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Discussion Starter #1
Off Topic because it's a car road trip. I'm bored driving I-40 and we'd like to hit the back roads and who better to ask about cool back roads and cool back road places than motorcyclists?

The end of August we are going to drive from Independence, Missouri back home to where we live outside of Las Vegas, NV. Just from looking at the map, what looks like a reasonably straight shot would be north on US35 to Garden City, KS. Garden City to around Durango, CO on US50. Then to St George, UT, maybe via Tuba City area.

Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated.

Oh, I should mention we will be in a car, so by back roads, I do mean something with asphalt or well graded.
 

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I don't think you can go wrong with the Hwy. 50 part of the plan for what you have in mind.

Too bad doing the Nevada section takes you so far out of your way. That's about as "backroad byway" as you can get in one stretch in this country while remaining on pavement.
 

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One of my favorites is US 54 (I take it from Louisiana, MO to Tucamcari, NM). Not overly heavy on truck traffic, a mix of 4 lane and 2 lane, plenty of grain elevators (did I mention the worlds biggest ball of string, or the deepest hand dug well, or the stock yards (feedlots) in Dalhart? I like random tourism so my best advice other than 50, 54, etc is to look for any US highway that is going your way, don't be afraid to deviate off to State Highways, stay on your side of the white line, and enjoy. If you come near any of your TW friends, don't be afraid to give a shout and share a beer, enchilada or campfire. Travel happily. Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, all! Peruano, I have not traveled that specific route, but I have been in those parts of the country, although it's been a while. I wonder if it would be a good idea this time of year to stay a bit north like on highway 50 and travel through Durango, CO and that area? I imagine it would be a bit cooler in the mountains south of Denver and that is a part of the country I have not seen -- and besides, CW McCall sings about that part of the world :D
 

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If you are going to attempt Durango, North out of Raton, N.M. you can travel a route through a place called Stonewall. It is a beautiful drive. I was fortunate to have seen it on my Goldwing. You also can catch Mesa Verde. That is after South Fork and Wolf Creek Pass.
Mel
 

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Oh yeah, Mesa Verde is a must see, take off your sun glasses before you run through the tunnel. I thought I'd went blind for a few seconds:D
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Stonewall sounds like something I'd like to see.

Mesa Verde as you drive through on 160 or Mesa Verde the National Park?

This is the first time I've ever been excited about driving back from Missouri. Thank you all for the suggestions!
 

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That is Mesa Verde National Park. Very interesting. The Stonewall drive is a designated scenic drive in Colorado, marked as highway 12. A beautiful countryside, 2 lane paved road.
Mel
 

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From Durango you could go the 160 across the top of Arizona, pick up the 89 then on to Utah. This route would miss Tuba City.

Don't get me wrong, Tuba City is a fine place to visit and there used to be a cafe where you could get the best Navajo burger on the Rez there. If you go through Tuba then would you drop down to the 40 or go North to the the 15?

I would go North for scenery.

The Vermillion cliffs are between Page and Kanab and they are something to see at sunset or before. If you like fishing, Lee's Ferry near the Vermillion Cliffs is a world class trout river.

I used to bow hunt the Kaibab south of Kanab, love that area! If you have a spare few hours, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon that you get to South of Kanab is spectacular. Much better than the South rim.
 

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and besides, CW McCall sings about that part of the world :D
...way up on the Great Divide,.....comin' on down.....the other side...... My oldest was born a couple blocks from that feed store in downtown Pagosa Springs.

If you're thinking about taking 160 across the Rez, you might wanna consider taking 191 instead through Canyon De Chelly National Monument. Highly recommended. Then cutting across to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Better than the South Rim. And much much better if you were on your TW South of Kanab. Then from the North Rim you could head on over to Saint George if you were wanting to see that for some reason.

But on the way to Saint George it's almost mandatory to stop and take a tour through Bryce Canyon, you won't be sorry.

How much time did you say you had?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
...way up on the Great Divide,.....comin' on down.....the other side...... My oldest was born a couple blocks from that feed store in downtown Pagosa Springs.


If you're thinking about taking 160 across the Rez, you might wanna consider taking 191 instead through Canyon De Chelly National Monument. Highly recommended. Then cutting across to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Better than the South Rim. And much much better if you were on your TW South of Kanab. Then from the North Rim you could head on over to Saint George if you were wanting to see that for some reason.

But on the way to Saint George it's almost mandatory to stop and take a tour through Bryce Canyon, you won't be sorry.

How much time did you say you had?
Laughing. "...we went down and around and around and down 'til we run out of ground and smashed into the side of the feed store ... in downtown Pagosa Springs." Well, if they still have that bridge marked to the 12 foot line, we should be okay as we won't have chickens stacked to 13' 9".

