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View Full Version : I-80 vs. I-70



stangmasterflash
04-28-2010, 01:48 PM
I have noticed that a couple people on this forum have recommended I-70 over sticking with I-80 for going to Las Vegas when coming from Chicago. Google Earth routes me on I-80, and my father in law seems to remember hearing that it's a better route. Can I hear some of the pros/cons of each route? I-70 looks to be a bit shorter, but perhaps it has more inclines?
Also for someone that hasn't driven in the mountains in a long time- are there any recommendations to keep from killing my brakes/engine? I drive a 99 Odyssey with 180K+ miles...

Mass Tim
04-28-2010, 02:41 PM
Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

I-70 and I-80 are both Interstates, which means that, with rare exception, the hills are not going to be incredibly steep and shouldn't be too hard on your brakes. You won't be driving through narrow mountain passes or through hard switchbacks on either of these routes, though I-70 definitely has more "hills".

One thing recommending I-70 is the area in Eastern Utah (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/GettingOutThere/Interstate-70-and-the-San-Rafael-Swell.htm), which you would miss by taking I-80.

Midwest Michael
04-28-2010, 09:19 PM
I-70 goes through the heart of the Colorado Rockies, so you certainly go over higher elevation, but in return you get to travel over what is arguably the most scenic freeway in the world. As Tim mentioned, this is still an Interstate highway which is built for interstate truck traffic, and no modern car should have any problem traveling this road.

If you are pulling a trailer with your car, then I-80 might be the better choice since it would be a little easier on your car (even though I-70 would still be a perfectly safe and reasonable option). Another potential advantage of I-80 is that Salt Lake City is the largest city on the route - so you avoid the potential traffic problems of Denver.

glc
04-29-2010, 05:26 AM
I-80 is about 45 miles longer and takes about 45 minutes more. I believe the highest elevation on I-80 is in the 7000's but I-70 goes over 10000. Denver traffic is not too bad except in rush hour, but SLC can be bad in rush hour too. I had no problems maintaining at least 55 mph on I-70 upgrades in a full size pickup truck with a V-6, just take it out of overdrive going downhill to get some engine braking.

Foy
04-29-2010, 10:02 AM
Hello smf,

If I recall correctly, and I think I do, there are but 3 grades along I-70 in Colorado: Golden (suburb of Denver to the west) to Evergreen rises around 3,000' over many miles and drops back down to Idaho Springs. That one tops out around 8,000'. Georgetown to the Eisenhower Tunnels is the big one, climbing some 3,000' to enter the tunnel at around 11,000'. You drop back down to around 7,500' on the west side of the tunnels, at Dillon, CO. Some 15 miles further on you climb Vail Pass and top out at around 10,500' there. From Vail Pass to the UT line, I-70 follows the Eagle River and the Colorado River so you're losing elevation for a good 100 miles from the top of Vail Pass to the state line.

All 3 grades are within Interstate highway design parameters present in the late 70s and there are no switchbacks nor are there any hair-raising drop-offs. The grades ARE long, but most any vehicle in good enough condition to drive cross-country to Denver to begin with should have no problems.

I find the stretch of I-70 from west of Denver to Glenwood Springs to view one of the best examples of true alpine topography anywhere in the Lower 48.

Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!

Foy

travelingman
04-29-2010, 06:09 PM
There is some spectacular scenery along certain stretches of I-70. I love that road.

The ride through and DOWN the Eisenhower Tunnel is something you won't soon forget. When you emerge from the tunnel, you feel like you're on top of the world. You'll drop down into a lower gear and cruise down at the speed limit without ever touching the gas. It seems like you'll never get to the bottom, but when you do you'll wish you could go back and do it again.

The scenery through Utah and the San Rafael Swell area is great as well. This is the area past Green River. There is actually a "Ranch Exit" into the Swell.

http://www.sanrafaelswell.org/indexnew.html

Mark Sedenquist
04-29-2010, 07:09 PM
Hey, Traveling Man,

It's been a long time... Nice to see you back.

