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  1. #1

    Default Nashville, TN to Los Angeles, CA

    My husband and I are planning a March 2014 roadtrip from our home in Nashville, to Los Angeles, CA. This is really our first REAL roadtrip and we're super excited and beginning the first stages of planning. I'd love some advice from seasoned cross country roadtrippers. We're planning on taking I-40 from Nashville, TN to Amarillo, TX, Amarillo to the Grand Canyon, then the Grand Canyon to Los Angeles, CA.

    From LA we'd like to hit I-15 to I-70 and go through Las Vegas, Utah, Denver, CO, and Kansas City, MO back home to Nashville. We've got 9 days to complete the 4,000+ trip, do you guys think this is doable?
    I'd love to get some advice on places that shouldn't be missed (i.e. restaurants, road side attractions, state parks). We know we definitly want to see the Grand Canyon and spend some time on the beach while we're in LA. My husband doesn't care much about stopping in Las Vegas, but I'd at lease like to drive through just to say I've been.

    The furthest west we've been is Memphis, TN so we're mostly concerned with seeing as much of the west and it's gorgeous landscapes as possible in 9 days. Any and all advice and tips are appriciated!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default I Suppose....

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You would need right around eight full days just for the driving portion of this trip. Other than that all you will get is a couple of hours at the Grand Canyon, a few hours to dip your toes in the Pacific, and maybe a few other quick stops along the way as your only breaks from what will otherwise be a fairly constant bit of sitting in your vehicle and watching the world go by while eating in freeway exit, cookie cutter, national chain, fast food restaurants. If you're comfortable with that constituting your RoadTrip, then yes, I would have to say (I suppose) that the trip you describe is 'doable'.

    But I get the impression you're looking for more fun than that. Nowhere do you describe any joy you get out of driving hour after hour (some do) rather you talk about seeing and experiencing places and cultures. As it's now constituted, this itinerary doesn't allow for that. Even if you just cut out Los Angeles and Las Vegas, this trip would become a lot more fun. Then you would not only have enough time (a few days worth spread out over the trip) to actually get out of the car and experience some of what the Southwest and Rockies have to offer, but you could add a couple of great parks such as Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and Arches National Park as you head north from the Grand Canyon through eastern Utah up to I-70 for the return route across the Rockies and through Denver and St. Louis back to Nashville.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I'm going to concur with what AZBuck said...this is at least an 8 day trip just driving. Add to that the possibility of seeing some real winter weather on the highway in March, and you may ONLY be driving and not seeing any beautiful sights other than what's out your windshield!

    Nashville to LA is a 4 day drive, and those are some LONG days. It's 2000 miles -- that would be four days of 500 miles (9-11 hours) each. Run into any weather, it will be more. Between just east of Albuquerque until west of Flagstaff, you are driving at 5000-7000 ft elevation, which increases the chance of snow. Returning via I-70, it's almost 2200 miles, which is 4 days of 600 miles per day. Now you've got eight marathon days in a row -- exhausting for anyone!!!!! On I-70 between Rifle and Denver, you have some HIGH mountain passes, near 11,000 ft, and snow is not unusual when you are driving past Vail and a lot of other well known ski resorts. Can you get more time off? Even 2 weeks would let you get a little sightseeing in.

    If my husband and I were planning a 9 day trip and wanted to see something in March, we might be looking at traveling about 1000 miles away and then looping back. For you, perhaps that could mean New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, OK City, Memphis, home (about 2000 miles total). Anyway, that's just an idea.


  4. #4


    Thank you so much for your quick response!
    Neither my husband or I particularly enjoy just driving and you're absolutley right in assuming we want to enjoy and explore, more than "see" the West and the Rockies pass us by. You've made up my mind for me as far as Vegas goes, I'll skip that and to be honest LA was just the ending destination, just planning on passing through on the way to the beach. I have no desire to do the LA thing, to be honest, I'd like to stay OUT of the city as much as possible. Thanks for the park suggestions too, never heard of either of them but I'll add them to the list of parks to research before we head out.
    Any suggestions on what we should check out in Utah and Colorado?

