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Old 05-09-2014, 01:23 PM
 
6 posts, read 17,043 times
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I posted the message at the LA forum, and was advised to ask here instead.

We plan a driving trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. Here is the route we plan to take:
Chicago -> Badlands National Park, SD -> Mt Rushmore -> Provo, UT -> Las Vegas -> LA

Some questions:
How is the driving/road condition near the national parks? For example, are most roads mountainous? We have lived in Midwest for very long, so may not be used to mountainous roads.
From Chicago to Badlands, assuming we drive 8 9 hours in day 1, what is the recommended place to stop?
For Badlands and Mt Rushmore, do we want to book a hotel ahead of time, if yes, what are the recommended hotels?
What to do and to see at Badlands and Mt Rushmore? How long will be sufficient? Is one day enough?
Still debating whether to stay in Provo OR Salt Lake City, any suggestions? What to do and to see there?
From Provo, UT to Las Vegas is only 380 miles, what are the main sight-seeing spots?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-09-2014, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Metro Detroit
1,770 posts, read 1,747,138 times
Reputation: 3468
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunnycali View Post
I posted the message at the LA forum, and was advised to ask here instead.

We plan a driving trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. Here is the route we plan to take:
Chicago -> Badlands National Park, SD -> Mt Rushmore -> Provo, UT -> Las Vegas -> LA

Some questions:
• How is the driving/road condition near the national parks? For example, are most roads mountainous? We have lived in Midwest for very long, so may not be used to mountainous roads.
• From Chicago to Badlands, assuming we drive 8 – 9 hours in day 1, what is the recommended place to stop?
• For Badlands and Mt Rushmore, do we want to book a hotel ahead of time, if yes, what are the recommended hotels?
• What to do and to see at Badlands and Mt Rushmore? How long will be sufficient? Is one day enough?
• Still debating whether to stay in Provo OR Salt Lake City, any suggestions? What to do and to see there?
• From Provo, UT to Las Vegas is only 380 miles, what are the main sight-seeing spots?

Thanks in advance!
Stay in downtown Salt Lake. Downtown is beautiful and gives you a lots of sights to see. You might spend a little more to stay here than you would in a Motel 6 off the freeway, but it's worth it. Lots of restaurants, bars and history in walking distance. Hike up Ensign Peak if you want a nice view, it's about a 15 minute hike that just about anyone can make.

Provo is.. meh.. I guess there's nothing wrong with Provo, I just wouldn't consider it a destination on any trip. It's a small city, but certainly not a cultural center, like Salt Lake City is, unless you think BYU is a cultural destination (it's not).

As for what to see between Provo and Vegas? If you stay on the I15, not a whole lot, besides the mountains... I guess there's an old Mormon fort you could check out, and that's mildly amusing... but if you want to see anything you'll have to leave the interstate. Zion NP is probably your least time consuming detour. It's maybe 35 minutes east of St George (southwest corner of Utah). But if you go there, you go for hiking and camping, not really to drive and look, but you certainly can do that. Bryce Canyon NP is a good stop and look for a while spot. but that's going to be an extra 2-3 hours of driving as it's not really right off the interstate. You'll drive through a cool canyon (Virgin River Gorge) in Arizona, but there's no where to really stop and take photos. It really is beautiful though, just... short.

I may be jaded as I've made the drive like 20 times, but Provo to Vegas is pretty damn boring. Don't get me wrong, Utah is beautiful and there is so much to see. Arches, Antelope Island, Logan Canyon, the Cottonwood Canyons, Downtown Salt Lake, Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, San Rafeal Swell, Castle Country, the Uintas, the Salt Flats the list goes on and on ... you just are kind of driving down a stretch of interstate intended to get people from SLC to Vegas as efficiently as possible. There's some small towns to get gas and a tourist trap or two along the way, but nothing I'd really get excited over. Nephi has a uh.. honestly there's nothing to see in Nephi. Don't be fooled by all those signs for the restaurant either. It's not that great... The tallest peak along the Wasatch (Mt. Nebo) is by Nephi. Maybe you can pick up some "I heart Beaver" shirts in Beaver, Utah or see the original state capitol in Fillmore. Cedar City has a neat downtown area with some cool places to eat. I'd suggest it as you best dining between Provo & Vegas. St George is.. red.. and cool to look at, but it's nothing special unless you're looking to retire or raise a family. Might be worth your time to hike up on top of one of the red rock plateaus.
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Old 05-15-2014, 01:51 AM
 
404 posts, read 1,005,235 times
Reputation: 319
You may want to stay in Park City (great restaurants, visit the Olympic Park, take a ride on one of the chairlifts (Deer Valley is beautiful) and make the ride back to I-15 through Provo Canyon. You will pass through some cute little towns. I agree about the restaurants in Nephi. Keep driving. I would stop at Kolob Canyon just outside of Cedar City (either exit 40 or 42). It is right there at the interstate. You can drive, take a brief hike, where you will be looking over to Zion. You might want to stop at Jimmy Johns, or some other sandwich place in Cedar, and bring sandwiches as there is a little picnic area at the top. Or, get a wood-fired pizza at Centro Pizza and then stop at Kolob Canyon. Don't even stop in St George. If you read stgeorgeutah.com you will get a daily posting of all the traffic accidents. Many distracted drivers (and no, most of the accidents are not the retirees). I agree with the previous poster. The ride through the Virgin River Gorge is spectacular. You want to make sure you are doing that in daylight hours just to see the change in geography. There is one major place to pull over when heading south (Mile 18). The really boring part of the ride is from Mesquite to Las Vegas. There is also construction going on in this stretch of the road.
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