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Author Topic: Southwest in late February/early March?  (Read 2753 times)

hbelkins

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Southwest in late February/early March?
« on: November 24, 2021, 11:07:50 AM »

I may have an opportunity to tag along with my brother on another trip out west, but this one would offer the opportunity for solo exploration, and that's where I'm seeking input.

He's hiking down into the Grand Canyon, heading in on Feb. 23 (a Wednesday) and coming out on March 1 (a Tuesday). I would have to find something to do for that time, so I'm entertaining possibilities.

One thought is to try to do the US 160 end-to-end drive and then finish up what I lack on US 60 (from near the MO-OK line to the western terminus) but I'm not sure I could get all that done in time to be back to the Grand Canyon to pick him up. Plus, there may be weather concerns along US 160 in Colorado.

County-collecting is another possibility. I'm presuming it would be feasible to clinch Arizona and knock out a good chunk of New Mexico, so ideas on an efficient routing are always welcome. Preferably routings that avoid big cities like Phoenix as much as possible.

I'm also intrigued by the thoughts of driving US 191 south of I-40 (formerly US 666), as I've heard a lot about that road, but again I'm worried about weather concerns.

I'd probably be driving my brother's Nissan Titan 4WD truck, but I might rent a vehicle (depending on rates and availability) that would be easier on gas, and also not worried should I have vehicle trouble or a wreck. So that makes me wonder how to accomplish that. I presume most rental agencies have presences in Flagstaff. I do have a discount available from AAA, as well as possible other discounts (employer, auto insurance, I'd have to research to figure out any others). Availability and rates do concern me, as I'd want some sort of crossover; something higher off the ground than the standard Chevy Cruze rental.

How are room rates in this general area? I'm presuming this is the off-season, so they'd be lower than in other seasons. I also know gas is probably significantly cheaper in Arizona than Utah, based on what I saw in Kayenta back in August, as opposed to other places along the US 163/191 corridor between Kayenta and I-70.

I'm just throwing stuff against the wall now. Got a lot of time between now and then. And if I don't have my tax refund by that time, the trip's a no-go.

Total counties:



New Mexico:



Arizona:



The only route clinches I have in the area are I-15, US 64, and US 163 in Arizona.

It should be noted that he has a permit to drive the White Rim Road in Canyonlands after he comes out of the Grand Canyon, so we'd be doing that. That would involve US 160 east back to Kayenta, then US 163 and US 191 back north to Moab.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 11:10:53 AM by hbelkins »
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Mark68

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2021, 11:20:17 AM »

I would consider doing Route 66 in AZ and CA as far west as Barstow or clinching US 95 in both AZ & CA (the latter would certainly add 4 counties--La Paz/Yuma, AZ and San Bernardino/Riverside, CA to your list).
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2021, 11:45:11 AM »

The snow storms in the White Mountains on US 191/Coronado Trail arenít a day to day thing occurs during winter.  You ought to be able to get a reasonable assessment on the weather and be relatively assured it wonít change much from the forecast.  That said, ADOT doesnít plow nor does DPS patrol on the Coronado Trail during an active snow storm. 

Pertaining to former US 66 in California, it is still closed east or Amboy to Fenner.  I believe Chris Sampang has the project information for when San Bernardino County plans to complete repairs.  AZ 66 and the Oatman Highway are worth the detour to do. 
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hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2021, 06:40:35 PM »

Doing a little more investigating into a possible trip, I see that finishing Arizona's counties would be fairly easy, but New Mexico would require a lot of criss-crossing and backtracking, even though I'd get some new counties because our route will be I-40 from OKC to Flagstaff or Williams.

Another thought is to try to clinch Nevada, and to make penetration into both Oregon and Washington to finally claim entry into each of the lower 48. Weather concerns me, though, and I'd want to try to find a fairly direct route to get a county or two in Washington and then hopefully find a different route back south.

I have looked into rental car prices from Flagstaff on a couple of sites (Kayak is one; I think Hotwire was the other) and they're still outrageous. More than $400 for seven days. Cheapest option, believe it or not, is a Ford Transit or similar cargo van. I'm loathe to go venturing off in my brother's truck, both for fear of having a wreck in it and the 17 mpg it gets and with high gas prices.

I've got some time to work on possible routes, but I'm still up in the air as to possible ways to use those six days I'll have.
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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2021, 09:25:52 PM »

If you do try and get Oregon and Washington, then I suggest trying for the hourglass route of I-84 / US 730 / I-82 / I-182. It'd be a bit further than just going to Walla Walla, but would get two clinches and to a real part of Washington.

The cheapest gas you'll find there is probably in Pasco or Kennewick, as the Pendleton stations charge a premium for convenience.

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2021, 10:13:36 PM »

The cheapest gas you'll find there is probably in Pasco or Kennewick, as the Pendleton stations charge a premium for convenience.

