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  1. Default Chicago to Sacramento

    Hi, I've been reading this forum a bit, but there is so much information it is almost overwhelming! I finally decided the best way to find an answer would be my own posting. I am moving from the east coast to Sacramento in August and have decided to drive there. I am starting out in Boston and have a good idea of where to stop in between there and Chicago(I have friends to see along the way). Once I get to Chicago, though, I have to admit I don't have a feel for where to stop/how long to take. Ideally, the trip will take about 8 days. This is what I'm thinking (rt 80 for most of the way, but veering off onto 70 between Denver and SLC):

    Day 1: Chicago ->Omaha
    Day 2: Omaha -> Denver
    Day 3: stay in Denver area
    Day 4: Denver ->Moab national park
    Day 4: MOAB -> Salt Lake City
    Day 5: somewhere in between SLC and Tahoe??
    Day 6: Salt Lake City (or wherever I am on day 5) -> Tahoe
    Day 7: Tahoe/Reno area
    Day 8: Tahoe ->Sacramento

    While I don't mind driving, I have never been on a big road trip before. In addition, my mom will be meeting me in Chicago (and trading off with my friends who will be with me on the first part). She's excited for the trip, but wary of days with too much driving (i.e SLC to Tahoe in one day). I would really appreciate any advice for additional/alternate places to stop that wouldn't add more than a couple of driving areas. I'm particularly looking for ideas between SLC and Tahoe as well as Chicago and Denver. Maybe I could add an extra day and stop somewhere in South Dakota? Thanks for any help you can give me!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default It overwhelms us sometimes too!

    Quote Originally Posted by lisa8989 View Post
    Hi, I've been reading this forum a bit, but there is so much information it is almost overwhelming!
    Yep, that is a good assessment -- with over 34,000 posts this Forum has a wealth of knowledge and tips. When you add the add the articles and the other resources we have built into this web site over the last 11 years, it is easy to feel overwhelmed -- with the 5,000 active pages on road trips in North America. So, welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!
    Ideally, the trip will take about 8 days.
    Eight days is a very reasonable span of time to drive across the country. Normally we recommend the fastest it should be done is five days. It can easily take months.... One caveat here, moving and sightseeing are not really good partners. Especially if you are carrying valuable belongings in your car. On household moves, I always recommend that you make "getting across the country" the highest priority, but that is just my point of view.
    This is what I'm thinking (rt 80 for most of the way, but veering off onto 70 between Denver and SLC):
    I-80 is fine, but I would recommend I-70 so you can see the St. Louis Arch... (oops, I see Chicago is a higher priority, so...)
    Day 2: Omaha -> Denver
    You do realize that fastest route is just to stay on I-80 to Salt Lake and then west across Nevada...
    Day 4: Denver ->Moab national park
    There is no Moab NP -- There is Arches NP -- Moab takes you out of the way.
    Day 4: MOAB -> Salt Lake City
    You drop south to see Moab, the town) and then go north again to Salt Lake City?
    Day 5: somewhere in between SLC and Tahoe??
    SLC to Lake Tahoe is about 565 miles which is a reasonable day's journey -- there are some cool places between these two cities, but I am not sure you really need to stop.
    Day 8: Tahoe ->Sacramento
    This is less than 100 miles -- maximum of two hours.

    I think you will be fine -- and I really think you can do this in five or six days.

    Here are some tips and ideas from other other solo travelers.

    Mark

  3. Default

    Thanks for your advice! Perhaps I should have explained a little more. I am moving from one coast to the other, but I won't have too much in my car. I'm shipping as much as I can and I'm heading out there for grad school. As you can imagine, that means I won't have too many "valuables" :). The main reason I'm driving is for the trip (to see the great scenery that we don't have out here) and so that I don't have to ship my car. So, while I don't want to add too much extra distance, I don't mind adding some if it means seeing something worthwhile.

    I-80 is fine, but I would recommend I-70 so you can see the St. Louis Arch... (oops, I see Chicago is a higher priority, so...)
    Yes, Chicago is a must, as I am dropping my friends off at the airport and picking up my mom.

    You do realize that fastest route is just to stay on I-80 to Salt Lake and then west across Nevada...
    Yes I realize this is faster, but it seems like there is more to see in Denver/Aspen area......or am I wrong about that?

    There is no Moab NP -- There is Arches NP -- Moab takes you out of the way.
    You're right. A friend of mine drove cross country a couple of years ago and told me that she wished she had had time to stop in Moab to see the sandstone(?) formations. She must have been talking abut Arches NP.

    You drop south to see Moab, the town) and then go north again to Salt Lake City?
    She also seemed to think that the drive was "nicer" along Rt 70 between Denver and SLC....maybe that's not true and I'd be better off staying on 80 and seeing something else along the way?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default In that case,

    I-80 is the way to go if you need to make tracks. but if you have the time, than I would drop south from Chicago and go see the Arch and then follow I-70 all the way to I-15 and then follow US-50 all the way to Sacramento.

    Field Reports from I-70 (in Utah) On the road and off-road
    US-50 -- stop and stay at the Nevada Hotel!

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Ely, Nevada

    Hi, I agree with Mark. While Salt Lake City is an interesting town and the area around it is beautiful, it takes you a bit out of your way to the north. Seeing Nevada on US 50 is classic. Ely is a good place to stop before heading out on the "lonliest road in America" as its been called. It is a nice town and they have a fun steam train ride there.

    Take US 50 all the way to the east shore of Lake Tahoe. Loop around the lake if you have time and leave by continuing down US 50 from the south shore.

    I hope you like Sacramento, we were just there today visiting Sutter's Fort and the Crocker Art Museum.

    Craig Sheumaker

    co-author of "A Travler's Guide: America's Living History-The Early Years"

  6. Default

    After your suggestions, I'm thinking that going south first and then along 70 to 50 would be nice. So far:

    Chicago -> St. Louis
    St. Louis -> Denver
    Denver -> Arches NP
    Arches-> Ely
    Ely -> Tahoe
    Tahoe -> Sacramento

    A couple of questions:
    Arches national park seems very cool, but is there a better option along the route that I'm missing?
    Also, any suggestions for places to stop between St. Louis and Denver? I'd like to split that up into two days if possible.

    Thanks again!

  7. #7

    Default When in Moab

    With respect to allocating time, Moab has Arches and Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands Natl. Park. You drive past Dead Horse to get into Canyonlands.

    If you're doing I-70 through Kansas and it is not rainy, then you could take a 40-mile round-trip detour to see Monument Rock. Go south on US Hwy-83, visit the Monument Rock, and return to I-70 north on US Hwy-83. (youtube video clip)

    Forgetting about Monument Rock, there is a Buffalo Bill sculpture at Oakley where I-70 and US Hwy-83 intersect.

    Just east of Hays, Kansas, I'd stop and visit the Cathedral of the Plains. It is a couple miles south of I-70 at Victoria.

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