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  1. Default Virginia to Santa Cruz...

    Hi all,
    These postings have been really helpful,many thanks.

    I am heading out on the road trip ive been trying to take for too many years, sort of by chance. My sister is heading to Santa Cruz to do some work, and I told her I would gladly take the journey from Virginia to California. Unfortunately we don't have much time, we will have exactly seven days to get out there. ( we'll be leaving the end of June)
    I'd like to get out west as soon as possible, so we have a little bit of time to explore...though I'm not sure what is feasible to plan on.
    I've done a bit of traveling out west, Arches, some in Colorado, Utah, so I'd love to explore some other places. Though I'd like to see sights farther north, it seems like this will be a stretch.

    We do want to stop by Boulder, and I would like to see Bryce and Zion. A friend of mine says that Arizona is beautiful to drive through and that the Grand Canyon can't be missed.

    Would you all mind sharing some tips as far as what is possible, and what shouldn't be missed?
    We also were planning on camping mostly, is it best to try and reserve, or do you think we'd be alright just working this out as we go?

    Any help with this planning would be most appreciated.

    thanks in advance*

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Keep it Moving...

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    Thanks for appreciating the contributions that all the users of this forum have made. It is they who have made it the resource that it is. I'm also glad that you haven't put off your RoadTrip forever, but are now getting the chance to finally turn it into a reality. So without further ado, on to some of your questions...

    A week to go completely across the country is at the lower end of what might be enjoyable. It's just over 3000 miles from Richmond to Santa Cruz, and many people find that trying to do more than 500 to 600 miles a day gets very tiring after the first few days. So, if you can do 500 a day, then you've got just 1 day for exploring. Even so, I find that if I can devote 10 hours a day to driving, I can cover that 500 miles and still have a few hours each day for time out of the car walking in parks, touring a small historic site, etc., as long as the stop isn't too far off my main route. I think you can count on the same. You can then burn your 1 'exploring' day over the last two or three and make a few slightly longer stops a bit farther afield as you cross the western US.

    So, yes, head for Boulder as your first destination, and then from there take I-70 (a beautiful road in its own right!) across the Rockies into Utah and then follow I-15 through southwest Utah, stopping at Bryce and/or Zion. You won't have time to make the complete journey around to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, but if you've made good time to this point, then consider going in to the north rim via UT-9, US-89,Alt-US-89, and AZ-67. This would be about a 250 mile round trip from Zion. Once back in the Zion area, continue down I-15 through Las Vegas and on into California. Use CA-58 to cross over to I-5 north and follow that up into the Bay Area. So, you can (possibly) do it all, but you will have to keep an eye on your time and distance left to go as the trip draws to a close.

    The subject of whether to reserve overnight accommodations beforehand is a recurring debate among road travellers, and there is no single right answer. What you should do iswhatever works best for you. Given that you're going to be travelling at the start of high season through some heavily utilized areas, I might lean towards making sure that accommodations are available (that is reserving ahead of time). This might also be a way of ensuring that you remain on schedule to get to Santa Cruz in your allotted time.

    I hope this has helped you determine what is possible for your trip. You've already chosen the places that shouldn't be missed along your route, but if you have other questions or specific interests, don't hesitate to ask further questions.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Ca-152

    Quote Originally Posted by Kat2
    My sister is heading to Santa Cruz to do some work,
    As an adjunct to the route AZBuck suggested -- use CA SR-152 to approach the coast from I-5. It is a gorgeous route through the foothills.

    These days I prefer 350 mile days, when I am on the road, but I just did a trip from Las Vegas, NV to Eureka, CA and back via Santa Cruz where I averaged 700 miles a day (on the driving days). More than I prefer, but still doable.

    Using I-70 be sure to take the time to stop at the viewpoints in Glenwood Canyon and those in the San Rafael Reef area of eastern Utah.


  4. Default follow up thoughts

    This is really helpful~

    I was wondering, any thoughts on the quickest routes to get out to Boulder?
    It looks like 70 might be the quickest, though I'm wondering if there is a more scenic route without sacrificing time ( maybe not). We'll be taking off from D.C., so I'm trying to figure out the best way to either hook up with 70, or what the best plan might be...64 to 70?
    Any thoughts?

    Also, I'm not locked into Bryce and Zion, if you have any other recommendations within the time constraints and destination, I'm very open.

    One last thing, any thoughts on the best way to gauge time to be able to plan camping stops? I'm going by an atlas, but it all seems a bit iffy...although maybe that's the blessing of the journey.

    Many thanks*

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default More Follow Up Thoughts

    Yes, I-70 is the shortest and fastest route from DC to Boulder, being pretty much a straight shot all the way. It's about 1690 miles. A slightly more scenic and, in my opinion, more interesting route is your alternate suggestion, use I-66, I-81 and I-64 as far as St. Louis and join I-70 there. This adds all of 60 miles to your total, but keeps you in the Appalachians a bit longer, and lets you savor the Blue Grass region of Kentucky. It also avoids the major metropolitan areas of Columbus and Indianapolis. So unless saving 30-60 minutes was absolutely essential, it's the way I would go.

    From Boulder to Santa Cruz, the shorter (time-wise) routing would be to use I-80 through Salt Lake City and Reno. These, too, are beautiful areas, particularly the Lake Tahoe region. But, again, I think the longer routing through Colorado and Utah to Las Vegas and onward has enough more to offer that it makes up for the extra time it takes to drive. Note that the two different routes are almost exactly the same distance between Boulder and Santa Cruz!

    What we have found works best is to use a couple of 'rules of thumb' when trying to plan out driving times. The first is to assume that you will be able to average about 55 mph over the course of the day, even if travelling mainly by the Interstates. This takes into account rest, gas, and food stops. You can do a little bit better - maybe 57 mph - in the more wide-open stretches of the west, and a little bit less - 53 mph - in the more congested east, but it is remarkably consistent. The other is to know how far you can get in a full day's drive. For some people, this is as little as 350 miles, for others it may be as much as 600+. If you don't have enough experience to know what your personal limit is, then I'd suggest 500 to 550 miles as a starting point. Using either one of those two measures should give you a rough idea of where you'll be stopping each evening. And. yeah. a rough idea is the best you can get. What you'll meet and do on the road is the adventure and the blessing - enjoy it.


  6. Default


    I will definitly look into the alternate to 70 option, that's the advice i was hoping for!

    Many thanks and I'll let be in touch if there are more questions.

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