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  1. #1

    Default Prudent Route? Washington DC to Los Angles in Early March

    First: thanks for all the great info in sticky's and trip reports. Very helpful for deciding a route and creating a todo list for preparation. Glad to read sound advice for once about researching, weather monitoring, and paper maps vs. solely relying on a GPS.

    Background: leaving early March moving from Washington DC to Los Angeles.

    Desired trip duration: 8-9 days, with a 10th day possible for weather delays. We're not inclined to drive more than 600-700 miles a day even though there are two of us.

    Passengers: Two adults; one who loves long drives, but grew up in the south and not a huge amount of experience driving in snow/ice; one who doesn't love long drives, but lots of experience driving in snow/ice in New England/Mid-Atlantic and several solo road trips with challenging drives. And a 10 pound dog who travels well in the car, but can't be boarded in a kennel.

    Vehicle: 2009 Chevy Traverse SUV, All Wheel Drive.

    I'm looking for a sanity check on the route below we've tentatively mapped out.


    Primary Route being considered:

    Day 1: 270/70/76 to Cleveland
    Day 2: 90 to Chicago
    Day 3: 55 to Springfield MO, then 72/36 to Macon
    Day 4 (Break Day): Tourist stop in Marceline MO, Short Day of Driving 36/35 to Kansas City MO/Lawrence KS
    Day 5: 70 to Denver
    Day 6: 25 to Santa Fe
    Day 7: 40 to Flagstaff
    Day 8 (Break Day): Detour to Grand Canyon (Need recommendations here for a route and pet friendly lodging in winter... would have loved to do a park lodge, but no dogs allowed)
    Day 9: 40/15 to Los Angeles


    Route Above Mapped on Google with Mileage

    Any Alternates to Consider Once 3-5 Day Weather Forecasts are Known?

    To avoid Great Lakes weather, take 70 until Denver?
    To avoid Raton Pass/25 weather issues: could continue on 70 to 15?

    Originally, we would have preferred to take the most northern route, since hubs hasn't done that drive before (and has done TX/OK ad nauseum) and the scenery is supposedly unbeatable, however, 90 ends us too far north on the west side of the divide with no good southwestern cuts southward (I've recently done SEA to SFO on the coast as a solo road trip). 80 seems the worst of the winter pass options. Any scenic options along the route above are welcome (subject to weather, of course).

    Overnight Stop Recommendations? We welcome recommendations from anyone's past experience. (We know people in Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, and Denver, hence those factor into our plans to stay overnight near those cities and grab dinner with friends, etc... but we haven't scoped out hotels nor any specifics for the nights in MO and AZ.

    Cheers.
    ~M

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,217

    Default mostly solid

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think you've got a perfectly solid plan. I assume you mean Springfield, IL, and not Springfield, MO on day 3. All of your drives are reasonably spaced out. None of them, except your time at the Grand Canyon, won't leave you much time to explore any single place, but you should have at least a little time to get a quick look around or spend the evening at each stop.

    If the forecast looks poor along the great lakes, then sticking to I-70 is a perfectly reasonable option, you could still make your stop in Macon, either by taking I-74 at Indianapolis to I-72 at Champaign, or just sticking to I-70 through St. Louis and cutting back north around Columbia.

    You're far more likely to have issues on I-70 west of Denver than you would be on Raton Pass (although both Raton Pass, and the several passes along I-40 would still have the chance of snow), although especially by march I wouldn't rule out I-70 either. Depending upon how attached you are to Santa Fe, you might look at say going to Moab, looking around Arches and Canyonlands, then head down through Monument Valley on your way to the Grand Canyon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,675

    Default

    Hi, welcome! I've mapped out a similar route for us, going in the opposite direction. It looks like you've got some good planning there.

    Day 4 (Break Day): Tourist stop in Marceline MO, Short Day of Driving 36/35 to Kansas City MO/Lawrence KS
    Are you planning to do the Disney Museum in Marceline? It's closed through March 1st, so it's a good thing you're not going until early March. Still, I'd call when you get to Springfield, IL, to ensure that you won't be going out of the way for nothing. Also, it's traditionally closed on Mondays, so ensure that you're not planning to go on a Monday. There is a good restaurant, Ma Vic's Place, and a great ice cream shop (homemade ice cream) called Yumeez. These are the places we went when we were in Marceline a few years back, and were very happy!

    Day 8 (Break Day): Detour to Grand Canyon (Need recommendations here for a route and pet friendly lodging in winter... would have loved to do a park lodge, but no dogs allowed)
    Check in Tusayan, which is right outside of the park boundary, or an hour away in Williams. You should find something that will accept dogs. Just don't expect any to allow you to leave your dogs while you go tour the park.


    Donna

  4. #4

    Default

    Great suggestion about Monument Valley— thanks! There’s nothing we’re looking to see in Santa Fe, so if weather cooperates we may just do that! (And yes, I typed the wrong Springfield.)

    Will research places around Tusayan. Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,907

    Default

    If you decide to go via Moab and Monument valley (highly recommended) then you could consider staying at the Cameron Trading post which is located close to the east entry point to the South rim. In my opinion it's the best way to enter the GC as you follow the direction of the Colorado river starting with some open views at the Watchtower and build up to the breath taking view of the main canyon area.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    If you decide to go via Moab and Monument valley (highly recommended) then you could consider staying at the Cameron Trading post which is located close to the east entry point to the South rim. In my opinion it's the best way to enter the GC as you follow the direction of the Colorado river starting with some open views at the Watchtower and build up to the breath taking view of the main canyon area.
    Dave, any thoughts on how difficult 161/60/89 from Moab to Cameron are to navigate in winter? (That's the route to take from Moab to Cameron, yes?)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,907

    Default

    I doubt you will have a problem but you never know with that pesky weather ! You start out on 191 (not 161) but then take 163 as it will take you right by the Buttes of Monument valley which is a wonderful sight. You could take a break here and enjoy the surroundings. This is a lovely drive and very easy in normal circumstances.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    There is a good restaurant, Ma Vic's Place, and a great ice cream shop (homemade ice cream) called Yumeez. These are the places we went when we were in Marceline a few years back, and were very happy!
    Yes -- we're going to check out the museum -- thanks for the restaurant tip, Donna! I had seen the note about being closed Mondays and until March. Will avoid and will call ahead... just in case ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    I doubt you will have a problem but you never know with that pesky weather ! You start out on 191 (not 161) but then take 163 as it will take you right by the Buttes of Monument valley which is a wonderful sight. You could take a break here and enjoy the surroundings. This is a lovely drive and very easy in normal circumstances.
    Thanks for the info, Dave! Looks like we're making that our primary choice of route now. (It bumped a stop to the Very Large Array out of contention.) Fingers crossed for good weather.

    ~M

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