Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chicago - Southwest - Route 66!

Hi Road Trip,

Me and my wife just booked our flights to Chicago today for a 3 week trip to the USA in mid September. We were thinking of doing a loop out of Chicago and back via Las Vegas. What routes would you recommend for the best experience. Vegas is not written in stone as we have been there before.

We will be hiring a car, and do not plan on staying in any place longer than one night. We just want to make the most of the time we have over there.

Thanks in advance for you help.



Hi Damion --

Many thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- I hope I can help you plan a great trip.

3 weeks is a nice long time for a road trip around the western USA; do you want to go all the way to the Pacific? If so, I would recommend following some of my "Oregon Trail" route west from Chicago along old US-20, which takes you past Mount Rushmore through Yellowstone National Park and on through the Columbia Gorge to Portland and the beautiful Oregon coastline.

This is a truly gorgeous trip -- ideal for a week in September. (I cover this in pretty complete detail in my Road Trip USA book, pages 540 to 590).

From there, I'd suggest a few days down the Pacific coast into California, as far as San Francisco, then a trip east to see amazing Yosemite National Park (a real Wonder of the World), then east over the mountains (perhaps via Lake Tahoe?), then heading east to Las Vegas via Death Valley -- which shouldn't be too painfully hot in September.

From Las Vegas (which changes every year -- and is always worth revisiting), I'd recommend maybe taking a tour of the Grand Canyon (North Rim) and the national parks of southern Utah -- Zion National Park is gorgeous to see, its 1000-foot high walls of brilliant red-colored sandstone. And in September the leaves on the trees should be changing, making the scenery even more spectacular.

For the final leg of the road trip I'd follow my "Loneliest Road" route from Utah across Colorado and the Great Plains to St Louis, then return to Chicago via a great stretch of historic Route 66 -- where you can "get your kicks", and all that jazz!

I cover most of these roads on the Road Trip USA website, and even more in my books, so I hope this helps you have a great trip.

Happy trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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