Ardred and I are planning a road trip from Lawrence, KS to Corvallis, OR.
Mapquest says: Lawrence --> Denver --> Salt Lake City --> Boise --> Salem – > Corvallis. ~1900 miles.
Thing is… this sounds like the most boring trip I can imagine.
We talked about driving out to Sacramento and going north up the coast from there… but that would add 300 miles or so to our journey… according to Mapquest. But, MQ insists on taking us through Salt Lake City.
We’re also tentatively planning this for late September, early October. Is it crazy to try and cross the Rockies then?
In short, I’ve only made the trip to the west coast twice, and both times we went south, through New Mexico and Arizona (which has the added benefit of skipping the awful drive through Kansas) and up the coast, once to San Fran and once to LA.
Any sights we shouldn’t miss on the way? We’re also planning a trip to Portland while we’re there.
me! me! me! I know!!.. you can come to Las Vegas. There is lots of neat-o stuff here that aren’t casinos (that is if you are not over 21 ) only only if you go thru SLC from the southern route it is a PITA.
You could take I-70 thru Colo, yeah it might snow, and that would suck if it snows a lot, but a little snow wouldn’t be that bad. A nicer (more senic) drive than the southern route.
Or you could get on the I-40 for the southern route if you are worried about snow then to I-15 south to LA then take the 5 or 101 North thru Sac. Although the stretch between Albequerqe to Flagstaff on 40 is long stretch of boring.
anyway just some alternate route suggestions…
They probably suck, but then again I am not Rand McNally
I’ve taken the trip from Reno to Denver many times, and I’ve always gone through Salt Lake City. Honestly, if you’re looking for nice scenery, SLC has got it.
Utah has lots of rock formations and hills, a nice change from Kansas, I’d think. Do you go up through Wyoming, then? Wyoming is also pretty. In terms of stopping, I’ll bet there are a lot of stops on your trip, where you can see parts of the Oregon Trail–if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
I drove from Dayton to SF and along that stretch, I turned north from Denver and into Wyoming, running west along the southern border until I reached SLC. Not a whole lot to see, per se, but I really enjoyed the drive.
Mid-October is hit or miss with regards to snow. That is about when the mountains start to get regular snow. It is probably unlikely that you’l encounter any that would cause travel problems, but it is possible.
I’d recommend staying on I70 west of Denver rather than take the faster route to Cheyenne and then west on I80. That stretch across southern Wyoming is just brutal. Sagebrush, scrawny antelope, and chemical companies is all you get. Flat as a pancake, too. I70 through the Colorado mountains is beautiful, you could stop in Vail or Glenwood Springs for eating or seeing the sights, plus you are likely to see elk, bighorn sheep, deer, etc. A wolf was just hit by a car on I70 last week.
Once out of Colorado it is kinda desolate in eastern Utah, but you get back into the mountains there soon enough. DON’T go all the way to I15. Take the US6/US 191 exit (about exactly 100 miles out of Grand Junction) towards Price, UT and stay on that road all the way through the mountains to Provo. Then you’re on I15 about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City.
I just got back from a cross country road trip to Oregon and Washington this very evening. We did a lot of the obvious stuff (the national parks, a drive up the Oregon coast, the Columbia River Gorge), but my recommendation would have to be a drive through Hells Canyon (crossing from Idaho into Oregon), if you have the time.
Hells Canyon is the deepest canyon in North America (~8000 feet, for comparison, Grand Canyon is 5-6,000 feet deep). The road through it in Oregon is one of the 21 roads in America designated as “All-American Roads”.
I took Idaho highway 71 into it, beginning in Cambridge, ID. It started out kind of modestly, but before long we were descending steeply through a narrow crack in the mountains, ultimately opening out onto Brownlee Reservoir, a narrow lake on the Snake River sandwiched between steep mountains on either side. The road here follows the canyon/reservoir for quite a few miles, then crosses over into Oregon (highway 86), follows the canyon (Oxbow Reservoir) quite a few more miles, then cuts into the interior of Oregon.
From there, you can continue on 86 to Baker City, OR, or cut up north on Forest Road 39 to Oregon 82 through Joseph to La Grande, OR. I only had time to take 86 out to Baker City, with a 20 or 30 mile spur north on 39 to see the Hells Canyon Overlook (one mile deep at this point). If I had had more time, I would have preferred taking 39 and 82 the whole way. I also believe there are additional roads in the area I’m not terribly familiar with (unpaved, and may require 4WD).
The scenery was absolutely stunning to me. Without a doubt one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever taken, and I like to think I’ve been on quite a few. When we got to the overlook off of 39, it was a bit misty; as we were leaving, the sun came out and a faint rainbow arced over the canyon.
Portions of the road do close in winter, but from what I’ve read you should be fine in Sept/Oct. It is slow going–steep and windy roads–but I highly recommend this one if you have the time. I passed through in one day, but wish I could have spent more time. Parts of it are remote–fill up your gas tank beforehand if you choose to go.
A couple of links with more information, if you’re interested:
Salt Lake City rules, but then I am completely biased.
Are you taking the 1-80 or 1-70 (as somebody else asked). I to would also recommend the 1-70, it may be slightly longer (like by an hour) but it is much more scenic and there is alot more places to stop. Moab for one.
The only recommendation for 1-80 is you get to come down through Park City (which is very beautiful and a great town) if you are actually in need of going to SLC, but even you don’t need to go to Salt Lake City, you can actually stay on 1-80 and go straight through to Ogden and got a good couple of hours off your journey.
I’m of no help… I took a Greyhound bus from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and travelled through Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and the full length of California. Considering the middle half of the trip was through some of the most boring areas of the country and I didn’t really have anyone to talk to to take my mind off things, I generally read and napped.
With that being said, I seriously doubt that Utah and Idaho can be that much more boring than Arizona, New Mexico, and even SoCal were. At least you’ll have mountains to break up the monotony of the desolate wastelands.