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  1. Default Vegas to Louisiana pointers?

    Hi, my husband & I are planning to fly into Las Vegas mid-March, stay a couple days, rent a one-way car & drive home to Monroe, LA. We've been to Vegas before, but never anywhere else 'out west' & are looking forward to a scenic road trip home. We're definitely going to hit the Grand Canyon & I'd like to see Monument Valley, Navajo Bridges, etc...then come down around Albuquerque/Santa Fe and on eastward. Any suggestions for our itinerary & must sees will be greatly appreciated. We'll have about 3 days for the road trip. I've done some looking, but really am lost as to how much time to allow for each place & what would be the best way to put it all together....Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Barely Enough Time for the Drive

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You're going to have to cover just over 1,500 miles to get from Las Vegas to Monroe. That alone is a good bit of distance to cover in a three day RoadTrip. If you start adding detours such as the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Santa Fe, you will quickly up your miles to over 1,800 and turn what could be an enjoyable drive into a three day slog with no time to even look at, let alone enjoy, the places you're driving to. If you really only have three days, then I'd drop nearly everything you mentioned and just stick to the main roads: I-40/US-287/I-20. The one exception I'd make would be to do a drive-by viewing of the Grand Canyon. For an additional 130 miles or so, you can drive north from Williams, AZ and along the south rim on AZ-64, then return to I-40 on US-89. You won't have a lot of time, but it would be a shame to get this close and not visit. Plan on spending at least 4 hours on this one detour. You can see that trying to get to the other places you've mentioned would quickly eat up time that you just won't have in a three day journey.

    Now, even so, there are plenty of places on the main roads to take meaningful breaks and see some unique locations, including the Petrified Forest, Petroglyph National Monument, Cadillac Ranch, Dealy Plaza, and others. You just won't have time to do everything you would like. To begin to make it worthwhile to see even Monument Valley and Santa Fe, you'd have to add at least a full day to your drive home.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default time time time

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    If you really want to do all of the things you've listed, then you need to give yourself more than 3 days. Before you take any detours, You're looking at 3 days of 8-10 hours on the road just to cover the miles between Vegas and Monroe. You could probably squeeze in a detour to the Grand Canyon, and take a quick look over the edge, but that's about the limit of what you could realistically do here.

    What I would recommend, even at the fastest pace, Drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon on day one. (this will take 5-6 hours), spend your afternoon there and try to find a room near Tuba City. (The Cameron Trading Post has gotten high marks on this forum) The next day you could do a quick tour of Monument Valley and then work your way down to Santa Fe or Albq, and then spend the next 2 days driving home.

    That's over 4 days, and is an exceptionally brisk pace where I think you'll still wish you had more time, but its about the fastest you could do this on a realistic level.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the responses. Wow, google maps made it seem do-able, I'm glad I asked you guys before getting in over my head. I definitely don't want to turn it into a race against time trying to squeeze everything in, but we are pretty fast paced travelers anyway. The main reasons for the Monument valley/Navajo bridge detours is really just for scenic driving...I envisioned cruising along, seeing the rock formations as we drove. Is the main route along I40 scenic at all? Our main priorities are to go from Vegas to the grand canyon, maybe spend a few hours there, & then head toward I40, stopping in some quaint downtown areas or other points of interest along the way home, not necessarily spending large amounts of time at each spot. Any must sees or dos along this main I40 route or from the canyon to I40? Also, about the grand canyon, where is the best place to stop? Thanks alot for all your help...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default the errors of algorithms

    Google and other online mapping programs use math formulas to guess how long it will take to travel a distance, however those formulas assume you never have to stop or even slow down. Thus, they tend to be quite inaccurate/over-optimistic over a long distance trip.

    I-40 is a pretty scenic trip through the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico, and Buck has already given you several ideas and potential stopping points along the route.

