Route Wisdom Needed: Connecting Utah and Colorado and Gen. Sanity Check
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Nov 22, 2012 2:23 AM Last Post By: zeldasdad
Nov 21, 2012 1:24 PM
I got a job on the east coast and need to relocate a vehicle (toyota, 2wd, V6, good condition, don't own chains) from Pasadena, CA to NYC and figured it was a good excuse for some road tripping. My dad (55 yo) has volunteered to come with me (27 yo) and we only have 8 full days for the trip. Hoping to do a mid-latitude route passing through southern Utah and crossing the Rockies in central Co. In terms of sight-seeing, we'd like to see the Hoover Dam, Zion, Bryce, and maybe something quick in Colorado. East of the Rockies basically just driving with stops for meals and sleep. I'll start with our rough itinerary followed by some specific questions.
Day 0, Nov 23: Fly into LAX, lodge in Pasadena.
Day 1, Nov. 24: Take car out of storage, early am. Drive to Hoover Dam, do Dam Tour. Drive towards Zion. Lodge near Zion (Hurricane?)
Day 2, Nov. 25: Zion, drive to Bryce Canyon, lodge near park.
Day 3, Nov. 26: Bryce, drive towards Co., maybe 200 mi.
Day 4, Nov. 27: Drive over the continental divide, some fun in Colorado.
Day 5, Nov. 28: Some fun in Colorado, Plains driving.
Day 6, Nov. 29: Plains Driving.
Day 7, Nov. 30: Plains Driving, cross the Mississippi.
Day 8, Dec. 1: Driving, arrive in NYC.
1. What's your recommendation for driving over the Rockies from Bryce? I-70 (Eisenhower Tunnel) seems to be the most logical choice, but I'm a mountain person and like the idea of going over a open-air pass. Is US-50 (Monarch Pass) a viable alternative in deep November?
2. What are the chances of securing Hoover Dam tour tickets in the afternoon (sat. after thanksgiving)?
3. Is this trip too ambitious?
4. Any suggestions for hot springs in CO along the route? Developed is fine. (I know about Glenwood on I-70.)
5. Any suggestions for a reasonably accessible snowshoe experience along the route?
We're gonna split the driving. Also, we're from the east coast, so we're not strangers to winter driving, and I have some mountain driving exp, but never both at the same time.
Thanks in advance for the wisdom!
Nov 21, 2012 2:29 PM
1Why are you skipping the Grand Canyon? Why are you going to Colorado?
Nov 21, 2012 2:53 PM
Nov 21, 2012 4:05 PM
3Thanks for the answers.
Your first day is 500 miles of driving, just so you know. Be sure to get an early start. My understanding (which might be wrong) is that in the post-9/11 world, you can't just drive up to the Hoover Dam like people (including me) used to, back in the days when the road went right across the top of it.
My point is that your first day could be longer than you expect. I'd also say that, as someone who's been over the Hoover Dam a few times before they built the new bridge and all, I don't think it's worth any detour. Different people will differ, obviously, but I was surprised to be kind of underwhelmed the first time. I always like to see a place twice when it conflicts with my expectations just to see if maybe it was my mood the first time, but I had the same feeling the second and third times.
Years later, I visited the Grand Coulee Dam in central Washington. I learned that the Hoover Dam was kinda-sorta the Grand Coulee's trial run. The Grand Coulee is no beauty. Quite the contrary, it might be the purest example of Stalinist architecture in the West, at least that I've seen. But it's mind-blowing, and so is the countryside in the region. I'm just not much of a fan of the Hoover Dam. If it fits your first day, go see it, but if time winds up being a bigger issue than you think, then I wouldn't worry about skipping it.
Day 5 through Day 8 looks like a 500 mile/day pace. (3-1/2 days to make 1,780 miles from Denver to New York -- do the math.) That's a lot of 500-mile days, especially the final three in a row. One 500-mile day isn't too bad, but they get harder when you pile them on top of each other, especially from your 55-year-old father's viewpoint. Not only that, but by necessity you're talking Interstates, which is boring as hell.
You don't have time for any side trips, i.e., to this or that hot springs.
Finally, you should always leave slack in a trip, and especially for a cross-country drive at this time of year. The reason: If the weather gets dicey, you do not want to get yourself trapped in the "get-there-itis" mental tunnel. All kinds of errors, some of them quite fatal, get made by drivers who think that have to get there by time X. So make sure to have enough time flexibility that you can take a break if you need to, because you've got a long drive ahead of you.
Some road trip practicalities came to mind. If you're more experienced that I think, please excuse the elementary nature of these things. Maybe they'll benefit someone else who reads the thread.
1. If you haven't driven that vehicle long distances, and/or if you or your father is generally susceptible to backaches, a marathon drive can turn into something less than ideal, to put it mildly. You might want to think of a preventive investment in one of those shiatsu massager things they sell at Walgreen's and similar drug stores for about $100. Make sure to get an adapter that would allow you to power it from the cigarette lighter. You ought to be able to find that in a well-stocked drugstore's electronics section; otherwise, you'd need to find an electronics store like Best Buy there in Pasadena.
2. Force yourself to stop for 15 minutes every three or four hours, even if you don't think you have to.
3. Subway outlets are reliable, low-calories road fuel. Cuisine it's not, but their turkey and veggie subs are kind to the digestion on a road trip, which otherwise can come on for some challenges.
4. At this time of year, it'll be getting dark by 5 or 5:30 p.m., which as a practical matter tends to limit your driving range. It's always more stressful to drive at night, no matter what you might think.
Nov 21, 2012 5:01 PM
4As of a year ago last summer, you could still drive a car across Hoover Dam. This was after the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge opened.
