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  1. Default San Diego,CA to Madison, WI in Jan: the safe route in lieu of the scenic route!

    I am moving from San Diego to Chicago after the first of the year. The moving truck is going in advance, and my first destination will be to Madison, WI prior to settling in Chicago. I will be making the trip solo (with the exception of my house plants!) in my 2006 Jetta. Although I would have loved to have made a leisurely sight-seeing adventure of this move, my fiance will be making the trek in February, and since we're driving separately, we're seeking the safest route over the most scenic. Realising that the straight shot through Denver is the shortest distance from point A to point B, I am willing to take the southern route, adding a few miles onto the journey if it's safer. Ideally, I would like to drive 2 long days, stopping for a hotel stay at the midway point (recommendations?) If that is unrealistic, I can plan for 2 nights in a hotel. I hope to reserve hotel rooms in advance in order to get the lowest rate, and for the sake of safetly and time savings. This journey will be made on the ultimate budget - good gas mileage in the VW, and PB & J in the cooler!

    I would greatly appreciate advice on the best route to follow - preferably the safest, most likely to be free of incident way to get from San Diego to Madison! Any additional advice is greatly appreciated. Many thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Real Dangers

    Welcome to the RTA forum!

    Worrying about which route is "safest" and then saying you want to do this trip in 2 days, is a lot like asking which ocean is "safest" if you wanted to jump into the middle and start swimming.

    Driving I-70 in Winter is not dangerous. Trying to drive more than 2000 miles from San Diego to Madison in 2 days isn't just dangerous, its borderline suicidal. There is no way that you can drive 1000 miles (18 hours, in perfect conditions), in a day by yourself, safely. Even if you had two drivers, that's more ground than you should really try to cover in one day

    If you are worried about safety, you should be looking at 4 days to make this trip. That still puts you on the road for at least 8-10 hours a day. Trying to do much more than that will put you beyond a level where you can maintain an alertness level that would be safe for both you and other people on the road. Professional Drivers have limits for how far they can drive in one day, you should not be trying to exceed them.

    Every route between San Diego and Madison are at risk for seeing winter weather on any given day in January. I-70 or I-80 will be the shortest options, and should be your first choice, but any decision you make should be made based on the short term forecasts you'll only find in the days before you leave on your trip.

  3. Default

    thank you!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you would like to take a more southern route, this is about 200 miles longer and under ideal conditions, will only add about 3 hours to the trip:

    I-8 to Casa Grande, I-10
    I-10 to Deming, NM-26
    NM-26 to Hatch, I-25
    I-25 to Albuquerque, I-40
    I-40 to OKC, I-44
    I-44 to STL, I-270/I-255
    I-270/I-255 around the south side of STL to I-55
    I-55 to Bloomington, I-39
    I-39 to Rockford, I-90
    I-90 to Madison

    I drive from Joplin to SD every winter. This is a 3 day trip for me, and that is the route I took last winter when it was snowing in Flagstaff. I also drive to Chicago frequently, and that's a long day. Therefore, I agree with Michael, you are looking at a 4 day drive solo.

    I would not bother to make reservations - this will lock you in and you are going to feel like you have to get somewhere every night. Lower priced safe hotels are plentiful along the whole route. I recommend you look at ones at the highway exits in smaller towns, they are generally cheaper and less likely to be in seedy areas. I carry a Motel 6 and a Super 8 directory in my truck. Drive till you start feeling like it's time to get off the road, see where you are at, and go from there.

    Using my route, and taking 4 days, your stops would roughly be:

    Lordsburg, NM (push to Deming NM)
    Amarillo, TX (push to El Reno OK)
    Springfield, MO (push to Rolla MO)

    You should easily be able to keep your total hotel bill around $200 for 3 nights.

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