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  1. Default Flattest route Miami to Milwaukee area (Elkhorn)?

    Hi, I need suggestions for the easiest, flattest route from Miami to Elkhorn, Wisonsin. I wish to avoid Cumberland Plateau at all costs. I will be driving alone and have no experience driving in mountains. It is job-related and I will have zero time for sight-seeing. I am hoping to make it in 2 days (each way), but will allow 3 just to be safe.

    I am thinking I-75 to I-10 to I-65 all the way up (catching I-65 in Mobile)? Looks out of the way, but very flat and easy.

    Thanks so much

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    In checking my mapping program, it seems that by going via Mobile, you have added 250 miles. It's a 1770 mile trip that way, and there's no way that you should be driving that in 2 days. Even going through the other way, it's 1500 miles which is a 2-1/2 day drive. (Here at RTA, we suggest no more than 600 miles per day. That's roughly what commercial drivers are allowed to do in the 11 hours that they are allowed to drive per day.)

    Let me reassure you, though, that interstates are built to specifications so that commercial and other traffic can flow smoothly. If you can drive on an interstate in Florida, you'd be able to drive on the interstate through the Appalachian Mountains. It's not like you'd see on some of those movies ... don't expect anything like "The Long Long Trailer" or similar! Just picture your Florida interstates going a little bit uphill and a little bit downhill, nothing steep, nothing treacherous.


    Donna

  3. Default

    Thanks, Donna - I am reassured by what you wrote. So bearing all that in mind, what route would you suggest? So this Cumberland Plateu is still interstate ? Is it really not too horrible? I definitely don't want to go 250 mi out of my way ....

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

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    I don't see any treacherous driving via the shortest route (I-75/I-24/I-57/I-74/I-39/I-43). Even this way, 2 days is a stretch, allow 3. I've taken these roads and you won't have any problem except for the Atlanta traffic.

    However, if you absolutely must avoid "hills" take I-10/US-231/I-65/US-78 (I-22)/I-55/I-57/I-74/I-39/I-43. This adds 150 miles and WILL take 3 days.

    US-231 is at least 4 lanes all the way from I-10 to I-65. There is a bypass around Dothan but you will have to deal with some city traffic in Montgomery. US-78 is Interstate quality except right at each end (Birmingham and Memphis) where the connections to the Interstate system aren't quite done yet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    First things first.

    You need to plan 2 overnight stops. Attempting to do this trip in 2 days is 100 times more dangerous than the most dangerous mountain drive in the world!

    At the quickest, you could make this trip in 2.5 days, but that's if you go the most direct way. If you go all the way over to Mobile, adding hundreds of extra miles, then you need a minimum of 3 full days if conditions are perfect.

    Of course, I'd never recommend you go all the way over to Mobile.

    Lets start with this: Why are you so deathly scared of the Cumberland Plateau? Since you have no experience with mountain roads, I suspect you are going 100% off of fear and 0% off of fact. If you stick to the Interstates, there are no sharp turns, drop offs, or anything like that. I can tell you, the most direct route, going up through Atlanta, Knoxville, and Nashville certainly goes through mountains, but it is a very easy drive. That's the route I'd recommend for a quick trip, and would say Atlanta's traffic would be a bigger concern than the mountains.

    Having said that, it is a bit flatter to take I-65, but rather than going all the way over to Mobile, you'd want to go up US-231 up through Dothan, AL, and get on I-65 at Montgomery. I-65 is less mountainous than I-75/I-24, but there are still some hills you'll be dealing with south of Nashville. It will take you a little more time than the direct route, since you're adding about 60 miles and have some slower non-freeway travel.

    From Nashville, I'd recommend taking I-24/I-57/I-74/I-39/I-43 up through Paducah, Champaign, and Rockford, rather than I-65 up into Indiana, which will force you do deal with both Chicago traffic and and a very annoying stoplight-filled drive up US-12 through the Chicago Suburbs to Elkhorn.

    If you take the I-65 route, Troy, AL and Effingham IL are "must stop" places for overnight, as pushing any farther than that will really start to compromise safety. Dothan or Ozark AL followed by Marion or Mt. Vernon IL would also be good choices.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Even Flatter

    Donna is absolutely correct that Interstate Highways are all built to specifications that limit the grade (steepness) of any section to 6% or less and also put restrictions on how sharp any curves can be. The whole point of these highways was to allow large heavy traffic (think big trucks) moving at 60+ mph between cities. It is, however, that second part - between cities - that might be of more concern to many drivers including yourself. The Interstates are made to take you to, and necessarily through, large cities. Trying to drive through Atlanta would cause me many more second thoughts than a (relatively) flat, straight road through scenic mountain scenery.

    All that being what it is, however, there is a way to avoid both the mountains and Atlanta (and Chattanooga, where three Interstates intersect), and it only adds about 50 miles to your overall trip. It does use some non-Interstate roads, but they are all four-lane, divided US highways of the type the South is known for, with bypasses of even moderately large cities and it is the route that I would use. Take Florida's Turnpike and I-75 up to I-10 and use that to get over to Tallahassee. From there take US-27 to Bainbridge GA and then US-84 to Dothan AL. At Dothan, use its 'beltway', AL-210, north and west around the city to US-231. That will take you to Montgomery AL where you would get on I-85 (south!) for a short connection to I-65 north which will take you on up to Nashville.

    Now for the bonus part, let's avoid Chicago as well! At Nashville, get on I-24 northwest through Kentucky and up into central Illinois where you'll hook up with I-57 north to Champaign-Urbana. Another jog west on I-74 will bring you to Bloomngton-Normal and I-39 north up to Beloit (missing Chicago altogether) and the final run on I-43 into Elkhorn.

    Total driving distance for avoiding all mountains, Atlanta and Chicago: 1561 miles. And as Donna pointed out, that really can't be safely done in two days. It would actually make a very relaxed and enjoyable three day drive, but even if you have time limits it's two and a half days, minimum.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

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    the most direct route, going up through Atlanta, Knoxville, and Nashville
    Chattanooga, not Knoxville.

    From there take US-27 to Bainbridge GA and then US-84 to Dothan AL.
    Staying on I-10 to US-231 avoids all 2 lane roads and only adds 10 miles.

    you'd want to go up US-231 up through Dothan, AL, and get on I-65 at Montgomery. I-65 is less mountainous than I-75/I-24, but there are still some hills you'll be dealing with south of Nashville. It will take you a little more time than the direct route, since you're adding about 60 miles and have some slower non-freeway travel.
    Agreed. This would be considerably shorter than going via Memphis, but somewhat more hilly.

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