Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cross-Country Route Planning

Hi Jamie,

Thank you for your wonderful website.

I will be doing a roadtrip in mid-March from South Carolina (Greenville) to southern California.

I have done some research and narrow it done to two main routes:

1. I-40 - Through Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Oklahoma, Alburqueque, Flagstaff and to California.

2. I-70 - Through Knoxville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Utah, Las Vegas and to California.

My research is saying that the driving and scenery will be more interesting on the I-70 route; but the cities I will pass through on the I-40 are more interesting. Is this correct? Which route would you recommend? Or maybe you have a third route that you would recommend.

I have about 5 to 7 days to do this one-way road trip and my focus for this road trip is on scenic driving and great food. I grew up in California have never been to any of the cities on either of these routes.

Thank you,

Peter in CA


Hello Peter --

Thank you for writing in to Road Trip USA, and I hope this reaches you before you set off west!

Both of the routes you are considering have their advantages, and it's really up to you to decide which is more appealing -- that said, at this time of year (mid-March) I would let the weather reports make my decision for me (you don't want to get caught up in tornado and thunderstorms, for sure!)

If you like food, though, I would make sure Memphis is on the route. And if you appreciate American History, Birmingham (and Montgomery, and Selma AL) are fascinating places to see.

My Road Trip USA universe is more about getting off the Interstates, so which ever way you go I would like to encourage you to try out some of the older roads across the country, and get a better sense of the places you are passing thru.

Route 66 across Oklahoma (and NM and AZ as well) for example is 100 x more interesting than I-40, and not that much slower, apart from all the stops you might want to make to enjoy "home cooked" meals or milk shakes along the way... Route 66 is basically the freeway's frontage road, and detours to Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon are also great options along this route -- though 5 days doesn't allow you a lot of time for side trips.

And if you go for the I-70 corridor, weather permitting this is a gorgeous drive in western Colorado and most of Utah -- where a half-dozen National Parks lie just a few miles off the freeway. And maybe think about swapping off the Interstate for your final approach into California : US-50 across Nevada is a gorgeous drive, following in the footsteps of the Pony Express past lonesome Great Basin Nat'l Park and the alpine beauty of Lake Tahoe. Then if you need to get to SoCal (?), you can cruise down US-395 at the foot of the eastern Sierra Nevada -- one of the my favorite drives (I am a SoCal boy myself, and still love this route)

Hope these ideas help you have a great time -- however you go, drive safe and get plenty of sleep. You've got some big drives ahead of you!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen



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