Fall Road Trip – Denver to Los Angeles

Saturday morning, after a quick run on the treadmill to get the blood moving, we left on what was supposed to be a leisurely two-day drive from Denver to Los Angeles to move a vehicle out to California.

Land Rover Defender

I love taking road trips in the Defender.

We’d planned to take mostly back roads – prettier drive – and stop about half-way in Flagstaff, Arizona for the night. A few days before our journey, I’d looked for hotels in Flagstaff, but regular $100 a night places were listed for $400+. I figured hotels.com simply trying to not honor my “free night voucher.” When I tried to book a room, the online portal rejected my reservation, every single time. So, we decided to just head off, and stop about half-way. Surely there would be no problem finding a hotel room while driving.

While Denver is due to be hit with 3 to 6 inches of snow on Monday, Saturday was spectacular – sunny, mid-70s – the perfect day for a drive. At lower altitudes, we were able to catch the stunning turning of the aspens.

Ranch hidden in valley

Bruce Spruce Ranch, Pagosa Springs, Colorado

We still can’t figure out why, but every single hotel room in Flagstaff was sold out. Indeed, every hotel room in 100+ miles in any direction of Flagstaff was sold out or posting prices that were obscene. A $54 per night Holiday Inn listing showed a price of $999 with 1 room left – in desperation we called the hotel – “sold out” so someone went for that exorbitant rate. In Flagstaff, we decided to skip the back roads and hopped on I-40 thinking surely somewhere on I-40 there would be a hotel vacancy. Even 150 miles west of Flagstaff everything was still sold out. No one knew why. Crazy. There is nothing in the local papers explaining what event drew so many to Arizona this weekend. All hotels seemed to have normal availability for Sunday night, so it was definitely a one day thing.

At that point, we were a few hours out of Los Angeles and ended up driving straight through. We arrived in Los Angeles about 6 a.m. Sunday morning. It was not the plan, but it certainly wasn’t a hardship to spend a day in Marina Del Rey napping, walking the beach and enjoying the warm sunny day before heading back to snowy Denver.

2 comments on “Fall Road Trip – Denver to Los Angeles
  1. Clay Lowe says:

    How bizarre. You could almost imagine someone tracking your moves and deliberately pushing the prices up figuring out f desperation you’d crack and buy an over-priced room!

    Need a roof tent for that Landy, then you don’t need a hotel (the Defender, btw, is one of my dream 4x4s. The only reason I never got around to getting one is the 90 is too small for family trips and the 110 is too big for commuting. 95% of the time i’m driving alone, so couldn’t justify an 11 seat vehicle for just me 🙁

    My other dream 4×4 is a Jeep Wrangler. Used to drive around in one when I lived in Georgia, loved having the top and doors off (it’s never dry long enough or hot enough for that here in the UK).

    Sounds like you had a fun road trip out to CA.


  2. Exactly Clay. I figure the tech is good enough to track my hotel searching and adjust prices accordingly! And yep, the Defender is an amazing vehicle. This one started it’s life as a 90, but was rebuilt into a 110.