Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wild West -- Ohio to Four Corners ?

Hi Jamie,

My name is Sheryl, and I have promised my grandson a road trip across the USA for 3 years. Finally, I'm going to do it this summer between July and August. I've done some research regarding possible routes and wasn't happy with what I found. But when I saw your "free advice" notice in Road Trips USA, I decided to take you up on your offer.

I want to travel for 2 weeks with my friend, her son and my grandson (they both will be 13 years old). We live in Columbus, Ohio.

I thought a rundown of our interests might help you with advice. We are interested in Native American Indians (reservations or museums), National Parks, horseback riding, music, go-cart racing and maybe a one-day visit to a dude ranch. Both boys are pretty adventurous.

Any help you can give would be highly appreciated. Thanks so much



Dear Sheryl --

Thank you for writing in to Road Trip USA, and I hope I can help you find your way around the USA this summer.

I'm guessing you have combined everyone's interests into one package -- and I'll try to suggest some places that offer what you want:
Native American Indians (reservations or museums), National Parks, horseback riding, music, go-cart racing and maybe a one-day visit to a dude ranch.

This all sounds very Wild West, which is great -- the Wild West is still alive and well, and waiting for you. It's a bit of a way from Ohio -- though on the other hand, there is an abundance of Native America within Ohio (one of my favorite places is the ancient "Serpent Mound" , west of Chillicothe), but I get the idea you want something a bit more exotic.

So here goes:

The main place that comes to my mind for your road trip destination is the Four Corners ares of the American Southwest, where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico come together. This area abounds in everything you want -- the Navajo, Pueblo and Hopi lands are here, with ancient cliff palaces to explore and lots of rodeos and horseback riding (the Navajo-Indian guided horseback tour of Canyon de Chelley National Park is an unforgettable experience, way better than any dude ranch!)

And there are 100s of miles of national parks, amazing vistas (Monument Valley!) and more all around here. The question is -- how to get there from Ohio? You could fly, to Albuquerque for example, but for the full road-trip experience I would suggest starting off with a quick "shakedown" trip down to Chiilicothe (where the Hopewell Culture national park gives an eye-opening intro to a frequently overlooked aspect of Native America). Then once you get used to traveling together, road-tripping west.

I like to stay off the freeways, so I'd follow US-50 instead of I-70, veering onto historic Route 66 at St Louis, then running west to Arizona (where your young ones might enjoy the chance to "Sleep in a Teepee" at the Wigwam Village in Holbrook, very near Canyon de Chelley.) Columbus to Arizona is about 1,500 miles, and in July and August there will be many festivals (and rodeos) along the way; in summer, RT66 turns into one big classic car rally and Oldies music festival, so it should be fun, with lots of good stops to let you stretch your legs along the way.

I cover both US-50 and RT66 in my Road Trip USA books, with listings of hotels and places to eat -- plus a lot of historical background, pictures and other info that I haven't managed to squeeze onto the website. I hope you will check these out (in a bookstore or library, or

Now finally: go-cart racing. The best go-kart track I know of is right on Route 66 at the west edge of Albuquerque: it's called Route 66 Go Karts. Perfect! (?)

Hope all that helps -- sounds like you could have a great trip in store.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


Hey Jamie....!

thanks so much for the advice. I'm going to do what you suggest and go down to Chillicothe (the name actually sounds Native American) and see what they have.

The rest of the trip you've described sounds awesome. I'm excited already.

Thanks for suggesting your books, and I'll purchase one soon.



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