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  1. Default Chicago - LAX in August: I-80 vs I-40

    Dear members,

    I am new to the forum and congratulations for the website and discussion. It is very helpful!
    I tried to spend some time searching it before posting. Sorry if my query was already addressed and somehow I missed that.

    My wife and I are planning a road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles this August on a Mustang convertible. The initial idea was to broadly follow I-40 westbound but we have a concern about the heat especially when crossing Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Do you think this might be a concern, especially if we plan to stop a bit on the way?
    Alternatively we were thinking of driving on I-80 (and I-70), perhaps chiller in August, but we are not sure which one has more sightseeings. What was a priority for us was stop at Grand Canyon and Las Vegas and we can do that on either of the itineraries. We know that each of them has its beauties but with only 13 days to cover Chicago - LAX one way we think we need to chose one of the two itineraries... or perhaps there is a third alterative route that would look more interesting for a first timer on US inter states?

    Many thanks for your advice or any road experience between these two cities.
    Best regards

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

    Default Lots more than Interstate numbers.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    There are literally hundreds of route number options you could choose from by getting off Interstate and mixing it up a bit, you don't have to stick to an Interstate all the way. Of what route to take will come down to what holds most appeal to you. You are going to run into some hot weather whichever way you go and it will be a case of hood up and aircon on.

    To get to the Grand canyon I would certainly head towards Denver, well more Rocky mountian NP nearby and take 170 into Southern Utah. It's a very scenic Interstate, but you also have the choice to head south of I70 and use some of the US highways, such as US50. That would take you over Monarch Pass, through Currecanti Nat Rec area to Black canyon. [Not to mention lots of other choices] In Utah you will find wonderful NP's such as Arches,Canyonlands, Bryce canyon and Zion to choose from if they suit your interests. You could also visit Monument valley on route to the Grand canyon by either heading down 191 from Moab [Arches] or through Page AZ from Bryce canyon/Zion NP. It's not just about National parks, the scenery, towns and Indian lands you will come across are quite amazing. From the GC you can take I40 west [where you can detour onto an original section of route 66 through Seligman] before turning off to Vegas via the Hoover Dam. At the start of your trip you have other options too. You could head to St Louis and through Kansas City for example.

    From LV you could get to LA same day or you could detour through the Mojave or Death valley, both will be extremely hot !

    It could be that you personally prefer I40 and if that were the case you should stick to that route. The same goes for wanting a convertible. A larger sedan would be more roomy, practical and comfortable and less costly, but it's your trip and you should make the most of it to suit your personal tastes.

    So you could use all three Interstates for your journey. Have a look around RTA and study a good map to see what appeals to you and when you have decided and have a couple of dots on the map we can help answer further questions and fill in the blanks.

    Enjoy the planning !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It's Not the Heat, It's the Humidity

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Yes, I know that it's called the Desert Southwest, and I know the popular expression "But it's a dry heat!". I do live in the Sonoran Desert, after all. But July and August are our rainy season. We have a monsoon climate where most of our rain occurs during those two months as the humidity rises, leading to almost daily afternoon thunderstorms. Just the extra humidity, combined with the 100-110║F (38-43║C) temperatures, can be quite unpleasant. And rain in an area that is not used to it and has poor drainage can lead to flash flooding. So, for those reasons, I would suggest that you take the I-80/I-76/I-80/I-15 route which is both historic, roughly following the old Oregon Trail and Lincoln Highways across the plains, and scenic, crossing the Colorado Rockies then the San Rafael Swell in Utah, and passes near a number of great National Parks including Rocky Mountain, Arches, and Zion. If you take this route, then you should definitely visit Zion and then make the loop around to the east on UT-9/US-89 through Page AZ and enter the Grand Canyon from Cameron, exiting to the south to Williams and from there take I-40/US-93 to Las Vegas.


