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  1. Default S. Indiana to L.A. via I-40...1st week of Jan.

    Hi folks...I stumbled across this message board while looking for a guide to interesting stops along the way between Southern Indiana (my home) to Los Angeles (my future home).

    I'm leaving January 2nd, and have no set date to arrive, but I figured it at around the 6th or 7th. I plan to head South first, in the hopes of avoiding any nasty Winter weather, then just do a straight shot West through I-40 out of Nashville, TN.

    I'm particularly interested in New Mexico and Arizona: Wild West towns, Indian trading posts, etc. I don't care how touristy the stops are, I just wanna exit the interstate for a meal, have my picture taken inside a frontier jail cell, buy some beads and a tomahawk, and be on my merry way.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default 2100 miles minimum

    Quote Originally Posted by headinwest View Post
    I'm leaving January 2nd, and have no set date to arrive, but I figured it at around the 6th or 7th.
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum -- if you spend much time here -- you will soon learn that the best way to hit nasty, winter weather is to head south and travel along I-40 anywhere between Oklahoma and California. Short geography lesson -- Winter ice storms are the most intense where relatively moist, warm water vapor (like arises from the Gulf of Mexico) hits artic air masses (like the wind that rushes down from Canada and over the Great Lakes) so, the odds are that you are heading directly into the area with the very best shot of ice storms. Also, I am not sure where in Southern Indiana you are coming from, but by the most direct route -- this will be 2100 miles and if you hit any of those possible ice storms, you need to allow a minimum of five days to make this crossing. If the roads are dry and the weather is good, you can make this journey in 3.5 days if you drive 600 miles per day (which will require a minimum of 10 hours in the saddle each day) so, it might be tough for you to spend a great deal of time at roadside attractions and still make your arrival dates.
    I'm particularly interested in New Mexico and Arizona:
    You will have a fun road trip -- but if it were me, I would stay to the north and take I-70 to I-15 to LA -- much more likely to find good weather on that route.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Save AZ & NM for later

    In my opinion, you will be able to make trips into AZ and NM from LA. You can explore AZ over a series of long weekends (3-4 days). A weeks vacation would give you time to get into NM. Of course, you wouldn't see everything in one trip but these are all do-able in a series of trips from LA in the future.

    So, if you are able to squeeze out a few extra days to give you time to explore a bit along the way, I would focus on the areas along the way that you might be less likely to get back to. Mark's suggestion takes you through Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah....all places with many things to see along the way. I don't think the sights in these states will disappoint you.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the tips, all. I didn't know that about the ice storms in NM and AZ (an uninformed one like myself usually thinks of both states as desert in the Summer, mild in the Winter).

    I guess I should be a little clearer about my time and budget constraints...there are none. I can take ten days if I want. Taking into account Mark's advice about the potentially treacherous conditions on I-40, I wonder if I-10 might be a viable alternative, being further South and and all. I saw on the news how Oklahoma is now in a "state of emergency" due to ice storms, so...yeah, I'll probably want to circumnavigate the Sooner State.

    I've been consulting some non-internet atlases (remember those? Surprisingly, I find them more helpful than internet mapping), and have this in mind for a possible route:

    South from Evansville, IN (actually, departure point will probably be from parents' house in Henderson, KY) onto the Pennyrile Parkway, South to I-24 to Nashville, TN, then to I-65 all the way to Birmingham, AL.

    From there, go South/West on I-20/59 to Meridian, MS, then West on I-20. Follow I-20 through Shreveport, LA and Dallas, TX, then further West until the junction with I-10. Then take the I-10 all the way to L.A.

    Will that put me far enough South to avoid Arctic conditions? Once I hit I-10, I'm practically in Mexico for the remainder of the trip, so I'm guessing yes.

    Basically, I want to avoid having to drive any farther North than I have to for that exact reason. Before we lived in Indiana, we lived in St. Louis, and I've spent my whole life slipping and sliding on Winter roads in my travels (usually on I-64). The furthest West I've ever been was a family vacation to Denver when I was 12, and I don't relish the thought of having to cross the Rockies again, much less in January.

    Anyway, as I said, the "Ol' West" tourist spots in NM and AZ intrigue me enough that I'd like to make a brief stop or two on the way. If chintzy souvenir stands are a dime a dozen along the route, that's fine...that's what I'm looking for.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default More days! Yippee!

    That opens up lots of possibilities.

    Just be aware than even I-10 could have some bad weather in higher elevation areas. It's a tad less likely and might be resolved quicker, but it can still happen in the winter months. I would still advise paying attention to weather forecasts and adjusting your route/planning layovers appropriately.

    While it's a tad south of I-10, you might enjoy detouring down to Big Bend National Park in Texas. I've not had the pleasure but many road-trippers that visit here rave about it.

    You might also want to veer north to Carlsbad, NM, for the wonderous Carlsbad Caverns. If you do this, you might continue north and then west on 82 to the Alamogordo so you can enjoy a stop at White Sands. If you haven't seen real snow yet, you might enjoy this sand that almost looks like snow. Interesting spot.

