Best Advice for a Cross Country Road Trip

 

Mid January I have to drive from Indianapolis IN to Sacramento CA for work. I'm really trying to make this trip a little bit more fun than the standard shlep. I'll have a couple days to do it so I want to take this opportunity to see some of the country.

Any popular highways that you would recommend for a cross country trip like this?

What POI files would be the most helpful in breaking up the trip and seeing some cool parts of the US?

Any advice would greatly be appreciated.

Remember it's winter

NRTabor5 wrote:

I'll have a couple days to do it so I want to take this opportunity to see some of the country.

What may look like the most obvious route may not be the best, this time of year.

It will take "a couple of days" if you take the fastest route and don't stop very often. If you go a little farther south trying to avoid snow, then probably more than a couple of days.

--
Magellan Maestro 4250// MIO C310X

Indianapolis to Sacto

If you are going to make that trip, count on at LEAST 3 1/2 days of hard driving taking I-74 and I-80. That's about 2200 miles assuming no snow and ice problems. Dropping down to Memphis and taking I-40 adds over 300 miles, but less problem with snow and ice. You can go even further south through Dallas and El Paso which makes the trip out about 2750 miles.

For POI I would make certain I was loaded with rest stops and all the truck stops. From personal experience, be sure to know where good restaurants are and have them loaded as well. A good night's sleep is also key, so plan on some chain motels - I would not recommend a lot of the ones that advertise in the coupon books available at rest stops. Above all, be prepared for anything the weather may throw and be certain you have your car serviced before the trip and again when you get to Sacramento.

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ɐ‾nsǝɹ Just one click away from the end of the Internet

Snow / Ice

Best route that time of the year is one that avoids the bad weather. I think that you should plan two or three main routes, with some detours on each if the weather ahead looks. I would only stick to the interstates because you don't want to get stuck off the main path.

Daniel

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Garmin StreetPilot c580 & Nuvi 760 - Member 32160 - Traveling in Kansas

Your trip should probably be

Your trip should probably be based on weather and safety rather than points of interest since you are traveling across country in mid January. Colorado is beautiful but the roads can be treacherous in snowy weather. That goes for the rocky mountain areas as well. Do your homework by checking NOAA for weather in each state and pack extra clothes, blankets, water, cell phone, food and other stuff you might need is you get standed or have temporary trouble. Things can get urgent and severe very fast going through some of the mountainous areas in winter.

--
I tripped going up the escalator and I fell for an hour and a half!

Safety First

You are to be commended in wanting to make a dull trip more enjoyable. However, January is not a prefered time. Comments from bpa5152 are absolutely correct. The only thing I would add for such a lengthy trip is include a full-size road-atlas. The road atlas will give one an overall view of statewide interstate systems, and city locations. While this can be done on a GPS receiver, the smallness of the typical screen makes it a bit more cumbersome.
As others have commented, let the weather dictate your route and you will get there quicker.

fly??

If flying is an option, spend the extra time sightseeing in Sacramento! rolleyes

--
non-native nutmegger

Trip

As one who has driven cross country many times, I would probably keep an eye on the weather and use I-80. Usually (but not always) the January weather isn't too bad along the plains route. That is also said for most of the West along that route. The main trouble spots are going to be the summit east of Laramie, Utah from the Wyoming state line to Salt Lake City, and the worst is probably the Sierra Nevada from 10 miles west of Reno to about 30 miles east of Sacramento. Chains are often required across the Sierra.

You could take the southern route, but that would add many more miles and there's no guarantee you would avoid winter weather. You can hit very heavy snow along the route in parts of New Mexico and around Flagstaff, AZ.

Of course if the weather looks really bad anywhere along the route, I'd wait for the weather to clear, and give them time to plow the roads before continuing.

I80 or Hwy 50?????

I live in the Sacto Area. If it wasn’t winter I would tell you to detour via Lake Tahoe and come in via Hwy 50. A lot of times I80 can be chains require and Hwy 50 won’t require chains. Lot of the storms follow I80 and leave Hwy 50 alone. Of course that is all subject to change based on the weather.

re: I80 or Hwy 50????

That's a good point. The summits of both are pretty bad, but 80 goes along the ridges and 50 stays mainly in valleys. Of course a lot of 50 is just one lane each direction and you have all that traffic heading back and forth to Tahoe.

What about 40? I know it

What about 40? I know it adds on 4 hours but I was hoping it would cut down on all the snow.

US 40

NRTabor5 wrote:

What about 40? I know it adds on 4 hours but I was hoping it would cut down on all the snow.

US 40 goes over 3 passes in Colorado which can be quite bad in the winter. It can also be pretty bad from the Utah terminus to the Colorado border.

It takes a more southern route through the plains states which could be a benefit, but the area though Missouri, Kansas, etc. can also be prone to ice storms and freezing rain in the winter.

