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  1. Default Chicago, IL to Las Vegas road trip

    Hello everyone,

    I am planing a road trip from Chicago to Las Vegas at the end of March and i am pretty new to the world of road trips. My initial plan was to drive from Chicago to Denver and stop there and rest for a day and then do the rest of the trip to Las Vegas. I have only driven once for such a long distance and it was from Detroit, MI to Jacksonville, FL nonstop, which was very tiring. I would appreciate some insight and ideas about how to organize this trip and where to stop, car rental suggestions since i don't want to drive my SUV (gas milage not so good) and inexpensive hotels close to the highway so i don't have to wonder to much from my route.

    Thank you guys in advance,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    You need more than 2 days to get from Chicago to Las Vegas! It's 1750 miles and will take you 3 full days. Driving more than 600 miles a day is dangerous, and in fact is the legal limit for professional drivers. I-80/I-76/I-15 is in fact the fastest route, I'd recommend overnights around Lincoln NE and Grand Junction CO, both of which have a wide selection of motels and hotels in all budget ranges.

    At Lincoln, check at Exit 399, that's where the airport is. Among several others, there's a Motel 6 and Econo Lodge at the exit. At Grand Junction, Exit 31 has a Motel 6 and a Super 8, among others. This exit is also where the airport is.

    Be prepared for possible snow west of Denver, where I-70 climbs to over 11000 feet. will have real-time road conditions, they also have a mobile-friendly site if you have a smartphone.

    Taking the southern route (I-55/I-44/I-40/US-93) adds over 150 miles and will run you into a 4th day. Overnights would be Joplin MO, Amarillo TX, and Flagstaff AZ, all of which have a good selection of hotels by the highway. Local info - here in Joplin the Motel 6 is a dump, you are much better off at the Microtel (turn left) or Days Inn (turn right) at Exit 8. Amarillo has at least 2 Motel 6's, Ive stayed in one of them (Exit 73) and it was acceptable. Flagstaff has several hotels at Exit 195.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Basics first.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Firstly driving 1000 miles from Detroit to Jacksonville non stop is really irresponsible, it is suicidal and homicidal. Count your luck stars that you are here to tell the story. Many who have attempted such feats are not so lucky. Fatigued driving is one of the greatest contributers to road fatalities and the same, if not worse than drunk driving.

    There is a very good reason why professional drivers are limited to 600 miles for safety reasons.

    Similarly, Chicago to Denver is a two day drive. Do not repeat your previous tiring drive. This is a two day drive with an overnight around Omaha NE. Organise the rest of your trip in 500 - 600 miles stretches. That is a good 10 - 12 hours on the road without sightseeing. I-80 to I-76 to I-70 to I-15 would be your most direct route.

    Be sure to fill up in Green River UT, as there is a long stretch without services to Salina. Look at rest areas and Welcome Centres for hotel/motel discount coupon booklets for budget hotels along the way. Always ask to see the room before committing to it.

    As for rental cars... why do you not want to take your own car. It is always preferable to drive a vehicle with which you are familiar on a trip such as this. If it is well maintained, get a mechanic to look over it, mentioning what your plans are. You quote poor fuel consumption, but weigh this up against the cost of renting, along with all the extras. If you are under 25 there is a huge surcharge, and if it is a one way trip there will be a significant one way drop fee.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    As above, you need 2 overnight stops, minimum. Grand Island NE and Glenwood Springs CO would make good 'targets' for overnights.

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


    Quote Originally Posted by CMD View Post
    I have only driven once for such a long distance and it was from Detroit, MI to Jacksonville, FL nonstop, which was very tiring.
    Not only was it very tiring, that was extremely dangerous. We can say for an absolute fact that by the time you arrived in Florida, your driving abilities were similar to those of a drunk driver. It's just biology - a human simply can't sit in a moving car that long and keep the alertness level needed to be a safe driver. As others have said, you need to plan for at least 2 overnight stops.

    car rental suggestions since i don't want to drive my SUV (gas milage not so good)
    How long are you going to be gone for, and I assume this is going to be a round trip? Depending upon the details, it could end up being much more expensive to rent a car, especially considering the relatively low price of gas right now.

    That said, renting does have some advantages - you'll get a nice, new car and don't have to worry about any repairs or problems on the road. If you go that route, you'll find the best deals by looking at regular cars, I'd consider going with something at least intermediate, which will usually get you something like a Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cruze, etc. Typically, that won't cost much more than an economy or compact car, but will usually get you a much nicer car (rental economy cars are usually very bare bones, and may not have even basic comforts like cruise control). You can start comparing prices by using RTA's search tool on the right side of this page.

  6. Default Thanks

    Thank you for the tips. These are some good options.

  7. Default

    Hi there!!
    I am fully aware of how irresponsible i was, but that's how you are when you're young and pretty stupid sometimes. You make poor choices.
    Anyway, it's gonna be a round trip and i will leave on March 29 and i have to be back by April 7th. The only reason that i am not using my car is that i don't wanna put that milage on it yet because i am not sure how long i'm going to keep it. I am over 30 years old so i guess i passed that 25y/o limit where things could be really expensive when renting a car. Should i worry about snow at the end of March like glc said in a previous post? Anyone know anything about that?
    I really appreciate the input guys, thank you!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Since it doesn't seem like you're looking to do any siteseeing on the drive, and since you have a pretty limited amount of time, have you considered flying? Last month, I flew from O'Hare to Vegas for about $150 round trip - less than the cost of driving. Then you could rent a car in Vegas, and perhaps use the extra time out west to do daytrips to places like Zion, Death Valley, or Valley of Fire, or even do an overnight trip out to the Grand Canyon?

    If you do drive, snow is certainly a possibility. It's not extremely likely, but the chance is there. Early Season Rockies games in Denver get snowed out in April from time to time. There is enough of a chance that you should be aware of the forecasts, and possibly look at taking other routes (either I-80 across Wyoming, or down to I-40) that travel at lower elevations.

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