  5. #5


    We can stretch the trip out to 10 days at most. I hadn't even considered the weather in March, how bad are the roads in the Denver area when snow is present? Coming from TN, where .1 inchs of snow causes havok on the interstates, I want to be prepared for driving in those conditions in my Honda Civic.
    I appriciate the suggestion of the loop back trips, we're just REALLY wanting to make it to at least the Grand Canyon. Maybe loop back from there??

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Fly/drive or cut back.

    As already noted, you really won't have any time spare for "places that can't be missed" with your current plan, to get what you are looking for means finding more time, or something has to give. The bare minimum with good weather to drive to LA with a detour to GC and then back through Utah and Denver on I70 would be 8 days. That doesn't leave much of a cushion if the weather turns bad and that part of it is totally unpredictable. I agree with Buck, at most head to GC and then through Monument valley to Moab and back through Denver. The actual drive time will still be 6 days plus, but you can break that up and have some more relaxed days of driving and sight seeing in the west.

    Other than that and if budget isn't much of an issue, you could fly west to LA or Vegas, rent a car and do a loop trip and fly home, or drive home from LA via GC, Moab and Denver etc, but face a one way drop off fee on the car.

  7. #7


    Thanks Southwest Dave!
    The more replies I get the more I think CA is probably out of the question for this trip. I just thought it would be nice to see the Pacific but we'll probably have to cut that out this trip in order to experience the Grand Canyon and the Rockies. Budget is somewhat of an issue so I think we'll stick to staying in the Civic.
    Do you guys think a 9.5 day trip to GC then back on I-70 is more practical for the things we're wanting to experience or is it still too ambitious?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A More Reasonable Loop

    The loop I suggested, Nashville to the Grand Canyon, then north through eastern Utah and back on I-70 is, I think, a reasonable compromise, particularly if you can scratch together a tenth day. That's a bit longer than what Donna suggested, but considerably shorter than what you initially proposed. Call it 3500 miles in round numbers. It's still a lot of driving, but not day after day of nothing but.

    The best way to deal with winter weather should you see any on your trip is to simply stay put in a nice warm motel room and wait until the storm has passed and the road crews have done their jobs. Those along I-70 in Utah and Colorado are very well equipped and experienced. As Donna noted, there are many ski resorts along that route and the economic well being of a large area depends on keeping I-70 open and safe, so they have gotten pretty good at it - just give them the time they need, and enjoy the white stuff on foot.

    So, what's to see? On I-40 westbound there's the Oklahoma City Memorial, Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, Petroglyph National Monument near Albuquerque, Petrified Forest National Park, Meteor Crater, and of course the Grand Canyon. Northbound on US-89/US-160/US-163/US-191 there's Cameron Trading Post, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Goosenecks State Park, and Arches National Park. Finally, eastbound on I-70 there's Colorado National Monument, Denver (the US Mint, Molly Brown's home, etc.), the Fick Fossil Museum of Oakley KS, the Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene, and finally, since you should hold your 'weather day' in reserve until near the end of your trip, the great City of St. Louis with its world class (and free!) zoo, the Arch and beneath it the Museum of Westward Expansion, and Grant's Farm which was once owned by our 18th President and is now home to the Budweiser Clydesdales and other exotic animals. You won't be able to see everything I've listed here, but you should have time for a representative sample, and maybe one or two that you and your husband find on your own (the finest kind).


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Future plans.

    Since you have decided to drop LV and LA "this trip", gives the impression that you may plan trips, in the future. As well, since you had not heard of some of the great attractions already mentioned, may I make a suggestion. Those attractions already listed above are only a small fraction of what a trip like yours has to offer. Inevitably, you will pass by some which time will not allow you to explore.

    Take with you a note book, and note down those attractions. These will make the beginning of any future roadtrip planning.


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