AllWhoWander: Road trip review: From Knoxville to Monument Valley Avoiding Interstates

Interstates are a necessary evil. You can get from here to there in your auto fast. But they’re numbingly boring. And you’re competing with a lot of eighteen-wheelers. I do everything possible to avoid them unless under a time crunch.

I’ve even read a book about how the Interstates came about: The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways. An interesting story going back to the history of autos. We don’t think about it, but we had cars before we had the roads to drive them on. Which was a problem.

I knew about Eisenhower and his cross-country army convoy early in his career. And the Zero Milestone is featured in The Jefferson Allegiance — a still warm heart cut out of a person ends up on it. You’ll have to read the book.

I recently did a western Wander from Knoxville with my goal being Monument Valley. I could have taken I-40 across TN, AR, OK, the panhandle of Texas and New Mexico and up. A bit longer would have been I-70 and then SW across Colorado to Four Corners.

Instead, I chose to do I-40 Nashville (there really aren’t many options across middle TN), then I-24 to Paducah, and from there Route 60 west. That crossed the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo, right where they joined on two rickety two-lane bridge. I stopped there, on the point of land where Lewis and Clark camped to learn celestial navigation before their trip west and U.S. Grant seized to control the upper reaches of the rivers. The park there is worth the stop, right after crossing the Ohio and before crossing the Mississippi.

Ohio meets the Mississippi

Whenever I head west, I find a dearth of spots to disperse camp due to the lack of National Forests and BLM land. Oklahoma has an excellent state park web site where you can reserve your camp site on-line. Be aware that in-season, the weekends are almost always fully booked. I hit OK state campgrounds on the outward and return trips for one night each. At $16 a pop, it isn’t bad.

I have to honest and say the drive across OK, and you drive across the entire length of OK including the dust bowl area, is boring as heck. But so is across Kansas or CO. Or across TX. It’s going to the high plains. Choose your poison. The eastern forests start disappearing as you traverse eastern OK.

I switched from Route 60 to Route 64 not long after crossing the north-south I-35. Route 66 even joins 64 for a little while. Other roads also join it, but 64 keeps heading west. Once you cross I-25 you’re in the foothills of the Rockies and there are plenty of National Forests to boondock in. I passed through Cimmaron, NM, then Eagle Nest. I camped in a campground in the mountains between Angel Fire and Taos. The next morning, I passed through Taos, still on 64. I hit dense fog on the plain northwest of Tao, passing over the Rio Grande Gorge, which is pretty spectacular. Worth a stop in the parking area on the western side and walk out onto.

Rio Grande Gorge

Eventually going through Dulce, where I had been before doing research many years ago for my Area 51 books. There is a government facility near the town with various stories attached to it. I made up my own. Because. I can.

Then across northern NM, one of my favorite parts of the country. I finally left Route 64 to go to Four Corners. I’m glad I took this longer loop. Before I’d left for Monument Valley, I’d looked at some sites about boondocking in the Monument Valley area. Several mentioned Valley of the Gods, but I couldn’t find it on the map. As I was coming down 163 toward Monument Valley, I saw a small sign to the right indicating Valley of the Gods. I turned off and was glad I did so. There’s a 17-mile loop of unimproved dirt road in the Valley. And that is another post coming this week, contrasting VOG and Monument Valley.

Anyway. Basically Route 64 to Route 60 and avoiding the Interstate. I recommend it. Even Oklahoma.

How To Find Places To Disperse Camp W/Vehicle https://link.medium.com/5ingSqa7Jjb #hiking #camping #Jeep #JeepLife #boondocking #travel

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Bob Mayer

West Point grad; Special Ops Vet; NY Times bestseller of over 80 books; for free books and over 200 free downloadable slideshows go to www.bobmayer.com