Road Trip! Best sights?
August 29, 2006 7:51 AM   Subscribe

In the first week of November, my boyfriend and I will be driving his '94 Volvo from San Diego to Chicago. We'll have Tuesday through Sunday to travel. What are the best places to stop and visit?

We're more into nature than cities, and we'll be traveling through SoCal, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.
posted by josingsinthehall to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
You mention '94 Volvo as if you want someone to tell you that it's not a good idea to travel that far in that car.
posted by matkline at 8:23 AM on August 29, 2006

did that trip in reverse a couple years ago. first, stay south--there are some pretty cool mountains in south east california that i would have loved to explore further.

during our trip, someone reccomended staying at the chiricahua national monument in southeast az: we did, and it was really nice--and also some of the most rugged terrain i've seen.
posted by lester at 8:33 AM on August 29, 2006

what matkline said. Loaded down '94 volvo vs. The Rocky Mountains. Join AAA yet?
posted by empyrean at 8:35 AM on August 29, 2006

I would stop at Robert's Auto Service before you go. Great guys. Not a bad idea to get a checkup before you leave, and they're trustworthy enough to tell you if something can be left or should be fixed.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 8:40 AM on August 29, 2006

Best answer: You mean apart from the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Painted Desert? All worth a stop if you haven't seen them.

Not a natural wonder, but I would also recommend a night at the Wigwam Motel; a slice of americana from a mostly vanished era (quite comfy too).
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:48 AM on August 29, 2006

Best answer: I've pimped them before, but Roadfood is an invaluable resource for places to eat that aren't fast food / chain places.

If you can drive Nebraska highway 2 through the Nebraska sandhills, you will not regret it. Start at Alliance (Carhenge!), and drive it all the way to Grand Island, where you can hook back up with the interstate.

The sandhills are 20,000 square miles of rolling sand dunes covered with prairie grass. It's spectacular, and gives you a very different picture of the state than the flat, boring interstate does.

The largest town in the 200-odd miles between Alliance and Grand Island is Mullen, population about 500, where there's actually a surprisingly good local historical museum in an old railroad hotel.

Also not to be missed is the historical museum at Thedford, NE, a town half the size of Mullen. The Thedford Museum has what is arguably the most extensive collection of historical barbed wire samples in the world. It used to be on loan to the University of Nebraska.

But even if you don't stop at any of those places, the drive itself is abso-fucking-lutely amazing.
posted by dersins at 9:11 AM on August 29, 2006

Don't miss the Oatman burros
posted by buggzzee23 at 10:10 AM on August 29, 2006

Carhenge is a must! I heartily recommend it. And in the countryside nearby (to the southwest) there are places where you can see wagon ruts from the old covered wagons. Any decent guidebook will tell you where those are. In Colorado, on the border near where it meets both Nebraska and Wyoming, there are some national grasslands. You can get out and just walk -- no fences! This all may be a smidge too far north for you, but what the hey?
posted by Lockjaw at 12:34 PM on August 29, 2006

The Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico!

I'd also buy this book and listen to the associated podcasts to find some of the places I missed.
posted by SciGuy at 6:29 PM on August 29, 2006

In Illinois, you might enjoy Starved Rock...
posted by clairezulkey at 11:27 AM on August 31, 2006

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