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  1. Default Quicker driveby route?

    Hi,

    So am planning to buy a used car in Detroit and drive it back home to San Francisco. Aiming to do it over the upcoming long weekend for Memorial Day, that's 3 days + take a day or two off work=4/5 days. Don't want to stop much, might have friends accompanying me to share with the driving.

    What in your opinion is a better scenic driveby route? Want to stay off interstates and get the real stuff.

    I'm deciding between the Northern route (Detroit - Chicago - Madison - Badlands - Denver - Salt Lake City - Reno - SF)
    vs Southern (Detroit- Chicago - Route 66)

    Where do you feel if I don't stop much I won't be losing out on much? I know Yellowstone requires a day or two hence kept it off my northern list. It's a tip of the iceberg trip to come back for more. I think I'm leaning towards the Northern route but if I'm rushing through it then I'll do the Southern one.

    Thanks in advance!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Western/Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    1,703

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    You've got five days and about 2500 miles to cover. So 500 miles each puts you at around 10 hours each day. Not a whole lot of time to get out and explore the places you are going to be passing through, but still doable.

    From Detroit to past Chicago, I'd say you are better off sticking with the Interstates rather than navigating through the metropolitan areas on secondary roads. West of there things tend to open up, but even so, I-80 is your best bet for getting to Salt Lake City in the timeframe that you've provided.

    The Southern route adds a few hundred miles to the trip. Route 66 is decommissioned, and much of it is under I-40 so that would probably defeat the purpose of trying to stay off the Interstates. Still, here is a page that offers more info about this historic highway.

    But Interstates aren't necessarily lacking in scenery. Even I-70, which would be closer to your Southern route, offers many great scenic opportunities.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default not very straight

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Well, your northern route has a whole lot of zig-zagging, and its going to be pretty tough to do all that and really see anything in 5 days. Even the most direct route really is 5 full days of driving, and going down to route 66 adds a couple hundred miles to that trip.

    What I think I would do in your shoes is skip the detour up through Wisconsin and South Dakota and just shoot across I-80 and then cut down to Denver. Take the very scenic trip through the rockies, across utah, and then take the lonliest road across Nevada. That going to keep you on a straight enough path that you should have some time to make some stops, and you'll have plenty of national parks along the way that could make for very nice breaks from the road.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the inputs guys. Google maps shows the Northern route as 2 days of non-stop driving. I could do interstates for part of the trip and detour to the byways for the scenic routes. I kind of have my heart set on the Northern route and Badlands being the focus. Any inputs on how I can make it work out?

    I plan to zip through most of them with minimal stops.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    How many hours a day are you prepared to be in your car - EVERY day? Google Maps never has to get gas, stretch its legs, go to the bathroom, stop at traffic lights, eat, etc. etc.

  6. Default

    So the current driving time is at 44 hours, add some scenic detours, make it 50 hours. Divide by 4 days, =12.5 hrs/day is doable. I understand the strain on the body builds up, but I backpack a lot internationally with random modes of transport and little sleep and feel I can do it especially if a friend will help with the driving.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default good luck

    Its quite frankly, extremely foolish to put your faith in time estimates from google and other internet mapping sites. Simply put, there is no way on this earth that you could cover that ground in a car in 44 hours, even before scenic stops.

    Its your trip, and you're going to do what your going to do, but I assure you that most everyone on this forum, and anyone with experience in doing long haul trips like this will tell you, you're going to be on the road a lot longer than you are currently thinking and its going to take a lot more energy than you are planning for. Your current pace is very grueling, and is far more than you should be trying to drive in one day, especially since you're putting on hundreds of extra miles that you're just not going to enjoy because you will have to be doing so much driving. I would advice you in the strongest possible terms to rethink your plans.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    Like I said, that's 44 hours making absolutely NO stops whatsoever, and does not account for any kind of traffic or construction delays, or even red traffic lights! You need to redo your math, those are four 15+ hour days. If you can do that, fine. You just need to KNOW that this is what you are looking at.

    My mapping program shows a run from Detroit to SF via I-94 to I-80 is 38 hours and 26 minutes - 2395 miles. In the real world, this is four 11 hour days with only fuel and bathroom stops. Add another hour if you want to have lunch.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Backpacking does not equal driving

    Even if you are a very fit backpacker and have done long-haul backpacking a lot, this doesn't compare to driving. Why? If, when backpacking, you get weary, zone out, and make a mistake, you might walk off a cliff and hurt/kill yourself but you're very unlikely to kill me. If I'm driving on the highway next to you, you're likely to hurt/kill me when in the process of doing the same to yourself. Bad scenario.

    Anyway, we generally recommend about 500-550 miles per day being the top end someone plan to drive each day. If you take the route glc suggests, it's 2395 miles. Almost 600 miles per day. So this is pushing our top-end suggestion but not by much. So, do-able in four days, but no less than that.

    Don't count on much time to explore but you'll have time for very quick stops at scenic viewpoints and other attractions right along the highway for quick look-sees.

  10. #10

    Default

    Those mapping things on the internet should be ignored because they just don't have a clue about driving in the real world. I'll put my .02 in because I've made that trip a number of times in a truck. Even with a fast truck with a team driving it{one guy sleeps while the other drives}, and only stopping for fuel, bathroom breaks, an occasional meal, running the most direct route{I 94 to I 80}your looking at 50 hrs minimum, and thats assuming there are no traffic tie ups or weather related issues. In reality it was usually 55-60 hours on the road running 65-75 mph all the way. If you start running 2 lanes your going to add even more time. And as on other person has pointed out, long distance driving is a different kind of fatigue than backpacking fatigue. The more fatigued you are the more prone you are to make a mistake, and a mistake at highway speeds could cost someone dearly.

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