Also remember that US 40 is not a freeway and passing can be a challenge in the winter on icy roads.

Just questioning

Just questioning whether NRTabor5 meant I-40
and not US-40.
I-40 passes thru OK, upper TX, NM & AZ. Can be some
bad days but not anywhere as often as the upper Interstates like 70, 80 & 90

--
MrKenFL- "Money can't buy you happiness .. But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery." NUVI 260, Nuvi 1490LMT & Nuvi 2595LMT all with 2014.4 maps !

I-40

MrKenFL wrote:

Just questioning whether NRTabor5 meant I-40
and not US-40.
I-40 passes thru OK, upper TX, NM & AZ. Can be some
bad days but not anywhere as often as the upper Interstates like 70, 80 & 90

Good point MrKenFL. I just assumed it was US 40 as that goes through Indiana.

Also I-40 it would seem would be a lot more than 4 hours out of the way.

Yes, this is a southern route, but it will take much more time. Also can hit freezing rain in OK and the TX panhandle and possible heavy snow through parts of NM and the Flagstaff area.

IMHO checking the weather before you go, waiting out any storms along the route, and taking I-80 is still the best way to go.

I-40

grush wrote:
MrKenFL wrote:

Just questioning whether NRTabor5 meant I-40
and not US-40.
I-40 passes thru OK, upper TX, NM & AZ. Can be some
bad days but not anywhere as often as the upper Interstates like 70, 80 & 90

Good point MrKenFL. I just assumed it was US 40 as that goes through Indiana.

Also I-40 it would seem would be a lot more than 4 hours out of the way.

Yes, this is a southern route, but it will take much more time. Also can hit freezing rain in OK and the TX panhandle and possible heavy snow through parts of NM and the Flagstaff area.

IMHO checking the weather before you go, waiting out any storms along the route, and taking I-80 is still the best way to go.

having driven I-40 this fall, the speed limit on most of the road is 70. That adds about 4 1/2 hours for the 300 additional miles that would be traveled. The southern pass across the Continental Divide is only about 7500 feet, but the high desert across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona can get hit with some pretty bad storms. Should be OK if you watch the weather,

--
ɐ‾nsǝɹ Just one click away from the end of the Internet

I just forced a routing

I just forced a routing using MapSource from Indianapolis to Sacramento via I-40 to I-5 to Sacremento and the time was around 35-36 hours travel (2410 miles) and fastest direct routing which I believe was I-80 and it takes 31.5 driving hours (2190 miles).

I, personally, would take the slightly longer more Southern Routing (I-40) in the dead of Winter.

But then I'm retired and usually not in a BIG hurry.

Edit: Southern Routing was I-70>I-44>I-40>I-5

--
MrKenFL- "Money can't buy you happiness .. But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery." NUVI 260, Nuvi 1490LMT & Nuvi 2595LMT all with 2014.4 maps !

Maybe not good for a Winter trip, but why not Route 66?

If you really want to be sidetracked, I can't think of a better way than the original "Mother Road," Route 66. Of course, you can't really drive on the real Route 66 for the most part, but I-40 parallels it in many places, and many of the best Route 66 roadside attractions are just a bit off the interstate.

Luckily, all the states that Route 66 passed through have some kind of historical association where you can get lots of info. Googling Route 66 will get you more than you can possibly even read!

Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part--it's really the trip I'd love to take!

--
NEOhioGuy - Garmin 2639, MIO Knight Rider

Me Too, I-70 to I-44 to I-40

I am also leaving the 12th of Jan for Phoenix from Indianapolis, (Hi neighbor) and plan to take I 70 to I-44 to I-40...

I look at two weather sites.
1.http://www.weather.gov/forecasts/graphical/sectors/conus.php#tabs This gives a graphical picture of all the next weeks weather and seems to be fairly accurate.
2. www.intellicast.com There is a 10 day planner on the site and you can put in the cities youi are going thru. Ex next Monday in Tulsa it is in the 50s and sunny. flagstaff on Wed is in the 40s and sunny. These sites seem to be fairly accurate and I for one hate driving in the snow.

The northern route can be very hazardous, esp around Elk Mountain in WY.

Say hey on the road and happy trails. indyjkraft

I-80 not for the faint of heart in the winter

Having done both routes from NYC to LA, IMHO take I-40, yes, there is snow today in fact in Flagstaff, but less chance of getting stuck in a weather road closure situation.

I spent one trip through OK and TX looking out for tornados as when I turned on the tv in the morning, the weather station warned of them.

If you decide to wait out weather somewhere use the oppurtunity to check out where you are. There are no "snow free" passes into CA in the winter except down on I-10 or I-8 (and that is too far out of the way).

The key is watch the weather, don't take chances and get there.. when you get there... motor safe.