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  1. Default DC to LA: 9-10 days in late February

    My friend and I need to drive from DC to LA at short notice and are looking for advice on routes and places to stop along the way. We have 9-10 days in late February to do the drive. The primary goal is getting to LA, but we’re hoping that along the way we can see a few sights or at the very least drive through some interesting and varied scenery, as well as do some short hikes. We’ll have a dog with us, but like us, she’s used to traveling and happy to spend plenty of time in the car when necessary.

    From looking at maps and suggestions given to previous travelers, it sounds like there’s a higher chance of snow delays on I-70 through Colorado and Utah at this time of year, so it seems like we should be aiming for I-40 through the western half of the US. For the eastern half, are there any advantages of I-81/I-40, over I-70/I-44/I-40? I’ve travelled along the I-81 corridor several times previously so it would be nice to see something different.

    We’re happy to do longer days of driving where there aren’t many good options for places to stop, so that we have more time to stop at more interesting locations. We know that we’ll need to stick to Interstates most of the way to make better time, but we’d also be keen to get off the interstates occasionally if there are any particular stretches of scenic road along the way that won’t eat up big chunks of time.

    As well as food/bathroom breaks, we’d like to aim for at least one decent walk each day (an hour or more) if possible, or several shorter walks - primarily for the dog, but also for us. We can just stop and walk around towns on the way of course, but I’d love any suggestions for good places to hike/wander that aren’t too far out of our way - state/local parks, short hiking trails, etc. Would also consider non-dog-friendly attractions that don’t require too much time to see - we could take turns walking the dog while the other goes inside.

    Towards the end of the drive I know there are lots of great national/state parks that would be worth the several hours detour, so if we make good enough time to AZ we’ll try to squeeze in a quick visit and some walks in a couple - maybe Grand Canyon, Zion.

    I’ve used the advice given to previous travelers on this and other forums to plan many wonderful trips in the past, but given the short notice on this one I thought I’d post my own questions for the first time. Appreciate any and all suggestions.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,921

    Default Relax

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Having nine or ten days to make a trip that could be comfortably done in six means that you can definitely take a relaxed approach to your drive. You'll have plenty of time each day, and plenty of opportunities, for hikes along whichever route works best for you. I will say that I would choose I-66/I-81/I-40 over I-270/I-70/I-44/I-40 for a number of reasons, mainly scenery and lack of tolls. But that would be my choice; your mileage may vary.

    You might also want to take a day or two completely 'off' the road in spots where there are several attractions in a given area. Eastern Tennessee (Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood, Asheville, Douglas Lake) and northern Arizona (Grand Canyon, Wupatki NM, Sunset Crater NM, Walnut Canyon NM, old/former Route 66) are two that come to mind. Or you could, as you suggest, use your 'spare' time to head into southern Utah instead. Just keep in mind that this is your trip. We can offer suggestions, but in the end the decisions are yours - which is what makes RoadTripping such a great and personal adventure.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 02-15-2020 at 10:21 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    492

    Default We have a book for that!

    Quote Originally Posted by LilyDC View Post
    we’d also be keen to get off the interstates occasionally if there are any particular stretches of scenic road along the way that won’t eat up big chunks of time.
    Hello!

    That's actually a pretty common request, so much so that we have a whole series of road trip books planned that will fill that very need. The first volume is available now, and, as it happens, you're passing right through the area that it covers. Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips offers scenic alternatives to the Interstate that don't take a whole lot of extra time, and the itineraries are literally tailor made for trip like yours; hundreds of color photos and custom maps for each of the routes. You should definitely take a look!

    Rick

  4. #4

    Default

    I have made several road trips from Maryland to Southern/Central California since 2015. Normally, the trip begins driving the conventional highways, the interstates, through Missouri, where in St. Louis, MO, I turn SW on I-44 to Springfield, MO/Joplin, MO. From the Joplin area I opt for U.S. highways. Personally, I find the I-70 stretch from St. Louis to Denver very boring and 18-wheeler-infested.

    From Joplin, MO, I work my way over to U.S. 400 which takes me through Wichita, Dodge City and Garden City, KS, and continue on to La Junta, CO, where I take CO-10 which eventually turns into U.S. 160, taking me to Cortez, CO. From Cortez, there are a number of options but oftentimes the choice to drive through the incredibly scenic Monument Valley is irresistible. The Valley drive usually begins at Bluff, UT, and ends in Kenyatta, AZ. From Kenyatta you are well-positioned to stop at the Grand Canyon's South Rim. Frequently I will detour to Page, AZ-area for a night over. The entire area is scenic and easy driving.

    My only caution from this point is timing the drive through Las Vegas if you choose that routing and your arrival time into Los Angeles, both because traffic can be horrendous during rush hours. I usually stay in Lake Havasu City, AZ, or Barstow, CA, before driving into or around Los Angeles.

    There are tons of scenic options in the Southwest corridor. Suggest obtaining the AAA map on Indian Country which covers the area very well. There are also several national parks/monuments that I camp at along the routing described above although it will be very cold in late-February. Great places to stretch your legs, however. You might want to grab a National Parks annual pass.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    492

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post
    The Valley drive usually begins at Bluff, UT, and ends in Kenyatta, AZ. From Kenyatta you are well-positioned to stop at the Grand Canyon's South Rim.
    I think you meant to say Kayenta. Kenyatta was the first Prime Minister of Kenya when they gained their independence, back in the '60's. ;-)

    Rick

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Quinn View Post
    I think you meant to say Kayenta. Kenyatta was the first Prime Minister of Kenya when they gained their independence, back in the '60's. ;-)

    Rick
    LOL, I stand corrected. Not sure where that came from!!! Maybe the effect of the wondrous views?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,157

    Default I'll second that.

    Quote Originally Posted by landmariner View Post
    Suggest obtaining the AAA map on Indian Country which covers the area very well.
    By far the best map they ever published! There would have been much I never would have seen without it.

    Lifey

  8. Default

    Thanks everyone! AZBuck that’s a great list of interstate stops, I’ve bookmarked it now. Rick, I love the sound of those books. Unfortunately it’s too late for it to be delivered in time for this trip but I’ll keep an eye out for it on the road, and others in future.

    Landmariner - that route looks great! It goes right past a couple of places I’ve been before and loved (like Great Sand Dunes and Monument Valley) and also some places that I’ve regretted not being able to fit in to previous trips (SW Colorado, Page/Horseshoe Bend/Antelope Canyon). We probably can’t fit everything in this time either, but at least we have lots of options that we can choose from along the way, and depending on weather.

    Yes, already have the National Parks pass, and will look for the AAA map you’ve recommended too. Getting excited for this trip!

  9. #9

    Default

    Mesa Verde National Park is along the route in southwestern Colorado.

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