Chicago to LA?
My wife and I, both from England, are planning a road trip but don't know where to start. We've been to the US twice in the last four years, doing LA-Vegas-Palm Springs-San Diego last time and San Diego to San Francisco before that. This November we want to visit again but fancy seeing a bit more of America but aren't sure where - the possibities seem endless!.
What we DO know is that our travel dates will be Nov-8 to 28 (3 weeks). We definately want to spend the last seven days or so in LA, so the start point has to be somewhere within 14 day driving distance. We don't want to stretch ourselves too far so that we end up driving hundreds of miles every day just to get to a pre-set point, which I guess rules out starting on the east coast. Does Chicago sound too far away from LA as well?
Also, what sort of weather conditions are we likely to encounter in November? Our hire car would probably be a basic 2-door economy car as finances are a priority.
The starting city is also important because we want direct flights from the UK which rules out smaller places.
Like I say, the priority is to see more of the 'historic' America - Monument Valley would be great - but at a leisurely pace, not feeling like we can't stop on the way.
I suggest Denver as your starting point -- and British Airways has non-stop service there from London. This places you in position to see the Rocky Mtns and southwest USA enroute. You could ride the narrow guage (excursion)railroad at Durango, Colorado, see Mesa Verde National Park, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, several of the national parks in Utah (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, plus Flagstaff, AZ and its many attractions, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Anza-Borrego Desert Park (NE of San Diego), the list is endless. It would also be great if you made a side trip to the south to visit Phoenix and Tucson! It might also be possible to do some skiing in the Durango/Telluride area or in Utah if we get early snows. The problem is narrowing your options to fit into the "limited" time you have! Bob
The weather is likely to be good in the southwest in November, although it is always possible to run into cold, wet and snow. Normally, roads in the west get cleared fairly quickly so you likely wouldn't have to wait long to get underway again if you did happen to get slowed by an early storm. You'll probably find cool (40-50s) to warm (60-70s) days, and crisp, cold nights in Arizona and southern Utah. I am no expert on Colorado weather so perhaps someone else can add information about that. I do know that the weather in the west is ALWAYS unpredictable and can change quickly at any time of year. That's what keeps us interested!
Jesse James' soaking spot
I concur with the Denver suggestion, it puts more more of the west at your disposal given the weather and time constraints of your trip. One stop you might consider would be the <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/indsprgs.htm"> hot grottos of Indian Springs</a>, (west of Denver) that were supposedly one of the famous outlaw Jesse James favorite places to hang out.
On your way to Monument Valley, you could check out the <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/gunnison.htm"> Black Canyon of the Gunnison<a/>, <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/durango.htm">Durango<a/> and Mesa Verde National Parks.
Many thanks guys for your help. Much appreciated. Our plans have changed however and we will now be flying to LA before driving to Las Vegas. From there I was thinking of driving to the Grand Canyon (south rim) staying overnight, next day driving to Monument Valley and staying overnight there and then next day north to Zion National Park staying overnight there before heading back to Vegas. From there I plan to hook up in Palm Springs with my brother who lives in Oakland. Does it sound practical doing Grand Canyon-Monument Valley-Zion over the three days or would it entail driving dawn til dusk and not getting much chance to stop and see the natural beauty
2 out of 3?
I didn't stop and figure mileage and driving times, but my educated guess is that if you really want to see these areas, two over the three days would be the maximum. You can do the drive in three days (to all three), but that won't leave you very much time to relax and look around. If I had to choose myself, I'd pick the Canyon and Zion, and leave Monument Valley for another time. This is simply personal choice, having been to all three places. All that said, realize you can spend several days in each of these places and still have more to see. Bob
Monument Valley is best in raking light
What a tough choice. Zion, Grand and Monument Valley are all favorites of ours. If you elect to take in Monument Valley, it is best to plan to explore the Tribal Park and the best photography opportunities are early in the morning and shortly before the park closes Most visitors spend 4-5 hours in the park itself. The road into the Tribal Park is unpaved -- doable in a rental car but VERY, VERY rough. Make darn sure you have a full tank of gas and do not drive much in excess of 6 mph.
If I was doing the trip -- I would spend the first day exploring Zion and stay over-night in Kanab or Page. If you stay in Kanab, you can go south thru Fredonia on Alt-89 past the Vermillion Cliffs (part of the Grand Canyon structure), cross the Colorado at Marble Canyon up to Page and then take 90 to US-160 and overnight at Kayenta. The next day check out some of the ruins and then spend the day exploring the Monument Valley region. Overnight at either Mexican Hat or Bluff and then head back to Las Vegas via a late afternoon stop at the South Rim.