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  1. Default Cross-country drive from LA to DC

    Me and my friend are driving from LA to DC next week, and we have about 7 days to get to DC.
    We are thinking of a northern route, because of the heat, but we are not sure. Does anybody have any suggestions?
    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Take the scenic route.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    Just how far north do you want to go? You could go right up to I-90, but that is going to add quite a few miles (and time) to your trip. As it is, it is a five very long day or six day drive.

    My prefered route would be (depending where you are starting in LA) to make your way to I-15, take that to I-70 which would have to be the most scenic of all the interstates. On the way you could, if you like, make a brief visit to Zion NP. You could stay the first night in LV, and the next two nights in Moab, giving you a chance to really check out Arches NP. Then follow I-70 through Colorado where it takes you over a couple of high altitude passes. After Denver you have the choice of I-80 or I-70 to take you further east.

    I am sure others will butte in soon with the eastern part of the trip, as I am not all that familiar with how to avoid most of the metropolitan areas there.

    Have a safe trip.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    The heat wave has moved into almost the entire country. However, at the upper elevations, it's a bit cooler, so you may need to find a route with a few of those!

    The "most logical" route would be:
    I-10 out of LA
    I-15 North through California, Nevada, a corner of Arizona, and Utah
    I-70 East, then drop south to DC on another route (I don't have my atlas with me at the moment to tell you exactly which Interstate takes you into DC)

    I-15 has some beautiful scenery as you go through the northwest corner of Arizona through the Virgin River Gorge. As you get to St George, UT, you could take a side trip over to Zion National Park.

    Continuing north on I-15, you are climbing into some elevations above 4000 ft. You'll catch I-70 about 80 miles north of Cedar City.

    Going east on I-70, between Salina and Green River, there is 108 miles of no services but beautiful scenery! Another side trip is in eastern Utah where you could jump down to Moab and Arches National Park.

    Continuing on I-70, the western section of Colorado is really pretty. The interstate follows the Colorado River here and there, and also cuts through Glenwood Canyon, AKA "the hanging freeway". There are places to get out and view, and to take a brief hike.

    Eastern Colorado and all of Kansas takes you through farming country, and in Missouri, you are on the busiest section of I-70 between Kansas City and St Louis. It's live-able unless you decide to drive either city at rush hour!

    Illinois, Indiana and Ohio bring you more farming country, but as you get into eastern Ohio you get a lot more wooded, rolling hills. Same with Pennsylvania.

    Somewhere along there you catch the routes that take you into DC.


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Another thought would be I-40. I'm pretty familiar with this route, as we just took most of it a couple of weeks ago:

    I-10 out of LA
    I-15 north to Barstow
    In Barstow, catch I-40 east.

    I'd suggest leaving LA in the wee hours....maybe 2 am?....to avoid the heat of the first few miles. (I would do that with the I-70 route, as well, because Barstow and then Baker are both on the desert floor, and Las Vegas can get pretty hot too.) Pull into Kingman on I-40 for breakfast. You could stop at Williams and head north to see the Grand Canyon, and perhaps spend the night in Williams.

    Continue east on I-40 at Williams. Flagstaff is over 6000' in elevation and always cool. The next "traffic" is in Albuquerque. We crossed that at noon and found it easy to maneuver. Amarillo is similarly easy, and some like to stop at the Cadillac Monument there.

    Oklahoma City can be a maze, so keep your eyes on the signs and keep following I-40 East. We hit that one at 2 in the afternoon which was very busy but nothing impossible.

    Eastern Oklahoma starts the rolling, wooded hills and more interesting scenery again - similar to those in northern Arizona around Williams and Flagstaff. If you get to Sallisaw and are hungry, and plan to eat DINNER, you can catch an all-you-can-eat catfish dinner at Shad's Catfish Hole, 7 miles south. They're only open evenings 5pm to 9 pm though, and I think they're closed on Mondays.

    You'll cross through Memphis, where Elvis Presley's Graceland is located, and then later, the highway crosses Nashville (home of country music). Shortly after the college town of Cookeville, before you get to Knoxville, you'll change into Eastern time. After Knoxville, catch I-81 North through the rest of Tennessee and into Virginia. The route is really pretty. Even with the heat wave, we found ourselves riding along with the car windows open until about 10 or 11 in the morning.

    At Staunton, clip over on I-64 to catch the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park, if you have time to spare. It took us 5 hours to make the 105 miles, though, so bear that in mind. It's a beautiful drive with lots of scenic viewpoints to stop at.

    Then, once you hit Front Royal at the north end of Skyline Drive (or if you decide not to do Skyline Drive and just stay on I-81), hit I-66 east to Washington DC. (Found my map).


    Donna

  5. Default

    Dear Lifey and Donna,

    Thank you so much for your detailed responses!!! Which route would you choose? The way Donna described the southern route seems very fun and doable, but would that be hard on the car in that heat, and are there sufficient roadside facilities?

    Thank you!!

    Emek

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Services a-plenty

    There are regular services along all interstates, with perhaps the only exception of about 100 miles in Utah. Filling up in Richfield sees you well past that.

    And if your car is in good condition, has had a full mechanical checkover before you leave, and you drive accordingly, your car should cope with any heatwave. When the heat stresses you, just check to see if it is stressing the car. The only time I have experienced overheating during a heat wave (here at home), was with an air-cooled Volkswagen.

    As to which route I would choose..... I-70 everytime!

    Lifey

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