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Thread: Chicago to LA

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manchester, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    3

    Default Chicago to LA

    Hello,
    I'm planning my summer holidays (mid august to mid september). I'm planning to fly to Chicago from Manchester, stay there for 2 or 3 days, then rent a car and get on the road to Los Angeles from where I'll fly back to Europe. I'm planning this trip to take somewhere between 10 and 14 days, and I want your advices of what to see to make these holidays special! The only thing that I've got on my list is the Grand Canyon, but I want to see as much as possible in the short time that I'll have.
    Things that interest me the most:
    Amazing landscapes,
    Desert roads with nothing but cacti from both sides
    Small towns where I could feel like in a western movie!
    Give me some ideas of the best roads to take, things to see and places to visit!
    Thanks,
    Erlandas

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA! Chicago to LA is normally about a 4 day trip, so with 6-10 more days to "play", you could enjoy seeing a lot of different things.

    You could make your way south out of Chicago along I-55 towards St Louis. There are some Route 66 places and stretches of road that used to be US-66, as well as any number of things to see in Springfield IL or in St Louis (such as the Museum of Westward Expansion, a free museum right under the St Louis Arch).

    From there move along I-70 until you come to US 54. That will take you through small town America (but will be slower than the Interstates) including some of those western towns! When you get to Tucumcari NM, take I-40 for a short bit, then get off again when US-54 heads southwest. It will take you into southern NM, and you can stop to see the White Sands Natl Mon near Alamogordo.

    Get on I-10 east. You'll cross a few mountains (light and easy) and go right through the eastern section of the Saguaro Natl Park. Go into the park - it's got the OLD saguaros. South of Tucson, you can do a movie set tour at Old Tucson, which has been the site of MANY Western movies! On the northwestern side of Tucson, there's the other section of Saguaro Natl Park, where there are thick groves of the long-tall "monster cacti". Another place to go when in Tucson would be Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, not all that far from Old Tucson.

    Back on I-10 into Phoenix, you can take AZ-89 through Sedona (a magnificent area of red, red rock mountains) and stop at Slide Rock for a refreshing slide in cold water on a hot day. (Arizona and NM will be HOT at that time of the year.) Then go on up to the Grand Canyon's South Rim.

    From there, head west on I-40. If it's open, you can take old US-66 (National Trail Hwy) through Essex and Amboy. Turn South at Amboy on Amboy Rd. towards CA-62 towards Twentynine Palms. MAKE SURE YOU FUEL UP AT NEEDLES, as there is nothing between the time you leave I-40 until you get to 29 Palms. (There was a service station at Amboy, but I'm not sure of its status right now. Last I knew, it was open, but you may pay about $1.50 more per gallon.) It's about 80 miles from Essex to 29 Palms.

    At Twentynine Palms, head south into Joshua Tree National Park. This is another place where TV shows and movies have been filmed. It's also beautiful and interesting! The main road will take you south through the park where you come out at I-10. You can catch that west into LA.



    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Lots of options.

    Some great ideas above but in all honesty you have a million and on e options and the way for you to find exactly what you are looking for is to have a big map and do a lot of research. This website has endless amounts of info so just dig around by searching the forums and road trip planning pages in the tool bars above.

    My choice would take me to the Four Corners region for amazing and diverse landscapes, from the Alpine setting of Colorado to the Red Rocks of Utah to Monument valley and the Grand canyon. In between you will find amazing drives and mountain towns like Silverton and Ouray on the amazing 'Million Dollar Highway'. [US550] You would have the pick of National parks such as Rocky mountain, Black canyon, Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce and the Grand canyon plus much more. You won't be able to see everything, but if you start to get some more dots on the map of places and routes that appeal to you, then we can go into greater detail of what you may or may not be able to achieve in the time you have and help to 'fine tune'..

    Enjoy the planning !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manchester, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Wow, Donna!

    Thanks, printed this out already! Is it a problem to find places to stay while on the road? how much should I plan to spend on a double bedroom for a night? And is it better to have a cash or money for this type of journey? Sorry for all these questions, but I'm trying to write down every single little thing that might be needed for this trip, and as I've never been to USA - there's a lot of things that I need to know in advance.

    Thank you, Dave!

    Yup, I already see that I'll need more time and since my studies don't start till October, I think I should plan on longer holidays! Seriously I'm looking at images of these places you guys mentioned, and it seems that I could never miss an opportunity to see all of them! I haven't realised that there's so many amazing places just in Utah and Arizona alone! Million Dollar Highway is a thing I just MUST see!


    Erlandas

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default 'Average'.

    You can find rooms quite cheap dpending on location, but I would allow at least an average of $70 per night. We recently took a trip and spent quite a bit of time in or around National parks [where lodgings are more expensive] and our average nightly rate was around $100, the cheapest being $49 and the most expensive was $155. Any popular locations like the National parks do get booked up so if you wanted to stay at the Grand canyon, it would be worth booking in advance. Other than that you can find a room as you go if that's how you prefer to do it.

    Cash and either Travel cards, or a Credit card is the way to go, jus check on what charges may be made on cards.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manchester, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Cash and either Travel cards, or a Credit card is the way to go, jus check on what charges may be made on cards.
    Just wondering if it wouldn't be a risk to take a thousand or a couple, because in Europe - I wouldn't take a risk of having cash with me

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Credit Cards are accepted pretty much everywhere in the US, so you don't need to take that much cash. Even places that don't take Credit will typically have an ATM available nearby. Basically, take as much cash as you feel comfortable carrying, and have a way to get more electronically later.

    I will warn you, that the US is not like the movies, and if you come here expecting to find that, you might be disappointed. Having said that, the two ideas that immediately came to mind that match what it looks like you are looking for have been mentioned. Monument Valley, which has been the backdrop for countless movies, especially old westerns. The other was Old Tucson Studios - although Donna was slightly mistaken on its location. It is west of Tucson, not south, and is surrounded by Saguaro National Park, so you have a nice drive, with cactus on both sides of the road, to get there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    MAKE SURE YOU FUEL UP AT NEEDLES, as there is nothing between the time you leave I-40 until you get to 29 Palms.
    Actually you should fuel up in Arizona before you get to Needles. Needles is famous for outrageously priced gas (and fleabag motels). According to Gas Buddy, today's price at the Love's at the I-40/AZ-95 S interchange is $3.13, and gas in Needles is $4.36 to $4.89.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I stand corrected on Needles and fuel. For some reason, I was thinking Needles was in AZ, not CA. That's the big difference right there. Arizona is almost always cheaper than CA on fuel!

    Tucson gets confusing. Old Tucson always seemed to be south of us -- I guess it was, when you lived where I did (somewhere between Cortaro Rd. and Avra Valley Rd along the freeway -- it's been razed). I-10 is supposed to be an east-west highway, but in Tucson it goes southeast to northwest. :-)

    Double bedroom -- does that mean you need 2 rooms, or just 2 beds in a room? The latter is usually cheaper than taking 2 rooms. Some places have suites, and that's usually in their name (such as "Candlewood Suites", "Embassy Suites" or such), and they're usually more expensive. When there were 4 of us, we almost always took a room with two beds, staying with our kids.


    Donna

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

    Double bedroom -- does that mean you need 2 rooms, or just 2 beds in a room?
    In the UK this is what we usually refer to as one room with one double bed. [Although you are still likely to get 2 double beds in the US ]

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