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  1. Default San Diego to Denver in December

    Hi everyone! I am so happy that I found this site - my husband and I are moving from Australia to San Diego later this year, where we will live for about 2 years. During this time we are hoping to do a lot of road trips with friends and family that come over to visit!

    The first trip we are thinking about is driving to Denver (actually Fairplay/Breckenridge) in December so we can celebrate a white Christmas...seems like the quickest route is to go via the I-70 in Utah but I have no idea if there is anything interesting to see on the way or if driving this route in winter is going to be a problem due to snow etc.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    The quickest route to Denver is USUALLY I-15 north to the 70 east. Fair warning: watch the forecasts before you leave, as I-70 west of Denver gets to about 11,000 ft elevation and can get a LOT of snow. That said, though, it is about the most beautiful stretch of interstate highway in the USA. We love that route.

    From San Diego, Denver is about a 2-day drive without any sightseeing stops. Midway point is roughly Beaver, UT. If you have more time than that, there are some great places to see. These would include Zion National Park, Colorado National Monument, Arches National Park is not too far from I-70, Dinosaur National Monument. Then there is the "hanging freeway" through Glenwood Canyon along I-70. Every rest area between Rifle and Denver has something different to be seen.

    If the weather is uncooperative for I-70, perhaps taking I-15 to I-40 to I-25 would work. It's a little extra driving, and 40 is not without issues (it gets up to 7000 ft elevation), but it's an alternative - perhaps the return to San Diego could be done on that route.

    BTW, an early welcome to our fair city!


    Donna (in San Diego County)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default With Time Comes Options

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    What really matters with this trip, as with many others, is the amount of time that you have for the trip. Under the best of circumstances San Diego to Fairplay is a two day drive. A large part of that is simply getting out of San Diego and through the Inland Empire that is the eastern portion of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. And that two days allows no time for stops or any margin for bad weather slowing you down.

    That's not to say that the drive itself is uninteresting, quite the opposite. I-15 up to north of Las Vegas traverses some magnificent desert and I-40 east over the San Rafael Swell is a gorgeous highway. But if you can take three to four days for the drive then things really begin to open up. Just a sampling of some of the great parks on your way: Mojave National Preserve, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, and Colorado National Monument. Now you obviously can't visit all of those even if you took a full four days, but it will give you some options to choose from.

    AZBuck

  4. Default

    Thanks very much to both of you for the info! We will actually have fair bit of time to do the trip - we can take as much time as we like to do the trip to CO....could even take 1-2 weeks if we wanted to but we will have a bit less time on the way back to San Diego (maybe 3 or 4 days).

    I will be travelling with my parents and my 1 year old baby - my husband may or may not join us for the road trip, depending on work commitments (he might just fly to Denver). We had planned to go to the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley whilst my parents are visiting and I've just worked out that we could do it on the way to CO if we went through AZ (thank goodness for Google Maps!) - very convenient!

    So I am thinking that we could go via Grand Canyon and Monument Valley on the way there, then come back on the I-70. I will have a look at those national parks that you have both suggested - there is just so much to see, I am so excited!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Save a Dollar or Two

    If you plan to visit four or more national parks/monuments on your travels, you should buy an annual parks pass at the first one you come to. The $80 pass is good for the holder and everyone in his/her car for admissions, but not for other fees such as camping and concessions.

    AZBuck

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    I-40 east over the San Rafael Swell
    That's I-70, not I-40.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Google maps may be convenient, but good maps are essential on the road.

    Quote Originally Posted by Splef View Post
    We had planned to go to the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley whilst my parents are visiting and I've just worked out that we could do it on the way to CO if we went through AZ (thank goodness for Google Maps!) - very convenient!
    Since you have some time to explore on the way to Denver, get hold of some really good maps, such as AAA (free to members), and/or get yourself a Rand McNally road atlas, and you will see in detail all the other large and small attractions along the way. It will also show you just how many scenic routes there are, getting you off the interstates and through the local country. (A Rand McNally would actually make a nice souvenir for your parents to take home, especially if you highlight all the roads on which travel - and keep a journal.)

    Once you have planned your trip, be sure to take the maps/atlas on the road with you. Do not be tempted to rely solely on your electronics. Many have done so at their peril - some fatal.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,749

    Default A few of many options.

    From Grand canyon through Monument valley you have [more than] a few options you could choose from. You could drive to Moab and visit Arches and Canyonlands and then head to I70 via Castle valley on UT128. Close to I70 you will find Colorado National Monument and Glenwood Springs. With the time you have you could also double back a way from Monument and head to Page AZ [Antelope canyon, Horseshoe bend, Lake Powell] and take in Zion, Bryce canyon and Capital Reef NP on route to Moab. Another option would be to head to Mesa Verde NP near Cortez via Four corners Monument from Monument valley. Then head to Durango where you could continue to Pagosa Springs and onto Poncha Springs with a possible detour to Great Sand dunes NP, or drive from Durango to Montrose through the wonderful mountain towns of Silverton and Ouray on the Million dollar Highway. The take US50 east past Black canyon, through Currecanti National recreation area and over Monarch pass to Poncha Springs and north to Breckenridge. As has been mentioned, before deciding you would have to check conditions before travelling.

  9. Default

    Thanks for the tips - have just purchased a Rand McNally road atlas and will make sure we take it with us! That's great that it shows the attractions that are along the way too. The only thing (apart from National Parks) that I have stumbled upon in my research is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway. It looks like it would be great in winter!
    Last edited by Splef; 03-06-2016 at 05:22 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Durango - Silverton Train


    That little train is a wonderful trip. But I understood that it does not go all the way to Silverton in winter. Even in May it was snowing when we got to Silverton.

    Lifey

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