Hi - I'm hoping someone who has taken this route can tell me what to expect. It's 1500 miles so I was thinking of doing it in 2 days, but because I'm getting paranoid about the weather, I thought maybe I should plan for 3 days. If so, where would be a good first stop? I'm a female driving alone so I don't really want to stop near Vegas or in Nevada. I was hoping that Orem in Utah could be a first stop but that would be 10 hours of driving in one day. So maybe that's a better 2nd stop.
Can you tell me about this route? Is it isolated? How about terrain? I drove the I10 from Cali for Miami so that's the type of reference I have as far as road trips.
Have you driven it at this time of year? What can I expect and which weather/road sites do you use? Also, I am driving back in April, what can I expect then?
Thanks in advance.
One of the most heavily traveled routes in the West
I have personally driven this route 50-60 times over the last few years. It is one of my favorite routes (for Interstate travel) the roadway is well constructed and the scenic views are some of the best in the world.
1500 miles? (I thought you were starting in southern California and going to Denver?) Even if you started in San Diego that distance is only 1080 miles. It is a reasonable two day journey from LA to Denver.
As numerous posters have pointed out, 500 miles per day should be the upper limit for single roadtrippers (even if they are experienced) -- fatigue is nobody's friend. Also, unless you are able to routinely drive in excess of 80 mph (doubtful on any road in the west in the winter) for long stretches you will not be able to exceed an average speed much beyond 54 mph over an eight hour period. Therefore 1500 miles is to far for a two-day drive.
Las Vegas is a logical place to stop over-night with some of the finest motels and hotels for all price ranges. What worries you about stopping in Nevada?
Now, I am really confused. Why would your route include Orem if you are headed for Colorado via I-15 and I-70? Orem is up by Salt Lake City.
In any case, both St. George and Cedar City, Utah have plenty of nice motels. And it makes the drive through the Colorado Rockies quite pleasant. If you want to make a very reasonable drive, I would add the third day (stay over-night at Grand Junction) and cruise into Denver at a reasonable pace.
This is not I-10 -- this is mountain driving. You will be crossing the continental divide and you will see snow. There towns and cities along the entire route. This is one of the most heavily traveled corridors in the United States.
Besides that, it is gorgeous and if you build in sufficient time and the weather cooperates, you can add some side trips like to Zion and/or Bryce National Parks. Also along I-70 you can take the loop into Arches National Park. This is one of the most spectacular routes in the west.
Remember, slow down, steady driving and enjoy the view -- it can be fatiguing to drive in the mountains in the winter -- but it can also be an awesome experience.
As far as sites go -- whenever I am about to hit the road, I look at the appropriate wunderground.com site for the region and I look at the DOT road condition reports for those highways I will be traveling on. Again, if you look at the <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/links/conditions.htm">road conditions links</a> page, you will find a variety of sources. I like the Beaverbear site because it lists all of the DOT sites quickly. ("Road & Weather Conditions for USA & Canada: This site has links to every state & provincial highway department")
Hi - I'm really confusing you tonight!!! The "1500" was a typo, I meant 1000 miles and Yahoo lists it as about 15 .5 hours of driving.
I guess I listed Orem based on the Yahoo map I did that showed it ran right through. Maybe the Yahoo map isn't accurate, I don't know. I just thought I'd pass it anyway. And Orem is listed as one of American's safest cities. As far as Vegas, I guess I have a bias against it because the last time I went, it was fun of rowdy people. I get nervous when I drive alone (if you can't tell!!) This is my 2nd trip and I always seem to want to stay around more family oriented things. That probably doesn't make sense but that's the reasoning I have. So I was wondering what the area before Vegas is....what will I find 500 miles from Riverside, California? And when you say mountain driving, are we talking very windey roads? I forgot about another road trip I took with my Mom for medical reasons...we went from SoCal to Seattle. So would you say the trip through Utah and Colo is similar driving to going through Big Sur (101)? Do I need snow tires?
Wow, you've traveled this route a lot! Can I ask why? Are you going there again soon?
Orem is a 283 mile detour
I think you should re-load that Yahoo map or use mappoint.msn.com. Going to Orem, UT constitutes a 283 mile detour since it is 141.6 miles past the turn-off for I-70 on I-15.
Las Vegas is one of the most conservative cities in America (there is much more to LV than life on the strip). It is a town based upon the hospitality business (lodging) so it is very easy to find nice places to stay over-night.
But, in terms of a good first day of driving: Riverside to Cedar City is 404 miles and will require about 7.5 hours of driving.
Cedar City to Denver is 580 miles and depending upon the weather and road conditions, this leg will require a minimum of 11 hours of driving.