    Once you get into Arizona, you will enjoy dipping south to Tombstone and Bisbee. If you want the "wild west" experience, this is a good place to find it. Saguaro NP is another good stop.

    This route doesn't have near the wonderful "tacky tourist traps" (some of my favorite things, too!) that I-40 has but it does have a few. So enjoy!

  6. Default

    if you're looking for part of your drive to be from nashville to dallas - depending on the weather, i think it'd be much shorter to take I40 west to little rock, AR - and from there catch I30 to Dallas.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Netherlands


    Driving through Dallas you're on I20 and you'll hit I 10 after a long drive. There really is not much between Dallas and I10 unless you want to see the town George W. lived in his younger days: Midland.
    Visiting Big Bend is great idea but it takes a lot of time. It's very remote. Best is to drive from I20 to Fort Stockton, Marathon (see the great Gage Hotel) and drive to Big Bend. You'll need at least 1 day here. Chissos Mountain Lodge is the only accomocation in the park and at a fantastic location. To get from Big Bend to Carlsbad Caverns is a days drive. Tx170 along Rio Grande is gorgeous and the drive from Van Horn to Guadalupe NP also is. Can be snowy here. Carlsbad Caverns are no to be missed and Carlsbad has ample lodging. Now, following Judy's route you're driving to Artesia ant to Alamogordo on us82and a huge chance on snow here. Cloudcroft is on 8500+ ft.! Long descend to Alamogordo and White Sands should not be missed.
    SW of Las Cruces is La Mesilla, worth a stop.
    Visiting Big Bend and Carlsbad will take at least 4-5 days.
    In Az Bisbee and Tombstone already been mentioned. Bisbee is a great mining town and Tombstone is all about the past. Don't miss Bird Cage Theater, Old Courthouse and Boothill Graveyard not to mention OK Corral.
    Also at Az east side is Chiricahua NM, a little gem and accessible from 80 but with a SUV and visiting this NM takes much time.
    On your way west many other sights. Tucson is fantastic and don't miss Sonora Desert Musem. Visit Saguaro east or west (west is closer to the Museum, and also Mission San Xavier del Bac south of Tucson is great. So many things to see here.
    Now for another less visited gem. Take az86 and visit Organ Pipes Cactus NM. A suv is recommended to drive the 21 miles dirtloop drive. You'll see Saguaros and Organ Pipe cactussen which is pretty unique. Maybe stay in Ajo, simple clean and well priced motels.
    Can tell you more about the great desert park Anza Borrego in California but maybe this already helped some.
    Have a great trip.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Default I-40 in New Mexico

    I didn't know that about the ice storms in NM and AZ (an uninformed one like myself usually thinks of both states as desert in the Summer, mild in the Winter).
    Ice storms do hit eastern New Mexico from time to time, places like Roswell, Tucumcari, and Clovis. But I canít remember that ever happening here in Albuquerque, or anywhere west of here.

    New Mexico and Arizona get more snow than many people realize. Anyone planning to travel on I-40 during the winter needs to be aware of that. But the weather might not be bad at all. In January it could be 60 degrees in Albuquerque, sunny and warm, or it could be 30 degrees and snowing.

    Last December, just before the new year, New Mexico got hit with a pretty big snowstorm. I-40 between Albuquerque and Amarillo, TX was closed for two days, and Albuquerque had record breaking snowfall. But the winter before that (2005-2006) was one of the driest on record in New Mexico. Albuquerque didnít see snow all winter, and there wasnít very much in the mountains, either.

    You never know whatís going to happen here. Just be aware that we do get snow, and keep an eye on the weather forecasts.
    Last edited by howard; 12-20-2007 at 03:10 PM. Reason: fixed broken links

  9. Default

    Okay, I've mapped it out pretty thoroughly now, and I think the route I came up with is my "A" plan. The only tourist-type stop I'm planning is a few hours in Tombstone (maybe overnight if I really, really like it). I'll probably make a stop in Midland just because it's a convenient stopping-point between Dallas and El Paso.

    I'm planning at staying at the Best Western in Meridian, MS, Addison, TX (outside Dallas), El Paso, TX and (assuming I don't stay overnight in Tombstone) Phoenix, AZ. Once again, if a freak blizzard sweeps the Southwest, I'll do some quick re-arranging and change the route to suit my weather preferences.

    Thanks again to all for the helpful advice, and I'll keep ya posted about how the trip goes!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Tombstone Tips

    Yes, Tombstone can be a bit on the touristy side, but I have found it to be one of the favorite places I take visitors. Two things you should know. Boot Hill was taken over by some government entity in the last few years (I'm not sure whether it was the town, county or state) and lot of effort went into its restoration. Just be forewarned that the wooden markers were all replaced, so they all look the same - this is distressing to some people - but the graves are real and the inscriptions are accurate. Also, the most authentic location in town is the Birdcage Theater down near one end of Allen Street. This was a place for an evening's 'entertainment' owned and operated by Wyatt Earp. It is now run as a private museum, but is well worth the price of admission.


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