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  1. #1

    Default Cincinnati, Ohio to Arizona - Which Routes?

    Hi everyone!

    I'm so glad I found this forum during a google search! I've been poking around, but I still have a few questions to ask. Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge!

    We (myself, my husband, and our 4.5yo son) will leaving from Cincinnati, Ohio for northern Arizona on Friday, October 22nd and plan to arrive on Monday, October 25th. The return trip will be from southern Arizona (Tucson, to be exact) to Cincinnati, Ohio and we need to be back in Ohio by Sunday, November 7th. Our time in Arizona is booked with sightseeing, a wedding shower (the whole point of the trip), visiting family, etc... so we're just looking for driving recommendations.

    As for any worries about our son...he's a pretty good traveler. We've been doing the drive from Cincinnati to Boston for three years now, 2 to 4 times a year. While that's a shorter route than this trip, he handles it well and we're prepared to do this one. the questions. We're looking to see stunning vistas along the road, but also to experience cheesy road trip sights that will entertain us (and our son:)) and make for great family photos...just stuff to keep us cheery:) I've posted a few possibilities for highways. Any advice and any additional comments about places to stop/views to see is much appreciated! I've read AZBuck's "Putting Our Recommendations to the Test," and that's been fantastic. I'm also looking though to hear about the smaller landmarks and fun places to stop, and which routes you all prefer.

    On the way TO Arizona, the Google Maps route shows to travel Interstates 64 to 44 to 40. We're thinking of adding 4 or 5 extra hours and picking up Interstate 70 after 64 to see the sights through Colorado and a bit of Utah. (When to head off of 70 in Utah and down to AZ....not sure....seems there are a couple of possibilities)

    Any advice on I-40 vs I-70? Is it worth traveling I-40 and trying to pick up any of the old Rt 66 that's still around? Would we hit any snow on 70 through Colorado and Utah in late October?

    On the way FROM Arizona to Ohio, Google Maps proposes Rt 25 up through New Mexico, then picking up 40. We've toyed with the idea of traveling the 10/20/30/40/65 route through Texas/Arkansas/TN/KY as we've never been to (or, through...) Texas, and we're dreaming of seeing some "world's greatest ribs" joint on the side of the road:) Another possibility is to travel I-10 through Southern Texas/LA/Miss/Alabama, but this would add about 7 hrs - almost a whole additional day of traveling.

    Any advice on these three possible routes? Should we travel 40, the shortest rote back to Ohio, with the benefit of seeing the beauty of New Mexico? Is the 10/20/30/40 route through Dallas going to be fun Texas like we imagine or boring? Any benefit to adding those 7 extra hours to travel through San Antonio/Houston/New Orleans? We're a bit flexible on when we leave AZ to head back to Ohio, so if the extra travel is worth it, we can fit it.

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    From a time budgeting standpoint, if you simply take the fastest route each way, you are looking at 3 very full days on the road (probably about 12 hours after food, fuel, and bathroom stops), and with a young child I'd probably want to make it at least 4 days. My software says that there's essentially no difference whether you go through Indy or Louisville on your way to/from St. Louis, then I-40 and I-44 to/from Albuquerque is fastest. Exactly where in northern AZ is your destination?

    As far as the Texas route is concerned, "boring" is a dirty word here, but if anything could approach that definition, the run from El Paso to Dallas or San Antonio would be high on my list. West Texas is very sparsely populated. I don't know about rib joints, but the Big Texan steakhouse in Amarillo is well worth a stop. You may get to see someone try to polish off a 72 ounce steak with all the trimmings in 1 hour.

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

    Default considerations

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think a big question about the Colorado route is when are you expected to be in Arizona. If you have all day on Monday to travel and can use all of that day to your advantage, then going through Colorado and Utah could make a lot of sense. You're going to need 4 pretty full days to make that trip, but that should leave some time for some sightseeing and enjoyment. However, if you can't leave until late on Friday, or you need to arrive early on Monday, then I think going the most direct route really is your best option.

    I-70 can see snow in late October, but you should know that its entirely possible to see Snow in Northern Arizona and New Mexico at this time of year too.

    Similarly, we'd really have to know how much time you've got available for your return trip to give you a better answer as to what might work best for that trip.
    Texas, and we're dreaming of seeing some "world's greatest ribs" joint on the side of the road:
    If you want world's greatest ribs, then you need to be looking elsewhere - Memphis would be an excellent spot. In Texas, when you talk BBQ, its Beef Brisket that is king!

  4. #4


    Thanks so much for the info so far and thanks for the warm welcomes!

    We'll be leaving around 5pm on Friday, arriving whenever in Flagstaff, AZ on Monday. So, basically, we'll knock out the first 7 or so hours on Friday night (this is how we usually do our road trips anyway) and then have Sat-Sun-Mon for 8 hour (or so) drives, plus stops.

