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  1. Default Road Trip Advice: Memphis to California Pacific in Mid December

    I can leave the 14th, but have to be back in time for Christmas. I have never been out west, and this might be my last opportunity to do so because I will be graduating college on the 11th. I will be by myself, but I deliver pizzas as a part time job, so I am accustomed to being in a car all day. I want to be able to see the scenic stuff and want to know where i could lodge. It's more of a scenic vacation and I also would like to know some good nature things I can see like the grand canyon.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    A couple things to note before we say anything else. Roadtrip driving is not nearly the same as delivering pizzas. Long hours on the highways is just a completely different kind of experience of stop and go, getting in and out of the car, driving you're used to.

    Also, it's kind of silly to say that as a recent college graduate that this would be your "last opportunity" to go on a roadtrip. This might be your first opportunity, but the only reason it would be your last is if you choose to make it so. That really is important, because if you start with the idea that this will be your "last" roadtrip, you're likely to try to see "everything," rather than just enjoying what you can.

    You're looking at an 1800 mile trip from Memphis to LA, so that's a minimum of 3 to 4 days on the road, each way before detours to the Grand Canyon or anywhere else. Near the Grand Canyon, there are tons of other National Parks - like Painted Desert/Petrified Forest, Zion, and Bryce Canyon, just to name a few. There's also places like Death Valley or other National Parks in California, and then there are lots of scenic places that aren't national parks, like the California Coast you might consider.

    With 11 days available, you'll have to decide which places you want to focus your time. I'd certainly start by looking at a good map so you can really see just how many options you have. Once you have a better idea of what you want to do, we'll be in a better position to help you put everything together.

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    A couple things to note before we say anything else. Roadtrip driving is not nearly the same as delivering pizzas. Long hours on the highways is just a completely different kind of experience of stop and go, getting in and out of the car, driving you're used to.

    Also, it's kind of silly to say that as a recent college graduate that this would be your "last opportunity" to go on a roadtrip. This might be your first opportunity, but the only reason it would be your last is if you choose to make it so. That really is important, because if you start with the idea that this will be your "last" roadtrip, you're likely to try to see "everything," rather than just enjoying what you can.

    You're looking at an 1800 mile trip from Memphis to LA, so that's a minimum of 3 to 4 days on the road, each way before detours to the Grand Canyon or anywhere else. Near the Grand Canyon, there are tons of other National Parks - like Painted Desert/Petrified Forest, Zion, and Bryce Canyon, just to name a few. There's also places like Death Valley or other National Parks in California, and then there are lots of scenic places that aren't national parks, like the California Coast you might consider.

    With 11 days available, you'll have to decide which places you want to focus your time. I'd certainly start by looking at a good map so you can really see just how many options you have. Once you have a better idea of what you want to do, we'll be in a better position to help you put everything together.
    If I accept a job offer then it would be quite some time before I get a free week or two. I usually drive from Knoxville to Memphis and I've driven 9 hours to florida before. My friend told me to drive to make as close to New Mexico as you can before your first stop. Is this a good idea or not?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Not a good idea.

    My friend told me to drive to make as close to New Mexico as you can before your first stop. Is this a good idea or not?
    Not ! It's about 800 miles to the NM border which is to far to safely drive in one day and even more so as part of a multi day road trip. You shouldn't drive more than 5-600 miles on any given day, but to do that you would need the weather to play a part and produce a storm. Travelling at this time of year means you should be able to 'wing it' and not book lodgings in advance, just don't push too far as this trip would need to be treated like a marathon and not a sprint. Push hard on the first day or 2 when you are fresh and keen will leave you tired and miserable as you go further into the trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    You can safely drive from Memphis to the Grand Canyon in 2.5 days via I-40. First overnight should be Clinton OK and second overnight should be Gallup NM. This assumes you have good weather and road conditions. Take US-89 north out of Flagstaff and enter the GC via the east entrance on AZ-64.

    From the GC, you can drive to LA in one long day via I-40 and I-15.

  6. #6

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    Jalex, are you a camper or planning to stay in motels? Do you have specific destinations in mind for the California Coast? Ten days for the Grand Canyon and Pacific Coast are not really practical objectives. If the Pacific Coast is a must-do destination I would suggest flying and renting a car. Or, drive and visit some of the Arizona, Utah and Colorado national parks/monuments with enough time to enjoy them. Realistically you are going to average 55 mph on the road when considering meal & restroom stops, stretching your legs and encountering various construction backups/detours or vehicle accidents.

    Stay tuned to the weather and be sure to check the forecasts 5 to 7 days out! One weather diversion could add 1000 miles to your planned trip!

  7. #7

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    Hi, and welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You don't say why you want to make LA the far point, but you must have some reason. If you don't have to stay there more than a day or so, I'd suggest that you make it a lazy loop trip. Go across I-40 to Flagstaff, up 89 to Cameron and into GC from there. spend a day to take in the canyon and then go straight down to Williams to pick up either I-40, or Old Route 66 over to Kingman. Then it's I-40 to Barstow and I-15 to LA; great Mojave Desert scenery!

    On the return trip use I-10/I-20/I-30/I-40 as your main highways for some completely different scenery. That will give you several other parks to see, Suguaro, Karchner Caverns and Chiricahua to name three. Five days each way should provide some room for side trips and sight seeing. The difference in mileage between the northern and southern routes is less than 100 miles.

    Now, get some paper maps of each state you will visit and see what is there. Also, use the Map Wizard section of this website to see what road trip attractions are along the way. There is plenty to see and do, as you will discover.

    I hope this helps. You have a good opportunity to see the Southwest. Oh, and if it hasn't been said yet, allow for an average of 50mph, so if you're traveling 400 miles, it will be at least an 8 hour drive even though the speed limits will be higher than that.
    Last edited by Harry Kline; 11-25-2015 at 07:54 AM. Reason: Addition of southern routes

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Kline View Post
    Hi, and welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I hope this helps. You have a good opportunity to see the Southwest. Oh, and if it hasn't been said yet, allow for an average of 50mph, so if you're traveling 400 miles, it will be at least an 8 hour drive even though the speed limits will be higher than that.
    No quibbles from me in choosing 55 or 50 mph with the lower speed certainly easier to calculate mentally! And, it builds in a little more time to pullover and see the sights and not feel rushed.

    On a recent road trip "speed run" east of the Mississippi through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and MD (mostly I-70), my average speed was roughly under 60 mph (top speed limits of 70 most of that journey). One detour in Indiana due to 20+ mile road construction project. Out west I may have covered ground at an average of 65 to 70 mph in 80 mph zones, but only when there was nothing of interest between point A and point B. One never knows when road construction, an accident or trucking will slow you down. Plotting a program for an average speed of advance of 50 mph is a prudent thing to do.

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