Driving to Las Vegas

As I mentioned in my previous Life Update post, I have the opportunity to go to the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The show is between January 6 and 9. In my insanity, I am considering driving out to Las Vegas rather than flying.

I didn’t book flights and hotels back in October when I got my CES tickets because I did not know what I would be doing in January. As fortune would have it, my new job starts on January 24, so I will be able to attend the show, but at this late date, flights are quite expensive. Not only that, I don’t like flying. I prefer driving whenever possible because when I’m driving, I feel like I have more control over my destiny. Nobody has to feel me up, I don’t have to go through any security features, and I can arrive and depart whenever I choose.

Another reason I want to drive is that I wanted to go on a Great Southern Road Trip after I graduated, but it was the middle of August, and that time of year is pretty hot in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. I also couldn’t work out the logistics because I was in the process of moving up to KC. This is an opportunity to make that road trip happen in temperatures much more pleasant in my mind.

I am considering three routes. According to Google Maps, the shortest route by total travel time to go through Colorado and Utah. I’m calling this the Northern Route. I’ll also have the misfortune of driving across the entire state of Kansas, which is not always enjoyable. What concerns me about this route is the Colorado portion. I’ve never traveled through Colorado in Winter, but I understand they get a little bit of snow over that way this time of year. The halfway point for this route is Vail, CO, and I’m sure a night at a motel in Vail won’t be expensive during skiing season (note the sarcasm).

Northern Route

The other two routes I have dubbed the Southern Route and the Middle Route, although the Middle Route isn’t that different from the Southern Route. Either way Tucumcari, NM is the halfway point. On the Southern route, I would drive down through Joplin, Tulsa, and over through Amarillo, TX. If I take the Middle route, I’d be going through Wichita and just catch the edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle and Northern Texas. Even taking this route I’m sure I’ll have to face possible Winter difficulties while crossing the Rockies.

Southern Route

Middle Route

I think on the way out to Las Vegas, I’m going to take the Middle Route. On the return trip I may consider taking the Northern Route, but I have a feeling that January will not be the best time to attempt this. I’ll be driving my Jeep, which is “Trail Rated,” whatever that means, so I feel confident that I’ll be able to handle whatever the road throws at me other than blizzards. If any of the roads are closed that will obviously slow or halt my progress. As I said, I don’t really know what to expect driving through this part of the country this time of year.

Anybody with travel experience on any of these routes in Winter, or knowledge of what travel conditions are usually like, let me know. I’m looking forward to this adventure, I just hope that I can pull it off in the Winter months.


  1. Russ if you do not go you WILL regret it. Do you have my number to call when you get there?

  2. I’d be glad to volunteer as navigator!! Didn’t hear you talking about this yesterday. I just wanted to let you know that even on your southern and middle routes you will be encountering some mountains. If you stay on Interstates the roads are usually cleared quickly. Just keep an eye (and ear) to the weather reports. Above all be careful and drive safely.

  3. On your website for first time tonight. Nice job! About Las Vegas – you have to go to Freemont Street at night time. It is the old part of town, not on the strip, but very cool place. They put on a great laser light show. Uncle Bill told me to go there when I was headed to Vegas for my first time and I went there both times I was in Vegas.

  4. I just booked a hotel for Vegas, and one night in Tucumcari for the trip out, so I’m committed now.

    @Glenn, I’ve got your number, unless it has changed since August, so I’ll give you a shout once I’m out there.

    @Grandma, I’ll definitely keep a look out for weather conditions. I checked with Colorado DOT and if I had taken the Northern Route today I would have had no problems. I’ll keep an eye on the conditions in NM and along the route to be sure I can handle whatever the conditions will be.

    @Aunt Kathy, I’ll definitely check out Freemont Street, thanks for the tip.

  5. Jeremy Aeilts

    01/04/2011 at 09:25

    Russ – I drove from San Fran to Denver last January and got very lucky with the weather. I took I-80 to Salt Lake City and then down to I-70. Here is a pretty good website to check weather along interstate cities. http://www.weather.com/activities/driving/interstate/ The drive on 70 is very cool. If you need a place to stay I live in Castle Rock, CO and would be happy to save you a few bucks. Its slightly south of Denver but you could get back to 70 on the west side of Denver in about 45 minutes. And Vail is only a couple hours from Castle Rock. It might make for a long second day but just thought I would offer.

    • Hey Jeremy, I appreciate the offer, but I was given incentive to fly since my parental were nervous about the weather. Thanks for offering to open up your home. I’ll be posting frequently while I’m out there, so check back.