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  1. Default Wichita to Leadville, Colorado for 2 teens

    My friend and I want to drive to Colorado for a couple of days and then drive back. I'll be 17 and he'll be 18. We're graduating seniors from high school. We live in wichita, ks and we want to drive to the Leadville area of Colorado. It's 9 hours and 640 something miles. All of it is on the highway except further last half hour which is on a 2 lane country highway type road. This is in the mountains but there is actually a video of the whole road on YouTube and it was very flat. So there is not any 'advanced' mountain driving. My dad is not very on board with this idea. He doesn't think we could do the drive. We've both been on road trips that have required us to drive for hours at a time. Is this drive safe?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Concerns to consider.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    You are so lucky that you have a parent who takes an interest in your welfare. Even though I do not know the specifics of your father's concerns, I too would be more than a little concerned if you are planning to do this trip without an overnight stop. As you state, it is more than 600 miles, the limit of what experienced professional drivers are legally allowed to cover. At a minimal you would need to make an overnight stop half way.

    The other concern is that legally you are still a minor. This in itself will bring its challenges. As a minor travelling without a parent, you will find it hard to find an establishment which will allow you to stay. Your 18 year old friend will be OK, but since he is not a relative, it will not help your situation. Furthermore, should anything happen, or you get sick, you are not old enough to give permission for any medical treatment you could need.

    I know there is nothing like dreaming of a roadtrip, when you are young. But wait a little while, find out what your father's specific concerns are and set about assuring him of your maturity. Who knows, next year you might have the opportunity to have the first of a lifetime of roadtrips.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have to agree. Wait till you are 18. Also, that's more than a 9 hour drive, you are not going to average 71 mph over 640 miles - driving at the speed limit and making normal food, fuel, and rest (bathroom) stops you will average more like 55. This makes it a 12 hour drive at best, and the last half hour on a 2 lane road will be in the dark if you try to do this straight through.

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

    Default underselling

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I will tell you, there are a couple of things that stand out to me about your post that would have me concerned that you might be biting off more than you can chew.

    The first, which has been mentioned, is the distance and drive time. 640 miles is not a 9 hour drive in the real world, you're looking at a minimum of 11-12 hours. Could you do that with 2 drivers safely, without stopping for the night, perhaps. But this is not an easy drive, and as GLC points out, the most challenging part of your drive would likely be coming after dark.

    That leads to the other aspect that you're underestimating: the mountains. The first 80% of your drive is basically flat, yes, but between Denver and Leadville, you've got 5000 feet of elevation difference. That means over the final 100 miles of your drive, you're also going uphill 1 full mile! Your drive will include going through the Eisenhower Tunnel, the highest mountain pass on the entire Interstate Highway system. While this is not extremely difficult, it is very much mountain driving.

    You didn't say exactly what your father's concerns are, but I'll tell you, as the parent of a teenager, if you came to me with this plan, like you've presented it here, I certainly would have serious doubts. It doesn't sound to me like you really appreciate just how much of a challenge it would be. This is not nearly as easy of a trip as you are trying to make it out to be, and I would be much more likely to sign off on it, if instead of downplaying the difficulties, you'd explain what the potential problems are and then also have a solution.

    You also haven't said your plan for what you'll be doing and where you'll be staying in Leadville. As mentioned, most motels will not allow an unrelated minor to stay in a room with an 18 year old. There are lots of other issues of things you simply can not do as a minor, so how will you deal with those things? Again, these are things you need to be thinking about, and having solutions, if you were trying to convince me that you were really ready for this trip.

    Ultimately, all we know about you is the few sentences we've read for your post, your parents have 17 years of knowledge to go off of. They know you far better than we ever will, and they know far more than we ever will how ready you really are for a trip that requires a huge amount of responsibility. This is an article you should check out, and share with your parents, that should help you all decide if this trip really is a good idea for you right now.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Pacing and camping ?

    If you can get over the age related issues mentioned above, it might be wise to consider gaining your parents trust by looking for a place of interest a little nearer home and look to visit Colorado when you have more time available. As said, it's a longer drive than you were anticipating [but don't worry all ages make the common mistake of relying on a mapping program] and if you only have a "couple of days" there, you will be pushed to see much at all.

    If Leadville is a priority and you have 4 days total [?] then you should be looking at a more sensible pace for your own benefit and not just to convince your parents. I would look to aim for Colorado/Manitou Springs on night one which is about 500 miles, there is quite a bit to see in the area, 'Garden of the Gods', 'Cave of the Winds' and Pikes Peak. The next day you could sight see on the way to Leadville and explore the area for a little while. The following day you could possibly head up towards I70 and take in some sights, possibly Rocky mountain NP and spend the night around Boulder CO which would leave you a 540 mile drive home.

    You could also consider buying some basic camping gear and using campgrounds which is less strict on age restrictions I believe. Please, please do not say you were planning on sleeping in the car, that would be a deal breaker for any parent !! ;-)

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