From San Francisco to Dayton, OH
We're flying to SF to pick up some belongings but then driving back to Ohio. We will have approximately one week to drive back. We would like to stop and enjoy some of the "attractions" on the way to Ohio. We definitely want to stop in Vegas (quick stop) and in Colorado. We're not too familiar with what the most important stops would be on a trip such as this. Please advise.
About to take a similar trip...
It's a little less than 600 miles between SF and Vegas, so you're looking at a long day of driving. Get an early start!
From there, it's about a 2.5 hour drive to Zion National Park (right alongside I-15...don't miss it!), and then about the same from Zion to the I-70 interchange. I did this drive in reverse a few years back. I-70 passes close to Arches National Park, another jewel. Stop there as well, time permitting. It's located relatively close to the Colorado border and is easily spotted on a map.
I-70 then cuts right through the Rocky Mountains and offers
numerous opportunities to venture off the main highway and explore scenic alternatives (though from what I hear, and about to experience for myself, I-70 has plenty of great scenery itself). Consult with locals when you get there or get some specific Colorado info from this forum.
Once you pass through the Rockies and are east of Denver, it's a quiet ride for just about the entire rest of your way. You'll pass Kansas City, St. Louis, and Indianapolis along the way to Dayton. My best guess is that it's about 1500 miles from Denver to Western Ohio, give or take a couple of hundred. A comfortable three day drive.
Good luck and safe driving.
I-70 route is a good one, but...
I can't argue that I-70 is not a beautiful route -- but if you haven't been to Utah/Colorado before, I would take the time to do a little more extensive exploring! Try spending about 5 days between Las Vegas and Limon, CO (and pick up I-70 there). From Las Vegas, I'd go to Zion, just as AB says -- THEN, go over to Bryce Canyon, and follow SR12 up to Torrey and SR24 to Hanksville. Then SR95 down to Blanding and Monticello (or go around to the north on I-70) and see Arches and Canyonlands if you like -- when you are ready to leave that area, take US491 out of Monticello southeast to Cortez and Mesa Verde Natl Park, and US160 on to Durango. Continue on US160 over Wolf Creek Pass and on to Del Norte (save time to explore Pagosa Springs) and SR112 to US285, that north to Saguache and Salida, US50 to SR115 and into CO SPGS on that. From there, follow US24 up to Limon and I-70. There, now you have TWO choices for great routes! Angus' route is quicker, mine will require some time to fully enjoy (it is at least 20 hours and 1000+ miles driving). Good luck deciding -- although if you don't have extra time to spend, perhaps there's no choice at all! :) Angus' route SAVES you about 6 hours driving and 100 miles.