vegas to chicago
general plan - vegas to zion/bryce, over to canyonlands/arches, back west to catch 89 up thru UT into ID. 20 across WY - at some mid-point head north into MT - take 2 or 200 or 12 across MT into ND. 83S thru ND, SD - veer off to visit Mt. Rushmore, etc. - back on 83 into NE. 20 across NE & IA into Chicago. here are my questions:
- is this realistic in 2 or 3 weeks?
- i might skip zion/bryce and begin in Denver, amtrak to Green River and just see Canyonlands/Arches then do the route outlined above. - if you had to pick zion/bryce or canyon/arches - which one and why?
- on the ID to WY drive - do i encounter a big mountain? i had a bad experience with altitude sickness and a scary tunnel driving from Vail to Denver once - don't want to repeat that.
- does anyone have experience with 2, 200 or 12 thru MT?
- also, does anyone have experience with 20 or 30 across IA?
More questions than answers...
First, it would be very hard to choose between Zion/Bryce and Canyonlands/Arches. Each park is unique, beautiful and scenic. Everyone has their favorites. If time is a problem then just pick one area and you will be happy.
Now if driving on wide Interstate 70 between Denver and Vail was a problem then I don't think you are going to like driving on just two lane mountain roads.
Hwy 89 from Logan, Utah to Bear Lake is a mountain pass.
Hwy 20 exiting Yellowstone is mountainous. From Cody, Wyoming to Sheridan, Wyoming is full of mountain passes.
I'm not sure how you plan on getting to Hwy's 2, 200 or 12 to cross Montana, but most of east Montana is not mountainous but I haven't been on these roads.
My question is WHY do you want to travel on these roads in Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota? Are there places of interest you want to see? Do you plan on spending time in Yellowstone, and if so, what time of the year is this trip going to take place?
I agree we need more details / reasons why you are naming certain highways to help plan your itinerary better.
Also, personally preference would be Zion & Bryce if I couldn't do all. Canyonlands and Arches are amazing too though.
Montana, and Iowa
I've taken 200 across Montana, its a pretty typical 2 rural lane road. The towns are relatively few and far between so you can make decent time.
US20 Across Iowa is probably one of the best US routes in the country, in terms of the actual road at least, The state of Iowa has made many improvements to make the road almost Interstate grade most of the way across the state. It also runs just a few miles from the Field of Dreams movie site, which is about as exciting as Iowa gets.
All of that said, I too am a little bit curious about your choice of routing. You seem to be going out of your way to visit ND, and taking I-90 from Rushmore to Chicago would be just as senic and much faster than dropping down into Nebraska.
i'm back...(long and not checking for typos)
to all those that ask why, i ask why not? i admit i did pick some "weird" roads to travel but i loved them all. it's hard to explain how much i really love and needed to be in the "middle of nowhere." i did at least one "interesting" thing/activity each day, but i was there to see the road more than anything else. read the local paper each night or morning, make a "throw away collage" postcard each night to remember what i've seen. it was the first time i've done this while traveling and when i got home at 6am this morning my mailbox was full of these postcards i sent myself. best welcome home greeting i could have asked for.
i took 30 (Lincoln Hwy) across IL, then dropped down to Davenport. took 80 to get to Brooklyn, IA (being from NYC i couldn't resist seeing someone else's Brooklyn!), then 63 thru Tama & Toledo to get back on 30 thru Ames into Boone. Great time to be in Boone - just in time for the Speedway Motors Super Nationals (week of car races) and the end of that week was the Pufferbilly Days (but had to keep moving). Cool little steam train ride in that town - run by volunteers. Highlight was that evening's tornado warning. (no-show!). Day 3 - down thru Madrid (Labor Day parade and fair) then onto 44 - Western Skies Scenic Byway -beautiful road. stopped at Guthrie County Fair ($2! admission), monster truck ride, mudballing races. Once in NE took 75S thru Calhoun, NE to get to 680 to 80 to make some time into NE (stopping to York for no other reason but to sleep). Amazing photo op on 80 just before Seward - abandoned weathered white church and school house on side of road). Day 4 - Kearney (Museum Of Nebraska Art), 30 across NE thru Gothenberg (1st pony express stop), Brady (pop. 366), Maxwell (HUGE car graveyard), into North Platte (Once Upon A Town). Day 5 - sandhills. me, sand, cows, road, and windmills (this is "windmill country). and no other people for hundreds of miles - 83N to 2W. Thedford is at that junction. very cool town with a nice art gallery, Cowpoke Hotel. 2 million dragon flies on 2 (there is a lake under the desert!). the little towns out here are little oasis' for real - like no other place. cannot be overstated. they used to be water stops for the railroad. and pretty much remain that way now. Fave: Ashby, NE - Charley's Market. Destination: Alliance for Carhenge and Dobby's Frontier town. nicest people you'd ever want to meet (of course, like so many other places). Gave me the forever tour and left me with an ear of NE corn (which i cooked in the coffee maker at my hotel that night) and a flower. 385N (gold rush byway) - Slept in Chadron, ate at Angela's, watched an incredible lightning storm across the plains that night. Next - did the whole Black Hills, Custer, Crazy Horse, Rushmore, Wall, Badlands thing. Spent the money to go up onto Crazy Horse's arm (it's worth it!). Seeing Mt Rushmore after CH is very anti-climatic.