Some other things to consider: Your drive will cover 2800 miles and take 45 hours by the fastest, most boring interstate route. You are driving east so you effectively lose 3 hours out of 8 days. In 8 days, you have to spend 24% of your time grinding out the miles in the right direction. That is roughly 6 hours a day spent driving if you drive a similar number of miles each day.. ALL stops are counted in addition to the 6 hours.
Days are short this time of year. You have a little more than 10 hours of daylight each day.
That last day, east of the Mississippi River (east of Omaha?) to New York is a 21-hour marathon. So much for maintaining a 6-hour perday driving schedule. Actually, it is effectively 22 hours because you lose your last hour crossing into the Eastern Time Zone in Indiana. That leg will be almost half of the distance and it passes through Chicago and Cleveland. Each of those two cities is worth an hour or two of delay if you hit them at the wrong time of day. That is not a good way to spend your last day on the road, especially if you start a new job the next day.
I think you should reconsider your schedule. Good luck to you.
Nov 21, 2012 5:19 PM
Nov 21, 2012 5:25 PM
Nov 21, 2012 5:57 PM
7Depending on how long your car was in storage -- was it garaged or outside -- it may need fresh oil and lub and battery check before starting your trip. There currently is heavy weather, including flooding and lots of snow in the Pacific Northwest. You may need chains if it is icy driving over Cajon Pass or over Angeles Crest to hook up with the highways heading east. Las Vegas might be a good spot to spend a few hours napping before continuing your drive to Hoover Dam, Zion, and Bryce.
You do need to purchase chains for the rear tires, especially for crossing over the Continental Divide. The night temperatures in this area are dropping into the 20sF degrees and lower. There may be lots of traffic in the Rockies along Interstate-70 if there is a sufficient amount of snow -- , since the major ski resorts are accessed from I-70. I-70 is an undulating highway -- ups and downs then up again at about 70 mph, unless it is icy, then you will slow down. No sharp curves. Check the weather forecast for that area.
Highway #50 also has steep climbs and drops. It is 2 lanes, one in each direction, for several miles. Access Highway #50 by taking Interstate-70 to Grand Junction, then turn south on Highway #550 for several miles to Montrose, then turn east on Highway #50. Beautiful scenery, it follows the Gunnison River Valley from Montrose/Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP to Gunnison (60 miles, 8,000-ft elevation). There are cattle and sheep ranches between Gunnison and Monarch Pass. Monarch Pass is a very steep climb to about 11,000-ft elevation (Continental Divide and ski resort at top). Switchbacks and can be very icy descent on east side -- cattle truck jackknifed on it and probably not the first one. Poncha Springs (hot springs) on east side of Monarch Pass. Salida (60 miles from Gunnison) has retained its western frontier aura. From Salida to Cañon City, the highway is narrow and winds through the Arkansas River Canyon -- not the deepest part of the canyon. From Cañon City to Pueblo, on Interstate-25, it's a straight-shot drive.
Nov 21, 2012 6:22 PM
8Thank you all for the comments.
#3 - I've only been x-country twice and this will be the first for dad, so the tips are appreciated. I figured we'd have to do some driving after sunset, but will take into account the challenges of night driving. Also, Sunday is a built in slack day.
#4 - Omaha, NE is on the Missouri River. Even so all I really meant was what Willy said. Basically 3-4 500 mile days (give or take) after Bryce.
#5 - Not a truck, it's a sedan. In storage for 3.5 months, battery was disconnected, fuel stabilizer added. Fairly new all-weather tires. Good call on the shovel, but prob. can't buy it in Pasadena! Will have to pick it up later.
On my past trips I've really enjoyed the 2-lane highways, but the sense I'm getting is that, given the time constraints, I-70 is the only real choice. Anyone feel strongly about an alternate (and more interesting) route? US 50 from Grand Junction? What would you guys do if you had to drive to NYC from Bryce canyon and had all the time in the world?
Nov 21, 2012 6:33 PM
9thanks trekker - was composing my post, so didn't see yours. Thanks for the US 50 info. Chains are are good investment anyway now that I'm leaving LA County behind for New England.
Nov 21, 2012 7:18 PM
10What would you guys do if you had to drive to NYC from Bryce canyon and had all the time in the world
Okay, you asked, so here's your answer, in the form of a trip log from Seattle-Toronto-New York-New Jersey-Milwaukee-Grand Tetons-Salt Lake-Zion-Death Valley-Tahoe-Seattle. I hope it's as fun for you to read as it was for me to do and to write. But you should consider it entertainment, because it's not especially relevant to this trip.
You've got eight days to get from Pasadena to N.Y.C. in December. If time didn't matter, I wouldn't go when you're going. Like you I am a huge fan of two-lane America. But you simply don't have the time. Sometimes you've just got to get there, and that's why we have Interstates. I've lost count of the number of coast-to-coast roadtrips I've taken, and some of them were of the kind you'll be taking. They are what they are; I suggest you not try to make your drive into something it cannot be.
I'd also point out that you've already included Bryce Canyon. That's as much as your schedule will permit as far as the scenic interludes go. So allow yourself to do what you have to do.
Nov 22, 2012 2:23 AM
Once again, I stick my foot in my mouth. I meant Davenport even if I said Omaha. that makes Day 8 a 17-hour day.
Three 500-mile days after Bryce puts you 80 miles west of Chicago IL.
Four 500-mile days after Bryce puts you in Pittsburgh PA.
I still think you are underestimating the distance and drive time.
If you do encounter any serious snow along the way, it could turn planned 500-mile days into unplanned 300-mile days if it lets you drive at all.
Good luck to you
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