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  1. #1

    Default San Diego to Boulder via Southern Route

    Planning a trip for summer with my 12 year old son. Want to drive from San Diego to Boulder through Arizona & New Mexico. I'm planning on 5 days to get there. Looking for suggestions where to stop, where to stay, and fun things to do & explore.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Don't Overload It

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    A good route that takes you past a number of great sites will take about two and a half days to drive. That would leave you with the other two and a half days to explore those sites. That tends to be a pretty good mix, so don't go trying to add a lot of miles that will simply cut down on the time you have to actually get out of the car and appreciate the great country you'll be driving through. But by the same token, don't try to add a lot of sites (There are far more than you have time for on this route!) that will just overload your son or worse, make you drag him away just as he's starting to really get the feel for where he's at. Try for only one relatively major stop (a few hours) each day, with maybe a smaller one to break up the driving portion of the day.

    The basic route I'd suggest is I-15/CA-79 north to I-10 east to Exit 172 at Desert Center; CA-177/CA-62/US-195 up to I-40 east near Needles; Leave I-40 at Williams and take AZ-64 up through Grand Canyon National Park to Cameron; US-89/US-160 to Kayenta and then US-163 to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park; Return to US-160, make a quick stop at the Four Corners Monument and continue on to Mesa Verde National Park and Durango; US-550 north through Silverton to US-50 through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison; Finish up on US-285 into Denver and US-36 up to Boulder.

    Major stops could include: Joshua Tree National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park at your destination. If you plan on stopping at four or more national parks, buy the annual pass at the first one you come to. This will cover entry fees to all parks, but 'extras' such as camping and concession fees will still cost. Also stop at a Ranger Station or Visitor Center when you first get to a ark and sign your son up for the Junior Ranger Program, which entails age-appropriate activities and rewards him with certificates and patches - nice free souvenirs.

    As for where t stop, you'll first have to work out which major stops you're going to make and than how much you really want to drive each day. As noted, the pace you'll need to maintain to have a very relaxed exploration while still getting to Boulder in five days is around 250-300 miles a day, leaving plenty of time to see lots of good stuff on the way.


  3. #3


    Thanks for the detailed reply. Really appreciate it. My son and I went to the Grand Canyon last spring, so I was thinking of starting with Tombstone, AZ. Have you been there? I could see us stopping at one of the national parks -- if you have been to them all, which one besides the Grand Canyon would you suggest.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Via Tombstone

    If Tombstone is on your list instead of the Grand Canyon, that's certainly possible. But the route would be quite a bit different. Instead of heading north to begin, start out eastbound on I-8. Maybe visit the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum outside Tucson, The Pima Air and Space Museum if your son is at all into planes, and certainly Kartchner Caverns just south of Benson AZ. From Deming NM, use NM-26 to get on I-25 north through New Mexico. If your son is a sci-fi fan, he might enjoy a visit to the VLA outside Socorro which has been featured in a number of movies, and Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque is certainly a unique stop. But what I'd really suggest, if you come this basic way, is to get off I-25 around this point and instead use US-285 as your main route north into central Colorado and take the opportunity to see the Taos Pueblo, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Pikes Peak, or some combination thereof.


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