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  1. Default From Houston TX to Devil's Tower, WY

    Hello! Fairly new to roadtripping and looking for some advise on a trip from Houston Texas up to Devil's Tower, Wyoming. Looking for alt routes not taking main Interstates straight up through OK, KS and NE. I'm looking for routes to take us on a more north western route through the Texas pan handle (Amarillo) and up through Colorado. I've been trying to map it but the only problem is I'm not familiar with the smaller highways and I don't want to get stuck on a one lane highway for hundreds of miles (I did this for a brief 100 miles on 285 South and found insanity). Has anyone taken this route and is familiar with the best highways to take?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I a bit confused on your goals here. You want to avoid the interstates, but you also want to avoid 2-lane highways?

    There are some 4-lane US and State highways, but at that point, you're basically driving on the same kind of road as an Interstate. I guess it would be best if you told us more about what you are thinking here, because at first glance it seems like a contradiction.

    Also, how much time do you have for this trip, and do you have any other places in mind that you'd like to visit along the way?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default The Nature of the Beast(s)

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a scenic four lane highway that went right from my front door to my destination that bypassed all cities, had minimal traffic, and was littered only with amazing and quirky roadside attractions? Unfortunately, that's not ever the case, and for very good reason. Roads are built with public money to get the bulk of the public from Point A to Point B in the most efficient manner. But Point A and Point B are often cities and Point C is not necessarily in the same line. Roads were built haphazardly until the mid 50s when Eisenhower started the Interstate System which was the first (and so far only) national collection of roads built to a common specification and with an overall plan in mind. And since they were built of facilitate traffic flow, lo and behold, most traffic makes use of them!

    While I applaud your efforts to eschew the Interstate System and follow some 'lesser' highways, you have to recognize that those highways will not be up to Interstate standards. In particular, north south roads through the Great Plains will almost always be two lane roads - one lane in each direction - because that's all they need to be to handle the traffic that uses them, The expense of adding two more lanes and a median strip is simply not justified. The long sight-lines, flat terrain, and distance between population centers means that drivers have ample opportunity to pass, Having driven across the Plains (both north/south and east/west) on such roads, I can say that they do offer a good alternative to the Interstates, but one does have to understand how they got there, why they're maintained at their current level, and what their limitations are. That said, and understanding that most, if not all, of the US highways on the Great Plains are going to be two lane roads, here's the way I would go if I were planning the kind of trip you are.

    I'd probably be looking at using TX-6 most of the way up to US-287 into Amarillo, with a couple of small 'detours' such as TX-7/TX-107/TX-317 around Waco. I'd then stay on US-287 north from Amarillo as it works its way up the High Plains, with views of the Front Ranges off to the west, up to Kit Carson CO. Then I'd continue north on CO-59/US-36(west)/CO-63/US-138(east)/CO-113 to Sydney WY where I'd hop on US-385 to Spearfish SD and finally US-14 over to Devils Tower. That's as scenic and uncluttered a route as I think you're going to find. You will need a full threee days for it, as it will be appreciably slower than just buzzing up the Interstates.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 05-29-2012 at 12:04 PM.

  4. Default

    Yeah, sorry for the confusion - I guess the problem is I'm confused with which roads are two laned or four laned. Interstates, highways, US this or that - I don't know which are the country roads that have only one lane going each way - which are the the ones I'm trying to avoid. The best I've been able to figure out is to map a route on google and zoom in to street view to see what the road is like. I live and work in a city with 6 million people and daily rush hour that lasts 4 hours each day...so the last thing I want is to be surrounded by traffic. Our ultimate plan is to visit all 48 continental states. This past spring break we did the south-west (TX to NM, AZ, CA and NV). The June trip is covering the NorthWest states: CO, WY, MT, ID, WA, OR and UT. Our major stops are Devils Tower (Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind!), Glacier Park in MT and Forks, WA (Twilight+teenage daughter, who knew it was a real place! Twilight for her, HOH rainforest for me!) We only have 11 days but I love driving and do about 12 hrs at a time – which I’m pushing to 15 on this trip. I’ve just found US-83 “the road to nowhere”, and US59 "the loneliest road" sounds awesome!

  5. Default

    That is the first route I had planned - with an overnight stop in Burlington CO, then onto Devils Tower. I've seen pics around Amarillo and it's beautiful country. But when I zoomed in on some of those roads(287 and 385) they looked like back country roads so I wasn't sure about them. They reminded me of when we drove the 285 South through several desserted looking little towns. It's just me and my daughter on the trip so I"m always worried about saftey and heaven forbid breaking down on one of these seeming back roads.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Your best bet to find which roads are 4 lanes is actually to get off the computer and grab a good paper map which will have the routes marked as 2 lane, expressway, or freeway.

    However, your plan as you've stated is actually beyond dangerous. Its one thing to enjoy a good hard day behind the wheel, its quite another to plan to do so much driving that you are putting yourself and others on the road in danger. That is exactly what you would be doing by trying to drive 1000 miles to Burlington CO in one day (an 18+ hour day if you stick to the interstates, not 15). Even if you made it without hurting yourself or others, there's no way you'd be in any condition to continue another 500 miles the next day. You're looking at a nearly 1500 mile total drive - which is far more than we'd recommend doing in 2 days. If you're going to attempt it in 2, then you really need to break it into 2 even - but gruelingly long days of 750 miles each, which will be about 15 hours on the road and is significantly more than professional drivers are allowed to do because of safety regulations.

    A final note - The "loneliest road" is US-50 in Nevada, not US-59.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Thanks Buck.

    That is probably the best and most logical explanation I have read of the whys and wherefores of the roads, as we experience them. I am going to copy and keep that for future reference.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default A contradiction!

    Quote Originally Posted by 48continental2012 View Post
    That is the first route I had planned - with an overnight stop in Burlington CO, then onto Devils Tower.

    ..........

    It's just me and my daughter on the trip so I"m always worried about saftey and heaven forbid breaking down on one of these seeming back roads.
    To my way of thinking, the former is far more frought with danger for your daughter's safety, than the latter.

    Lifey

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