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  1. Default West Lafayette IN to Seattle WA via Denver CO in early February

    Hi All,

    A buddy of mine and I would be making a one way trip from West Lafayette IN (Hail Purdue !!) to Seattle WA around the 8th of February. On the way, I would also like to meet up with my brother in Denver CO. I had a few questions regarding the best route to take and places to see on the way.

    I am going to take a rental Toyota RAV4 from Hertz (I am getting a Nissan Xterra for 80 bucks more and gas costs would be much more on the Nissan - so is it worth it ?). I have about 5 days to make the trip. Me and my buddy would be doing the 1100 mile trip to Denver on a single day/night, and then breaking for the day/night at my brother's place in Denver. I have driven such long stretches before alone (around 900 miles in a day), and with someone else around, I would not think that doing this stretch (1100 miles) would be a hassle. From Denver to Seattle, we would be doing a more relaxed pace and breaking somewhere in between.

    I have some questions regarding the route to take:

    1. Would I-70 till Denver be better than I-80 and then I-76? Better means less icy, less traffic etc. Both routes are almost equal in miles. I know it is not possible to predict the weather beforehand, but which route is generally better ?

    2. I have 3 options from Denver to Seattle - I-70 across the rockies ->I-84, I-80 to Salt Lake City and then I-84, or the northern I-25->I-90. What do you think would be the best route. I have 3 days for this part of the trip. The best route in this stretch would be less icy and have more attractions (natural parks not snowed in ?). I was thinking of yellowstone, but have some doubts about going there for just a day and the significant detour that going to the North Entrance would require. The northern route of I-25-> I-90 seems to have a high probability of being snowed in/icy with difficult mountain passes as well.

    3. Any portions of the road to watch out for ? Also any attractions that absolutely must not be missed ?

    I wish that I could make this trip in summer, but my dates are not flexible - and will have to be there by the 12th. Thanks a lot for your help, and I already have answers to some of my other questions by browsing the awesome and helpful forums in roadtripamerica. Thanks again !!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Fell at the first hurdle.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    You really need to alter that first leg of your trip, it's not safe to travel that far in one hit and not only is it dangerous to attempt, it's pretty pointless. After driving for 19 hours or so you will be wrecked when [or if] you arrive in Denver and in no state to really enjoy seeing your brother and you will spend most of next day sleeping. The absolute maximum I would consider pushing to is Grand Island [ beyond what we would normally recommend to do safely] and get some proper rest before arriving in Denver.

    You have by your own statement driven long distances before, as most of us regular members have done, but it really is playing 'Russian roulette' and statistics show that driving while fatigued is every bit as dangerous as drink driving. No one is invincible and with 2 of you travelling it makes little difference, both would need to stay awake for the duration or else the driver is left alone when he is most vulnerable to needing sleep. After all this is said and done, you also need to consider that the weather could be challenging and it starts to add up to a recipe for disaster, please don't !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    There are essentially 2 "good" ways to get from Lafayette to Denver - I-70 all the way, or I-74/I-80/I-76. Don't take I-65 to I-80, that will get you tangled in the NW IN/Chicago traffic. As said, please, for safety's sake, don't try to do it straight through unless you have THREE drivers.

    I'm afraid you don't have much time for any sightseeing with your time constraints - from Denver to Seattle is 2 very long days best case, just piling the miles on. The way things have been this winter, I'd look at I-25/I-90 first. No matter which way you go, you have potential for bad roads and delays - and I-80 through Wyoming can be brutal. It's at 7000+ feet most of the way across, I-90 is a lower elevation highway. I-25/I-80/I-84/I-82/I-90 is about 50 miles shorter, but don't take it without checking conditions and forecasts carefully.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default for emphasis

    I have driven such long stretches before alone (around 900 miles in a day), and with someone else around, I would not think that doing this stretch (1100 miles) would be a hassle. From Denver to Seattle, we would be doing a more relaxed pace and breaking somewhere in between.
    It really can't be stressed enough how reckless that would be.

    Putting it simply, in your previous 900 mile drives you were driving 50% more than professional drivers are allowed by law from driving, and you certainly spent a significant portion of your trip driving with reaction times that were much like a drunk driver.

    Just because you didn't crash, didn't mean you were being safe. A drunk driver will often drive 100 times before getting caught or getting into a crash, but it doesn't mean the first 99 times were safe. An overnight stop from Indiana to Denver is simply mandatory if you have any regard at all for the well being of those with whom you share the road.

    Denver to Seattle is 1350 miles. Doing that in 2 days is not anything resembling a relaxed pace. It is very much at the top end of what 2 people can do safely, and that needs to very much be approached as a work, and taking steps to have a safe speed run.

    Please, have some respect for safety, and make some adjustments to your plans. Getting there quickly and/or avoiding a $50 motel stay is just not worth taking someone else's life.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    5 days for the whole thing means long driving days the entire time.

    After having done the I-80 route to Seattle and studying Foy's information I think the I-90 route would be a best bet. But still, in winter, the run from Denver to Seattle could be 26 or 28 hours of driving due to ice/snow/visibility.

    Be careful. Don't be stupid. Stupid can turn to dead pretty quickly.

  6. Default

    Thanks a lot guys for the info. I am now thinking about breaking somewhere in Kansas or in Grand Island NE for the 1st nigh. Also, taking the I-70 to Denver seems more attractive to me, given that I-70 is a more South than I-80. Starting off a day earlier would be better anyways for enjoying the trip.

    About the 2nd part of the trip, making it 3 days seems better in light of the information. I am ruling out crossing the rockies on I-70 as my brother thinks that it is likely to be pretty bad. But, I am still not sure of whether to take I-25->I-90 or the I-25->I-80->I-84->I-82->I-90. Are there any places (national parks/other attractions that are open in Winter) that i might check out on either of these routes ?

    Thanks again for the help.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    The biggest thing you need to worry about in regards to weather conditions is the forecast - and not the latitude.

    While I-70 across Kansas is farther south, it is just as likely to see snow or ice as I-80. The only real way you'll know which route is better is by looking at the forecast just before you leave.

    Same is true as you head west from Denver. Any of the 3 routes could be seeing the best weather on any given day. The advantage that I-90 does have is that it generally is at the lowest elevation, which does provide some protection against winter weather, but it's still not as good as an accurate weather forecast. There are plenty of winter days where both I-70 and/or I-80 are in perfectly good condition.

    Here is a sample of some of the many places that could provide a good break from the road on any of the route's you're looking at.

  8. Default

    Thanks for the info. I will be looking at weather closely before heading out. And as all the routes are almost equal in distance, weather would be the big deciding factor. The link for breaks along the road seems good - I will try to check out some of the places (I anyways do not drive for more than 2-3 hours at a stretch).

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Looks like you're heading in the right direction. Feel free to ask if you have any other questions as you get ready to depart!

  10. Default

    I have travelled on both routes. From my experience I can say that it is better to use I-70 rather than I-80 because the traffic will be less. It will help to save a lot of time. It will be less icy as well. Also I would request him to use Toyota RAV4 rather than Nissan Xterra for the trip.

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