As in the "convenience" of no self-service gas pumps? AFAIK, the Pendleton area is the only part of eastern Oregon where self-service gas pumps are still illegal. No such issue in Washington state.
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US 89

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2021, 11:01:25 PM »

The cheapest gas you'll find there is probably in Pasco or Kennewick, as the Pendleton stations charge a premium for convenience.

As in the "convenience" of no self-service gas pumps? AFAIK, the Pendleton area is the only part of eastern Oregon where self-service gas pumps are still illegal. No such issue in Washington state.

Probably just the convenience of being on I-84 in what is otherwise the absolute middle of nowhere. Same sort of thing you see in Needles on I-40.

hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2021, 03:17:55 PM »

Looking more at the possibility of this trip, and the overriding concerns are going to be finances and the weather. What I can accomplish the most from a roadgeekery standpoint in the most economical manner without running into inclement weather is going to be a prime factor.

Arizona gas is going to be cheaper than Utah gas (something I learned back in the summer) so clinching Arizona's counties is probably the most doable thing. I'd probably try to do that in a counter-clockwise manner from the Flagstaff-Williams area, swooping west, then south, then back north again. Beyond that, I'm not sure what I could get done.

Lodging costs are also a factor. My preference is $60 to $70 exterior-corridor Days Inn, Red Roof, or Super 8-types over $130 a night Hamptons or HI Expresses.

Weather concerns are the biggest deterrent from trying to clinch US 160 eastward (along with the necessity of getting back to the Grand Canyon in time to pick my brother up without backtracking previously-driven routes.)
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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2021, 10:49:08 AM »

What route are you planning to take to/from Flagstaff?  If you're going past a major airport, you could rent the car there and drop it off on your way home.

I've mostly managed to avoid the astronomical costs of car rental by using codes belonging to former employers.  If that isn't an option, Costco also has some good deals on rental cars.  And if you're renting from an airport, then there's also Hotwire.
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hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2021, 04:29:57 PM »

What route are you planning to take to/from Flagstaff?  If you're going past a major airport, you could rent the car there and drop it off on your way home.

I've mostly managed to avoid the astronomical costs of car rental by using codes belonging to former employers.  If that isn't an option, Costco also has some good deals on rental cars.  And if you're renting from an airport, then there's also Hotwire.

We'll be going in on I-40. If I do rent a car, I'll probably have to drive my brother's truck back to Flagstaff to pick it up. It would be out of the way for him to have to come back to Flagstaff to pick me up if he drops me off there, since after we leave the Grand Canyon we're headed to Canyonlands in Utah, which would require taking US 160 and US 163 from US 89.

Most likely scenario is me keeping my brother's truck for any exploring I do, based on the cost of a week's rental. I'd have to pay for the rental, gas, and lodging, vs. only gas (at 17 mpg, but it's doubtful any SUV I rent would get better mileage to offset the rental costs) and lodging if I keep his truck.

At a way-too-conservative estimate of $100 a day for gas and lodging, it's still going to cost me $600 -- and that's a significant discouragement unless my tax refund is much higher than it has been in past years. Plus, we'd be leaving on Feb. 23 so that would be a tight crunch in terms of getting my taxes filed electronically and getting the refund. I can file as soon as I get my W-2, though, and got the refund fairly early last year, so that may work in my favor.

The trip may not happen, though. My brother said his knees and feet are bothering him and he's concerned about being able to physically do the hike.
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hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2022, 01:18:40 PM »

I will have, basically, four days to explore should the trip take place. We would be staying in Tusayan on Feb. 22 and he starts the hike on Feb. 23. So I figure I basically have the 24th-27th to explore and would need to be back in the vicinity on the night of the 28th to pick him up when he emerges on March 1.

I can't imagine getting much farther than Williams, Seligman, or Kingman after he leaves on the 23rd, and I wouldn't want to be too far from Flagstaff/Williams/Tusayan on the 27th.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2022, 03:41:37 PM »

I will have, basically, four days to explore should the trip take place. We would be staying in Tusayan on Feb. 22 and he starts the hike on Feb. 23. So I figure I basically have the 24th-27th to explore and would need to be back in the vicinity on the night of the 28th to pick him up when he emerges on March 1.

I can't imagine getting much farther than Williams, Seligman, or Kingman after he leaves on the 23rd, and I wouldn't want to be too far from Flagstaff/Williams/Tusayan on the 27th.

If you are going to hit 66 stuff and go as far as Kingman make sure to at least hit Oatman.  It can be a little tacky in town but that really is one of the signature locales on 66 in Arizona.  Hackberry General Store has a nice assortment of old signs and cars laying about.
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hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2022, 07:55:08 PM »



I'm having difficulty finding a good way to pick up Gila County. I can map a route from Lake Havasu City that gets me every county except Gila with a minimum of backtracking. Basically US 95 south through California, then I-8 and I-10 to Tuscon, AZ 82, 83, and 90 back to I-10, then US 191 north. That gets me everything but Gila. Maybe taking I-10 west from I-8 to use AZ 387, AZ 87, and US 60 to Globe, then take AZ 77 south to Tuscon, but that's a bit out of the way. Would taking US 70 west from Safford to Gila County and then doubling back to US 191 be faster than the route from I-8 to Globe?

