Kansas City to LA...June 13-22 Any suggestions? Places?
Any festivals? Places in Vegas? Grand Canyon out of the way? Thanks.
What to do and see from KC to LA
This trip takes you primarily on Interstates 70 and 15. Kansas has rolling plains typical of the region. The most scenic stretches are in the eastern portion of the state. As you get closer to Colorado, things tend to flatten out (not what you'd expect given Colorado's reputation for peaks). Budget your fuel and lodging well in western Kansas as selection becomes more limited.
Eastern Colorado is unfortuantely quite barren. You're not going to gain any significant altitude until you are beyond Denver, but once you get to Denver, you can afford to see some of the attractions. There are a multitude of parks and monuments in the region, including notables Pike's Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park. Boulder and Fort Collins are home to breweries that offer tours and free samples. Denver has all the amenities of a big city, including shopping, pro sports teams, and good lodging.
After Denver, you're going to gain significant altitude quickly. You're entering the mountains. Make sure you check out your vehicle before proceeding and constantly watch engine temps (don't speed, though- it's dangerous; you'll make up time when the speed limit goes to 75 mph later on).
Ski towns abound, including Snowmass, Aspen, Vail, Copper Mountain, and Glenwood Springs (which has very nice hot springs and history). These towns typically have many festivals during spring and summer. Lots of tremendous scenery on the way. You may consider white-water rafting as well (if not here on the Colorado River, later on in Arizona).
Stop in Grand Junction for the night. It's the last major town you hit before Las Vegas. If you have time, tour from this. Ouray is called "Little Switzerland" and is two hours south. Very very nice place with reasonable lodging. Telluride is also down this way and is chock full of celebrity homes, festivals, and shops that rival LA in cost.
In Utah and Nevada, you'll need to keep the gas tank full. There are few stops along the way; though, the highway patrol is diligent should you have a breakdown.
If approaching Utah from I-70, stop in Moab to see Arches and Canyonlands. Moab is a great town to day-hike in. Cool western scenery, good mountain-biking, and plenty of outdoor activities. Decision time. You can head south on HW 191 toward Grand Canyon or you can head west toward Las Vegas (you'll get to Vegas either way, but the scenic route will add at least a day to your trip). If you go the scenic route, you'll go by Lake Powell, Manti-La Sal National Forest, and down to Grand Canyon. Blanding and Monticello are good places to stop for fuel and a bite to eat in Utah. If you go south, hit Grand Canyon, then head on Vegas or straight on to Los Angeles.
If you stick to the interstate, stop in Cedar City or St. George for fuel and to see the regional parks. You're almost to Vegas, baby! Vegas. Need I say more.
Watch your fuel and don't lose all your money gambling. Stops from Vegas to Los Angeles are spartan. Before you get to Vegas, you can visit San Bernadino (made famous for old Route 66) and Hollywood.
Notes: (people will hate me for saying this) Most parks in Utah, Nevada, and Arizona share a similar terrain and topography. There is a surplus of park and recreational land in the west because there is no other good use for it!You can afford to be selective. Pick the ones that meet your schedule. Also remember- the West is one dry place. After you cross the continental divide in Colorado it's arid and downhill in altitude. Happy hunting.
It seems obvious
As much as we applaud Tim's excellent suggestions, we too take exception with his characterization of the parks in the west. Each of the national parks is unique and offers scenery, flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world.
They are similar much in the way that one could argue that Las Vegas and Seattle and Manhattan are similar because people inhabit them. However, no resident of any of these cities would ever suggest that they are the same.
Finally, I wonder what Tim would consider a good performing use of land? Perhaps he would prefer that all available land be developed, exploited or otherwise consumed by humans?
Thanks alot! Great information. I will take your opinions to heart.
Or take the southern route...
Turn south at Denver on I-25. This takes you thru Colorado Springs (Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy), Santa Fe, NM, and Albuquerque, NM.
At several points between Colorado Springs and New Mexico you can head west. The Royal Gorge, Durango and Silverton (Narrow Gauge RR), Mesa Verde, and the Four Corners are all pretty much on one road. From Four Corners you'll go thru the largest Native American reservation and meet up with I-40 near the Petrified Forest National Park east of Holbrook, AZ. Next stop would be the Grand Canyon west of Flagstaff.
