Drive From Seattle to Las Vegas - What To See? Where To Stay?
August 13, 2014 11:47 AM   Subscribe

We are driving from Seattle to Las Vegas in early September. I'm looking for sights along the way and places to stay - unique or just a hotel but no camping.

We are driving from Seattle to Las Vegas in early September. What's the most scenic route? We were not planning on taking I5. We are leaving on 9/8 from Seattle and plan to arrive in Las Vegas sometime on 9/11.

I'm looking for sights along the way. We've already seen Mt. Rainier and Mt St Helens. We did plan on stopping at Crater Lake. What else do you suggest? We like roadside oddities, crazy places, natural sites, landmarks. We are game for just about anything.

Are there good places to stay? We do not camp but would not be opposed to a lodge or something like that.

What else should we know about this trip?
posted by bodgy to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Depends on which way you go. If you go through Utah (which is only another hour compared to going through Nevada when coming from Seattle), Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Kolob Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park are all spectacular and not far off I-15.

If you go to Crater Lake and the Eastern Sierras down to Vegas, stop in Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Bodie (Ghost town) the June Lakes Loop, The Devil's Postpile near Mammoth and if you have time, the Eastern Part of Yosemite National Park (drive to Olmsted Point and then turn around).
posted by cnc at 12:12 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really want to spend a night here.
posted by Cosine at 12:18 PM on August 13, 2014

We always liked to stop at Summer Lake Hot Springs when we were roadtripping down there, it's not too far East of Crater Lake. Really nice family-owned desert ranch with indoor hot springs and bizarre scenery decorations - old rusted out tractors driven by pirate skeletons, that kind of thing.

I've only camped there but I think they have cabins/trailers for rent overnight, or just stop for lunch and a dip in the afternoon.
posted by mannequito at 12:21 PM on August 13, 2014

At least make a side trip down the Columbia River Gorge. (I-84)
posted by stormyteal at 1:02 PM on August 13, 2014

If you head toward Crater Lake, might want to consider the gorgeous and undervisited Lassen Volcanic Park, and at least drive near Shasta, which isn't far away. Also sort of en route is Yosemite, which might be a bit less crowded post Labor Day and start of school.
posted by bearwife at 1:12 PM on August 13, 2014

I would drive the PCH as far as Redwood National Forest.
The PCH is fantastic - Redwood National Forest is even better.
posted by Flood at 1:30 PM on August 13, 2014

From Reno, take the northern route (375 to 93 instead of the 95) and stop at the Little A'Le'Inn on the Exterrestial Highway.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:36 PM on August 13, 2014

Seconding Mannequito. The cabins at Summer Lake are neat. They are geo-thermically heated.
posted by vespabelle at 2:12 PM on August 13, 2014

I went on a long road trip a few years ago and we also the little weird places. We had really good luck with this Roadside America Iphone App. It lists TONS of weird little places to visit and has a "near me" option of searching.

Also, since you mention it's a roadtrip, we also made heavy use of iExit, which tells you what stores, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, gas stations you can find at upcoming exits, I can't recommend this one enough. You can see up to 100 exits ahead and can search for a particular store.
posted by crayon at 3:19 PM on August 13, 2014

If you want really, really remote you can go through the Black Rock desert and see the Burning man site at Gerlach. It isn't much to see, but man is it in the middle of nowhere. The whole drive is worth doing once. From Crater lake go (in order) to Klamath falls, Alturas, Gerlach, Fernley, Fallon, Tonopah, Beatty, Las Vegas.

When we drive from Eugene to Phoenix we go that route as it is the physically shortest and fastest depending on how much you are willing to speed. No traffic, it is all small towns with lots of little things to see along the way, but no real big tourist draw. Fernly/Fallon is almost exactly halfway between Eugene/Phoenix and either one has hotels and restaurants (and not much else). Check out the route on Google Maps (true for all the suggested routes) and decide what you want to see (HINT:In Nevada it is a whole lot of desert-with semi inhabited Ghost towns dispersed more or less evenly).
posted by bartonlong at 4:00 PM on August 13, 2014

I played around with the route, and I'm sure you don't want to make the trip longer just to see stuff.

How about 5 down to Eugene. Then 80 to Reno. State Road 95 to Las Vegas. Takes you through southern Nevada on some back roads.

This will take you about 20 hours, give or take.

Another option would be to go 5 from Seattle to Eureka. From Eureka on 101 to San Francisco. (Stay at the Nob Hill Motor Inn. Free parking and really decent room rates! I love the neighborhood!)

From San Francisco, through the Silicon Valley to 5 again. At Bakersfield you pick up 15 into Las Vegas. (I know, the worst road in the world.)

This adds about 4 hours to the total trip time, but you get a stop in San Francisco.

Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:02 PM on August 13, 2014

The canyons in southern Utah are incredible. If you swing by the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (which is out of your way but not that much), you can stay in Kanab, UT. If you do, I recommend The Rocking V Cafe.

I don't know what it's like now, but when I was at The Little A'Le'Inn back in 2000 their decor included one of the more impressive collections of crazy angry right-wing bumper stickers I'd ever seen. ("Hoover: a chicken in every pot. / Clinton: a fag in every pup-tent"). The "Area 51 Research Center" in Rachel (which I think has since closed) was an interesting place with some cool books.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:50 PM on August 14, 2014

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