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  1. Default Advice for Norwegians driving through Southwestern USA. "Northern" vs Southern road?

    I'm planning a roadtrip across the US with a friend of mine, during the summer (or the months before / after)

    The part of the trip I'm currently planning is the one from Texas to Las Vegas.
    We want to really experience what's uniquely american, both in terms of scenery, but also people, cities/towns. This is a roadtrip so we plan on seeing most things as we go, that is, not spending multiple days in one place. We might of course decide to spend a day to explore something, but mostly we are going to do it while we drive.

    Now, the only thing for me that is a "must do" is visiting Grand Canyon and driving through the scenic roads and to see some of the highlights of the national parks in southern Utah.
    But I'm undecided about the route from Texas to Las Vegas.

    Alternative 1:
    This was my original plan.
    -Spend some time in Dallas
    -Drive northwest towards Amarillo (maybe Plainview or Lubbock). I have heard these towns are really as "texas" as it gets.
    -Take a scenic route through either Caprock Canyons State park or Palo Duro State park for some texas canyon scenery, maybe see some buffaloes in Caprock Canyon.
    -Take I-40 towards Alberquerque
    -Drive the Turqouise trail (US-14) to Santa Fee
    - Drive the Million Dollar Highway (US-550) towards Grand Juction in Colorado to get a taste of some of the Rockie Mountains
    -Drive the scenic route through Colorado National Monument. (I know Utah has much similar scenery, but on pictures this park looks amazing and it has a good scenic drive through)
    - Then begin our trip through southern Utah's national parks (Arches, Canyonland, Bryce etc), Monument Valley and Grand Canyon, before arriving in Las Vegas.

    After discovering that Tucson had some great scenery nearby, especially because the area is the only place to see the classic Saguaro cactus of the wild west, I created an alternative route to the south. Tucson also has an airforce museum that would interest my friend.

    Alternative 2:
    Drive from Houston, maybe short visit to San Antonio
    Follow I-10 through texas
    Visit Fort Davis
    Maybe ( a big maybe) visiting Big Bend National park if we find that it is worth the major detour.
    Follow I-10, maybe visit El Paso
    Visit Tombstone in Arizona on the way to Tucson
    Drive through some of the Saguaro filled parks near Tucson
    Visit the Pima Air & Space museum in Tucson
    Drive from Tucson to Sedona.
    Drive around Sedona before heading to Grand Canyon and the national parks in southern Utah.

    Which one would you recommend? I know I haven't given details on how many and where to spend the nights, but I'll find out that after finding a route.

    The pros with the first is that we get to see some Texas canyons, Santa Fee and experience some of the Rockie Mountains and Colorado National Monument.
    But we will miss the famous Saguaro desert environment and the red hills by Sedona (maybe also Big Bend if we choose to go)

    I know many people say the I-10 is extremely uninteresting. Especially during the summer. Well, we don't really mind the heat that much, and driving a straight road through desolated areas for a long time is part of the "American" road trip experience, so no huge setback for us. I drove through Death Valley in july and loved it. However, since it is quite close to the Mexican border, maybe it is not a good idea if we look for a true "american experience"? It would also maybe be a bit shame to entirely miss the Rocky Mountains on our cross country road trip (even though we'll likely pass Sierra Nevada later)

    What will give us the most "American" experience and the most fasinating scenery?
    I have trouble to decide! Any advice?
    Last edited by The Norwegian; 12-22-2014 at 11:52 AM.

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

    Default Whats the full picture ?

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    For me it would be the 'Million dollar Highway' and Utah's National parks in a heartbeat, but all that matters is what appeals to you the most. You can't drive anywhere in America and not truly 'experience it', so that should have little impact on your decision. It is difficult to help when we only have part of the jigsaw to hand. If we knew roughly the 'before and after' part of your trip and how long you have in total we might be able to make alternative suggestions. For example if you are doing a one way trip across America and zig-zagging your way up and down the country, you might find it simpler to create a loop trip and include all of the above. If you headed up the Million dollar Highway into Utah, Sedona isn't too far from the Grand canyon and you have places like the Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree NP if you were heading towards LA.

  3. Default


    Sorry for not providing more info about before and after. It's just that I'm in the early stages of planning. I don't know how much time we will have. I hope to get around 4 weeks, but minimum 3 weeks. The reason why I wanted to focus on that part rather than the whole was that I thought it would be easier not to deal with so much info about the entire roadtrip to confuse you guys. I know a lot of people are skeptical of driving across america in such a short time, so didn't want to bring up that discussion. Also the part from Texas to Las Vegas is the one that I find most fascinating, and the one where I immediatly began to see that I had a major dilemma in terms of route. The rest of the roadtrip, especially the eastern part, is not that important - Not so many major national parks and unique things in the east, so not too much to miss. We might therefore keep the drive in the east more spontaneous.
    But I do have a rough sketch:

    -From Washington DC we are thinking about driving along Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. That way e hopefully will experience some nice scenery of the Appalachian Mountains. It's a long stretch so we are probably going to take some detours, and spend a couple of nights along the way.

    -Maybe stay a night in Knoxville, before driving to Atlanta, where I know someone whom we might spend a night or two at.

    - Drive toward Mobile, visiting a couple of cool small towns on the way

    -Then onwards to New Orleans, and spend a night or more there before driving towards Texas
    Driving through some of the Bayou areas of Louisiana on the way.

    Now, the last part would most likely be to drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, visiting Joshua Tree park and spend some days in LA. We might also choosedrive from Las Vegas to San Francisco through Death Valley and Yosemite, before driving to LA along the coast. I've driven much of that way before last time visited, so I'm not sure we are taking the same route this time, and since Ive been there I don't have that many questions about that route if we decide to do so. But open to ideas of course!

    Thanks for your opinions!
    Last edited by The Norwegian; 12-22-2014 at 04:45 PM.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    For me it would be the 'Million dollar Highway' and Utah's National parks in a heartbeat, but all that matters is what appeals to you the most.
    We will see most of southern Utah's national parks anyway. So the tradeoff is really Colorado National Monument +Million Dollar Highway + Santa Fe + Palo Duro
    Fort Davis + (Big Bend) + Tucson/Saguaro/Air museum + Sedona.

    I know Sedona might be possible on the first alternative also, but we already have a way too optimistic route so I'm not certain if I can convince my friend to go there if it's not on the route, haha!
    Also, I just thought that if we take the Southern route, we might also get to take a detour to see the Hill country of Texas, might make the southern option more worthwhile?

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

    Default It's all good.

    Three to 4 weeks is a nice amount of time to travel with, although 4 is better than 3 as it soon disappears with so many options. ;-) As I mentioned, it's what appeals to you is the thing that is important and the Southern route is certainly "worthwhile". I like the mountain towns of Silverton and Ouray on the Million dollar Highway as well as the specatacular mountain scenery and short detours would take you to the historic remains at Mesa Verde NP and also the Black canyon of the Gunnison and from Colorado NM on to Arches and Canyonlands NP near Moab UT. On the southern route you could also look at Carlsbad Caverns and White sands and perhaps a 'pit stop' at Roswell which could be described as "Out of this world". As you have been to the west coast, have you considered flying out of Denver, taking the southern route out then up to the GC into Utah and then through the Rockies.

    Decisions, decisions.

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