I did an entire article about the viewpoints along I-70 through the San Rafael Swell -- you'd probably enjoy the views. Click here! (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/GettingOutThere/Interstate-70-and-the-San-Rafael-Swell.htm)

Mark

travelingman
05-02-2010, 06:50 PM
Hey, Traveling Man,

It's been a long time... Nice to see you back.

I did an entire article about the viewpoints along I-70 through the San Rafael Swell -- you'd probably enjoy the views. Click here! (http://www.roadtripamerica.com/GettingOutThere/Interstate-70-and-the-San-Rafael-Swell.htm)

Mark

I'm new to this forum, so I think you're thinking of another Travelingman. However, I do love the San Rafael Swell and enjoyed looking through your posts on the area. I might be heading there again soon, so I'll find all of that helpful. Thanks.

stangmasterflash
06-11-2010, 02:04 PM
Thanks everyone for your input! I think we'll definitely stick with I-70, and perhaps visit friends in CO springs on the way now!
Does anyone know how much time going over "loveland pass" adds to the trip? I recall this being a very scenic detour, and since my family hasn't been in the mountains before- would like to try it if it's not too time consuming.

glc
06-11-2010, 09:21 PM
I would guess about half an hour plus whatever time you take in scenic turnouts.

Corkonians
07-28-2010, 05:19 PM
The ride through and DOWN the Eisenhower Tunnel is something you won't soon forget. When you emerge from the tunnel, you feel like you're on top of the world. You'll drop down into a lower gear and cruise down at the speed limit without ever touching the gas. It seems like you'll never get to the bottom, but when you do you'll wish you could go back and do it again.

Not much experience travelling mountainous terrain....so....
*Quick questions:
- pardon my ignorance, but when driving an automatic how do you drop down into a lower gear?
- how scary is this road for someone who is ever so slightly afraid of heights :)!
- possible road conditions through the Rockies in late October? Should we be worried?

Midwest Michael
07-28-2010, 06:36 PM
Pretty much every automatic transmission still has lower gear settings. There will always be a "Drive" but then you'll typically also find gears 2 and 1. There often is also the option to turn off Overdrive, which will prevent you from going into the highest gear. The exact details will depend upon the specific make and kind if transmission it has in it.

There are no drop off or switchbacks on the Interstate system, you'll always have wide shoulders and gradual turns.

Interstates get top priority for road clearing, however, it certainly is possible to see winter weather in October in the Rockies. I wouldn't be worried, but I would know it is a possibility.

Corkonians
07-29-2010, 05:53 AM
Thank you Midwest Michael,

That is very helpful.

Is there a website that we can refer to, or a phone number that we can ring, so that we can get current conditions as we approach the Rockies, say perhaps as we're going through Denver (so we can wait or choose alternate route)

Many thanks!

Southwest Dave
07-29-2010, 08:09 AM
Cotrip has all the up to date road conditions and warnings here (http://www.cotrip.org/home.htm;jsessionid=33495501BCF1F1082BF795561DF02B 13.node1) for Colorado

glc
07-29-2010, 08:19 AM
Cotrip also has a mobile/low bandwidth version, usable with just about any smartphone. Of all the states, I think CO has the best DOT website.

I don't have a smartphone. Last December, I was heading across I-70 out of Denver. Part way up the mountain, I stopped at a Subway in a gas station for lunch. I asked if anyone had any reports going through the tunnel and over the pass - a customer in a coat and tie whipped out a Blackberry and checked for me!

Here's some tips for traveling I-70 across Utah - take care of any needs you may have that require a town of any size in Grand Junction. Fill your gas tank there. There are a few services between there and the UT state line, then there's nothing till you get to Green River. All you are going to find in Green River are a couple gas stations, fast food joints, hotels, a small supermarket, an auto parts store, and a truck stop. From there to Salina is 110 miles of absolutely nothing, zilch, squat, nada. If you need gas in Salina, don't buy it at the exit, head a couple miles into town, you will save about 20 cents a gallon. There are considerably more services in Richfield.

Corkonians
07-31-2010, 01:32 PM
Thank you SouthWest Dave and GLC.