    At the Grand Canyon, as mentioned, you're not going to have much time if you can't spend more than 3 days on this trip, and there are some restrictions on driving in much of the park. Since I don't think you'll have time to start dealing with the shuttle system, I think you're best bet will be to head into the village, take alook there, and then head back out on the route Buck suggested, and stop at a couple of the overlooks as you head east out of the park.

  6. Default

    O.K., we've decided to modify our trip a little bit, giving us more time to sightsee in the northern AZ/NM areas. Now, instead of driving all the way back home to Monroe, LA, we're going to rent the one-way car in Vegas & drop it off in Albuquerque, then catch a flight home. This will give us 3 full days to meander around. I'm planning on leaving Vegas early (about 7-8ish), & heading to the Grand Canyon south rim spending what's left of the day there & finding a hotel in that area. The next day, head out early toward Monument Valley via 160, looping back downward on 191 back to I40. The main question I have is would we be able to see monument valley-type rock formations along a route nearer to I40, so we wouldn't have to go so far out of the way? Or maybe a better question...Would traveling the route 66 area be more worthwhile than making the trek thru monument valley? I'm completely unfamiliar with this whole region of the country, so any insight is appreciated. I just don't want to miss something really spectacular. Also, how about Santa Fe? Ultimately, on the 3rd day of the road trip, we need to end up in Albq. so as to catch an early flight out the next a.m., but for some reason I keep thinking we need to see Santa Fe as there any really good reason to go/not go to Sannta Fe, & where is a good place to see the old pueblo houses built into the rocks? Sorry to bombard you all with so many questions..I just want to make the most out of this trip....Thanks again!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Some options.


    To drive by the famous rock formations in M/V you need to to get onto the 163 from the 160 which goes all the way up to Mexican Hat. If you leave Vegas early enough and you have full day at the Grand canyon you could spend the night out the other side of the canyon on route to M/V. The nearest outside G/C [if you want to spend a full day] would be the Cameron trading post
    or you could head for Kayenta. After M/V you could head back towards I-40 by heading south on the 191 past CanyonDe Chelley or you could continue through Farmington from the 160/64/44 towards Santa Fe. You would be close to Bandelier NM or you could head for Taos and Taos Pueblo and drive back through Santa Fe to Albu on your third day.

    Another place worth mentioning is Mesa Verde and the Four corners but if Santa Fe is a must you really won't have time to do it justice.

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


    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave
    Another place worth mentioning is Mesa Verde and the Four corners but if Santa Fe is a must you really won't have time to do it justice.
    I agree. I think it would be tough to fit both Mesa Verde and Santa Fe into this trip. Also, Taos Pueblo is closed in the late winter/ early spring.

    To me, the best route for the second day looks like this: Cameron Trading Post > Monument Valley > Canyon de Chelly > Gallup or Albuquerque (time permitting).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by erinair1 View Post
    ...but for some reason I keep thinking we need to see Santa Fe as well...
    Could this be the reason? It certainly was for me!

  10. Default

    Wow, what a beautiful chapel...I had no idea it was in Santa Fe. Thanks for all the advise...I really am clueless about what to see & what to leave out...I'm still on the fence on whether we should: 1) do the Monument Valley drive thru Santa Fe, to Albq.; or 2) just come back down to Rt 66 after the Grand Canyon & spend the 3rd day stopping at all the quirky places along the way to Albq; or 3) a good mix of both options (I think), would be to do the Monument valley way, then come back down 191 to meet back up w/ rt 66 & head toward Albq, leaving Santa Fe out. I guess my main question is which route will be more meaningful...the sights of M/V or those of Rt 66? And after we leave M/V, will the rest of the long trek southward, ultimately to Albq, be as interesting? It's looking like the M/V detour will be somewhat long & boring after we get our fill of rock you all feel this is the case? I hate to be so analytical, but I don't want to go so far out of the way if it's not going to be worth it, & especially if we'll be missing out on a lot of other worthwhile sights/stops. Thanks again for all your help!

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