    We're meeting my sister-in-law in Flagstaff (I think this is b/c she's taking a shuttle from Tucson and that's where it puts her), but the time is extremely flexible - basically on Monday we're just going to check in to a hotel. The following days we're doing Sedona and the Grand Canyon before heading down to Scottsdale for a bridal shower/reunion and after a few days there to her place in Tucson for a short visit.

    As for when we leave Tucson and return to Cincinnati, that is flexible...if it were to be worth it to enjoy the drive on Route 10, we could work in an extra day for driving. But basically, 3 or 4 days of driving on that end as well.

    We're not necessarily concerned with the fastest route give or take 4 hours, but more the quality of the route. We're more than willing to add on the additional 4 hours to take I-70 instead of I-40 if it affords us better scenery and roadside stops. The whole point of driving instead of flying is to experience a part of the country we've never seen before and may not see again for a very long time, since almost all of our family is in New 4 hours is not much in the whole scheme of things if we can have some great memories along the way. If we do drive 70, where in Utah to head off and head south to AZ? Rt 191 through Arches National Park? Rt 24? Both look pretty amazing on Google images.

    About the rib joints... Well that shows how well I know my bbq!:) I guess it's just symbolic of things we want to experience...local favorites, I guess.

    I'll refrain from using "boring" again on here:) But if west TX is pretty desolate, should we plan on skipping the 10/20/30/40 or 10 routes all together and take 40 on the way back? Or will the routes payoff after west Texas? Or are there more fun and "quirky" things along 40, like Cadillac Ranch and the steakhouse, than the other routes?

    Thanks so much! We're pretty familiar with the routes from Ohio east to New England and the east coast from Maine to NY, but we've never driven west of Chicago, so any and all advice/experience is much appreciated!
    Last edited by ElizBC; 06-14-2010 at 12:52 PM.

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


    If you've only got 3/4 days, then I certainly wouldn't take I-10 - at least not all the way out through Houston. You could take the route that goes through Dallas, since its pretty similar but I'd personally prefer I-40.

    My concern with taking I-70 out there is that while 4 hours doesn't sound like much, when you're only taking 3.5 days to make a 3 full day drive, those 4 hours start to make a pretty significant difference in the amount of things you can stop to see. Basically, it you want to make lots and lots of roadside stops - which you can certainly do - you're going to be much more limited by going the longer route. I think you'll be ok in the end, but i think you really are underestimating the sheer size of the west (just for perspective, when you get to Colorado you'll still be farther from Flagstaff than the entire distance of your trips to Boston).

  6. #6


    Hmmm...good point. Maybe I am underestimating. Everything in New England is so close together, you can knock out several states in one day - and that's where most of our driving has been, plus OH/PA/NY. Moving even to Ohio was a big difference, especially for family visiting from lil' Rhode Island.

    But I'm still tempted to do the I-70 drive. We certainly have enough time to unwind with family and friends after the drive before we head back eastbound. Hmmm....much to think about:)

    So it sounds like the return trip should be picking up 40 in New Mexico and taking that back. We could make it a 4/5 day return trip to take 10 all the way through to Houston, but it sounds like that's not the best route. I think 40 is a good idea. We'll see the beauty of NM and get to stop in Amarillo for our TX experience. And, hey, that "little" bit of TX is still bigger than all of RI!:) And that'll give us those "extra" hours back to get ready to return to the real world on the following Monday.

    Thanks a bunch!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Working Within Constraints

    Your schedule and the number and nature of the roads through the Rockies precludes any approach to Flagstaff other than I-40 from Albuquerque. However, you do have a little spare time, and so I'd suggest that, if you haven't been through that area before, you initially head for Memphis via I-71/I-65/I4-0, enjoy the barbeque and the cheesiness of Graceland, and then just continue west on I-40. If time permits, take a quiet moment at the Oklahoma City Memorial, stop at the Big Texan in Amarillo and leave your mark at Cadillac Ranch, see Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque and drive through the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest. If you take exit 320 (Pinta Rd), you can enter Petrified forest National park on old Route 66. There's also a nice section of the old road east of Flagstaff - take the exit for Walnut Canyon National Monument and follow the signs for AZ-66 or Historic Route 66.

    As for the return, I tend to agree with others' comments about west Texas. There are more scenic routes unless, like me, you appreciate the beauty of desolation. A possible alternative to both I-25/I-40 and I-10/I-20/I-30/etc. would be to I-10 to Las Cruces, NM and then use US-70 to visit White Sands and Roswell (as kitschy as they get), US-380/US-62/US-82 through Lubbock (Buddy Holly's hometown) to rejoin US-70 through the Red River Valley to the Talimena Scenic Drive into Arkansas, and finish up on US-67/US-412 northeast from Little Rock to I-155/US-51/Purchase Parkway/Western Kentucky Parkway to Louisville and home. That is a good four day drive, plus time spent at sites along the way.


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