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  1. #1

    Default Road tripping in May

    I'm planning a road trip starting sometime around the end of May. It's just going to be my girlfriend and me. We are planning on going from MN out to Denver, from there heading south down towards Mexico, up to Washington then back to MN. This trip is for no reason other then I love to drive and I'm looking for some of the best driving roads along the way.

    I figure I can get to Denver in a day then stay at a buddies house. Here's where I could use some help. When we leave Denver and head south what are some great roads through the mountains? I would like to avoid as many interstates and divided highways as possible. I would like to keep it paved as much as possible because I'm in a mustang that is not to far off from being a track car. The only real destinations heading south are some desert, mountains then in California hit El Mirage and the Salton sea.

    I planning on taking the PCH up to Washington but if anyone has advice for roads worth driving along the way I would love to hear them. Again out of Washington I'm looking for some great twisty roads back to Mount Rushmore.

    I have some great maps and some ideas but if anyone has first hand experience with great roads and especially little know roads it would be great. And for any roads mentioned any info on police presence would also be great.

    Thanks,
    Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default Time factor ?

    Hello and welcome to RTA !

    How long are you planning to be on the road for ? You certainly would have a lot of miles ahead of you and on multi day trips we don't recommend covering more than 5-600 miles per day and that would be with no sight seeing. You don't say where in MN you are starting from but getting to Denver in a day will bust right through that 'safety barrier' when fatigue sets in.

    Police presence could be found on any stretch of highway at any time of day so it's better to keep within the law or face the consequences. [Not preaching, it's just how it is]

    As for specific roads to drive I think you first need to build a more detailed itinerary for us to give meaningful advice. Search around the forums and other areas of the site [look down the page] for ideas and inspiration.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Back to basic geography.

    First thing you need to do is get hold of good detailed maps of the States through which you plan to travel. It is also helpful to have one of the whole US. When you have those, follow the advice in this paragraph:-

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    Start with maps. Not GPS, not software, not Google, but real honest-to-god paper maps that show you your entire route, that you can mark up (and erase), that you can stick pins in, and that show something about the land you'll be driving through. Those are your essential tool in any RoadTrip planning process. Start by marking all the places you know you want to visit. Then connect the dots. Then look for more places of interest and scenic routes along the lines connecting the dots. Repeat until you've got as many sites and roads as you think you want.
    Good maps are available from AAA (free to members), or you might prefer a road atlas such as published by Rand McNally. Maps are invaluable when planning a trip, and essential when on the road.

    Out of Washington I have loved US2. It may not be twisty, but it is a great road with a lot of variety, from the wide open plains through MT to the GTTSR in Glacier NP.

    Lifey

  4. #4

    Default

    We will actually start the journey from just north of souix falls South Dakota. I've personally done over 1000 miles in a day and the 2 of us have driven straight through to Virginia beach, about 1400 miles each way, driving in shifts but I'm thinking the 500 miles a day will be more realistic so we can stop to see the sights along the way. I'm planning on leaving souix falls early on a Saturday with the whole next week off but I'll let them know it could run into the second week.

    I've used benchmark maps in Arizona when I was there for work and I was able to find a bunch of great roads. I'm not a fan of using gps' they never seem to be the most entertaining drive.

    As far as the itinerary goes after Denver its just to head south then back north just looking for great roads. We're just going to wing it. No hotel plans or anything. If we run out of time we will just start heading back.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Just because you have done something that's unbelievably dangerous - like driving more than 1,000 miles without stopping for real sleep - in the past without hurting yourself or others, does not mean you will be so lucky in the future. Make no mistake, driving those distances without stopping for sleep is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk - and just like someone will often drive drunk 100 times before they crash or get caught, it doesn't mean the first 99 times were safe. Eventually your luck will run out if you continue to fight the laws of human physiology.

    I do think your plan of just winging it will serve you quite well here. Benchmark maps can be very good, but even just a standard road atlas is extremely helpful - look for the routes marked as scenic drives (and there will be a lot of them in the mountains). With just a week or even a bit more for your entire round trip, there is just no way you can reasonably expect to get to the west coast, must less drive the very slow going PCH, so I would throw that idea out completely, and just focus on enjoying your time exploring new roads in the mountain west.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lex158 View Post
    We will actually start the journey from just north of souix falls South Dakota. I've personally done over 1000 miles in a day and the 2 of us have driven straight through to Virginia beach, about 1400 miles each way, driving in shifts but I'm thinking the 500 miles a day will be more realistic so we can stop to see the sights along the way. I'm planning on leaving souix falls early on a Saturday with the whole next week off but I'll let them know it could run into the second week.
    First, I agree with every bit of advice given above. We are experienced road Trippers, and none of us would exceed 600 miles driving in one day. That is straight driving with stops only for fuel, food and short rest breaks - no sightseeing at all.

    That said, you should limit your mileage to around 300 or less per day. Scenic roads are usually a lot slower to drive than divided highways and they have more to see and do along them. With only a week to complete the trip, I advise that you stick to the sights in the Rockies. within 100 miles of Denver you have Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Evans (the highest paved road in the continental US), Pikes Peak, and about a dozen state parks. In fact, there are more scenic drives around Denver than anywhere else in the country. Just get a Colorado map and look for those dotted lines along the roads.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lex158 View Post
    As far as the itinerary goes after Denver its just to head south then back north just looking for great roads. We're just going to wing it. No hotel plans or anything. If we run out of time we will just start heading back.
    Most interstate highways are built parallel to another road. A good example is I-40, which parallels old Route 66 from California to Oklahoma City, where I-44 then takes up the parallel route. So, going from Denver to Mount Evans, you can drive US40, the parallel road to I-70, or my preference is to take I-70 to Exit 252 and then drive down US74 to CO103, which is very scenic. It takes you right to Echo Lake, the starting point for the Mount Evans road. And, in case it hasn't yet been mentioned, buy yourself a National Parks "America the Beautiful" pass at the first national park you visit. It costs $80, but will pay for itself after the first three parks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    4 roads that stick out in my mind are US-550 between Montrose and Durango CO, UT-128 between Cisco and Moab UT, UT-12 between Torrey and Bryce Canyon UT, and UT-143 between Panguitch and Parowan UT.

    Another great road is US-34 between Loveland and Granby CO, through RMNP.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    305

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Another great road is US-34 between Loveland and Granby CO, through RMNP.
    Trail Ridge Road may not be open. They use rotary snow plows and other equipment to try to get it open for Memorial Day (last Monday in May). Seems like it's a very last minute success most years. Then it will open and close occasionally as snowstorms and runoff re-freezing happens.
    High country roads can be pretty but May is on the early side.

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