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  1. Default Quick Advice: Monterey to Denver via Grand Canyon in 4 days!

    Hello Everyone

    My daughter (21) and I are making a quick road-trip from Monterey to Denver, via a "one day river trip" at Grand Canyon West. We only have 4.5 days and one will be spent on the river.

    My present outline of an itinerary includes:

    Sunday: drive from Monterey to somewhere west of Sequoia National Forest.
    Monday : drive through Sequoia National Forest via Mountain Highway 99, picnicking along the way, diner in Kernville, then a long evening drive to somewhere just short of Peach Springs, AZ (Grand Canyon West). This might be unreasonable, of course. It's so hard to tell.

    (Option B: Leave Saturday Night after dinner, drive down to the King City Area, late check in... take out time through Sequoia area on Sunday, staying over in Kernville area, then drive toward Peach Springs on Monday.)

    Either way, the plan is to day over somewhere on Route 66, be at the rafting meet-up by 7:30 am on Tuesday, raft all day till 7 PM, then get in the car and drive a couple of hours towards/past Flagstaff, AZ and stay over. I'd like to make it as far as Tuba City on Tuesday night, late check-in. This too, may be unreasonable, but, it's a goal.

    Wednesday we have several route choices... several possibilities of thing to see/do along the way, with a goal of staying over somewhere like Durango, CO, or Telluride, CO. We're looking for advice about how best to spend out time... through the Hopi & Navajo reservation, Mesas areas, toward Durango... or swing a bit north to Monument Valley then cross over to Telluride. We realize most of our time will be driving, so we need help here.

    Thursday morning we need to hit the road early and make it from Telluride/Durango to Telluride by 2 pm.

    So, hit me with it... the realities, any surprises, insights... alternate ideas.

    I have not make any reservations (not even for the rafting) yet so other than start to end timetable, we are still flexible.

    Many thanks,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Flat Out

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yes, you can squeeze in everything that you've listed, but you are looking at almost exactly 3½ days of driving to go with your full day of river rafting. That means that wherever you start rafting from has to be exactly as far from Monterey as you can drive in the time between your initial departure and the scheduled start of your river run. And similarly, you'll have to be able to make the drive from rafting to Denver in exactly the time left after you get off the water. That really means everything must fall into place perfectly, and even at that you will have precious little time for sight-seeing or hiking. The shortest route time-wise from Tuba City to Denver is up US-160/US-163/US-191 to I-70. Yes, this will take you through Monument Valley, past Arches National Park, and over the Rockies, but will require a very long day's drive (12+ hours) and so leave no time to really enjoy those sights except for a very few, very quick photo ops.


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


    One important thing to note about your current plans is that the Kernville area is currently dealing with a major wildfire that is burning right along the Kern River and Mountain Road 99 - which is obviously closed because of that. It should also be noted that there are no Giant Sequoia Trees in the Sequoia National Forest - so if that's part of your thinking, you'll need to reconsider. You need to visit either the Sequoia National Park or the National Monument to see any of the big trees.'

    I'll also say that your plans to go from Grand Canyon West to Flagstaff or beyond after a 12 hour rafting trip sound pretty unrealistic to me. Its about a 5 hour drive (GC West is also a rather long drive from Peach Springs, even though that the "city" in the address) and trying to do that after a day of rafting is just asking for problems. GC West to Tuba City is going to be more than 6 hours and doing that after 12 hours on the water is, well, insane.

  4. Default

    Hello Michael & AZBuck,

    Thanks for your initial responses. Some more questions & some clarification:

    1) Thanks Mike for clarification about Sequoia National Forest vs. Park. I knew already that the "big trees" were in the park, not the forest, but realistically we just don't have the time to drive In & out of the park with Sunday tourist traffic. With the fires (thanks again) it sounds like perhaps we should just skip the whole forest area and head down & across though Bakersfield. Any advise here... if we choose this route of where to stay over and how to split the drive?

    2) Clarification: The whole point of this cross country trip is to go to the Grand Canyon adn go on this rafting trip (my duaghter's request). The meet-up address is actually not at Grand Canyon West, but IN Peach Springs, at 900 Route 66. They transport us over the reservation to the GRand Canyon West site and back. So, departure afterwards, at 7 PM is from that address on Rt 66. Google Maps estimates 3 hrs, 20 min. to Tuba City, a long haul after a 12 hour rafting day. Flagstaff is estimated at just under 2 hours. So, that is an option...

