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  1. Default Austin to Los Angeles (and back!)


    Leaving January 2nd for a roadtrip from Austin, TX to Los Angeles, CA. Plan is to to be back by January 11th or 12th. We'd like to stop by the Grand Canyon Skywalk on the way there, and then White Sands on the way back.

    Questions for those with more experience :
    1. Looking at a map, would it make sense then to take I40 out to LA, and then I10 on the way back? I've read one is prettier, and it would be more interesting to see two routes anyway.
    2. Coming from Austin, Texas, we're not super familiar with driving in snow and/or ice. Is this something we're likely to encounter on either of these routes during these dates? Perhaps it's safer for us to just take I10 most of the way both directions, and then take highway 93 north from Phoenix to reach the Grand Canyon (and then back down to I10 for the rest of the way?)
    3. What do you estimate to be the amount of days this will take? We've got two possible drivers to switch off, plan is to get as far as we can each day, then look for lodging when we're both tired.

    Please, any help with planning this route would be VERY much appreciated! Thank you in advance. :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Variety, But Planned

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Starting with the basics... Yes, I would strongly recommend that you take I-40 one way and I-10 the other. It really doesn't matter which you use in a given direction unless the weather dictates. While it is more likely (but still not probable) that you'll see snow or ice on I-40 both because it's farther north and at a significantly higher elevation, you will need to wait until just a day or two before you leave Austin to know what the weather is going to be along either route. Also, there is no shortage of things to see and do along either route.

    As to specifics. I would not recommend the Skywalk. First because it is not in the best part of the Canyon. You'll note that it lists itself as in Grand Canyon West. This is not in the national park but on the Hualapai Indian Reservation west of the park. Secondly because it is expensive. The minimum charge that includes the Skywalk is $67 plus tax per person . And thirdly because you cannot take a camera, cell phone, or any other personal property onto the Skywalk. You would be far better off visiting the National Park for $35 (for everyone in the car). My understanding is that the State of Arizona is helping with funding to keep the park open during the current partial government shut-down.

    The drive will take a full two and a half days each way, no matter which route you take. Please realize this and plan accordingly. Having two (or more) drivers will not help. In fact, because you will have to stop more often and each stop will take longer, having multiple drivers/passengers means that the trip will take more time, not less. And by the time you feel tired you will have already been driving drowsy (every bit as dangerous as driving drunk) for quite some time. Plan to cover no more than 550 miles or so a day and stick to that plan. You'll have to work out four possible plans for overnight stops: I-10 eastbound and westbound, and I-40(US-84/US-183) eastbound and westbound. And remember to add in at least half a day each way for your stops at the Grand Canyon and White Sands, meaning that you'll need six full days for the drives between Austin and Los Angeles.

    With six days devoted to driving, you'll only have four or five days in Los Angeles, and of course less than that if you decide you want to make other stops on your RoadTrip. And there are a ton of options for stops besides the two that you've listed.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Unfortunately, New Mexico is not helping to keep White Sands open like Arizona appears to be doing for the Grand Canyon. So I'd keep an eye on the government shut down, because White Sands is (sadly) closed. Oh, some folks illegally scaled a fence to go in and play on the sand, but that's not really safe or smart.

    For anyone else reading this, Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego is also closed due to the government shutdown. You need to go onto Google and research open/closed for national parks and monuments, not the sites for each park. The site is not being maintained/updated during the shutdown.


  4. Default

    Thank you! That was a great response which gave me a lot to think about. :)
    Unfortunately, we've had something come up, so now we're going to have to raincheck the trip. :/ But I will definitely keep in mind your tip about the Skywalk and scratch it from the future itinerary. The National Park sounds much much much better!

    Thanks for the heads up about White Sands! That would have been very disappointing to find out on our own, the hard way, at the entrance gate...eesh! You're a kind soul for the warning, and educating us on how to educate ourselves! I definitely was just going to the site for info, and it never even occurred to me that might not be correct!

    I appreciate both of your prompt and knowledgeable responses. This site is a terrific resource, and I will be back whenever the opportunity permits me to. :)
    Last edited by mighty_leaf; 12-30-2018 at 08:56 PM. Reason: clarity of responses to individuals

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