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  1. Default 4 week road trip part 1 - Washington DC to Eastern Utah

    Hey all,

    We're doing a very long road trip from the East coast to Utah/Las Vegas and back and looking for helpful pointers on some of the must sees underway as well as advice on directions were it would differ from Google Maps. Most of the Sightseeing will be in the Utah/La Vegas area. As this is a longer trip, I'll post it in two parts, the way out and the way home. We're a bit short on time on the way out there, why there'll be some fairly long driving days.

    Part 1 - driving from Washington DC to Eastern Utah (MOAB/Arches).

    Day 1, Leaving home around noon, expecting to reach somewhere around or just past Cleveland before stopping for the day (I-270, I-70, I-76, I-80)
    Day 2, Destination Madison or Milwaukee, WI - any suggestions/preferences? (I-80/90)
    Day 3, Destination Bloomington/Minneapolis/Mall of America (I-94)
    Day 4, Destination Sioux Falls (I-35, I-90)
    Day 5, Destination Keystone or somewhere else close to Mt Rushmore via Badlands NP (I-90, 44, 16)
    Day 6, Destination somewhere in CO ready to go West on the I-70 the next day (suggestions?)
    Day 7, Destination MOAB, UT (I-70)

    After seeing MOAB we got 2 days before we need to be in Bryce. We would like to experience Goblin Valley State Park, but also thought about Four Corners and Monument Valley - any good ideas to how we could include those if at all possible within reason?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Random Musings

    With a trip this epic, both in terms of distance and time, any comments are necessarily going to be pretty much specific to odd parts of it rather than the grand adventure. With that limitation in mind here goes:

    Milwaukee vs. Madison: Personally, I'd go with Madison. Milwaukee has a big city feel about it (if you like that sort of thing) but Madison is both the state capital and the home of the University of Wisconsin. If nothing else, visit the capitol and walk the campus along the shores of Lake Mendota. Madison also puts you a bit farther down the road and will be easier to get out of in the morning rush hour.

    Mount Rushmore area: There is so much to see in this area besides the faces on the side of the mountain, that you really ought to consider spending a day here. Besides the Badlands and Mount Rushmore, there's Wind and Jewel Caves, Devils Tower, and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

    Colorado: The obvious thing to do here is to arrive from the north on I-25 and then use US-36/US-34 through Rocky Mountain National Park and then US-40 south (east) down to Empire and I-70 west. Also as you head west, if you want the scenic route over the Continental Divide, take US-6 west from Exit 216 over Loveland Pass rather than staying on I-70 and crossing under the Divide through Eisenhower Tunnel.

    Moab to Bryce: With two days, take the scenic route. OK, that's a trick - all routes out there are scenic. What I'm suggesting is US-191 south from Moab to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (hire a guide and his four wheeler), Goosenecks State Park, and the Navajo Nation. Then head over to Zion via US-163/US-160/AZ-98/US-89 through Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-29-2013 at 08:33 PM. Reason: Corrected park names

  3. Default


    Thank you very much for all your comments - I'll incorporate those into our route. I forgot to mention, they "we" is a family of four with kids age 6 and 10.

    Very valid comments about Mt. Rushmore, however we have to be at MOAB on day 7 as we are meeting up with another family. So an extra day or extra time at one place means speeding up somewere else and the trip out there is pretty rushed as it is.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I would agree that there is so much to do in Western South Dakota that it would really be worth it to find some more time there. In addition to the stops Buck mentioned, Custer State Park should go high on your consideration list, especially with kids.

    I would look at dropping Minneapolis, as it is a few hours out of the way and could save some time to use in SD. Another possibility, rather than stopping in Madison or Milwaukee, you might think about continuing to Wisconsin Dells, which is known as being the waterpark capital of the world, and while certainly on the touristy side of things, it has lots of activities available to consider.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Not required to visit the Tribal Park -- most of it is not there!

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    What I'm suggesting is US-191 south from Moab to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (hire a guide and his four wheeler)
    I would make a caveat here... There's no particular reason to go to the Navajo Tribal Park -- it's a little like saying you have to go the Skywalk in Arizona if you want to see the Grand Canyon. Most of the scenic views that you've seen in photos are all outside of the attraction known as the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. What I would suggest is a stop at Goulding's Lodge -- great views from the restaurant and then just drive the main roads around the valley.

    Gouldings also does tours -- but really, it's not necessary. There's also a very interesting movie museum at the lodge with photos from most of the famous movies shot in the area. The trading post there is hit and miss -- but sometimes you can find some really fine art pieces there.

    I stayed at the Firetree -- an authentic hogan and it gives another good introduction to the area.

    Lots of information about Goblins State park on this site -- here's a quick page...


  6. Default

    How about trading Milwaukee with St. Louis? Continue on I70 to Denver and spend day or two in Denver/Colorado Spring.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default What Happens to Sioux Falls and Rapid City?

    It's not just a matter of swapping St. Louis for Minneapolis. If you go by way of St. Louis and Denver to Moab, you'll also be missing Sioux Falls, Rapid City (and all the sites of southwestern South Dakota). So it's a major change to your plans. What is it that you're trying to accomplish by this change?


  8. Default

    Going via I90 will be long trip... If MOAB is the final destination then I think trade I90 destinations with I70 destinations...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Taking I-90 only adds about 200 miles (depending upon what point you cut south) vs. I-70, which is hardly a big deal over a full week.

    There's plenty to see and do on I-70, but it's hard to argue with all there is available in South Dakota, and then cut down to Colorado, to start to beautiful trek across the Rockies.

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

    Default The trade.

    Well a few options around Denver and Colorado Springs would be Rocky mountain NP, Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds and Pikes Peak, plus you could also hook up with US50 insread of I70 that would take you over the continental divide at Monarch Pass to Currecanti Nat Rec area and Black canyon of the Gunnison. From Montrose you can head up to I70 via the Colorado National Monument near Fruita or head south down US550 aka ''The Million dollar Highway" [which is a specatacular drive] to Durango, [near Mesa Verde NP] then to Monticello and up 191 to Moab. You wouldn't have loads of time out of the car, nor time to see it all, but more than you would have on your original route and the drive itself is quite wonderful.

    It really comes down to what appeals to you and how to make the best use of your time, but they are options worth checking out imo.

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