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  1. Default Eastward bound road trip

    Hello all, after spending quite a while reading threads I thought I'd post to ask for a bit of advice.

    I have roughly mapped out a road trip beginning in Las Vegas and ending possibly in D.C. during the summer time. It will be in a few years time but I feel warrants a lot of research and planning. We will be taking approx 2 1/2 to 3 weeks for the trip, and will hopefully have some driving free days in the big cities we visit.

    I have some places/cities which I absolutely want to see along the way, such as Zion NP, Monument Valley, Rocky Mountains NP including Trail Ridge road, Denver, Mount Rushmore, Chicago etc etc

    My plan so far is as follows:

    Las Vegas to Monument Valley area via Zion NP

    Monument Valley to Grand Junction, CO

    Grand Junction to Denver via Trail Ridge road, RMNP

    Denver to Cheyenne, WY

    Cheyenne to Mount Rushmore area, possibly via Carhenge in Nebraska if time allows

    Mount Rushmore to Sioux Falls

    Sioux Falls to Minneapolis, MN

    Minneapolis to Chicago, IL

    Chicago to Cleveland, OH

    Cleveland to Pittsburgh, PA

    Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

    When I plot this on the map, it seems a fairly random route, but that is kind of the point. My wife and I have been to the major cities on either coast and this would hit some of big cities in between, while also being able to see some of the quirky roadside attractions such as carhenge (I am a mechanic and love old american cars so these kinds of attractions really interest me.

    It will also allow me to visit some football stadiums along the way, particularly a couple of historic ones like Mile High and Soldier field. I'm a huge fan of the NFL and am also planning to visit the Linc in Philadelphia as the Eagles are my favourite team and we will possibly be flying home from Philly.

    I've rambled on a bit so I'll bring a bit of structure to my questions...

    1. Is this a completely insane plan? I have roughly checked the times and distances online and it seems doable but I know from experience the times are optimistic at best. A few years ago we did a trip from Seattle to SF, down the PCH to LA then Las Vegas in 2 weeks and there were a couple of days that were too long behind the wheel. I'd like to avoid this happening again

    2. Does anyone have any suggestions about other roadside attractions, the kind of things that would have been on route 66 perhaps? I thought the website would be ideal but I cannot access it from Scotland.

    3. Are there any particularly bad congestion areas along the route other than the big cities? The trip is quite flexible so can be tweaked if traffic can be avoided.

    I'm sure there will be other questions but I will leave it there for now. Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.

    I'd also like to say I've very much enjoyed reading through your forum this evening. U.S roadtrips have become our favourite holiday and reading about all of yours is very interesting, informative and inspiring.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Trail Ridge Road.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scottish traveller View Post
    ..... including Trail Ridge road, Denver, Mount Rushmore, Chicago etc etc.
    Be aware that this road, at 14000ft. can be closed at any moment by blizzards. Even when you are told it is open, you might be half way up the mountain when a blizzard blows in, and it closes.

    I was fortunate to drive it some years ago, on my fifth try. The first four attempts were foiled by the weather. Be sure to have a plan B for that day.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Just a few observations - you do realize that American football is not played in the summer? Also, the historic Mile High stadium was demolished in 2002 and Soldier Field was essentially demolished and rebuilt also in 2002.

    I don't see any particularly bad congestion areas outside the big cities other than between DC and Philly, but if you will be driving from Chicago -> Cleveland -> Pittsburgh -> DC -> Philly you will mainly be on toll roads.

    Your itinerary will not put you on Route 66. It runs from Chicago to LA, replaced by I-55, I-44, I-40, I-15, and I-10.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Bottlenecks

    You asked if there were "any particularly bad congestion areas along the route other than the big cities." As glc noted, there aren't any real choke points, but there are one or two that I would think are worth trying to find a way around. The main ones are I-90/I-80/I-76/I-70 from Milwaukee through Chicago, Cleveland and Pittsburgh to Washington, and (possibly) I-95 if you do decide to continue from Washington up to Philadelphia. In the Midwest, congestion won't be your biggest problem, but the roads there are almost exclusively toll roads and you will be sharing those roads with large trucks for whom these roads are major arteries. Between Washington and Philadelphia, congestion will be a major problem in addition to the tolls. Since your destinations are almost exclusively large cities along these super highways, there may not be much you can do to avoid them, but if sharing straight featureless highways with trucks for mile after mile is not your idea of fun, there are alternatives.

