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  1. #1

    Default Northen California to Knoxville, TN

    Hey everyone! I've actually been viewing and reading your website for about two years for past road trips I've done, but this one's a big one and I could really use your help!

    I got a job that's sending me to Chicago for training, then relocating me somewhere in the South. My girlfriend, who's from Knoxville, flew out here because we've always talked about taking this huge road trip from California to Tennessee, and with this new job it's finally come true.

    Now, sight seeing isn't a huge priority. I'm moving with about $120 in my pocket and a credit card I'm using strictly for gas. after researching I've found that the straightest shot would be I-80, but by the time we reach Lincoln, NE we start heading South in a really long bow. I was hoping any of you might now a short cut, perhaps using the 95 in Nevada, but I didn't know if it was worth it.

    Still, since stopping for attractions isn't a huge priority, we'd at least like a pretty view as we drive. In your opinion, would taking the 80 provide more beauty, or the 40 (another route we were considering ). I'd hate to live in it, but I love seeing the desert, so I was considering that the 40 might be better for that, BUT I also love the mountains, so maybe the 80 is better.

    Anyways, this request is probably already way drawn out. Any advice you could offer for the Redding to Knoxville trip would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Go the quickest route

    With your budget, I just don't see how you can afford to take anything but the quickest route. The scenery on 95 through Nevada isn't all that much different than the scenery on I-80 anyway. And that "bow" you see on the map right before Knoxville really isn't all that big. Taking alternative roads aren't really going to save you much time, if any.

    To keep costs down, you might eat from your cooler. There is a link at the top of that post to suggestions on how to establish your budget. You might run through that as well.

    Where are you sleeping? If you're going to sleep in the car to save money, please consider using truck stops. They are one of your safest options.

    If you are doing this trip quickly, please check out our speed run tips for doing it safely.

  3. #3


    I don't think I outlined my budget very well. The cash on hand will be used for tolls or small purchases, my credit limit is $700, and using low mpg estimates with high fuel costs, my assumed fuel cost will be $450. Also, my girlfriend came equipped with $800.

    Our sleeping arrangements are still in the works, but we were planning on doing some tent camping at RV or BLM spots, taking showers at Flying J's. If we took the I-40 route, we would get a motel in Las Vegas because she's been dying to see that.

    So is the 80, though the quickest route, still a prettier drive than the 40?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Oh, that makes more sense!

    And should be fine for this trip.

    RV campgrounds will have showers. Some BLM, national/state/county campgrounds, and others run by various government agencies will have showers as well.

    Truck stop showers typically cost around $10 each. If you can get it included with your campground fee (or for a couple quarters or tokens, as they sometimes require), you're way ahead budget-wise. Of course, if you sleep in your car at a truck stop or stay in a campground without showers, then it might be worth it.

    Ya know, both routes are beautiful. The only stretches of road that I've ever driven are those I've driven 100 times. No new roads are ever boring, imho! Each will vary with deserts, hills, forests, farmlands, etc.

    If Vegas if high on the must-do list, then I-40 might be the better route for you. Since scenery is always going to be good, I tend to base my route on specific places I want to stop.

  5. #5

    Default Eye of the beholder

    Hello (or is it goodbye) Cali-

    I hate to not give you an answer, but there isn't one.

    What I CAN say is I took my first trip XC (cross-country) on I-40 last year, from Raleigh, NC to Ventura, CA and I've traveled all of I-80 between roughly the UT-NV border well into Iowa at various times in the last 30 years or so.

    >From Vegas, you'd probably cross Hoover Dam and drop down to Kingman, AZ to pick up I-40. From there, nearly all of AZ is fairly mountaineous to east of Flagstaff. Flagstaff to a little east of Albequerque flat to somewhat hilly with some mountains in sight (and big ones at Albeq). Eastern NM hilly/butte/canyon country to nearly the TX line. TX panhandle high plains/wheat farms, and ditto for western OK. Central OK to central AR gently rolling farm, pasture, and some scrub forest. Central OK all the rest of the way to K'town rolling to gentle mountains, and much forest cover, excepting flat open farm country from Little Rock to Memphis, on the Mississippi Delta.

    The other way, I-80 traverses the Great Basin & Range (mostly flat desert with ranges of mountains every which way, most of which you drive in between) all the way to Salt Lake City, where the Wasatch Range jumps up by 7,500' above the SLC basin and the Great Salt Lake. Once you're through the Wasatch, you're in high plains/butte/canyon country all the way across WY with some mountains in the distance. From Cheyenne all the way to eastern NE, it's flat with wheat and corn and small railroad towns along the Platte River. From eastern NE, rolling hills, corn, then forested terrain down into TN.

    All in all, I'd say I personally prefer I-40, but perhaps only because I've run I-80 much more often. If you run I-80, I'd get to Lincoln, NE, then take NE-2 to Nebraska City, cross the Missouri, and take I-29 past St Joe to KC, I-70 to St Louis, I-64 to Lexington, KY, then I-75 to K'town. You could instead run I-55 south from St Louis, bushwack across the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers between Cape Girardeau MO, Cairo IL, to Paducah, KY, thence I-24 south to Nashville, where you'd pick up I-40 to Knoxville.

    (Placing tongue in cheek, he said......) You might want to adopt non-California nomenclature for highways. The whole "The 95" or "The 101" seems strictly a West Coast thing. Welcome to the South!

    Last edited by PNW Judy; 07-24-2008 at 08:27 PM. Reason: Ooops...meant to make my own post. Sorry.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default I like the "the"

    I think it's a California thing. I've never heard anyone say "the 101" here in the PNW. But I think it's interesting and might make for a conversation-starter with folks in The South. I say "keep it, GoodByeCali." :)

  7. #7


    Well my girlfriend's been begging for Vegas, and from asking around it seems like many liked the 40 route, so it's a winner. Thanks!

    And I've had many long drawn out conversations about our different phrases and words in my many times in Tennessee. There, when something takes a long time it's "slower than molasses in January," but in NorCal it's "been hella days."

    But I've slowly, subconsciously, adopted southern parts into my dialect. When I saw my first Krogers, I said "I ain't never seen one," and her family still teases me about that today. (I'm very prideful when it comes to my straight Californian accent)

    But thanks a ton! Really helps.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default You couldn't go wrong either way

    I'm sure you'll have a great time on "the 40". LOL

    More questions? If not, have a great trip. Please consider returning here after you're settled in Knoxville to give us a bit of a roadtrip report. We love hearing how things went on your trip. Enjoy!

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