I prefer to work from west to east so if I have a day or two left before I have to be back at the Grand Canyon, I can knock out some New Mexico counties. Working from east to west would throw me into California with not a lot of county-collecting opportunities because San Bernardino and Riverside are so big.
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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2022, 08:12:54 PM »

Start by driving to Winslow then AZ 87 to AZ 260 to Phoenix area then west through La Paz County to US 95...
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2022, 08:15:03 PM »

US 70 east of Globe is mostly signed at 65 MPH.  There is some serious speed traps and slogs in the San Carlos Reservation which tend to drag it down my eyes.  Itís still way more interesting than I-8 is for what itís worth. 

AZ 87 between Payson and Fountain Hills is a hell of a scenic expressway.  It would take you through Gila County and give you a good sampling of the geography.
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hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2022, 03:00:46 PM »

One thing I'm looking to do is get I-40 in Arizona clinched as well, and I'm also hoping to avoid as much of the metro Phoenix area as possible.

Start by driving to Winslow then AZ 87 to AZ 260 to Phoenix area then west through La Paz County to US 95...

That gives me an idea. AZ 87 south into Gila County, then turn around and use AZ 260 over to I-17 and back up to Flagstaff, and then when I start back east from the south I can just stay on I-8 and I-10 without having to worry about turning back north to Gila County. That would probably put my first night at Williams or maybe Kingman, depending on how much territory I can cover, but that's doable.

I'm wondering about lodging options along the route, however.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2022, 03:27:43 PM by hbelkins »
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hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2022, 10:21:58 AM »

Looks like this trip may not come off as planned. My brother is having knee issues and he's concerned about his ability to do the Grand Canyon hike.

He still hasn't decided whether or not to keep his White Rim Road reservation. He's looking for other things to see to justify that long of a trip just to do the White Rim Road in Canyonlands.

Any good suggestions? He's been to many of the national parks in the area (Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde, etc.) Any hidden gems in the area that would have suitable weather the first week of March?

What good Route 66 sites might one see? The plan is to drive west on I-70 (weather permitting) arriving in Grand Junction in two days and using it as a starting point to head to Moab and Canyonlands. The southern I-40/I-44 route might be an option on the way back if there's anything worthwhile to see. Would the drive from Ash Fork through Oatman and Kingman to Needles be worth it?
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abefroman329

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2022, 10:23:45 AM »

My parents are going to the Grand Canyon in late March and neither of them are in good physical shape, so I'm sure there's plenty for someone with limited mobility to do.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2022, 10:25:34 AM »

My parents are going to the Grand Canyon in late March and neither of them are in good physical shape, so I'm sure there's plenty for someone with limited mobility to do.

Much of the south Rim around Bright Angel Point is paved and handicap accessible.
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hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2022, 11:09:38 AM »

My parents are going to the Grand Canyon in late March and neither of them are in good physical shape, so I'm sure there's plenty for someone with limited mobility to do.

At one point, we had a doozy of a thread on here when someone suggested that the entire Grand Canyon be made handicapped-accessible. There was some pure comedic gold in that thread.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2022, 11:17:13 AM »

My parents are going to the Grand Canyon in late March and neither of them are in good physical shape, so I'm sure there's plenty for someone with limited mobility to do.

At one point, we had a doozy of a thread on here when someone suggested that the entire Grand Canyon be made handicapped-accessible. There was some pure comedic gold in that thread.

That was a Kernals thread wasnít it?  I seem to recall something about tripping walking down the neighborhood sidewalk being an argument used?
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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2022, 11:26:38 AM »

My parents are going to the Grand Canyon in late March and neither of them are in good physical shape, so I'm sure there's plenty for someone with limited mobility to do.

At one point, we had a doozy of a thread on here when someone suggested that the entire Grand Canyon be made handicapped-accessible. There was some pure comedic gold in that thread.
Yikes.  May as well run an elevator up the side of the Statue of Liberty, the crown isn't handicapped-accessible.
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hbelkins

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Re: Southwest in late February/early March?
« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2022, 08:12:46 PM »

This is officially not happening.

My brother had already canceled the Grand Canyon hike, but he still planned to do the White Rim Road in Canyonlands, and was starting to look at other things to see in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

However, i've been under weather for a couple of weeks. Ahead of a scheduled doctor's appointment, I developed what I figured was either a cold or a sinus infection. The doctor confirmed the latter. I did a week's course of antibiotics, which mostly but not completely cleared up the infection and stuffiness. But there's been a secondary issue: The drainage has caused me to completely lose my appetite for food. The thoughts of eating, for the most part, physically repulse me. I can taste and smell just fine, I just don't have an appetite. I've barely eaten anything since last Saturday and I knew that I would not feel like making such a long trip.
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