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Old 02-04-2014, 07:00 AM
428 posts, read 643,807 times
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my buddy and I have about a week to make the drive and hope to avoid major cities/ burbs and highways as much as is feasible.
we'd like to visit hot springs, maybe do some rafting, and generally experience small town America while doing so.
we're all over scenic drives and not much into hiking.
we might also want to ride horses--though being horse owners a nose to tail ride can be boring, so more of a wrangler trip may be fun if not too hot.

so what's a 'can't miss' and what's not?
thanks for your help, it's such a big area to explore!
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:06 AM
Location: Bel Air, California
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no offense, but that seems more like a short jaunt down to the end of the road
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:22 AM
428 posts, read 643,807 times
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well bless your heart!
fwiw this week is the last leg of our journey--the rest is already well planned.
but gee, thanks so much for your thoughtful input.
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Old 02-04-2014, 01:51 PM
Location: Eureka CA
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I'm confused- do you have MORE than a week to get from Northern California to Denver? I sure hope so!
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Old 02-04-2014, 02:13 PM
Location: Henderson, NV
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Without taking major highways and avoiding cities, that's a lot of driving in a week. But possible. Assuming you are in the Bay Area when you said Northern California, avoiding highways, it's about 6 hours to Lake Tahoe, 5 hours from there to Yosemite, 6 hours to Las Vegas area (assuming you don't want to spend countless hours driving across Nevada desert with little to see), 11 hours from there to just over the Colorado border, winding through the scenic southern Utah and northern Arizona landscape, and then another 7 hours or so to Denver.

So basically 35 or so hours of driving, or 5 hours a day (if you have a full 7 days). Not a bad trip. I once did Salt Lake City to Seattle, down the coast to Mexico, then back to Salt Lake City in 2 weeks. About 3500 miles with the detours we took. Yours is only about 1600 miles going the route in the first paragraph.
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Old 02-04-2014, 02:15 PM
Location: Aurora, CO
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If you wanna stay far off the beaten path, just hit US-50 in Sacramento and take it all the way to US-285 in Colorado. Then take 285 all the way into Denver. You'll cross some pretty lonely territory along the way.
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Old 02-04-2014, 02:43 PM
Location: SF Bay Area
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Well, um, where are you starting from and where do you want to end up?
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Old 02-04-2014, 03:12 PM
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thanks for your suggestions, I'm beginning to get a feel for the area now.
we have 7 or 8 days and we'll be headed towards Denver from Mendocino.
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Old 02-07-2014, 08:51 AM
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Assuming you'll just be visiting Mendocino and you don't live there, be sure to visit the library where they have info about all the movie locations! Several movies filmed there, including East of Eden with James Dean, and Paper Moon with Ryan O'Neal.

Traveling across Nevada and Utah to Denver in August is going to be a hot one, I'm sure you know that. The advantage is lots of daylight, so get a lot of traveling done from early morning until late in the evening. Just remember there will be animals on the road at dawn and dusk, especially through UT and CO.

We do "epic road trips" every summer back and forth between SoCal and Idaho, varying our routes, so my suggestion is to get to Sacramento (travel along Clear Lake (highway 20) on the way if you have time, it's beautiful), spend the night in SacTown and visit Old Sacramento, a really cool, restored 1800s section of town along the Sac River, and then take 50 (like suggested above) to Lake Tahoe and Carson City. But I'd suggest not continuing on 50 across NV, because it is incredibly lonely and hot, and takes forever, but rather go up to Reno and scoot across NV to SLC on I-80. Don't stop, just keep going! Get to the good stuff in the mountains and deserts of Utah. From SLC take I-15 a short distance south to highway 89 and then highway 6, and make your way down to 191. Once you're on 89 the great scenery starts, and 191 will make your jaws drop. Head for Moab, and set aside 2 days for exploring Arches and Canyonlands. If you want to stay at a really exotic place (with prices to match the location), go for the Red Cliffs Lodge on 128 east of Moab. The Castle Rock Valley and Professor Valley (on 128) have also been used in lots of movies, and there is a small movie museum at the Lodge. I do believe they offer horseback rides out in the red rock country, so even if it's nose-to-tail, do it. It'll be the most spectacular place you've ever been on a horse! If you want to save $, just stay at a hotel/motel in Moab, but you can eat a spectacular lunch or dinner at the deck of the Lodge restaurant, overlooking red cliff formations and the Colorado River, and if you can watch the sunset from that deck you will remember it forever. If you were to choose one spectacular place to celebrate your road trip, I'd pick a dinner on that deck!

Plan on doing Arches first (you'll have to do a little bit of hiking from parking lots to viewpoints. Carry water, the elevation is high, and it'll be hot!) and Canyonlands next day. You can do a general tour of CL in your car, for a quick impression, and one ticket gets you access to both parks. After visiting the parks, get back up 191 to I-70/highway 50 east. It'll take you straight through to Denver. I haven't traveled that part, but I know there's good scenery most of the way. Try the CO forum for more suggestions. You can do it in one week, just pick a few places to explore and travel the rest of the time.
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Old 02-07-2014, 09:05 AM
428 posts, read 643,807 times
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that looks like an excellent itinerary--thanks so much!
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