How to Road Trip from California to Colorado

What pops into your mind when you hear the phrase, "road trip"? College adventures with your roommates during Spring Break? Or the best summer vacation of your life? As a (now former) Marine brat, I always associate long car trips with moving...and our latest drive from California to Colorado is no exception.

That's not to say that this road trip wasn't full of surprises. In fact, my family and I all agreed this was definitely our most challenging move ever (and since my folks have moved 15 times, that's saying something). To make sure your road trip from California to Colorado goes even more smoothly (road pun obviously intended), here are four lessons you can take from our four-day adventure!

casey the college celiac

1. Don't forget about Mother Nature.

When we pulled away from our San Diego house on July 27th, we expected summer weather as we drove through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. We expected to sweat, which we did. What we didn't expect?

Desert heat that transformed into rain and lightning in Arizona. A sudden sandstorm in New Mexico that stole one of my earrings (whoever finds a silver hooped earring with a blue Mickey Mouse pendant, your welcome!). And hard rain and hail as we drove the final stretch in Colorado. (I joked that Mother Nature wanted to wipe us clean of any California remnants before allowing us into Colorado. Or that Colorado has some brutal hazing rituals).

casey the college celiac
Point of reference: Mom was letting the towel hang straight down.
My biggest tip? Regardless of the season you're traveling in, realize that weather is unpredictable...and be prepared to drive through anything!

2. Enjoy local culture when you can.

Whether you're on a tight schedule or have plenty of free time, try to make the most of the local culture in the places you do stop. One of our favorite "quirky" spots was along Route 66 as we drove through Arizona. When we needed gas and a toilet break, we ended up near a bright yellow shop called, "Souvenirs and Memorabilia." If you've ever wanted to try syrup made from prickly pear - or you're an old car aficionado like my dad - this is your place.

casey the college celiac
Route 66 and Santa Fe!
We also loved one of our overnight locations: Santa Fe. It's impossible to ignore the city's rich history, not to mention the Native American and Spanish influences. And authentic Mexican food had to happen too, of course - along with plenty of gorgeous rock photos.

It's true that, when it came to our particular kind of road trip, we had a set goal in mind: arriving at our new home in Colorado Springs. However, with any road trip, it's important to take time to smell the roses...or, in this case, taste some local grub and check out the sights!

3. Look up.

You might call this a tip for double the trouble. First, the more expected piece of advice: look up your route and destinations ahead of time. In the case of traveling with celiac disease and food allergies, you should also look up possible restaurants in the places you'll stop at for the night.

find me gluten free casey the college celiac
My go-to app!
I simply created a short list of possible restaurants (ranging from chains like Chipotle and Chick Fil A to local spots) in each overnight location that were highly rated on the "Find Me Gluten Free" phone app. This let me make sure, for instance, that I had leftover Chipotle on the day we rolled into Sante Fe, which had fewer celiac-friendly options.

The prettier side of this tip? Remember to look up as in look around you! While being trapped in a car for six to eight hours at a time, I definitely experienced stints when I wanted to be anywhere but on the road. Combined with my new addiction to "Unscramble" (a time-based anagram game on the iPhone), it felt easy to ignore the scenery passing by my window. But when you take the time to enjoy your trip as much as you can, you won't be disappointed.

casey the college celiac
No caption needed.
Some highlights (yes, another pun)? Flags waving in the New Mexican winds. Clouds so fluffy, they look painted on. Not to mention too many gorgeous sunsets to count. If anything, road trips always make me so proud and grateful for the country I live in. America is absolutely stunning - especially when you have a chance to explore it.

4. Remember to laugh.

Things are going to go wrong; that's nearly a guarantee. Cell phones will suddenly stop working, you'll start driving in the opposite direction you should and one of the worst crashes you've ever seen might leave highways backed up for miles. (And that was just on Day 2 of our journey). As frustrating as these road bumps can feel, though, don't forget to laugh! Some reminders will hit you in the face...or, in the case of a waving "construction worker" built out of cones, nearly tap your front window. Others will be less obvious, but just as hilarious - like the groggy face of your dog after being tranquilized for transport.

casey the college celiac
A few funnies...
Much of the road trip laughter you'll have to create for yourself, though. Find the humor in warning signs...while, in this instance, still keeping your eye out for any "poisonous snakes and insects." Or take a cue from my Pokemon-lovin' sister and convince the folks to pose with some kooky cyber friends.

Because, as challenging as a road trip from California to Colorado can be, it's also a chance to create plenty of memories, explore a variety of cultures and landscapes, and find plenty of opportunities to laugh at yourself, your day or just life overall!

By the time my family rolled into Colorado Springs on August 1, we couldn't be happier to stop driving. Only a few hours after we arrived, we were greeted by a mama deer and her baby. That welcome - along with the local adventures we've had in the days since - made the drive totally worth it.

casey the college celiac
Getting down with the doe!
And if you're ever road tripping from California to Colorado or just road tripping at all? By keeping these four tips in mind, your journey will feel just as worth the work - though a deer welcome party at your final destination is not guaranteed.

*Also found at Sunday Food & Fitness and RunningwithSpoons!*

Have you ever gone on a long road trip? What would your tips be? Share your thoughts below! Can't wait to hear them!


  1. I actually drove from WY to CA... With my mom and we had so much fun! HAHA! We stopped in Utah, then we went to Vegas, than to St. George and then to LA!! :) Road trips with my mom are always a good time though!

    1. That's awesome! We've driven from Virginia Beach to San Diego before and every road trip is definitely a different kind of adventure!

  2. Sounds like a Fun Trip!!! Thanks for sharing at Sunday Fitness & Food :-)

  3. Thanks for sharing your story! I'm planning a trip to Miami soon, and since I don't have a car, I'll have to work with car rental services, but I don't think it'll worsen the experience.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts