probably want to spend the night in Granby, and I'd probably recommend calling ahead to see what's open. Granby to Montrose via GJ is easy in 1 day, you could even make it to Durango as long as you don't dilly-dally too much along 550. Ouray and Silverton both have motels and B&B's.

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

    Default Alternatives.

    I could drive these types of mountain roads for a lifetime and still not have my fill !! The Trail Ridge is indeed spectacular, but slow going with many viewpoints that you will find hard to drive by. If you feel 'up for it', and have the time it is so much more than just a 'novelty', but will take time. If you haven't got the time, you might want to check out the wonderful Loveland pass, a small detour from I70 on US 6 to Dillon.

    Both, Ouray and Silverton are wonderful mountain towns and either one, is where I would be heading for the night between Montrose and Durango. If Grand junction is 'just' an overnight stop and you decide Trail Ridge is a bit much for your schedule, you could consider heading down to US 50 and across to Montrose and the 'Million Dollar Highway' by going towards Colorado Springs to Penrose. A pleasant drive to Poncha Springs and then west of there is Monarch Pass, Currecanti National Recreation area and Black canyon of the Gunnison.

  9. Default

    Thanks all, you have been very helpful. I just had a thought: I have summer tires on my car. Because of the altitude, the temperature on Trail Ridge Road is likely going to be near freezing even in the middle of June, right? I'm looking at photos and there's still snow on the ground in the summer. I might have to skip Trail Ridge for that reason, since my tires lose traction below 40 degrees and I'm not going to risk skidding off a mountain :(

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Not a worry for you

    No worries on your tires. 99% of the vehicles on the road in June will have summer tires or all-weather tires. Temperatures are rarely below freezing during the day, in June. It could happen, but if the road is unsafe, the NPS will close the road. You don't need to be worried about this!


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