Post Fear and Loathing
Hello, my boyfriend and I are planning our first trip to America to meet family in Aspen. We are flying to LA, hiring a car and driving to Las Vegas. We then have 3 days to get to Denver to drop the car off, and would like some ideas of what route to take. It is very difficult trying to cram as much as we can in 3 days. I would love to see the Grand Canyon, but do not know where we should stop or where the best spots are? Your help would be very much appreciated.
Thanks for your comments.
Hello NatB, and welcome to the RoadTrip America forums!
You've got a very doable trip outlined, and you can visit some really cool places if you want to.
Your first leg is going to be about 2/3rd of a day long drive to get out of LA, and across the desert to Las Vegas. That trip can take as little as 4-5 hours (with no traffic and minimal stops along the way), or it can take up to 7-9 hours, with lots of rush hour traffic getting out of LA and multiple stops along the way.
Since you have 3 days from Las Vegas to Aspen, one reasonable itenerary might be
Day 1 -- Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, South Rim. There are several hotels within the national park right along the rim (in Grand Canyon Village) and a number more at Tusayan, which is just outside the border of the National Park. This is very scenic and quite amazing.. This is reachable in about a 6 hour drive from Las Vegas, which takes you across Hoover Dam. Once at the Grand Canyon, you are about 280 miles from Aspen, and about a 5-6 hour drive, if you want to drive straight there.
You can spend a whole day at Grand Canyon, and then spend your third day driving to Aspen, or you can...
Day 2 -- From Grand Canyon to Monument Valley on the Arizona/ Utah border is about a 4-6 hour drive. This is the classic southwestern mesa scenery, and its on the Navaho Nation lands. Worth a stop, at least on a drive through, or you could take one of the guided drives through the Valley. From here you can stay somewhere in the smaller towns through Utah, potentially from Mexican Hat to Moab, although depending upon the time you spend at Monument Valley, Moab might be a push.
Day 3 -- Drive through to Aspen. From Mexican Hat, just outside Monument Valley (just to pick a starting point), you're about 6 hours from Aspen.
I do need to note that it's about a 4 hour drive from Aspen to Denver, if you have to make it there on a specific date to drop your car off...
Sorry for replying so late. Thank you so much for the tips, I think we are definately going to take you up on your suggestions. We are thinking of hiring the car for another day, to get more out of the trip. We can't wait and are counting down the days.
I will admit that I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but I live in Colorado and know a lot about the trip between Vegas and Denver. I think that for 3 days, I would definitely suggest skipping the GC and concentrate on the National Parks of Southern Utah. You can go through Zion, Bryce, see Lake Powell or Capitol Reef and stay in Moab to see the Canyonlands (which are as spectacular as the Grand Canyon, in a different way), and Arches. If you're in decent hiking shape I highly recommend the hike up to Delicate Arch. Take the route south of the La Sal Mountains through Paradox Valley and on to Montrose and up to Aspen. I think if you go to the Grand Canyon, you'll be so pressed for time you may miss all of these other gems.
I-70 Through Utah to Denver!!!
I'm more of a two-lane guy myself, but have to admit that I-70 through Utah and Colorado is one of the best jaw-dropping treks I've ever taken, just one thing after another. In sections, it was quite amazing to contemplate how they even built the road.
In this Case, the Interstate is the Way to Go. --RoadDog
I'll be in Utah next weekend deciding what to do in the Moab area. Unfortunately I have only one night there, but hope to arrive by mid-day the first day and stay much of the second day. I had thought of driving right by Moab on the first day and spending a little time in Canyonland, then the following day spend most of the day in Arches.
Does this sound like a good idea? If so, what is the must do in Canyonland, since I have only part of a day there. I would like to hike (run, actually) Delicate Arch based on your recommendation below.
Originally Posted by qsoundrich