Friday, June 11, 2010

San Diego to Pittsburgh

Hey Jamie ==

We are driving from San Diego to Pittsburgh in August and would love some tips on which would be the best route/stops along the way. We’re planning on taking about 6 ½ days to get there (6 nights in hotels).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!



Dear Kathy --

Many thanks for your message -- I will try to give you some ideas.

Heading east from San Diego will take you across southern Arizona, which in August is likely to be very very hot. (110 + degrees hot...)

So I would suggest you start off by looping a little to the north -- maybe by way of Las Vegas, then across the scenic landscapes of southern Utah. These places are at much higher elevations, and so should be comparatively cool.

If you wanted, you could wind east to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is a lot less "touristy" than the very popular South Rim. From here you have a string of national parks ahead of you -- Zion, Cedar Breaks, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches, to name just a few. These are all spectacular, and can be appreciated from near the roads, or from hiking into the expansive wilderness, too.

There are also many river rafting and other opportunities along the Colorado River and its tributaries. Along with a variety of rustic national park lodges, a couple of towns make good overnights -- like Moab Utah, for example. I cover this region in the "Loneliest Road" chapter of my big book, Road Trip USA, sample from which are "up" on the website.

Continuing east, I really like the route US-50 follows across the Rocky Mountains -- detouring onto old US-24 by way of Pike's Peak? -- but the main freeway (I-70) is faster and easier and still very scenic.

Depending upon how long you spend seeing the sights so far, this could be 3-5 days from San Diego -- and you're not quite halfway to Pittsburgh. But I think that'll be OK, because the route across the Great Plains is not so diverting, and you can probably move pretty fast.

Next stop, Kansas City? St Louis? or Chicago??

In August, I really enjoy meandering in the Great Lakes region -- there are lots of baseball games to be watched (like Toledo's magnificent Mud Hens!), fairs and festivals to be enjoyed, and roller coasters to be ridden, like Cedar Point near Sandusky (the self-proclaimed "Roller Coaster Capital of the World!").

From Ohio it's a quick hop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike down into Pittsburgh.

Hope these ideas help you plan out a great trip.

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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