Your entire route will be by Interstate -- four and six lane highway -- Interstates do not have sharp curves although you will cross some passes. The highest points are around 11,000 feet.
I used to drive a VW Jetta -- good cars. No, I wouldn't recommend snow tires, but carrying chains is a must for travel of any kind in the Rockies in the winter. Make sure you practice installing your chains on your car in your driveway (in dry weather a couple of times) before you go.
There is no section of either US-101 or CA-1 that is comparable to crossing the Rockies, although driving in the wet conditions one can find along the Big Sur can be far more treacherous than any section of either I-15 or I-70. Remember, 18-wheeler trucks are not allowed on the Big Sur highway -- while hundreds of such truck transverse I-70 EVERY SINGLE DAY. So, in a way, it is much easier to drive I-70 than along the Big Sur coastline.
As far as why I traveled that route so many times --- I do roadtrips for a living -- I have traveled many roads that many times over the last couple of decades.
Hi - I got my chains today. I will practice putting them on. The guy at the store also sold me some fasteners to help the chains grip better. I also found a year-old trip-tik that I had from AAA last year with the I15 to I70 route. I'm planning on doing about 340 miles per day, but I could go longer if I feel up to it. I have the road condition web sites that I'll look into each night. And I am gathering the list of stuff the state site recommends to take.
I'm starting to pack tonight and I'm getting VERY excited!
Does anyone here have any suggestions for a couple short fun stops that I should take along the I15 or I70?
Mark - to answer your tire question, they appear to be in good shape. The Jetta is a 2002. It has about 44,000 miles. I haven't changed tires yet because after each service, it's never been suggested. I'll gotten all the recommended services. The treads seem okay, but maybe I'll have someone look at them. The chains are the "cable" kind - they didn't make the chain link type for my tires. Hope the cable kind work as well. I was reading my owners manual and Jetta's seem to have a couple built in things for winter driving, like anti-slip feature, etc.
Also, I REALLY glad I got the seat warmer option. I never get to use them in California!
Zion, San Rafael Cut, Idaho Springs
If you stay over-night at St. George, you could do a morning drive through <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/zion.htm">Zion</a> -- so beautiful in the Winter.
Several of the roadside rests along I-70 are awesome. I really like the views of the San Rafael road cut.
The grottos with the hot pools in <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/indsprgs.htm">Indian Springs</a> is a great place to wind-down on your final approach to Denver.
The cable chain system works great. Be sure to have something like a piece of old carpet (to kneel on in the snow and gunk) and a towel to wipe your hands -- they will be messy after putting on chains.
And, of course, merely having them on-board sometimes means that you will have clear, dry weather -- like carrying an umbrella keeps the rain away...
Before you leave
You might want to do a quick check of the various threads dealing with I-70. A variety of folks have made a number of suggestions about the route over the last year or so. A quick search (red button on this page) found 159 threads on this subject.
I made it! The roads were completely dry and the scenery was stunning. Really beautiful from Utah through the Rockies. I did the trip in two days. I know this is a no-no but I did about 670 miles the first day. I was only planning on doing about 350 per day but I was in the mood to keep going. I felt alert and wasn't tired, so I kept driving. But once I got to Green River, I decided to stop even though I wasn't tired yet. So course the 2nd day was a breeze. And REALLY beautiful. It was the perfect time to go because there was snow everywhere, yet the roads were great.
There wasn't a lot of traffic and just to keep up with traffic, I was traveling at about 80mph the whole way (until some parts of the Rockies).
Anyway, on the way back I'll spread the trip out over 4 days or something to site-see.
So to summarize - I would definately recommend this route, especially with the snow-covered scenery. And there were plenty of places to stop along the way for the most part, so no problems. There was only one stretch of time (I think before Grand Junction) that seemed to go a while without gas stations, etc. I also hit a little fog before Green River that lastest about 10 minutes. But overall I was so lucky to get to see the beautiful surroundings without having to worry about the roads.
It's no problem to do that distance as long as you're up for it! Most people can tell when they are getting either sleepy or fatigued, and it is important to get off the road when you get to that point, but I'm with you, I LIKE to drive. On motorcycles, they call that an Iron-Butt Ride! :)
The intermountain west is a beautiful place, isn't it? It's where the phrase "purple mountain majesty" came from! I especially like that road around Glenwood Springs, CO.
Having driven as much as 18 hours in one day, I don't think the distance you drove is a bad thing. As long as one stops when they are tired, and is able to recognize that...and it sounds like you did just that.
I have stayed in the Green River area several times. It is good you stopped there because services are more spread out and limited east of there until you hit Colorado.
Enjoy the rest of your trip and let us know what you saw and did!