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Old 09-11-2014, 01:28 PM
320 posts, read 272,461 times
Reputation: 418


Title says it all. In a few weeks my wife and I will be moving from Northern VA to Seattle. We're driving to get one car there, then I'll be flying back to ship the stuff/cat/sell house/etc.

Obviously we'll try to avoid major cities during rush hour and will try to plan our overnights away from major cities for similar reasons.

Google Maps default takes us up through PA, OH, around Chicago, then up through MN, ND, Montana, etc.

Having driven 95 multiple times up and down the east coast, I'm well versed in what areas to be wary of (bad roads, easily avoidable tolls like Newark DE, etc)...

Can anyone offer any insight into what to be aware of or what to avoid in planning our route? Any general advice?

I've only driven west from VA to Las Vegas about 20 years ago, and have never driven a northern route.
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Old 09-11-2014, 09:02 PM
Location: Looking over your shoulder
30,320 posts, read 27,776,619 times
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Much of the route would depend on what types of interests you have and things you’d like to see along the way. The arch over the river at St. Louis MO would be interesting to me if I were driving across the country. Another location would be crossing the Rocky Mountains in CO area. The Rocky Mtn. Nat’l Park is amazing however I’m not sure when the park will close roads for winter travel. You also have the Black Hills in SD and Mount Rushmore that would be an interesting stop along the way as well Yellowstone Nat'l Park in Wy. I heard on the news today however that a snow storm and cold weather blew into that area. Winter seems to be starting early this year in upper elevations.
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Old 09-12-2014, 11:18 AM
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
4,240 posts, read 8,074,474 times
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No idea from OP's post as to their time frame/interests...
If you are just hauling fanny to get from DC to Seattle, then sightseeing may not be on the list.

Assuming the OP just wants to 'get there', I rec'd Interstates for most of the driving.
GOOG Maps shows a few choices, but once one is past the Plains states a cross over of the Rockies chain is hard to avoid.

Winter comes early to many of those higher elevation areas, interstate or not.

As for motels, we did 2 months and 13,000 miles on a cross country trip and rarely nailed down a room until late afternoon, usually via a chain's site(s) via smart phone and then calling. It allowed us to stop/keep going vs committing early and having to 'get to' the next stop.

Again, once past Chicago/St Louis, one will not have a problem 'avoiding' major cities, esp for finding rooms. Motels are ubiquitous across the US, most are reasonably priced, (it's 8 hrs in the room vs a resort), and available late that day, in our experience.

If OP wants some sights, there are hundreds of ideas on this board and from 'us'.

But seasonal time is not necessarily on your side, depending upon 'weather', which none of us can predict from this far out and this far away...
GL, mD
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Old 01-29-2015, 11:52 AM
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I am looking for the fastest route that will most likely keep me out of snow if that is possible
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Old 01-29-2015, 09:49 PM
Location: Upper St. Clair, PA
367 posts, read 318,346 times
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If you have decided to drive from DC to Washington State, you have decided that you are going to take your time and experience the joy of the ride, wherever it may take you.

Therefore: Wing it. It will be the most fun that way. Whatever happens, happens. You're never going to avoid snow, and who knows what areas mother nature will choose to hit with it on any given day. I would strongly consider using I-70 through Glenwood Canyon if it fits.
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:25 AM
Location: Western Washington
8,929 posts, read 8,390,690 times
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What Jessica said.

I have done this trip 3 times, and driving cross country is completely different from going up and down 95, which I have done more times than I can count.

Once you get past PA/OH, toll roads are virtually non-existent. There are a few around Chicago, then they only show up again on the west coast.

Since you are traveling in the winter months, you will need to check the passes around Yellowstone and the Tetons. They close for months in the winter. Otherwise this is a great opportunity for you to visit some amazing parks.

Once you get to the west coast you have similar issues. The passes across the cascades occasionally close in the winter, or require the use of snow chains. Plan a few extra days just in case. I think that you could avoid this by taking a more southerly route then coming north along I5.

It is a long drive, but not a particularly challenging one. As you note, traffic around major cities can slow you down, but it is pretty easy to avoid most cities. Even if you do hit traffic, it is only going to slow you for a couple of hours.
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Old 01-31-2015, 12:39 PM
Location: Seattle
1,531 posts, read 1,310,974 times
Reputation: 3600
In a few weeks...

Covers a lot of possibilities.

For some unknown reason most of the mapping sources like Google stick you on I-94 through North Dakota as opposed to I-90 through South Dakota. If you're crossing on the northern tier, I strongly prefer I-90 to I-94, as SD has many interesting things to see close to the highway, such as the Corn Palace in Mitchell, Badlands NP (an easy and knockout loop off the freeway through some of the weirdest landscapes you've seen) and then the Black Hills.

You can get snowy and/or icy conditions on virtually any cross-country interstate route north of I-10, including I-40 in Arizona (big snow in Flagstaff today I believe.) Obviously the higher passes, like I-70 in Colorado and I-80 in Utah, offer a higher chance than the relatively lower passes along I-90 (Lookout Pass on the Montana/Idaho line, etc.)

A few years ago I did a one-way drive from Philly to Seattle in early April and filed a trip report on Flyertalk here. Might have some value.

I'd probably stay on I-70 to Kansas City, then cut up on I-29 to Sioux Falls, then I-90 the rest of the way, but be prepared to lay over or alter that based on real time conditions. I did that route in reverse to DC some years ago but that was in the summer, so not really comparable.
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