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  1. Default NJ to CA to Glacier NP and back to NJ

    Hey ya'll, I'm planning on road tripping coast coast in august, solo, and had a few questions for the group. Great forum, its been a big help in planning, I was definitely guilty of trying to fit a 3 month trip in 1 month driving too many hours each day, trying to see too many places and not making enough time for those stops. Making it a much more manageable amount now and am going for a loose structure where I'll be spontaneous rather than trying to plan out every day. I figure this way when I need to stop driving to recharge I can stop and explore. Doing loads of research so it will be informed spontaneity.

    2 days: Central jersey to St Louis on I-70
    3 days: St Louis to CO on local roads
    7 days: CO/UT hitting up the sights
    -Thinking RMNP/Black Canyon/Million dollar highway/Moab/Rt 12/Zion
    2 days: Finish drive to Fresno CA
    4 days: in Fresno staying with friends
    17 days: Up through the pacific northwest, through glacier np, and on home
    -Having a hard time planning this out as I can't foresee if at this point I'll be tired of driving and want more breaks or if I'll be in
    the groove and want to drive a lot and see as much as possible

    Thoughts on plan?

    Main question I have right now: can anyone recommend good local roads between St Louis and CO? Looks like there's a bunch of options 36, 24, 40, 50. Most likely going to go to rocky mountain national park so will probably take a northern one like 36, wondering how that compares to the other roads, looking for quality over quickest route. Thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Is there a particular reason you want to go to St. Louis, or is it just a waypoint of convenience? If there's no particular reason, this is what I'd do:

    Take your preferred route to I-70 and go to Indianapolis. From there, take I-74 to Champaign/Urbana, then I-72 to Hannibal. Take US-36 across MO and most of KS. Take KS-161 or KS-27 north to US-34. Take that to Loveland and on into Estes Park and RMNP. US-36 is multi-lane divided through all of MO, with some freeway stretches. It's 2 lane through most of KS.

    If you do want to go to STL, then take US-61 north to Hannibal to pick up US-36.

    If you can let us know where in central NJ you are, I can recommend the best ways to get to I-70, minimizing tolls, and can recommend overnight stops.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Sounds like a lot of fun to me.

    Unfortunately we can't tell you how you might be feeling but what I can say is your trip looks pretty relaxed and spending a few days with friends is a nice way to break up a long trip like this. Continuing on from Fresno there is much to be seen heading north, both along the coast and inland so you could pick one or the other or combine the two. That part of the journey should be about a weeks worth of driving back home, so it leaves you time to enjoy yourself along the way and get a nice balance, just don't try and do too much and you should be fine.

  4. Default

    Wanted to go to St Louis to see the gateway arch. Felt like a cool jumping off point for getting off the interstate and onto the local roads. Looks like going straight to Hannibal would save me about 45min so will have to decide if seeing the arch is worth the extra time.

    I'm by new brunswick in NJ and was planning on mainly camping/car camping my way across the country.

    Glad to hear the plan sounds solid. I originally had pretty much every np west of the mississippi on the list until I found you guys and realized it was waayyy too much.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Glad to hear the plan sounds solid. I originally had pretty much every np west of the mississippi on the list until I found you guys and realized it was waayyy too much.

    It's a common enough mistake when starting to plan and then the realisation sets in and then it's about chipping away at it until the balance feels right for the individual. I'm presuming you will spend a bit of time in Sequoia and Yosemite NP's while in the area ? And don't forget to purchase the NPS annual pass at the first park you visit, it will save you a good few dollars !

    This thread may give you some ideas heading north to the PNW from Fresno, covering the coast and Cascades etc.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    From New Brunswick, I'd take I-287 to I-78, on to I-81 south to I-70. At Hancock, take I-68 to I-79 back to I-70.

    No problem if you want to go to STL. Spend the first night around Zanesville OH. Dillon State Park has camping. Note that the second night will need to be around STL and you need to keep rush hour traffic in mind, either trying to get in to the city or out of the city in the evening and/or the morning. There really aren't any camping options near the city and I would not recommend any hotels downtown (expensive) or on the IL side of the river near the city (safety), East St. Louis is not a nice place to be. There are a few reasonable hotels in Troy, that's about as close to the city that I'd recommend to the east, look at Wentzville on the west side.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Back to Your Primary Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Rohrider
    [C]an anyone recommend good local roads between St Louis and CO?
    Yes I can, but as you might suspect it gets a bit intricate, so I'll describe the main parts in sections:

    1) Little Dixie Highway, north out of St. Louis along the Mississippi.
    Leave St. Louis via I-70 to MO-79 north up to Hannibal. While only part of this road is officially labeled as scenic, it's all worthwhile, as is Hannibal.

    2) US-36 west through Missouri. Not designated as scenic, it is a good compromise between 'local' roads and freeways, being a four-lane divided highway, but with intersections.

    3) St. Joseph MO has some history, being the eastern terminus of the short-lived Pony express.

    4) KS-7 north along the Missouri River. This 'devolves' into local roads, but your target is Rulo, NE where...

    5) NE-8/NE-99/NE-4/NE-10/NE-50A/NE-44 (W/N/W/N/W/N - Roads on the Plains tend to follow a grid pattern) will get you to Kearney NE. From there US-30 follows the old Oregon Trail route along the Platte River as well as I-80 should you feel the need to make 'better' time.

    6) Around Big Springs NE switch over to US-136 which parallels I-76 to Sterling CO, then US-6 (duplexed with I-76 in some sections) to Wiggins CO.

    7) Finally, from Wiggins, US-34 will take you to Estes Park, CO and RMNP. If you're a fan of Stephen King, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park was the inspiration for The Shining.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-12-2018 at 03:02 PM.

  8. Default

    You might find it fun to select a few "must see" destinations and, depending on how much you feel like driving, padding that with "like to see" places.

    For instance, you could spend a day at Zion, then head to Bryce the next day.

    Or at Zion, you might decide to spend a day or even two, doing the very popular Narrows Hike up the Virgin River.

    Likewise at Bryce, should you decide to include it, you could do a quick drive through or spend a couple days hiking every trail.

    I always leave a couple "Free" days in my vacation planning. It makes the trip much more enjoyable.

    Have fun!

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