Once in New Mexico, Taos is not too far off I-25. Shopping and sightseeing are plentiful in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. They're actually modern cities!!! ;)
At Albuquerque you can continue south on I-25 or turn west on I-40. Continuing south takes you thru Socorro (the VLA is about 50 miles west), Truth or Consequences (changed its name in the hopes the game show would come there), Elephant Butte Lake, to Las Cruces. East of Las Cruces towards Alamogordo is the White Sands National Monument and White Sands Missile Range. There is also a good Space Museum in Alamogordo. At Las Cruces you will head west on I-10. There's a lot of desert out there, but Tucson is a shining oasis right in the middle of it. There are many things to do in and around Tucson. One of my favorites is south in Green Valley. It is the Pima Missile Silo Museum, a converted Titan missile silo that has been turned into a museum. The tour takes you thru the entire underground structure and even has a simulated missile launch. Yes, someone in the group gets to turn "The Key". Karsten Caverns is east of Tucson, never been there but heard it is wonderful. You can stay on I-10 and go thru Phoenix or turn off on I-8 to Yuma. Lots of Old West stuff around Yuma. Also there is the Organ Pipe (Cactus) National Park which makes an interesting stop. From Yuma, you're pretty much in California. If you stay on I-8 you go to San Diego (wonderful beaches) or you can cut north from El Centro and reach I-40 and Joshua Tree National Park.
If you go west from Albuquerque on I-40, you go thru the mining towns of Grants and Gallup. Gallup is also famous as the location for many early westerns. In fact, there is a hotel in Gallup that John Wayne actually road his horse into. West from Gallup takes you to many fun tourist traps (see the cave buffalo!!!) until you get the Petrified Forest.
Personally, I'd take the southern route if you are at all interested in the old west. Also the stark beauty of the desert and high desert mountains is something you can not see anywhre else.
Taking same trip 5/17-5/26...
We are going the southern route on the way out (KC, Ok city, albequerque,grand canyon, Phoenix, san diego, Dana Point) & the northern route on the way back (LA, Las Vegas, Denver, KS...home) Was curious, we were planning the southern route through San Diego because we didn't want to drive through LA. According to maps, it's about 6 hrs out of the way, but I figure with LA traffic, it'd probably equal the same. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We don't have any time for stopping except for the grand canyon. We're planning on driving straight through both ways :)
Logic is Flawed!
If the only reason you are going to San Diego is to bypass LA enroute to Dana Point from Phoenix -- um your route logic is flawed. From I-10 (once you pass Redlands) exit on the Riverside Freeway (CA-91) and head southwest. There are two main options for reaching Dana Point. The most scenic and also the most direct (if not the fastest) is to transition to I-15 southbound and exit the freeway at the town of Lake Elsinore and take highway 74 thru the San Juan Canyon to San Juan Capistrano. From there you you can either follow I-5 to Dana Point or continue on the smaller road (Del Obipso Street) directly into Dana Point.
If you want to travel on the freeway the whole route, Stay on Hwy 91 (past Hwy 60, I-15) until you reach the CA-55 (Newport Freeway) interchange. Exit south and proceed until I-5 where you can follow it south to San Juan Capistrano as indicated above.
From Phoenix it will add about five hours to your trip to go thru San Diego period. The traffic is considerably less to stay on I-10 and use the 91 cut-off then join the hundreds of thousands who use I-5 north from San Diego each day!
I knew someone would steer me in the right direction :)
"exploited or otherwise consumed by humans"
Apparently I didn't clarify enough in my last post. I'm a big supporter of national parks and forests with all the biological diversity they offer. I have trekked through quite a few of the national parks and forests I mentioned, and I appreciate the wilderness more than most.
As a practical consideration, you must acknowledge that many parks and forests are alike. Not identical in their features, but alike (Gunnison National Forest and Rio Grande National Forest, for example). In a similar region, you can afford to be picky. See what interests you most and save yourself the time and headache.
Regarding your environmental jab, I work daily with NEPA compliance, so spare me the rhetoric. If oil had been found at the Grand Canyon 70 years ago, we'd be visiting "Exxon National Park." Doesn't make it right, but that's just the way it is. Thankfully, things turned out well enough for us today.
San Juan Canyon!!!
Oh man. Mark, I can't believe you would tell anyone to drive through there! Thank god we didn't have an RV like we had originally planned. We seriously were about killed!
The only way I'd drive that again is if I were on a motorcycle. You must remember not all of us are from Cali. I had know idea Canyon meant CANYON! The