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  1. Default Need Advice for Cross Country Trip

    Dear Fellow Roadtrippers:

    I am planning to drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon for a day trip and then (without spending the night) driving on to Chicago. Do you have any suggestions on which route to take? I'll have 3 days from the GC to get to Chicago but would like to stop along the way for interesting sights, unique dining experiences, etc.

    Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Seraphim Wood

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Limited time.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    With 3 days to get from the Grand canyon area to Chicago doesn't really leave you much time for sight seeing other than brief stops along the way. Where they are would depend on what you would consider interesting, but what I would suggest is you look at some good old paper maps and see what grabs your eye and see which route stands out to you. For scenery I would leave GC via the east entrance along Desertview drive and drive towards Moab via Monument valley on 163. After the GC you could stop at Cameron Trading post or further along the road is Kayenta. The following day I would look to have a little time to stop and see Monument valley and enjoy the road, perhaps stopping around Vail CO for the night. The next morning you could start the day with a scenic detour over Loveland pass on US6 from Dillon and aim for spending the night around Lincoln NE.

    In the green tool bar you will see 'Maps' where you can check out attractions and routes using the RTA mapping programs.

  3. Default

    If you visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, that's about 288 miles from Las Vegas. As well as lodging in the park, there are motels in Tusayan which is adjacent to the park on the road to Williams and Flagstaff. If you continue on, taking the eastern road from the park, there are a few motels in Tuba City (80 miles from Grand Canyon) and Kayenta (155 miles from Grand Canyon), or even further on there's a wide range of accommodation in Cortez, CO (270 miles from Grand Canyon and IMHO well beyond what I'd advise if you want to spend a reasonable amount of time at the Canyon). From Cortez you'd probably want to get up to I-80 by some means. US550 from Durango north (the Million Dollar Highway) is extremely scenic but not a fast road, nor is it suitable for a nervous driver because in places it has huge unguarded drops and no shoulders. The alternative is US160 east from Durango which goes over Wolf Creek Pass but from vague memory I don't think is anywhere near so alarming as US550 (correct me please experts if my memory has failed me there). Either way you'd work up to Denver and then use I-76 to join I-80 near Julesburg at the northeast corner of Colorado.

    Or from the Grand Canyon (South Rim) you could head south to Flagstaff for the overnight stop and then use the interstates that have replaced old Route 66 all the way to Chicago (Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, St Louis) - or where possible US highways etc if you prefer.


    You could go via the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (270 miles from Las Vegas). Lodging there is extremely limited, most likely booked up months in advance, and AFAIK there's little or nothing else in the area. North Rim to Page at the moment is 154 miles, and you have double back via Kanab because of the landslide which has closed part of US89 south of Page. So that's very messy to put it mildly, but possible. From Page you'd probably continue east to Cortez and then pick up one of the routes that I mentioned in the earlier paragraph.

    That's just a few possibilities, there are many others. For example, if you were willing to forego the Grand Canyon (unlikely, I realise) then the route would be far simpler: I-15, I-70, I-76, I-80.

    With only three days I can't see how you'll have time for most of the national parks but with the I-15/I-70/etc route a quick diversion to the Kolob Canyons section of Zion (accessed off I-15 between St George and Cedar City) would be worthwhile, especially if you have an annual pass to avoid having to pay the entrance fee. Also, with that route, in eastern Utah you could drop down to Moab on US191 and then get back up to I-70 via Ut128 which is a very scenic run alongside the Colorado River (but not a fast road).

    Hope this helps a bit.

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

    Default 3 days from....

    Quote Originally Posted by SeraphimWood View Post
    I am planning to drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon for a day trip and then (without spending the night) driving on to Chicago... ...I'll have 3 days from the GC to get to Chicago but would like to stop along the way for interesting sights, unique dining experiences, etc.
    I'm a little confused about your plan, since you mention that you are not going to spend the night at the Grand Canyon, but then you also say you have 3 days to get to from the Grand Canyon to Chicago.

    Does that mean you're planning to drive from Vegas to Chicago in 3 days, including a stop at the Grand Canyon, or are you planning on the total trip to take 4 days?

    If you are only planning for 3 days total, then you just don't have time for the Grand Canyon. It is 3 hard days just to get from Vegas to Chicago on the most direct route. Even if you didn't actually "stop" and simply drove to the gates of Grand Canyon National Park and continued back on the road, it would require more miles than you can safely do in just 3 days. You need to plan on focusing on being a safe driver and stick to the direct route - I-15 to I-70 to I-76 to I-80. There's just no room on a trip like this on this timeframe to take scenic detours, unique dining experiences, etc. It's a workman like speed run, and that's what you'd need to focus on.

    If you have 4 days total, then you have some options. You still need to be looking to spend a night somewhere near the Grand Canyon, as it's a half day drive from Vegas and you need at least a half day just to scratch the surface of this huge park. You don't have to stay right at the Canyon, you could look at other options, like Flagstaff, Cameron, or you could look at visiting the North Rim, as John suggested, and stay around Kanab.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Like Michael, I had the same confusion when reading your trip plan.

    Going from Las Vegas to Chicago with a stop at the Grand Canyon's South Rim, you're looking at 2000+ miles. That is definitely more than a 3-day drive, even without doing any sightseeing at the Canyon. At GC, you really need to stop at the overlooks to see, and it's definitely a more leisurely pace along the GC roads. If you can give it a 4th day, you'd have enough time. From the Grand Canyon, you could take I-40 to I-44 to I-55. (Or, from I-44, you could use I-70 and then catch I-57, depending on where in Chicago you are headed.)

    Without going to the Grand Canyon, you could easily get to Chicago in 3 days, as long as you don't mind 3 long, hard 600 mile days on the road. BTW, that's about the amount of miles we'd recommend for anyone in a given day. Use the I-15/70/76/80 routing that Michael suggested. You won't regret I-70 through Utah and western Colorado: it's probably the most scenic interstate in the USA.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default If you have the four days......

    Should you choose the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you could drive through Zion NP. The North Rim is as spectacular, if not more so than the South Rim, 1000' higher and far less crowded. You can see it relatively quickly in your own car, without having to wait for the shuttle bus. If you stay in Kanab afterwards, you could even stay to watch a sunset. A wonderful experience. Driving to Kanab after dark is not bad at all, as it is a good road. You would want to have your accommodation arranged in Kanab.

    Next day take scenic US89 north to I-70, and if time permits, a quick drive through Bryce Canyon NP would be wonderful. Then, as mentioned above I-70 is one of the most scenic roads in the country. You'll want to stop a couple of times along that stretch. Although UT12 is another oft recommended spectacular drive through Utah, I don't think you would have time for that. It is quite a slow road.

    Have a safe trip.


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