Family Trip Ohio to Grand Canyon
Yes, we really are going to do the old fashioned, drive across the country, Chevy Chase "Vacation" to the Grand Canyon! The trouble is we are not experienced driving travelers. We will be traveling with two teenagers and a small dog in a mini-van. Any suggestions for our trip? We will be departing from Ohio and ending up at the Grand Canyon in mid-July. Thanks!
Are you planning on doing your mountain-crossing in Colorado, or further to the south in New Mexico? (Or a loop which does both?)
I tend to do the southern route, but that's just because I am partial to Albuquerque and the Painted Desert...
We will be going through New Mexico! Right now we are thinking we drive the first long piece through to Oklahoma City and then on to NM and hang out there for a day or so (we have only 2 weeks). From that straight to the GC.
Northern New Mexico...
There is a pretty cool old-west 'ghost' town in Madrid, which is north and east of Albuquerque. It's an old hollywood set - and a fun place to take photos and hold water-gun duels at high noon.
Albuquerque itself is one of my favorite road-trip stops, and is a great place to kill some time. Old Town Albuquerque is lovely, and there is a neat rattlesnake farm nearby - what trip into the desert is complete without coming face-to-face with a rattler? Learn to answer the 'red or green?' question, or split the difference and order 'christmas.' Watch old craftspeople fashion silver jewelry or weave blankets, or haggle over purchasing them in the marketplace.
On the way from New Mexico across to the Canyon, plan to spend some time in the Painted Desert National Park. It makes for spectacular (if oddly technicolor) photos, if nothing else.
The Grand Canyon itself is awesome, but don't make a rookie mistake - take a sweater with you. Last time I was there it was mid-July, when a thunderstorm swept up out of the canyon and dropped the air temperature from 76 to 39. Lots of folks got caught buying gift-shop sweatshirts that day, whether they wanted overpriced souvenirs or not!
Two for the Price of One
There's nothing that requires you to use the same roads to get home that you used to get to the Grand Canyon. Seriously consider going home by way of US-160, US-550 and US-50 into and through southern Colorado. It would be a shame to come all that way and not see Monument Valley, Mesa Verde and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. You can then use US-50 to take you back to the Interstate System at Wichita. This way also gets you Dodge City and (with a slight detour) the world's largest hand-dug well in Greensburg, KS. Look for little things like that along the way, and don't be afraid to follow your teenagers' lead on such.
One thing BoredTxGirl had right, that easterners (yeah, I know Ohio thinks of itself as mid-west) don't plan for, is the temperature range out here. Because the air is so dry and the skies are usually cloud free, there can be as much as a 40 degree difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures.