How to Take a Road Trip Out West

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Plan your Western road trip carefully.
Plan your Western road trip carefully. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

There are many things to consider when planning a road trip out West. You can schedule yourself to take in all the highlights--and there are a lot of them. Or, you can just point your car and drive, and see where the open road takes you. Either way, you'll need to make sure your car is in good condition and you have the supplies you'll need if you get stranded miles from the nearest town.

Things You'll Need

  • Road maps
  • GPS (optional)
  • Good working car

Ask yourself why you are taking the trip and what your goals are. A trip that is based around places and attractions takes a lot more planning then a trip where you just feel like hitting the road. Decide if you and your traveling companions are spontaneous people or need a schedule.

Make sure you have these essential in your car: regional and local maps, lots of cold water and a cooler with snacks, garbage bags, music or books on tape, a road emergency kit, a spare tire and a jack.

Consider all the costs of the trip including fuel, food, lodging, souvenirs, and fees for national parks and other attractions.

Research where you want to go and what you want to see. Highlights of a western states drive include the coastal Highway 1 in California from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo, Arizona's Apache Trail, Utah's Scenic Highway, which includes Bryce Canyon, Colorado's Trail Ridge Road, which crosses the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park, scenic Beartooth Highway in Wyoming and Montana, South Dakota's Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway where you can see Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park, and Montana's Going-to-the-Sun Road. which takes you to the heart of Glacier National Park.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use truck stops. They are some of the safest places to stop and rest.
  • Take all the valuables out of your car each night.

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