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  1. Default First Road Trip from San Diego to Denver, Colorado (Univ. of Denver)

    Hello there. We are going to Denver this first week of June but instead of flying all the way down to Denver, we decided to go San Diego and do the road trip from there to Denver to view some nice places while driving. We actually don't have plan to stop over and look each nice places that we pass by while travelling. We just want to do the road trip to Denver because we thought it will be fun. This is the first time family vacation for all of us so we are renting a van (passenger capacity 15) from San Diego with 4 kids ages from 2 to 13 years old. Instead of doing the whole 15 hours straight of driving to go to Denver, we plan to stop in the middle where we can get some sleep and continue the next day early morning to arrive Denver before sunset if we can. At first, we wanted to stop at Las Vegas for sleep over then continue to Denver the next day but then later we decided that it is not a good idea to stop by there before the graduation so we decided to stop by in the middle between San Diego and Denver and based in my research is UTAH. We don't know anything about UTAH so any suggestions or help is very much appreciated. We wanted to know where is the best place or closest hotel or place (town/city) to stay overnight (fastest route to reach Denver) or is there a hotel on our way that we can just stop and check in? I am not familiar or not know at all the places in Utah so I am kind of hesitate to drive but everything already plan ahead and too late to back down. So, to make the story short, I need to make sure that we will not get lost or something in the middle of nowhere (you know what I mean :)). It is pretty exciting but scary at the same time because we are not familiar with the roads. Anyway, Is there a place you can recommend where we can stop and get some sleep for the night and continue the next morning to Denver? Any advise is very much appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The first thing you need to know is that under no circumstances could you ever make this drive in 15 hours. Best case, you're looking at 18-20 hours (likely a bit more considering you're a large group, in a large unstable van where lower speeds are required on the highway and each stop for foods/restrooms/etc will take longer). This is very much two very full days on the road, at the bare minimum.

    Do you actually live in San Diego or are you planning to fly there and then start driving to Denver from there? If your plan is to fly to San Diego, I would strongly recommend you rethink your current plan.

    I'll be honest, I love a roadtrip, but your plan doesn't sound like one that will be very fun. Sitting in a car all day long for 2 straight days just isn't that much fun, especially not for 4 small children. While there are some great views from the highway, if you want this to be a fun family trip, you need to plan for stops and do things that your children will remember for the right reasons. Your route goes past more than a half dozen National Parks, so there is no shortage of places you could visit to really make this a fun family trip - and not just a grueling drive. However, you'd need more than 2 days to really do that. Right now, I suspect, no one in your family will have much fun, and you're more likely to hate the idea of ever doing a roadtrip again than you will have anything resembling a vacation.

    The direct route for this trip is about as simple as it gets: I-15 to I-70. The halfway point is between Cedar City and Beaver, Utah. You should have no trouble finding a hotel that meets your needs in either of those two cities. Those really are your only options to make this a safe trip.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    It is in fact a full 2 day drive from San Diego to Denver - there is absolutely no way you can do it in 15 hours. It's almost 1100 miles, and to do it in 15 hours would require you to *average* 75 mph, which is impossible without an airplane. It's going to take 2 full days with 10+ hours each day on the road. This accounts for traffic, food stops, fuel stops, bathroom stops, and leg stretching stops.

    The best halfway stop is Richfield, UT which has a decent selection of hotels. Use our hotel search on the right side of this page to see what's available.

    Note: Don't leave Richfield without a full tank of fuel. There are no services or cell coverage between Salina and Green River, a stretch of 108 miles.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I'll chime in and agreed with GLC -- this is a 2 day drive. We do it quite often, as we live in San Diego County and use I-15 and I-70 to get to Missouri (or home from it). Our usual stop after leaving home is Richfield. There are a lot of motel choices there, lots of them with a pool that will make kids happy. (Our favorite is the Quality Inn, but there are choices of all price ranges.) We fuel up there before heading any further east ... these is gasoline in Salina, but usually at least a dime per gallon more expensive. There's a budget station in the middle of Richfield; the stations nearer to the freeway are a tad more expensive. Then we usually pick up the next bit of fuel in Grand Junction or Fruita (because until you get to Denver, gasoline is bit more expensive).

    It usually takes us 10-11 hours to go from San Diego to Richfield, and that's leaving San Diego at 1 or 2 AM (to avoid rush hour in LA) and heading north on I-15. Richfield to Denver is another 8 hours down the line. Bear in mind, we travel with just 2 adults. Add 4 kids to the mix and your bathroom stops get more frequent and take longer. So, no way is SAN to DEN a 15 hour drive!!!!


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


    The reason I would not recommend Richfield for this trip is because it is about 620 miles from San Diego and quite a bit beyond halfway. Factoring in that this trip will be in a giant cargo van with 6 people including 4 kids, that's just too far imho. You're talking 12-13 hours just to get to Richfield, realistically in this situation. Beaver is about as close to halfway as you could get and still has quite a few hotels to pick from. Cedar City is a little less than halfway, but still leave you less than 600 miles from Denver.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Booked already ?

    Have you already booked your flights and rental ? I agree with Michael that this is going to be a long drive for the Kids, more so than what I would describe as a Roadtrip adventure. Why I ask is because I think it would be a whole lot more fun if you flew into Salt Lake City, or even Las Vegas and had less miles to drive and more time out of the vehicle.

  7. Default


    San Diego to Denver can be done in two days, but that won't leave you any time to explore all the wonderful national parks and other places along the route. However, you will see some good scenery. If you can give the trip more days that would be highly beneficial in my opinion. Or, as others have wisely suggested, shorten the journey.

    Have you looked at this on a map (either online or paper, whichever you prefer)? I think that would be an extrtemely good idea.

    The most direct route is:
    San Diego
    I-15 North
    (probably use I-285 through San Bernardino)
    Las Vegas
    St George
    Cedar City
    Cove Fort
    I-70 East
    Grand Junction
    Glenwood Springs

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I-215, John, rather than I-285. However, I never recommend going that way unless you have business in the Colton/San Bernardino area. There seems to be about the same amount of traffic. However, it is very easy to miss the intersections and stay on I-215 unless you are very familiar with it. Hubby used to use I-215 when he was truck-driving, because of the location of his trucking company. He hated it, and prefers I-15 to this day. BTW, we found out that AAA of Southern California agrees with him: they route people up I-15 without jumping over to the 215, for the same reasons!

    OK, Michael, I concede to you that Cedar City or Beaver might be a better stop with a van and only a destination of Denver. However, I do know Richfield a lot better than either one, because of our experience staying there over the past 25+ years. The only time we ever stayed in Cedar City was with our 5W trailer.


  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    I-215, John, rather than I-285.
    Well spotted, and very useful additional comments.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Consider the children.

    Very much as above. Forcing children to sit in a motor vehicle for hours on end, two days in a row would not be viewed in a bright light by any child care authority.

    You make it clear that you do not know anything about UT and have used computer mapping programs to forumlate your plans. I suggest that you go visit the AAA to get some really good detailed maps of UT and CO, and sit with the family to study it, see what is on offer along the way. Use the computer to research each attraction, park, forest, etc., not just towns and cities.

    Whenever we travelled long distances with our five children we never went more than two hours between stops to give the children time to blow of pent up steam. A stop at a fun place about every two hours would make this a memorable trip for your children. If you are not able to find the extra time to really make this a great trip, I suggest you revert to your previous method of getting to Denver, and book airline tickets.


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