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  1. Default Best (lowest altitude) Route for Moving Mom From Los Angeles to Michigan

    I've seen several similar threads to the one I'm about to create, but none of them quite answered my question. So, here goes :)

    My mom is in her 60's and I'm looking to move her from Los Angeles to Michigan. She has COPD and therefore, has issues with oxygen. She has taken a couple of airplane trips since being diagnosed a few years ago, however, the trips always take a lot out of her.

    I'm looking to move her out to Michigan this summer/fall so she can be close by. The two issues I foresee with this are 1) she's absolutely terrified of mountain roads, and 2) she has to be careful with high altitudes because of her breathing issues.

    I've spent about an hour or two on Google Maps and searching random checkpoint elevations until finally finding this forum.

    So, for all you seasoned road trippers, if I do end up driving my mother out to Michigan, what is the absolute flattest and closest to sea level altitude route? Does one even exist? I have enough vacation time to add some days onto our trip if need be. My #1 concern is for the safety of my mom.

    Of course we'll be asking her doctor if she can handle such a trip, or if she needs to fly, but I'm trying to figure out how much vacation time I'll need as as early in advance as possible.

    Thanks so much!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Lowering the Stress Level

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    The most relevant recent discussion is this one, so if you haven't read through it be sure to now. Note that the highest elevations along I-90 are just a couple of passes in the 6,000 to 6,500 foot range. For comparison, the cabins of most commercial jetliners are 'pressurized' to an elevation of around 9,000 feet. A journey on I-90 will therefore less stressful to your mother's breathing than an airline flight, plus she'll have a more comfortable seat and a better view. You should also keep in mind that Interstates are built to stringent design standards which limit both the steepness and curvature of the road. Driving these multilane highways is NOT the same as driving two lane mountain roads with lots of switchbacks and steep grades. The one thing you can do for her is simply slow down a bit if she starts getting nervous, stay with (but well spaced from) the trucks in the right hand lane and eventually you'll be through the worst of the 'mountains' and out on the Great (flat) Plains.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Nothing close to sea level

    There are too many mountain ranges between LA and Michigan to stay at or near to sea level. We're actually building a mapping application right now that can create an low elevation-optimized route -- but I think this one is the lowest you'll find:

    I-5 to I-8 to I-10 to I-20 to I-30 and I-40 and then north to Michigan
    On this route, Tucson will be 2389 and Las Cruces, NM will be 3908 feet. -- this will seem more mountainous in places -- but the roads will still be 3-6 lanes wide.

    An alternative route is this one:
    I-10 to CA-62 to US-95 to I-15 to I-80 to Michigan.
    Even though this route will have you drive (mostly) in the valleys between tall mountain ranges, you will still reach 4200 feet in Salt Lake City and 6100 feet in Green River, Wyoming.


  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post

    An alternative route is this one:
    I-10 to CA-62 to US-95 to I-15 to I-80 to Michigan.
    Even though this route will have you drive (mostly) in the valleys between tall mountain ranges, you will still reach 4200 feet in Salt Lake City and 6100 feet in Green River, Wyoming.

    Mark, I haven't determined where US 95 would join I-15, but if it's in northeast Nevada, I-15 between the triple-point of NV, AZ, and UT will get up to around 5,000' in places before reaching Salt Lake. From there, keeping on I-80 (which one wishing to avoid elevation would not do to begin with) I-80 reaches 7,000' at Parley's Summit some 15 miles east of SLC. The elevation-sensitive traveler would want to keep on I-15 a bit farther north to Ogden, take I-84 east a ways to where it joins I-80 at Morgan, then back on I-80.

    But, while your elevation at Green River is surely correct, I-80 remains at or higher than 6,000' through much of western WY, and Green River, being on the Green River, is likely a low point until you get past the mountains west of Laramie, and that particular summit gets up over 7,000, I believe.

    All in all, one might be at or in excess of 5,000' for much of a day, day and a half's drive from I-15 in the southwest corner of UT to the base of the Front Range near Laramie and Cheyenne. It's +400 miles just from SLC to Cheyenne.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I-5 to I-8 to I-10
    I-10 out of LA is a better choice - the stretch of I-8 between the eastern San Diego suburbs and El Centro is considerably more mountainous and winding. In poor weather this is a very dangerous stretch and even in good weather it can be a bit scary.

    I-10 to CA-62 to US-95 to I-15 to I-80 to Michigan.
    I-15 directly out of the LA basin isn't bad, all you have is Cajon Pass. Coming out of Salt Lake, you have Parley's Summit unless you pass I-80 and take I-84 east to rejoin I-80. I don't think I'd do either.

    I would pick up I-55 off of I-40 in West Memphis, take that to I-57 and at Effingham, make a decision depending on where in Michigan you are going.

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