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  1. Default Dallas to San Francisco: July Road Trip Questions

    Hi all,
    This is my first post. I have been reading posts here over the past few weeks, as well as doing Internet searches. I am in my early 40's and drive a 2012 Hyundai Elantra with 30,000 miles and new Michelin tires. I am driving from Dallas, Texas to the Santa Rosa area of California in July. I will be driving solo there and with my wife on the way back. Going there is 1786 miles and 27 hours per Google Maps. On the way there I want to be there ASAP - so I plan 2-3 days maximum. On the way home, we route via Lake Tahoe, Vegas, Grand Canyon, etc, then pick up I-40 and head home over 4 days time.

    I love to drive and in 2004 I took off from Baton Rouge, LA to Colorado Springs. I planned to stop overnight, but I hit Amarillo, TX at 5pm - so I kept going. I ended up driving 17 hours straight to my destination with 2 stops for gas only.

    That's my back story - here is where I get into questions. I understand safety and staying awake and I do not plan to drive 17 hours this time. I am plotting possible stopping points along the way, with options being:

    Leg 1: Dallas to Flagstaff, AZ. 14.5 hrs drive. (options: Dallas - Holbrook, AZ 13.5 hrs)
    Problem: I hear Flagstaff motels are along loud train tracks and noisy at night.

    Leg 2: Holbrook, AZ to Santa Rosa, CA. 13 hrs drive. (options: Holbrook to Bakersfield, CA; spend night and drive 5-6 hours on Day 3).

    1) Has anyone made this trip and could lend advice on these legs?
    2) Any surprises I may encounter with construction or traffic problems?
    3) Any suggestions on inexpensive places to consider that are clean and quiet? (I found KOA Kabins)
    4) Any recommendations on an affordable hotel/motel in Flagstaff?
    5) Any recommendations around Bakersfield, CA on lodging?

    In sum, I want to get there quickly and take my time coming back. I am not looking to smell the roses along the way. I want to get to California in as little time as possible, but not recklessly. I may change my mind and allow a little more time. I know I may be forgetting some things, but wanted to put this out for feedback or any comments you may have.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by CajunJamie; 05-16-2013 at 09:31 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    Google drive times are pure fantasy. They assume you will be driving at the speed limit continuously with no stops whatsoever - no fuel, food, or bathroom stops, no traffic lights or stop signs, no construction delays, no traffic delays.

    Your trip is 3 full days with overnights in Albuquerque and Barstow. I would stay on the west side of ABQ, there's a bunch of hotels at the Coors Blvd exit. Barstow has a bunch at the old 66 exit on the east side of town.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Doing It 'Just' and Doing It Justice

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Dallas to Santa Rosa is just within the range of feasibility for a three day drive. It is absolutely not drivable solo in two days. It helps that you'll pick up a couple of hours of daylight by going west, but seriously two back-to-back 900 mile drives (nearly the equivalent of two Baton Rouge to Colorado Springs drives) is suicidal or worse, homicidal. Flagstaff is 1000 miles from Dallas. That is not a 14 hour drive. The numbers you are getting from on-line mapping routines are pure fantasy. Your overnight stops, which I'd book ahead of time so you're not wasting time on the road looking for lodging, should be Moriarty NM and Needles CA. Both are on long stretches of otherwise empty highway, so don't be tempted to push it "just a little bit farther." Trying to do this drive in two days just because you want to save time is the definition of reckless in my opinion.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Dallas to Santa Rosa is 530 miles -- roughly 9 hours of driving. Going to Moriarty adds a few extra miles -- it's 607 miles -- which is about 10-11 hours of driving (depending on when you leave Dallas, traffic-wise). There are 5 motels to choose from in Moriarty -- a lot more in Santa Rosa.

    One thing about that stretch of I-40...sometimes you can catch winds. If they're tailwinds, great. But that's usually heading eastbound. Going westbound, you're likely to hit headwinds, which will slow you down and kill your gas mileage.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by CajunJamie View Post
    3) Any suggestions on inexpensive places to consider that are clean and quiet? (I found KOA Kabins)
    I personally don't consider KOA Kabins to be a budget friendly option. Typically they cost just as much, if not more than a budget motel, plus you have to bring your own pillows and bedding, and you have shared bathrooms. If you're looking for faux-camping and the resort-style amenities of a KOA campground, they're fine, but for a budget night on the road, I'd look elsewhere.

    I very much agree with the above posters about the distances you're hoping to cover. You really need to dial back your driving days. It's one thing to power through a marathon drive on a one day trip, it's quite another to do such a drive, and have to get back on the road again the next day for an even more grueling drive.

  6. Default

    Thank you all for the feedback! First, it is great to know about how long Google says is a drive time and how long it is in reality. In the past, I have found Google pretty accurate, but drive times were usually "longer" than real time. I based my planning on the fact that Google usually factors in an average speed of 65mph and in Texas the speed limit is usually 70-75mph (which means we can do 80). Anyway, I had no idea about headwinds, or what traffic may factor in.

    I totally agree that I should back down to at least 3 days and not push 2 days. If the estimated drive is 27 hours, if I estimate 9 hours X 3 days and allow for delays, that should be totally doable. I do think the first day I will push the hardest and maybe stretch 13 hours. I was originally shooting for Holbrook, AZ - but I will definitely take into account the cities you recommended.

    I just looked at the Dallas > Moriarty, NM > Needles, CA > Santa Rosa and that's pretty evened out.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with me!


  7. Default

    Thank you! I found a Comfort Inn in Moriarty that has great reviews and a Rio Del Sol Inn in Needles as well. I am now thinking about 9-10 hour days, some down time in a hot tub at night and then a restful sleep and repeat. :-)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Marathon

    It is actually false economy to shoot hardest on the first day. It will only tire you for the subsequent days. The best way to do a multi day speed run, is to treat it like a marathon, not a sprint. Steady all the way, and maybe a sprint at the end, if the clock looks like beating you.


  9. Default

    Thank you. The more I think about it, the more I like steady, even days. :-)
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 05-18-2013 at 07:15 AM.

  10. Default

    I don't know if I mentioned, but I am a high school teacher. I have had 150 freshmen and sophomores all year. I am ready to be in California ASAP - so my travel ambitions may be a bit exaggerated. :-) Warp speed would be awesome.
    Last edited by CajunJamie; 05-17-2013 at 10:04 AM.

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