Ok yes, since i was in SD i did go out of my way to go to ND because...why not. i was close enough and not sure if i'd ever get that close again anytime soon. River Fest in Belle Fourche, 85N is roadkill hway, drive drive drive up to Dickinson so i can get to the "Enchanted Highway" - lined with 6 huge metal sculptures. ends in Regent. then 21 to 22 to 12 back across. by now i was getting sick of driving and sick of the middle of nowhere but Marmath is an intersting town. there was a Cowboy poetry thing going on that night at the Mystic theater but i was too cranky to stop. also in Rhame there is a place called the Hunter's Table which is a restaurant founded by 8 local women. again too cranky to stop. i was mostly mad at myself for being road weary after only a week and missing NY. needed to check my head. slept in Baker, MT (went to bed at like 8pm! trying to shake it off). Day 9 - thru Miles City - Range Riders museum, Custer County Arts Center, thru Forsyth, across 12 Ingomar, Roundup. 87S thru Billings. Saw no reason to stay - pawn shops and rescue missions. got it. 90E to Hardin - edge of the Crow reservation, Jailhouse art gallery on main street. Touristy town but not tourist-trappy - if you know what i mean (i hated the trap feeling of Custer and Keystone).Day 10 - Little Bighorn, i get the big sky thing now, into WY, thru Buffalo, over the mountain, into Ten Sleep, to Worland. Then Worland to Cody to Yellowstone (self explanatory). Down thru ID on 20 - happy to be out of the mountains, back in the valley, thru St. Anthony, stopping in ID Falls (nice walk around the snake river in ID Falls). Day 13 - again someone might ask why i took 91 instead of 15. it was well worth it to see these small towns - shelley, firth, blackfoot, fort hall (why is that town covered in gang graffiti??? - the cops say they are trying to stop it. they have a lot of kids who want to be gangsters???), then onto Pocatello. why pocatello? because i read "You Can't Win" by Jack Black - hobo/thief ("johnson") from the 20's. they'd go sell their loot to Salt Chunk Mary and then catch out. then another middle of nowhere scenic route - 30W thru Lava Hot Springs to 34S thru Grace & Thatcher meeting up with 91 again into UT (night in Ogden, Historic 25th St., tons of homeless people - i guess hobos). Day 14 - Ogden to SLC then across 80 to Wendover to catch the car races on the Salt Flats (Bonneville). back to SLC - open studios at Poor Yorick (only happens 2x a year), dinner at Cinegrill. Yesterday - breakfast at Blue Plate Diner, Avenues Art Festival, UT State Fair, drive-by pictures of Rio Grande & UP depots, red eye home.
i know someone (mark maybe) posted once that some highways are just as good as some 2-lanes, and that some 2-lanes are not worth the effort to get to, but i really disagree. i drove mostly 2-lanes, some that turned into highways, and some interstates. for me, i can't say that anything beats a 2-lane highway. most of the ones i was on had a speed limit of 60 - 70 mph so it's not even about losing time. you lose so much more by being on the bigger highways. and sometimes it was a grind, but mostly it wasn't and part of the fun is not knowing why you're taking that road. so many of the small towns i saw are not even on the map. but they are still there. and some roads are so beautiful that words and photos could never do them justice.
by the way, it's so funny how you see what you want to see. in the beginning, every time i saw a "tourist information" sign, i misread it as "terrorist information." geez! thank god i got out of NYC for 2 weeks! also, funnily enough, every time i saw a "road workers" sign, i misread it as "road warriors!" yes, i amuse myself to death sometimes.
Great field report Anne!:-)
You visited lots of interesting small towns where I'm sure you didn't meet anyone from NYC! I read many posts on the forum, and it looks like more and more young women like to take roadtrips all by themselves, it's really great! Sometimes the wonders of the unknown are so much more appealing than our fears...I guess that's what helps us to get out there, right?
You go gurls!:o)
Your original post said Las Vegas to Chicago -- from your log it looks like you did the reverse and made SLC your end point instead? Sounds like you saw some road and that ALWAYS makes me wish I was out there. No matter how much I get, it's never enough and I keep wanting to roll! Any chance you'll be posting some photos from your journey? One thing I'm curious about -- the "big sky thing" -- being a New Yorker, did you like it (the wide open sky and horizon in the west)? Anyway, it's always good to hear a fellow roadtripper had a great time! Bob
yes for some reason once i planned it, i felt like going in reverse of what i was originally looking at. and you know i changed my plan a billion times before i settled on my route.
yes i enjoyed the endless sky/cumulus cloud thing. i have to admit i made a note to myself around Lancaster County NE that i doubted the "sky could get any bigger than this." also driving out there reminded me of something i read about the MS Delta - where so many writers (Welty, et al) have written about their own sky being so big, something like...a bowl turned upside down...i can't quite remember, and they meant it in a bad way. and i wonder (rhetorically)...why did they perceive such a big sky, coupled with the flat land, as such a menace there, when it's deemed such a perk out west?
but yea, i like it anywhere where you can look straight ahead and see the sky. you have to search for it here, catch a glimpse in between the buildings.
and yes, as soon as i get my pix developed, i'll put them up. but i leave again on saturday (TN, MS, AL).