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  1. #1

    Default Help for driving from CA to Mo the first week of Feb. 2009

    I really hope someone can help me. My 3 kids and I are driving from Fair Oaks, Ca to Fort Leonard Wood in MO to see my oldest son Graduate from AIT in the Army. I have never drove this far and in the winter. We have to be at Fort Leonard Wood, MO by Feb 5th, 2009. Have no idea when I need to leave and how long it will take me. I am driving with a 4 year old. I am the only one driving. Looking forward to hearing from someone.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Not to discourage you, but there's no way you can do it without the risk of bad weather somewhere. I'm going to list some routes, and you will have to make a last-minute decision based on current and forecasted weather. Whichever route you take, I would allow at least 4 days, 5 would be better, considering your situation. You will have to make frequent rest stops with a 4 year old and 2 other kids - and to keep yourself in decent shape. Rather than drive into the dark night, you should plan on getting off the road at a decent hour to spend the night.

    My mapping program shows this as the fastest route, it's about 1970 miles.

    I-80 to Lincoln, NE, NE-2 to I-29, I-435 bypass around the east side of Kansas City, I-70 to US-63 to Rolla, I-44 to FLW. There are 3 potential high risk areas this way - Donner Pass in CA, a stretch of I-80 east of Salt Lake City (this can be easily bypassed by taking I-15 north to I-84 east, which will rejoin I-80), and the stretch of I-80 in Wyoming is prone to high winds and ice. I would not advise taking this route if you do not have a set of cable chains for your car and know how to put them on - unless the weather forecast is clear and dry. Reason being - CA has chain laws that are frequently in effect over Donner Pass, not necessarily having to put them on, but required to carry.

    The best alternate to that is only about 60 miles longer and is potentially less prone to severe weather - but far from exempt. It would be my route of choice in the winter, barring unusual weather conditions.

    I-5 to Bakersfield, CA-58 to Barstow (possible snow up over Tehachapi here), I-40 to Oklahoma City (snow possible all through AZ and NM), then I-44 to FLW.

    Going even farther south reaches the point of diminishing returns.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default options

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've got two main route options, One would take I-80 across through Nebraska, I-29 down to KC, and then I-70 through Missouri, until you cut south on US-63 at Columbia.

    The other would take CA-99 to CA-58 and the I-40 and I-44 across all the way to Missouri.

    The I-40 route is about 40 miles longer, but I might lean that way since it is almost all freeway and you wouldn't have to worry about driving on 2 lane roads except for the last couple miles from the Interstate to the Fort.

    That also assumes that both routes are clear. Since you are traveling in February, winter weather will be a possibility on either route, so I wouldn't make any final decision about your route until just before your departure date and you know which route should have the best weather.

    Either way the trip is just over 2000 miles, so I'd plan for 4 solid driving days (on the road for 8-10 hours a day). I'd probably try to build in a 5th day just in case you run into a weather problem that forces you to slow down or even stop to wait out a storm.

    Be sure to also check out our Winter Driving Tips as well as our Traveling with Kids articles from the planning section.

  4. #4

    Default I-40 route

    As of right now this is the route I think would be best. I can leave anytime but have to be there by the 5th. His big day is the 6th of Feb. A big thank you to both of you. I then will be leaving FLW, MO heading to ElPaso,TX then back home to Fair Oaks, Ca. Do you have any info on this route? On the way home from TX would love to have my 4, 15 and 18 year old see some sites. Can you recommend something. This has alreay been a big help and I thank you all so much.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I just thought about another option - I assume you are driving due to the expense of flying? Have you considered taking Amtrak to Omaha, then renting a car? It's a easy 1 day drive from Omaha to FLW, 435 miles. With reservations this far in advance, I show a round trip for all 4 of you is $756 for standard coach seats. Getting a family bedroom will add $900 to the fare, however. The trip takes almost 2 days each way.

  6. #6

    Default Drive

    I really need to drive because my son will be going with us from FLW to ElPaso,TX so my three older kids can see there dad. My son only has a few day before being deployed to Afghanistan. He will fly from TX back to FLW,MO after we leave. The train sounds like alot of fun. Thank you for that info.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Quickest route from FLW (make sure you call it Fort Lost-in-the-Woods in front of your son) is retrace your steps back I-44 and I-40 to Santa Rosa NM, then down US-54 to El Paso. I would imagine staying on I-40 to Albuquerque, then down I-25 to El Paso would be close to the same time, albeit longer. You could explore historic Route 66 sites all the way from FLW to Albuquerque. If you get off at Santa Rosa, Roswell is not too far off the route.

    Stop at the Big Texan in Amarillo and buy your son a steak dinner! He deserves it after his training.

    From El Paso back home, the fastest route is I-10 all the way to LA, then I-5. If you have the time and weather permitting, you might consider heading on up I-17 from Phoenix to visit the Grand Canyon, then get back on I-40 and retrace your steps home. If not, you may want to look at alternates to keep you out of LA freeway traffic.

    You could take I-215 to I-15, to US-395 to CA-58 and retrace to home. CA-138 off of I-15 through Palmdale and Lancaster is also another viable option.

  8. #8


    Another rt you might consider to El Paso, is to take I 27 south from Amarillo just a few miles, then US 60 to Clovis NM. From there take US 70 thru Roswell and pick up US 54 at Tularosa on into El Paso. That way is all 4 lane except for a short stretch near Ruidoso NM. US 54 from Santa Rosa to Tularosa was all 2 lane hwy and pretty desolate the last time I ran across there. I've ran both ways in an 18 wheeler and much prefer to run the 4 lanes as much as possible. There is a bypass around Roswell but then you would miss all the alien stuff. And I was at Fort Lostinthewoods, Misery in Jan 1966 for my AIT. If I remeber correctly it wasn't very pleasant there at that time of year. Good Luck on your trip.

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