3 month trip
I plan to take a trip from late August through early December 2003. Below are stops I would like to make in order:
Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Boulder, Grand Teton NP, Yellowstone NP, Portland, Eugene, Redwood Natl Forest, San Franciso, Yosemite NP, Kings Canyon NP, Sequoia NP, Los Angeles, San Diego, Joshua Tree NP, Phoenix.
From Phoenix I would like to make my way back up to Detroit.
So here are my questions...what is the best route from Yellowstone NP to Portland? Is there anything else I should see on the way from Phoenix to Detroit (Texas maybe?) and what would be the fastest and most direct route? How expensive is it to camp at national parks? Any other help and insight is strongly appreciated. I will likely be doing this trip alone.
Always take the scenic route!
Unfortunately, there is no fast, direct route from Yellowstone to Portland -- you'll have to choose one or the other. Personally, I would take US20 out of Yellowstone to Rexburg, ID, then ID33 west to ID28, and ID28 north through Salmon and US93 north toward Missoula, then work my way west to Portland via US12 to Richland/Pasco, WA and south to I-84 & Portland. I prefer this route for its history (Lewis & Clark route and sites) and its scenery. I ALWAYS choose the slower scenic routes when I can (have time).
Alternatively, US20 directly across Idaho and pick up I-84 into Portland. Much shorter and quicker but much less scenic.
Phoenix to Detroit? Either the Albuquerque-Denver-Omaha-Chicago or Oklahoma City-St Louis-Indianapolis interstate routes are the fastest. The I40/I44/I70/I69 route is 2,054 miles, the I80 route is 2,128. Almost a toss-up miles-wise. Take your pick. Similar results can be obtained using I-70 east from Denver, but I didn't add those up -- the numbers come from a Rand-McNally atlas. If you want to see a little more off the road most frequently traveled, head northeast from Flagstaff, AZ and see some of the canyon-red rock country of Utah (through Mexican Hat and Monticello) on the way to pick up I-70 before going east through Denver. This is one very beautiful choice if you want to see more of what the best of the west is. Another magnificent area is the San Juan Mountains of SW Colorado -- you could try the route through Durango, Wolf Creek Pass and Salida on your way. Keep it between the fence posts and the shiny side up! Bob
I have a question for you? Why are you coming so far west only to turn around and go back east? Unless you are on a business trip and have to be in these cities on a certain date, I would change your route.
First, it can snow as early as September in Yellowstone and Las Vegas is going to be hot in September. I would suggest going from Chicago to Boulder, Colorado. Working your way to the Yellowstone first, then over to Washington, Oregon and coming down in to California. From San Diego then go to Phoenix, Las Vegas, visit your sites in Utah and from Moab, Utah come down to Monument Valley and then over to Albuqureque and go home the way you were going to come out.
I am going straight to Vegas because I will have friends there about 12 days after I leave Detroit. I would like to try my best to meet up with people I know out there. I know I will be back tracking by about 16 hours to Boulder from Vegas, but I don't want to go to Vegas for the first time alone. I also want to be in the North fduring the early fall months and the South the late fall months. I did consider going straight to Boulder from St. Louis to stay with my sister and then head north as you suggested.
I have another question. Is it a pretty bad idea to go from Flagstaff through SE Utah, to Mesa Verde, to Black Canyon of the GUnnison, to Boulder during mid-late November? Altitudes reach over 10,000 feet and I don't think it would be wise to take that route at that time of year? what you think?
i have been to nearly all of those places - you are BOUND to have an awesome time!!! i would greatly avoid OK City though, just take my word - unless you have specific reason to go. i have known a few friends to get 'messed up' by locals while on a road trip in OK. take a mountain bike in all the canyons for sure!! National Parks vary in price for camping, i remeber once paying $12 per night at Yellowstone, was back in '97. Staying outside is less, look in current AAA camping guides for rates. I have lived in SF, LA, and SD, be sure to have a place to stay, room prices can add up. I'll be living in Chicago by then, expect chilly weather. There is SO much to do while in each of these cities. Eugene and Portland are awesome too, nice drive up the I-5. Boulder, amazing; Phoenix, boring. ABQ is also boring, but the drives between each city is worth the trip. You will have the time of your life. And Vegas, well it speaks for itself....!!!
I'm not an expert on the winter months but I think S.W. Utah is pretty safe. Colorado on the other hand has has two blizzards (1997 & 2003) that I know of in October!
Vegas is the ONE town you can do yourself anytime
The one thing about Las Vegas you count on is -- you don't need a tour guide. It is very self-educating.
As far as winter storms in November -- snow is always a possiblity in the mountains, but it is BEAUTIFUL. The only problem might be that some of the access roads close in Black Canyon -- they are not plowed. One of my favorite times to visit Mesa Verde is right after a snow storm -- try it and you might agree.
best route to vegas
could anyone tell me which is the best route to vegas from chicago?
Okay, so I've considered altering my route...let me know if you think it's worth it. Instead of going from St. Louis to Vegas and then making my way up through Utah to Boulder, I was thinking about going from St. Louis to Boulder, driving down to Gunnison and Durango, and then back to Boulder. Although this would be a bit of a run-a-round, I think maybe it would be worth it to avoid Durango and the mountainous driving in the late autumn months. Is the drive from Flagstaff through SE Utah really a must see?
Also, one more question, what is the best way through Cali in order to visit Yosemite and Sequoia but also be able to do the Pacific coast drive south from Monterrey? I feel like I'm going to be doing some major backtracking regardless.
Fall color is bad?
Why do you want to avoid seeing the end of the Fall color? Most people seek those routes?
Yes, SE Utah is not to be missed. Monument Valley is unlike anywhere in the world.
If snow doesn't close the pass, early... take Tioga Pass over the Sierras into Yosemite and then south through the famous California Gold country (articles will start appearing on this fascinating area in about two weeks) and then take CA-198 due west to San Lucas at US-101 and then US-101 north to Monterey and then south on CA-1!