Planning a trip to Arizona from Rhode Island
My husband and I will be driving a car out to our daughter at Arizona State U. in August. Any tips on how to go about this, places to see on the way (we want to see an interesting sight or two...). We can only take a week or so, so it will be driving, driving, driving, but is there any place along the way that's a 'shouldn't miss'? Any tips on better routes, or highways to avoid? Thanks SO much... my dh put me in charge of this...
If you go on I-95, I-78, I-81, I-76, I-70, I-55, I-44, I-40, and I-17, you will be driving 2650 miles, roughly 42 hours.
I would suggest driving pretty straight through until you get more into the Southwest.
In Oklahome City, I would check out the memorial for the bombing victims. I've not seen it but I've been told it's extremely inspiring.
In Amarillo, check out the infamous Big Texas Steak Ranch & Opry with the option of eating a 72 oz. steak for free (if you can do it within an hour) and the Cadillac Ranch.
Check out the fun roadside architecture and signage in Tucumcari, NM. This town is a wealth of Route 66 era "atmosphere" and worth exploring.
Clines Corner, NM: A fun, Route 66 era tourist trap that is great fun.
Old Town in Albuquerque, NM: beautiful architecture and interesting shops/restaurants. You might also enjoy the gondola ride (I believe it's the longest in the world) tothe top of the mountain range that sits by theh city.
Gallup, NM: another fun Route 66 era stop. Check out the wonderful El Rancho Hotel - Hotel to the Stars.
After crossing in Arizona, check out the Painted Forest National Park.
Holbrook: lots of neat Route 66 era stuff here. Dinosaurs and the fun WigWam Hotel.
Have a great trip!
We just did this!
Kelley, you are in for a treat! The Southwest is in our family's opinion the most beautiful part of an amazingly beautiful country (Yellowstone, Tetons and Yosemite notwithstanding). Last November/December we drove from CT out to Las Vegas, via NM & AZ (and ultimately on to Disneyland). We pretty much took the route suggested by Judy. Her suggestions on places to see were a trip down memory lane.
Do you have "one or two weeks" TOTAL, or each way? That will certainly impact your plans. You will have to fly (maybe literally) if that is your total time. We left Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 27, and were in Albuquerque the following Wed., Dec. 3, and that included a 2-day stop in IL. That was just how we paced it out.
Without a doubt the most interesting places were west of Tulsa, although a trip to the Gateway Arch - and UP it - was quite worthwhile. We made a special stop at the OKCity Memorial. It IS moving... we were quite choked up, including the kids. The prairies of OK & TX are unlike anything we have here in New England, so be sure to take it all in. After you leave Amarillo be on the lookout on your left for Cadillac Ranch and the World's Largest Cross, two Route 66 landmarks. (Actually, you don't have to be on the lookout for the Cross.)
ABQ is a gorgeous, clean city; check out the beautifully painted highway overpasses, etc. There are great museums and other sites (e.g., Mus. of Nat. History and Rio Grande Botanical Gardens). Here's where we got into some real nice National Parks & Monuments, all with lots of opportunities to hike or just stroll. [The National Park Service has a Park Pass for your vehicle. For $50 you get in all the parks & monuments for a year. But, it's only one vehicle per card, so if it's two vehicles it may not be worth it. Plus some are free anyway. See www.nps.gov for info.] Just west of ABQ is Petroglyph N.M. Further west you can take Rte. 53 off I-40 and see El Malpais N.M. (which you can just drive through), and then one of our favorites, El Morro N.M. El Morro you have to walk, but our kids did it, with me backpacking my 2-yr-old, up to the top. It is breathtaking! Further west as you cross into AZ are the Painted Cliffs.
Once in AZ you may want to take a side trip north on Rte 191 (about an hour drive) to Chinle and Canyon de Chelley ("de-SHAY"). While not the scale of Grand Canyon, it is marvelous, and it may be the next best thing if you can't make it to Grand Canyon. De Chelley is very unique, in the heart of Navajo country. (BTW, be VERY careful to obey speed limits, as Navajo police are not exactly charitable, especially w/ RI plates). (Nor do I blame them!)
We got off Exit 311 for the Petrified Forest N.P. visitors center and drove through the park. That route dumps you out on Rte 180, which you can take to Holbrook and - yes - the Wigwam Motel. The owner was VERY nice, and it is nostalgic there on Rte. 66. Not a Hilton, but we were glad we did it.
Other places we took in, that I recommend: Walnut Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, and Montezuma Castle.
All in all, NM&AZ are diverse, unique and lovely states. We periodically consider moving out there. There are high desert areas, deep forests, pine ridges, mountains, canyons, and desert lowlands. Enjoy!
Tips for your trip: Stock up on coffee before you hit St. Louis because it is mostly coffee scented dirty water west of there. And carry drinking water!
Have your cars checked out by a mechanic before you go; make sure spare tires are properly inflated and that the AC is working - you will NEED it. You mentioned that you're driving your daughter's car to her at ASU. I highly recommend either CB radios or decent walkie-talkies (moreso than cell phones) to communicate with each other. Plus it makes it fun to talk and point out sites and keep each other awake.
And have a BLAST! We live in the greatest country in the world, and there is no better way to see it.
Imagine how I feel getting to LIVE in the midst of all this splendor! I don't drink much coffee so I do OK out here... :)
Kelley: I'd add a couple of NM attractions if you can -- Acoma Pueblo (west of ALB) and Santa Fe; if you are not interested in the arts, visit there at least for the history! And the VLA, the large radio-telescope site on the Plains of San Augustin, on US60 west of Socorro (it is the site featured in the movie "Contact," with Jodie Foster).
Bob in Phoenix
I just found out today amtrak will deliver cars while you ride if you would not like to take such a long trip, then you could fly back cheap after visiting your daughter. i am considering driving to california from louisiana next week, but flights from houston, or dallas, or new orleans are less than 300$ rt. just wanted to let you know about this amtrak deal. have fun!
Ah, the West
Much of this trip is along old Route 66 — at least west of Oklahoma. And I loved the suggestion of going to Chinle and Canyon de Chelley. We went there on Labor Day Weekend 2001 and had a wonderful time. However, be aware that getting into the canyon itself is restricted. With the exception of one hike to White House Ruins, any other access to the canyon is with a Navajo guide — and the shortest tour is at least a half-day.
That said, the deep secret of Route 66 is just southeast of Amarillo is Palo Duro Canyon, said to be the second largest after the Grand Canyon. It's worth the 2 hours out of your way.
By the way, The Big Texan's 72-oz. Steak contest requires you to eat the meal, which includes appetizer, salad, veggies and other fixin‛s, in an hour. Just so you know, a few months ago, the restaurant also modified the contest so it's more Atkins-friendly.
I read all these requests for information with yearning and envy. Oh, to have been born rich instead of so good looking.
To visit the Grand Canyon, enter by the east gate off hy 89 as the road will take you along the canyon rim to the center. After that you will have to ride buses to see about the same thing. Leave by the south entrance which will take you back to Flagstaff.
If you want to ride a train,go to Clarkdale and ride the Verde Canyon Railroad. It is half the price and is ALL scenery,[not just sage brush].Time is your problem, so go on line and get info from each place you MAY visit.