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  1. Default Need Suggestions on the trip from Madison, Wi to San Francisco, CA

    Hi everyone,
    My boyfriend and I are planning to drive from Madison, WI to San Francisco, CA around Dec. 20. We plan to spend 12 days on this trip. We have not yet decided the route yet and we need your suggestions on which is the safest route. Since it is winter and only my boyfriend can drive, who is not an experienced driver, we would like to get away from the snow and visit some great cities on the way. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Separate Yourself in Time, Not Distance

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Adding miles to a trip in an attempt to avoid bad weather is usually a losing game. The longer you're on the road the more likely you are to experience bad weather. Heading south is simply no guarantee of warmth since no matter how you go, you'll have to cross the Continental Divide at elevations of around 7,000-8,000 feet. Even I-10 can and does see snow, sleet, and ice over the winter. Your best bet is simply to plan on taking the most direct all Interstate route and use the time saved to simply sit out any inclement weather. In your case that means just taking I-80 all the way. That would require only 4 days or so, even for a solo driver, leaving plenty of time to visit sites and sites on the way. But, if you want an even more interesting route that still would only take 5 days (leaving you a 3 day margin) look at first heading down to St. Louis then taking I-70 over to Denver and past Arches National Park in Utah, then down I-15 to Las Vegas before curling around the southern end of the Sierra Nevada on CA-58/I-5 into San Francisco.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Experience Counts

    This sounds like an exciting adventure and most likely will be for both of you. It's important to not overestimate abilities, and since you stated that your boyfriend - who will be the only driver - lacks experience, then don't try to do too much on your trip. So adding miles doesn't make sense. Rather, taking the time to assess the weather and making the right decision would be the prudent route.

    I guarantee you that your boyfriend will become a much more experienced driver after a trip such as the one you've planned.

  4. Default

    Thank you so much for your replies, which are very very helpful!
    We decide to take the I-70 E to get to Los Angeles first and then drive up to San Francisco.
    I have two more questions.
    How can we get the latest weather report? Can you recommend some website or software??
    Also, is there anything that we need to prepare for the trip? I know it is a very broad question but since it is my first time to take such a long trip in winter by car, I need to be well prepared.
    Thank you!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Bring a wifi-equipped laptop. You can use to see what the weather is, and the various state DOT websites to get road conditions. Most hotels will have wifi, some Interstate rest areas, and most McDonalds and Starbucks.

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