If anyone out there can give me some ideas of place to visit on a road Trip I'll be doing from Salt Lake City (flying in and meeting Folks on their way up from Grand Canyon) we will then be driving up to Idaho through Boise (possibly through Craters of the Moon National Park) and back down to San Fran - still debating whether to go to the coast and drive down or go inland down. Can anyone suggest any must see places along the way or suggest a route?? ANY HELP would be greatly appreciated!
Well, you're in luck since I used to live near Salt Lake City and I now live in San Francisco--and have travelled most of your route (except I've never been to Boise in my life--weird, huh).
Anyway, here's some things and places to go visit:
If you want to see some sites near or around Salt Lake City, here's a few places:
First, there is an absolutely beautiful restaurant about 23 miles SE of Salt Lake City called "Le Caille"--which means, "The Quail" in french. Here are some pictures:
Also, if you go in winter, visiting Park City east of town an hour is worth the drive up and back. One of the top ski resorts in the US (it's the home of the US Ski Team).
Lastly, right in town is the Mormon Temple (Salt Lake is the headquarters of the Mormon church and about 70% of the population of Utah are members of this church (Church of Latter-Day Saints). If you are there on a Sunday, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir gives concerts and are well-known worldwide for their choir.
Heading north out of Salt Lake City, go to Ogden and visit their 25th street. It's done up like an old west town and has an old car museum at the end of the block.
From this point, there are two different possible tours/routes--you have to choose one or the other. One takes you pretty much the direction you are going, while the other takes you out of the way about two hours.
The one on your way is: Head on north and take Highway 83 west out of Brigham City. After you go about 50 miles, you will come to a rocket factory where they have all sorts of mockups of the rockets they used to build. These include the ones that put the man on the moon (the Saturn V, as well as the ones that are used to carry nuclear bombs to protect the US against foreign countries that might attack us). These have various names. Just a mile or two past here, there is the turnoff to where the "Golden Spike" promontory point was. Go 8 miles to get there. This is where the US completed the first transcontinental railroad. They have the original steam engine located there as well as a bunch of interesting displays. When done, go back to Hwy 83, turn left and this will take you back to the main interstate (I-84) to Boise, but now you will already be in Idaho (the two roads kind of parallel each other).
The "out-of-the-way" option is to stay on the main freeway, but when the interstates split, take I-15 north towards Pocatello. Go to where US Hwy 30 meets the highway and turn off and go about 10 miles east to the city of Lava Hot Springs. The town is like an old west town and has a giant hot springs right on the east edge of town that was used by the Indians for hundreds of years before the white man ever got to America. It is still done up like a poor man's resort, but is fun and worth taking the plunge. It was also a major stop along the old Oregon Trail of pioneer days. When done, just take US 30 back to I-15, go north to Pocatello and then take I-86 towards Boise P.S. If you are planning to go to "Craters of the Moon" and/or Sun Valley, this is actually the shorter way to get there.
Now from here to Boise, I can't say--because like I said, I never got that far--I always continued north to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
From Boise, take Highway 95 south to Winnemucca and I-80 and then take this on towards Reno. Just 30 miles SE of Reno is Virginia City--the best preserved old west mining town in the US (and at one time the second largest city in the western US, right after San Francisco). Now it has maybe 10,000 people living there at the most. It was the site of the Comstock Lode--the largest silver mine that ever existed anywhere in the world.
From here go through Carson City and on across to Stateline (Lake Tahoe). This is a major resort area--both in winter and the summer months and, along with Las Vegas and Reno, the major gambling resort area in the western US. It also is extremely scenic with a gorgeous lake and beautiful trees--and much cooler than the desert you will have been in for the past two to three days.
Here's a picture:
Next, go back north to I-80 near Truckee, then head west towards Sacramento. Stop for lunch in the college town of Davis, and then continue on to San Francisco for dinner and more scenic touring.
P.S. You can go on to the coast from Boise, instead of the route through Reno I just described. In that case you will either go through Portland or through southern Oregon (visiting Crater Lake and then Ashland, where they have a great Shakesphere Festival). If you go either of these routes, they are scenic (and the southern Oregon route requires you to go through some very winding one-lane each way roads), but these trips are both much longer routes. Daawon should be contacted if you want more info, since he's from Oregon and knows these areas much better than I.
Enjoy your trip
THANK YOU CALCRUZER!!!
That is awesome and I really appreciate you taking the time to respond with excellent information!