You know, I've lived in Southern Nevada almost my whole life and I've never toured Bryce Cyn or gone to the North Rim. Crazy, right?

Time is less of an issue than is sitting in a car for that long - my back doesn't like it. We will probably play the last part of the trip by ear, depending.

My original route added 40 miles and 4 hours versus the I-70 route. I don't mind adding another day, especially if we end up somewhere that cools off at night. (Last night was the first night in a couple weeks where it was less than 100 degrees when we went to bed...)

Mapquest is telling me the road from Canyon de Chelly to the North Rim is closed in the winter. That's a good indicator of a road I'd like to see.

That is Mesa Verde National Park. Very interesting. The Stonewall drive is a designated scenic drive in Colorado, marked as highway 12. A beautiful countryside, 2 lane paved road.
Mel
Ok, through the park then. Thank you! I even have my National Park Pass :)


From Durango you could go the 160 across the top of Arizona, pick up the 89 then on to Utah. This route would miss Tuba City.

Don't get me wrong, Tuba City is a fine place to visit and there used to be a cafe where you could get the best Navajo burger on the Rez there. If you go through Tuba then would you drop down to the 40 or go North to the the 15?

I would go North for scenery.

The Vermillion cliffs are between Page and Kanab and they are something to see at sunset or before. If you like fishing, Lee's Ferry near the Vermillion Cliffs is a world class trout river.

I used to bow hunt the Kaibab south of Kanab, love that area! If you have a spare few hours, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon that you get to South of Kanab is spectacular. Much better than the South rim.
We may take that route. Tuba City is not a must-see. I was just plugged various routes into MapQuest and that was one that popped up. I do enjoy fishing, but we're flying out and driving back so I don't see taking the fishing gear. Chances are we will come back through St George. I've done enough driving on I-40 in that part of world over the years, it's just not something I need to see -- especially in August.

Tonight I'll sit down and look at the potential routes again. I can't thank you all enough for all your suggestions!
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
We're flying out tomorrow and should start driving back Thursday. We still don't have a hard and fast route once we get into the Rocky Mountains. We're playing that part by ear. Hopefully we'll be up to hitting most of the your suggestions.

Route thus far:
Kansas City area to Garden City on US50
Garden City to Stonewall and the Highway of the Legends
From Stonewall to Alamosa on US160
Alamosa to Pagosa Springs on 160
Pagosa Springs to Durango on 160
Durango to Cortez on 160, through Mesa Verde Nat'l Park
I'm still not sure about after Cortez, but we will probably go US160 to 98 through Kiabeto to Page to Alt US89 to the North Rim then back on 89 to Kanaab to UT9 to Hurricane, then home.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We made it back. Thanks again for all the suggestions.

We mostly stayed on 50 on the flatlands. We saw lots of genetically engineered corn, grain silos and even stumbled across a little town that has the same name as our granddaughter so of course we had to buy the t-shirt.

In Colorado we came through my new favorite place, Trinidad. It had the look and feel of an old small mountain town complete with old, big-bearded, big-bellied guys hanging out in the local diner carrying pistols that were almost concealed. Trinidad starts the Highway of the Legends and that may be the most scenic drive I've ever been on. It's not Montana forest green, but I liked it even more. After that stretch of road, Wolf Creek Pass was anti-climatic. Durango must have gathered every Harley with straight pipes within hundreds of miles and apparently they were paying $120 to $170 a night for place to stay as far away as Cortez. Harleys aside, this is a part of the country in which I would love to spend more time.

Across the top of Arizona we were in Navajo country. We stopped at a place called Mexican Water. I don't recommend it. It wasn't the uncooked eggs, or the six folks finishing off an over-night drunk at 10:00 am with more food than I ever thought was possible for six people to eat. It wasn't even the vegetation growing up through the floors and walls of the building. It had more to do with some guy dragging his girlfriend around in the parking lot for 20 minutes during which time the six eaters and four employees came out to watch then just went back to what they were doing -- it was then I realized we were in one of those places where you could get beaten to death in the parking lot in front of a crowd of people and if the cops ever did show up, nobody would have seen anything. My wife had the same thought so we decided to skip the Canyon de Chelly drive. We liked the area so we may go back, but we will be a bit more prepared when we do.

We liked the area around Page, AZ, partly just because it was so cool - in the 70's. That's another place I could spend a bit of time. It also happened to be the place where the camera battery died without warning (sigh...). Then up to Zion which has nearly incomparable beauty. Now that I've seen it, I can't believe I've been so dumb as to have never gone in the past when I'm less than a half a day away. The rest of the trip was uneventful interstate back home.
 
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