  4. Default

    Dear Southwest Dave and AZBuck,
    Thanks to both, advice is very helpful. Will redesign a bit the itinerary based on the above and will certainly get back to you and the forum with more queries... cheers

  5. Default

    We are planning a coast to coast and the first leg would be NY-Youngstown, sleeping there and continuing next day to Chicago. Possibly, from Youngstown onwards we wanted to avoid the I-80 to see something different.
    I liked very much your idea to continue after Youngstown and "switch over to I-76 and take that out onto the farmlands of Ohio, following it until it terminates at its junction with I071. From that point, roads like US-24 and US-30 would take you through the small towns of the Midwest ending up in the Chicago area".
    Could you give me please some more detail on this suggested route? We wanted to pass Akron, Mansfield, Fort Wayne on the US 30 and join the I-90 right before Chicago. In this way we hope to see some real mid west... what do yu think? It should be around 8hrs drive... Any nice spot on the way? Many thanks!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 07-20-2012 at 09:30 AM. Reason: Please keep all posts regarding this trip in one place.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I think you mean I-80, not I-90?

    There's no real good way to avoid Chicago traffic, but what would work best to transition from US-30 to I-80 would be to take I-65 north at Merrillville IN. Once you get past the I-65 interchange, US-30 is very congested and slow going with tons of traffic lights and low speed limits all the way to Joliet IL. Youngstown to I-65 via I-76/I-71/US-30 is about 400 miles and can be done in right around 8 hours.

    US-30 between Mansfield and Fort Wayne is near-Interstate quality, bypassing all towns, with reasonably high speed limits. West of Fort Wayne is not as fast, it's a divided highway but with a lot of grade crossings and some traffic lights and lower speed limits.

    This is only about 20 miles longer and probably 1 hour slower than taking the toll roads all the way across, and this is how I usually go between Chicago and the east coast.

  7. Default

    Many thanks, that helps! It seems that sticking to the toll road all the way might be the best balance(scenary vs driving time)
    I guess that the scenary should be mostly the same between I-80 and US-30/I-71/I-76/I-65.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'd spend the extra hour. You will save money ($23.40, the extra gas for 20 more miles is negligible, 4 bucks at the most) and you will have the opportunity to stop in towns to get more of a "flavor" of the Midwest. Getting off and back on the toll roads can be a hassle, a lot of the interchanges are out in the middle of nowhere. In the scope of this trip, the extra hour is nothing.

    I assume you will be taking I-80 from NYC to Youngstown? I usually stop for the night at Exit 223 in OH (Niles, OH-46), there's a few hotels and a large travel center (truck stop) right off the exit.

    If you are looking for recommendations for lodging off I-80 near Chicago, I would get past Joliet - look at Morris or Ottawa. Unless you hit rush hour, it shouldn't take you much more than 1 hour to get to Morris from where you get on I-80 off I-65, it's just under 70 miles. Ottawa is another 30 minutes west.

  9. Default

    Sounds as a good tip, many thanks! Yes, the first leg NYC to Youngstown will be on the I-80 and we will overnight in the Youngstown area (Niles looks like a good option). We will then be onto Chicago on the US-30/I-71/I-76/I-65. Always dreamed of seeing some real midwest and this seems as a good plan.
    Our trip plan is getting together little by little and we are so excited. The following stretch is now Chicago - Sioux Falls with a stop somewhere in between. Here the doubt is
    a) I-90 W
    b) US-20 W and I-90 W
    c) I-88 W and I-90 W
    d) Going thru Des Moines - Sioux CITY

    Honestly no idea (I could literally flip a coin but does not seem like a professional approach to trip planning)... I tried to read as much as I could and it seems that the northern route (Dubuque - Waterloo) is quite nice but again your help would be crucial... Many thanks

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Professional?

    Quote Originally Posted by FL37000 View Post
    Honestly no idea (I could literally flip a coin but does not seem like a professional approach to trip planning)...
    It's as professional as any other method. Really, as you have found, you have many choices. You are researching them, and discovering quite a bit about them. That is professional.

    Have you thought of leaving it open? See how you feel on the day, when you are there. See how the time goes; see how you feel about travelling on the Interstates / minor highways.

    Not every mile needs to be planned to the nth degree.

    Lifey who rarely plans anything

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