    Between Chicago and Cleveland you can consider using US-30 (and I-69/I-469 as a beltway around Fort Wayne) to Mansfield OH and then I-71 up to Cleveland. There's no real workable alternative between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

    Between Pittsburgh and Washington, you might want to look at taking PA-43 south to US=40 east to join up with I-68 which eventually merges with I-70 before I-270 splits off from it for the final run into Washington.

    If you do decide to from Washington to Philly, consider taking US-50 east past Annapolis MD and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to US-301 north to US-13 which connects with I-95 after all the toll stations.

    Each of the suggested alternatives will take more time, but I think you'll find each of them more interesting and enjoyable than the 'straight through' alternative, and each will save you some money. That will be the trade-off.


  5. #5


    It appears that the main draw to Philadelphia is to visit the Eagles football stadium. My advice would be to do your homework to determine if the stadium is open in the summer and if tours are offered, and on what days and times. Maybe there is an Eagles Hall of Fame nearby as well? The area is really arena-city: the football stadium, baseball stadium and arena (basketball/ice hockey) surrounded by huge parking lots, lots of parking lots. And industrial area to the east and south.

    With regards to D.C., my question would be whether you intend to visit the sights in Washington, D.C. proper (monuments, museums, etc.) or are just using D.C. as an exit city. Where you would stay (hotel area) should be influenced by which airport you would be flying homeward from: BWI (south Baltimore area), DCA (in Washington city, actually Virginia, near the Pentagon) or IAD (in the suburbs/exurbs west of Washington). Each airport has its own series of hotel and transit solutions, and of course, the routing from Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. When you arrive to your "D.C." destination it would probably be a good time to turn in your rental vehicle as downtown D.C .is no fun to drive in and the parking costs can be considerable. The metro subway in D.C. is generally rather good.

    There is an another alternative route from Philadelphia to D.C.: drive on I-76 West towards Harrisburg, PA; exit US 222 south towards Lancaster, PA; exit US 30 west to York, PA. From York, PA, your routing would depend upon which departure airport you would be flying home from. I-76 is a toll road but not nearly as expensive or potentially as congestive as driving I-95 between Philadelphia and D.C.

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

    Default Take your time through Utah and Colorado.

    It sounds like you enjoy visiting the City's, but rewinding a bit to the start of your trip in the west, there are some amazing scenic wonders to consider. From Zion you could visit Bryce canyon and if you haven't been to the Grand canyon 'proper' it should be on your list. When I say 'proper' I am referring to GC tours from Vegas that generally go to the West rim on Indian lands and not to the National park itself. The North rim may still be closed when you travel but if it is, the South rim is still an option before heading through Monument valley. From MV you could head to Moab UT and visit Arches and Canyonlands. Along I-70, a couple of short detours would mean you could visit Colorado National monument and drive over the continental divide at Loveland Pass. Hopefully Trail Ridge road will be open, it's a spectacular drive. Estes park is a nice town close to the Bear Lake area of RMNP which has some great hiking trails for all levels of fitness. There are just so many other options available so more research will be needed by you to tick of your personal 'must sees'.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I'm curious when in "summer time" this trip will take place. As others have indicated, American Football isn't a summer sport - the season doesn't start until September, although there is preseason in August. (You could potentially look at going to some open practices, if that's when you travel.

    If you're looking to visit some historic NFL stadiums, then there really isn't any more historic than Lambeau Field, and Green Bay would be a pretty small detour off your current path. Also, as an Eagles fan, since your path takes you through Minneapolis, I'd think US Bank Stadium - site of Super Bowl XLII - would be of particular of interest to you.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Lambeau Field offers tours year-round.

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