MO to Vegas and everything in between
This will be our first road trip from St Louis MO to Las Vegas- we plan to do the northern I-70 route one way and the southern- I44 Route the other with a definite stop at the Grand Canyon. I wanted to fly to Vegas, but he did not- so I made a bargain with him- road trip means we stop at great attractions and tacky tourist attractions along the way- we leave on a friday and are meeting friends in Vegas on Monday- so we have time both routes. Any suggestions on stops or great places to visit along either route woudl be great
Welcome to the RTA Forum!
There is a ton of things you can see and do on this trip, but I'm a little worried about the amount of time you're expecting this trip to take.
It's a pretty solid 3 days to each way from St. Louis to Vegas, so if you're leaving on Friday and have to be there Monday, you really don't have much extra time. Are you going to have more time for the trip home?
Going out, some of the National Parks you could do would include Rocky Mountain NP, Arches/Canyonlands, Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion.
On the way back, after the Grand Canyon, you might look at Monument Valley, Natural Bridges, Mesa Verde, Durango/Sliverton/Million Dollar Highway, and the Great Sand Dunes, to name a few of your options.
If you're planning to do this trip in 3-4 days each way, you won't have time do all of them, but should have time to make a quick visit to one or two of those spots each way.
A lifetimes worth of 'everything'.
Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !
You have so many great attractions to choose from, but little spare time, at least heading out there anyway, how long have you for the trip home ? It's a 3 day drive each day allowing time for rest breaks, lunch and to fill with gas at a comfortable pace of 9-10 hours a day travelling. On the way out, and near to I70 are Rocky mountain NP, Arches and canyonlands, Bryce canyon and Zion NP's of southern Utah. From St Louis a day on the road would put you between Hays and Colby KS with not much 'there'. If you got an early start you could possibly push on to Colby which would put in a good postion to drive to Grand junction or Moab UT and visit Arches NP the next day, but that would be two long days on the road. From Moab you could cut down through Monument valley to the Grand canyon south rim, or head to Bryce canyon and/or Zion NP. If you have time to visit the GC on the way home, I would choose to head to Bryce via Utah scenic 12 and to Zion NP on the way to Vegas. You won't have much time in any of the places, but it's a lovely drive.
There are just so many options, it would take you a lifetime to see everything 'in between', so I would advise you look at the map, do some research and see what appeals to you the most. Once you have come up with the basics we can help to 'fine tune' your trip and maybe offer alternatives along the way.
This past summer, we drove from Columbia MO to Burlington CO (600 mi) one day, and then about 450 miles to Moab the following day. From St Louis, it's an extra 2 hours to Colu'mbia, so as suggested .above, you'll do good to make Hays or Colby Arches will take AT LEAST 5 hours to do it justice. Be aware that there is NO food available in the national park, so you'll have to eat before or after, or bring your own food. From Moab to Las Vegas is about 470 miles.
Depending on your travel dates, you could also run into "weather" issues!
I travel a lot out of Columbia, MO - often hitting CO on the way out west. What types of attractions are you looking to see? How much time between stops do you want to plan to see things? How many miles per day do you want to get through.
I travel with two kids, and sometimes my husband (often he stays back to work and flys to meet us once we arrive then flys home)....my kids are great road-trippers, but even they have to stop more often than I would if I were driving on my own. My general rule of thumb is to find something to stop at every couple of hours - whether an attraction, park or food - and plan 1-3 hours stopped, then hit the road again. I love driving, so I can clock a lot of hours daily, despite the stops.....but it can wear on you if you do it day in day out.
All that said - northern route - I'd:
Stop in KC for lunch (if you had an early start) and just push to Denver, there is little to see or do in Kansas. At the least, I'd push to Colby or Limon, but would do my best to get to Denver so the following day we could do and see things.
Denver --> Keystone to Vail area, tons of hiking, mountains, etc. to see and enjoy; overnight in Glenwood Springs.
Glenwood Springs has a great huge heated mineral spring pool to enjoy and Glenwood Caverns, so I'd do those during the day, then head out to get to Grand Junction overnight.
I'd start with the Colorado Monument, then head out to get to Moab - make sure you have a full tank heading into Utah - it's about 70 miles with no services and the gas station on 128 or at 191 (both southbound roads to Moab) are extremely high priced compared to in Moab. I'd plan a few days in Moab, with Canyonlands, Arches, petrogyphs, etc. to see, it's a good stopping town for a few days.
From Moab, I'd go to Bryce Canyon....spend the night, enjoy the canyon next day, then push off to Zion. Next day do Zion, then push to just St. George, and last day get to Las Vegas.
Southern route home would be via Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Fort Smith (AR), then up into MO via 44 back to St. Louis.
Good advice, given above, about gasoline availability. We fueled up in Grand Junction this past year and were glad we did.
UT 128 is absolutely gorgeous. There's a reason that it's a scenic by-way! However, it is NOT for the faint-hearted. Unlike interstates, which are built to certain specifications, state highways are not. Going southbound on 128, you are often on the edge of a cliff with no guardrail.