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  1. Default Los Angeles to DC road trip

    Hi everyone. I am planning a long road trip from LA to DC. I actually live in Hawaii, so will be catching a plane ride to Los Angeles to begin my road trip. This is in part to see a friend in Houston, and another in the northern Virginia area. It is also a scenic trip. I want to see some of the national parks and outdoor nature. I have 14 days planned for the entire trip. I will be driving in a rental car picked up in LA and dropped off in DC. It will be a Toyota Corolla (what I drive at home), so a car I am obviously familiar with.

    I know the distance from LA to DC is a little over 2,500 miles. I'm planning to drive around 250 miles per day on average, so I'm estimating 5-6 hours per day, factoring in any traffic.

    I have a partial itinerary for Los Angeles to Houston. I don't know the route from Houston to DC. I need the most help there.

    Day 1 drive from LA to Vegas. Book a cheap hotel (Holiday/Comfort Inn type of place, nothing fancy and preferably somewhere off the strip).
    I have been to Vegas many times with family. I have seen the strip and downtown Vegas casinos/hotels, and the major attractions. I just want to start my trip and stop in a familiar place.

    Day 2 visit Hoover Dam in the morning. Spend 3-4 hours there. Leave Hoover Dam around 2-3 pm. Drive to somewhere close to the Grand Canyon. Maybe a small hotel/lodge around 15-20 miles from the Canyon. Sleep there for the night.

    Day 3 spend entire day enjoying Grand Canyon. Maybe watch sunset. Sleep at same lodge/hotel.

    Day 4 leave to drive to Petrified Forest. Leave at 10 am and get there around 2 pm. See the sights for the rest of the day/early evening. Sleep in hotel near forest for the night.

    Day 5 spend morning driving through forest one last time. Take pictures alongside the road. Drive to El Paso. Spend night at hotel there.

    Day 6 spend morning/early afternoon visiting museum/local attraction. Drive from El Paso to somewhere in the middle of Texas. Need help finding a town to stop over in for the night. Somewhere close to halfway between El Paso and Houston. If there's nothing to do in El Paso, maybe just drive for the whole day, finding a roadside place for lunch.

    Day 7 drive from middle of Texas to Houston. Arrive in Houston for the night.

    Day 8 spend day with friend in Houston. He has a day planned for me.

    Day 9 Visit museum district in Houston, maybe do a tour of the football or baseball stadiums.

    Days 10 to 14 From Houston to DC I need help planning route. Is 5 days enough time? Cities to spend a full day in? I like museums, parks, mountains, and lakes. Also any good restaurants for lunch or dinner? I enjoy seafood, pasta, and pretty much anything Japanese/Chinese.

    Thanks for all of your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Day 1 - No flight involved, right? Driving from LA to LV will take *about* 5 - 6 hours, depending on the time of day you depart and, believe it or not, what day of the week. If it's a Friday, plan on it taking 6-7 hours, as Californians head for the gaudy lights of LV for the weekend. Sundays can be the same way, depending on the time of the year. You could also stay in Henderson, Boulder City, Laughlin or Bullhead City, if you don't want to stay in LV itself.

    Day 2 - You have a few choices at the Grand Canyon. The closest town to the National Park is Tusayan, with lots of lodging choices. The next is Williams, which is about an hour's drive from GCNP. Or Flagstaff -- an hour and a half.

    Day 4 - Nearest town with lodging, to the Petrified Forest NP, is Holbrook. If you're into Route 66 lore, you can even sleep in a wigwam.

    Day 5 - Holbrook to El Paso via PFNP will be about 400 miles. Still, it's do-able.

    Day 6 - Day 7 - You have some possibilities here. It is definitely 2 days to get from EP to Houston, because it's 750 miles. If this were me, I'd consider going down to Big Bend NP on the first day -- about 320 miles, and spend the rest of the day seeing the park. Overnight at Marathon. Head into Houston the next day, but it's going to be more than 450 miles.

    Day 8 and 9 - if you are in to the American space program at all, have your friend take you to NASA. It's a great museum. Probably the best.



    Donna

  3. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Day 1 - No flight involved, right? Driving from LA to LV will take *about* 5 - 6 hours, depending on the time of day you depart and, believe it or not, what day of the week. If it's a Friday, plan on it taking 6-7 hours, as Californians head for the gaudy lights of LV for the weekend. Sundays can be the same way, depending on the time of the year. You could also stay in Henderson, Boulder City, Laughlin or Bullhead City, if you don't want to stay in LV itself.

    Day 2 - You have a few choices at the Grand Canyon. The closest town to the National Park is Tusayan, with lots of lodging choices. The next is Williams, which is about an hour's drive from GCNP. Or Flagstaff -- an hour and a half.

    Day 4 - Nearest town with lodging, to the Petrified Forest NP, is Holbrook. If you're into Route 66 lore, you can even sleep in a wigwam.

    Day 5 - Holbrook to El Paso via PFNP will be about 400 miles. Still, it's do-able.