    3) Clarification: From Tuba City or Flagstaff we can stay overnight once before heading on to Colorado Springs. We're trying to arrive in COS for a lacrosse scrimmage & BBQ at USAFA (not a flight) so if we run into trouble it's no the end of the world. I would like to stay somewhere less than 6 hours away from COS the night before... hence the Telluride or Durango idea.

    4) You both sound pretty experiences, so please, send me more advice. I am considering it all seriously.

    Thanks Again


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Please don't rely on Google Maps for travel time

    Google Map bots never have to stop for fuel, food, bathroom breaks, or deal with traffic. Plus, they never take wrong turns -- well sometimes they do -- but having driven those roads you are considering, I can state emphatically, that it will take you every bit of four hours to cover that distance.

    But you will have an adventure. Actually I'd recommend staying overnight at Williams...


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You will be hard pressed to make it from Durango to COS in 6 hours. It's doable from Montrose via 50/285/24. However, Williams to Montrose via Monument Valley and Durango is way too much for one day.

    I'm afraid you may have to bite the bullet and just take I-40 to I-25.

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

    Default Bullets don't taste so good !

    If the Sequoia NF is out of the equation you could head to the Lake Isabella area on night one [possibly Kernville] and make it a comfortable day to Kingman, perhaps even taking old route 66 from Needles through Oatman. If you were to stop at Flagstaff I would then head to to the wonderful mountain town of Silverton in CO via Monument valley. From Silverton head through Ouray to Montrose on the Million dollar highway [wonderful drive] and then take US 50 through the scenic Currecanti rec area past Canon City and then CO 115 from Penrose [look out for the worlds largest rocking chair] past Fort Carson to Colorado Springs.

    Busy, yet enjoyable !

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Dave, how do you recommend that this person get from MV to Silverton? Looks to me like you have to go through Cortez and Durango, is 163/262/41 to 160 viable? The catch here is determining where to overnight to be within a reasonable 6 hour drive from COS. Your recommendation saves about 20 minutes from mine, that helps - but I think anything much farther from Montrose is going to make 6 hours pushing it. It's 230 miles on mountain highways from Montrose to COS. It's 60 miles from Silverton to Montrose, 40 miles from Ouray to Montrose.

    I drove from Durango to COS via Montrose a few years ago and it took me about 8 hours as I remember, with no stops. It looks to me like Flagstaff to Durango via MV is about 8 hours, and it's probably 3 hours from Durango to Montrose?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Like so.

    The 163/191 to Bluff and through Montezuma creek and Aneth on UT 162/CO 41 to 160 Cortez, Mancos, Durango and US 550 to Silverton is what I was thinking. It would be possible to push onto Ouray for the night but the OP had mentioned that 'not getting to COS in time for Lacrosse and BBQ wouldn't be the end of the world'. The good thing with BBQ's is that turning up an hour late doesn't always mean that there's no food on the table, and although it would be a shame to hurry through they could probably make it in 7 hours.

    Me, I would prefer to enjoy the scenery and Mountains/towns and forgo the BBQ, but that's me !

  10. Default

    Hi Folks

    Thanks so much for all of your replies. I have been thinking a lot about driving times, when to push it and when not to push it.

    1) I made the rafting commitment, with lodging the night before. I decided that no matter how long we drive on Monday for the night before, we need to get to bed and be able to get up and make the rafting meet-up on time Tuesday morning. Iinstead of staying near Kingman, Az, we are going to stay at the Hualapai Lodge, right there, the night before. The rate was great, the location - well perfect.

    2) Secondly, I am now considering taking HWY 1 down the coast to Cambria/Paso Robles/East of Bakersfield on the first day, enjoying the coast, then laying tracks on Monday from there to Peach Springs. Any thought on this plan?

    Southwest Dave - I will look further into staying over near Lake Isabella, but it seems there is not a lot of lodging there. Any recommendations?

    I will also spend some time tonight looking at all of your advised routes through AZ & CO.


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