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Thread: TX to CA...

  1. Default TX to CA...

    Planning to drive from Austin to San Francisco. Will be leaving next weekend. I would prefer to take I-40 over I-10. Mainly, because I want to avoid the border. I know I'll just be driving through, so it shouldn't be too bad, but even so it makes me a bit nervous.

    I've been told I-10 is a pretty easy drive, but a boring one. Not sure how I-40 compares, but have heard that it's a more scenic? I don't know though if there are also disadvantages to taking I-40, aside from the fact that it would take longer (which may be a problem, see below). Anyone have experience with either route and can give input?

    Originally, I thought I would have more time for this trip. Was hoping I could make some sightseeing stops along the way, but unfortunately my work schedule isn't cooperating so I'm now forced to make the trip in 2-3 days... is that do-able? I may have some more wriggle room and most likely can stretch it to 4 days if needed. There would be 3 drivers. A possible 4th driver, but since that person is a new driver, I doubt she'll be driving for more than 2 hours a day, if even that.

    Any advice/suggestions greatly appreciated!

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Austin to SF is just under 1800 miles. That means it is a very full 3 day drive one way - you simply can't safely do it in less time than that.

    I-10 certainly doesn't cross the border, so I don't really know why that is a concern for you. It does travel near it, but other than a couple of border patrol checkpoints, it really doesn't have any impact on the trip. While going into Mexico can be very dangerous these days, the violence does stop at the border. (Juarez is perhaps the most dangerous city on the planet right now, but El Paso actually ranks as one of the safety cities in the US.)

    I-10 through west texas is a long and flat drive, but boring is in the eye of the beholder. If you had more time, I could certainly see heading up to I-40, but you're already stretching things to get this done in 3 days. Going via I-40 would mean adding at least 50 miles, but you'd be exchanging freeway miles for a couple hundred miles on 2 lane highways. Unless you can add a fourth day, I recommend you stick to I-10.

  3. Default

    Thanks Michael for responding! I have read that people could get from TX to CA in 2 days, which is why I was hoping it could be done in 2 (and with 3 drivers)... but perhaps their destination was in southern CA or something.

    Right, I know I wouldn't be crossing the border (when taking I-10) but according to Google Maps, I would be passing through Juarez which is why I said I was nervous about that route. I think just to be on the safe side, I'll go ahead and stretch out my trip to 4 days.

    Thanks again!

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


    I-10 takes you through El Paso, but as I mentioned, that's very different than going through Juarez.

    And certainly you can drive from parts of TX to parts of CA in 2 days, but you are talking about two of the biggest states in the US. El Paso to the California state line can actually be done in one day, but on the other hand, you'd be talking a 5 days to get from Beaumont Texas to the Crescent City CA, on the coast near the Oregon border!

  5. Default

    Yes, you're totally right. I-10 takes me through El Paso. I should have zoomed in more on the map. Oops... *insert embarrassed face here*

    So this is what I've got so far
    I-10: 3 days minimum
    I-40: 4 days minimum

    Of course the more days the better, as that would provide for a less stressful trip. I'll see if I can squeeze in another day or two of vacation from work. =P

    I-10 through west texas is a long and flat drive, but boring is in the eye of the beholder.
    Yeah, true but I've heard so many people complain about driving through west Texas. haha Comments running along the lines of, "it's so boring and feels like it never ends!" Which was another reason why I was leaning towards I-40, and according to Google maps (which I know isn't always that accurate), it would only add another hour to the trip. Although to be honest, I don't know much about that route or what the terrain (or even weather conditions) is like, so it's very possible it would be more than just an extra hour...

  6. Default

    Things to do and see along I-40

    Cadillac Ranch just west of Amarillo, Texas.

    Petroglyphs National Monument just west of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks in eastern Arizona

    Standin' on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona from the Eagles song.

    Meteor Crater east of Flagstaff, AZ

    Walnut Canyon National Monument also just east of Flagstaff, AZ

    There is always the detour up to the Grand Canyon!

    From Oklahoma City, OK to California you will travel on or near the Historic Route 66. Stop in Seligman, AZ to see Elvis's Pink Cadillac. Kingman, AZ has a great Route 66 Museum. Oatman, Arizona is a little out of the way, but you really get a feel for the old route 66 here.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    You can do this in 3.5 days without taking I-10. Take US-183/US-287 to Amarillo, spend the night. Get on I-40 and spend the next night in Holbrook, Winslow, or Flagstaff. At Barstow, take CA-58 to Bakersfield and spend the night. Then take CA-99 to CA-46 to Paso Robles, then US-101 to SF. 101 is considerably more scenic than I-5 and is near-freeway quality.

    If you can only take 3 days, take I-10. Spend the first night in El Paso or Las Cruces. Spend the second night in Indio/Palm Desert/Palm Springs. To avoid LA traffic, take I-215 north to I-15 to US-395 to CA-58 to Bakersfield. This time take 99 to 46 to I-5 and take it to Los Banos, take CA-152 over Pacheco Pass to 101.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Another thing to consider about I-10 vs I-40 is the heat. Along I-10, you go through some very hot desert. If you are a fresh-air type of person, you may not appreciate that your car's A/C will be running a lot unless you drive in the early part of the morning. On I-40, you have a lot of miles that are in the higher elevations where it's cooler. Albuquerque is darned pleasant most of the time in the summer, as is Flagstaff and everything in between.

    As for scenic - northern NM and AZ, from Albuquerque all the way to Kingman AZ, is very pretty! It's mountainous in places, there is the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest (someone else linked those) National Park, and the closer you get to Flagstaff, the more forests you see.



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