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  1. Default KC to San Francisco to St. Louis in mid Oct

    I will be hauling a Uhaul trailer with my ford ranger from KC to San Francisco. I will return from SF to StL in the ranger minus the trailer. I am trying to plan both the shortest way out and the most scenic drive from SF to StL.
    Hwy 80 is the shortest but keeping in mind the possibility of snow I imagine that my best option while hauling the trailer is hwy 40, the southern route through Albequerque.
    On my return I would like to see the sights that the west has to offer. I have looked at, but am not tied to places like Canyon de Chelle and Mesa Verde. I would really like to see the Arches national park but that may be too far north. I plan on camping when I can and have at least 2 extra days to meander. The sights that I would prefer would be mostly auto tour and some day hiking. I will most likely be alone and don't want to spend the night away from my ride. I am open to two lane pavement, I prefer smaller highways to the interstate if they keep me headed home.
    Some of the many questions that I have; Is hwy 15 through Las Vegas then hwy 50 to connect up with hwy 70 a remote option? Is fuel an issue with hwy 50?
    Can anyone offer advice about what routes could be dramatically affected by weather in October? And suggestions for places to see on the route?

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    First off, your idea that your best bet is I-40 because of the chance of snow is really not accurate, and really is one of the biggest myths of cross country travel. Going south does not reduce your chance of seeing winter weather. The reality is that both I-80 and I-40 see plenty of snow, as they both spend significant time above a mile high. Mid-October is relatively early in the season to see a major storm regardless, although it's not out of the question. I-40 would add about 200 miles of driving, which is another half day on the road, and quite a bit of extra gas, when you're going to be getting 10-15 mpg pulling a trailer.

    I'm not at all following your plans for the return trip. I don't understand why you're thinking Arches would be too far north, when it practically on a direct line between San Francisco and St. Louis! I'm also not following your I-15/US-50/I-70 question, as if you were going from I-15 through Vegas, you'd get to I-70 before you get to US-50. But then I'm not sure exactly why you'd be going all the way down to Vegas either. What section of US-50 are you talking about? Regardless, there is no section of highway in the United States where getting fuel is an issue, as long as you are paying attention and planning ahead. There are areas where you can go 100 miles or more without seeing a gas station, but those sections shouldn't catch you by surprise as long as you are looking at a map.

    How much time do you actually have total for this trip? I'm sure we can help you put together a great trip, and there are a ton of great things to see in the areas you are looking at traveling, but we need a bit of clarification.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Two Routes for Two Purposes

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The fastest way (westbound) is easy. Just head up I-29 out of KC to I-80 west and follow that all the way to San Francisco. You can save a few miles by using NE-2 as a shortcut to make the connection between the Interstates between Nebraska City and Lincoln.

    'Scenic' back to St. Louis, is, of course, a matter of taste, how far off the direct route you want to get, and whether you're willing to spend significant time on smaller, slower roads and getting through towns and cities. Without getting too far afield, you can pick up US-50 in Sacramento and follow that around Lake Tahoe, across Nevada (the "Loneliest Highway"), and hook up with I-70 near Salina Ut. From there to Denver, I-70 is one of the most scenic roads in America. But once in Kansas, you might want to look at US-36 (basically using US-83 to make the connection) across the northern part of both that state as well as Missouri, dropping down into St. Louis from Hannibal on the Little Dixie Highway, MO-79.


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

    Default Time ?

    Time is an all important factor when considering what is is and isn'tt viable on the way home. For example if you were to head to Canyon De Chelley, Mesa Verde and Arches as you would like, it would be a minimum of 4 days driving plus sight seeing time. If you plan on going to Vegas then the Grand canyon would be high on most 'wish lists', or you have the option of other wonderful southern Utah National parks, like Zion and Bryce canyon from where you could take 2 great 'two lane' drives, UT scenic 12 and UT24 through Escalante and Capitol Reef to Arches NP. [Not forgetting Canyonlands NP] With enough time and providing the Tioga Pass is open, [chanes are good it will be] from San Fran you could drive through Yosemite and across the Sierras on Tioga [CA120] and through Death Valley to Vegas.

    No one can predict the weather this far in advance, although mid October is still quite early for significant winter weather, it's not impossible. All you can do is keep an eye on weather and road conditions before setting out and during your journey.

  5. #5


    Southwest Dave has made some excellent suggestions - the National Parks of Utah are hard to beat.

    You might also consider this. On the return trip, take I-80 to Reno. Along the way, the Donner Pass Road which runs from Exit 174 to Exit 194 is a great drive which allows you to get a look at some sections of the railroad through the pass as well as some magnificient scenery.

    At Reno, take US 395 south to Nevada 341/342 through Virginia City and then pick up US 50 south of Virginia City which is an old mining town which has reinvented itself as a tourist attraction.

    Take US 50 across Nevada and Western Utah and pick up I-70 just south of Salina, UT. I-70 in western Utah is an extremely scenic drive and, unlike so many Interstates has some very good rest areas/observation points. In eastern Utah, I-70 passes only about 30 miles north of Moab and Arches Nat'l Park. Canyonlands Nat'l Park is also just a bit further south. Also in the area, Dead Horse State Park is a great place to visit.

    Continue on I-70 in to Colorado and take the loop drive through Colorado Nat'l Monument. This is about a 30 mile loop which takes you back to I-70 in Grand Junction.

    Continue on I-70 to through Glenwood Canyon which is perhaps the most scenic section of Interstate in the country and is an amazing feat of engineering. In places, the road literally hangs from the canyon walls.

    If time allows, you might leave I-70 and find your way to Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park and Estes Park. However, you would want to check on road conditions before doing so. The recent flooding has played havoc with the roads descending from Estes Park.

    Have A Great Trip!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Of course, all of these suggestions about national parks need to take into consideration whether the government has settled its differences and gone back to business as usual by the time this trip takes place.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you take US-50 across NV, fill your gas tank in Fallon. Although there is fuel in Austin and Eureka, it's expensive and not open 24 hours. It's 250 miles to Ely, where there is a good selection at "normal" prices. After Ely, plan on making it to Delta (150 miles). On I-70, there is no gas between Salina and Green River (110 miles).

    At the present time, Trail Ridge Road is closed due to the park closure. There is only one way in and out of Estes Park - from Idaho Springs on I-70. Even if the shutdown is quickly resolved, there's a good chance the road will be closed by snow and ice.

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


    You can also get gas about 65 miles east of Ely on the NV/UT at the Border Inn. I was just there and paid $3.88 for regular and if it's 'hungry time' the food there is OK.

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