    Day 6 - Day 7 - You have some possibilities here. It is definitely 2 days to get from EP to Houston, because it's 750 miles. If this were me, I'd consider going down to Big Bend NP on the first day -- about 320 miles, and spend the rest of the day seeing the park. Overnight at Marathon. Head into Houston the next day, but it's going to be more than 450 miles.

    Day 8 and 9 - if you are in to the American space program at all, have your friend take you to NASA. It's a great museum. Probably the best.



    Donna
    What do you recommend for hotels/lodging near Hoover Dam? If I stay there the first night, I won't have to drive very far the next morning to get to the Dam.

    Holbrook. What type of town is it? And how far is it from the Petrified Forest? Maybe I don't need to drive through the forest a second time if I get there early enough the previous day.

    Do you recommend another stopover town besides El Paso if I am driving from Holbrook? Is there a better spot to be in west Texas, which I have heard is mostly small, rural towns.

    I think I will take your advice on Big Bend.

    Thanks for the response.

  4. #4
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    Hotels/lodging near Hoover Dam...your best bet would probably be Boulder City. Many are mom-and-pop type, but there's a Quality Inn if you're looking for a familiar chain.

    Holbrook is a medium-sized town, not yet a "city", with all sorts of lodging and eateries available. It's about 20 miles west of Petrified Forest NP.

    Petrified Forest NP takes about 2 hours to do the drive starting at the freeway (I-40) and south, then another hour to head back to Holbrook. Take time at the Visitor Center up by the Painted Desert and then at the Petrified Rock Museum on the south end. Take 180 to get back to Holbrook. Or....do up the park on Day 4 and then head directly from the south end of the park to Springerville, AZ. It's slightly smaller than Holbrook, doesn't have the lodging choices, but it's up higher in the mountains and will be cooler than Holbrook -- almost 7000'. Take 191 south to I-10 and on to El Paso.

    West Texas is very sparsely populated. More towns have gasoline stations than lodging choices. Between El Paso and San Antonio, lodging was limited to Van Horn, Fort Stockton, Ozona, Sonora, Junction, and Kerrville.

    Do you have paper maps, or an atlas, for your trip?

    Donna

  5. Default

    Hi Donna. Thanks for the reply. I will stay at the Quality Inn near Hoover Dam. With Grand Canyon, I know there are two rims, North and South. Is one considered more scenic than the other? Since I only have one full day there, I'm going to pick one rim. What do you think offers more?

    I also see Amarillo and Fort Stockton mentioned as stop over towns in West Texas? Are either of these better choices than El Paso, for comfort and safety? I just plan on driving through Texas to get to Houston, other than visiting Big Bend Park.

  6. #6
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    Both rims are gorgeous. The north rim is less accessible....more driving to get there....with only basic services. Not as many places to stay nearby, either. The south rim is the one open all year, loads of services, loads more people, lodging so close.

    If you're dropping down from Petrified Forest to El Paso to get to Houston, Amarilo isn't on your route. Are you looking at a paper map?

    Donna

  7. #7
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    Default Two of the same thing.

    When it comes to the GC, from whichever angle you choose to view it, it is spectacular. It is after all one of the great natural wonders of the world. Everyone has their own opinion on which they prefer,

    The North Rim is 1000' higher than the South Rim, so the canyon looks deeper, but that is only a fraction of it's overall depth.

    The main differences of the two rims is that one is more developed tha the other. However services are almost the same at both. It is easier to drive yourself at the North Rim, at the South Rim you will be encouraged to take the shuttle. The drive into the North Rim is more Scenic, but the drive out of the South Rim, heading east is so much part of it all.

    For your trip it just would not make sense to go to the North Rim. You have a full day, go spend it at the South Rim, you will never regret it. If you can manage it, there is an IMAX theatre in Tusayan, where they show an excellent movie of the canyon - well worth seeing before you enter the park. It will help you appreciate all the more what you are looking at.

    Lifey

  8. Default

    Yeah I was looking at the wrong map, I see Amarillo is 600 miles away. I was browsing this forum looking for road trips from Houston to the Northeast area. I saw in the field reports forum that you did an across the USA road trip. How would you navigate from Houston to the DC area? I will have 5 days to get there. I'm not really looking for places to stay for a whole day, I would have seen the parks I wanted to before reaching Houston. And my friend in Virginia has planned to stay a couple of days in the Shenandoah Valley, so lots of nature there.

    I was thinking of going from Houston to Oklahoma City, to Little Rock, to Nashville, to Roanoke, to DC. One day in each city. Is that feasible? Or is there a route you recommend?

  9. #9
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    Is there a reason you want to go to Oklahoma City? You have to go northWEST to get there, and then turn east. Not that this is a completely bad thing.

    A more direct route would be to head north out of Houston to Little Rock, about 440 miles or roughly 8-9 hours (since you aren't on interstates). Then you're on I-40 until east TN, where you find I-81. You could spend a day in each city if you wanted to, if you have something you want to see in particular. (To me, all cities start to look alike, with the exception of Nashville on that list of yours.)


    Donna

  10. Default

    Ok, so Houston to Little Rock to Nashville to Roanoke, to DC would be a better route. I do want to spend a day in Nashville. Is there a more convenient stop over between Houston and Nashville you would consider besides Little Rock?

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