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  1. Default January Indiana to Washington

    We are moving, with our dog in the car, from Indiana to the state of Washington (southeast corner) in the middle of January 2013. I am afraid of the elevations and weather. Any advice? We just need to beat the moving company there...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Indianapolis to Walla Walla

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    In the absence of more definitive information, I've assumed the titled city pair for your drive, in which case, the 'best' winter route would be I-74 to Champaign-Urbana IL, I-72 to Hannibal MO, US-36 across northern Missouri to St. Joseph, I-29 north to Nebraska City, NE-2 over to I-80 west to Salt Lake City and I-84/I-15 north and west to Pendleton OR and finish up on OR-11/WA-125 into Walla Walla. Of course, if your actual cities are different, some of that may not work. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to use Interstates and major US highways wherever possible, you want to keep the route as short as possible, and you want to have some time (a day or so) extra in case you need to sit out some bad weather. You're looking at about 3½ days, again depending on exactly wher4e you're starting from and ending, so you'll want to have at least four days for the drive.


  3. Default

    Thanks so much. We are leaving from just north of Indianapolis and going to the Richlands area (your Walla Walla is good enough). I was surprised to see that you didn't recommend I-90---that seems to be a common suggestion on other blogs. We would like to keep out of high elevations. With winter starting with such a bang already, we have been wondering about going all the way down to the Gulf Coast and across---we do realize that would add many, many miles and days. Any other ideas would be appreciated. Also, does anyone know how long moving companies take for trips verses us in cars? Thank you!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 12-27-2012 at 04:59 PM. Reason: Removed Quote of Entire Previous Post

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

    Default specifics

    Actually, having those details would make it appear that I-90 (and/or I-94) could likely be the better choice. I-90 is generally at a lower elevation than I-80, but both routes are roughly the same in terms of distance. Your best bet will be to pick which one of those options has the best weather at the time of your travel.

    Adding hundreds of extra miles by going south is one of the worst things you could do. You are right that you would be adding several extra days of travel - all of those extra days being days where you could see bad weather and fewer days you'd have available to wait if a storm gets in your way. Every single cross country route (even I-10 in Texas/NM/AZ) can and does see winter weather. Going south means instead of snow, you could see ice - which is worse to drive in than snow - and you'll likely see road crews far less adept at dealing with winter conditions. Plus, even after you get to California, you still have to deal with a significant amount of mountains and more chances for winter weather has you head north into Oregon.

    You'll have to ask your moving company what their travel time estimates are for your trip. It is safe to say it will be at least 4 days, as that would be the minimum amount of time needed, under federal law, for a professional driver to make this trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Six of One...

    There is only about 10 miles difference between the route I suggested and taking I-90 across the northern plains and over the Bitterroot Mountains, and in fact the two are so close, that my route is shorter to Walla Walla, but the I-90 route is shorter to Richland. You should also know that if elevation is what's most important to you, then the I-90 route stays lower (around 6,100 feet maximum) but the climb is steeper than on the I-72/I-80/I-84 route (8,500 feet). There really is not a lot to choose from between the two routes, so have a look at them both and pick the one that appeals to you.

    As for how long the moving company will take, no one will know better than they will. Ask them now, and ask your driver when he picks up your stuff if you can.


  6. #6

    Default All good information, plus.........

    ......a couple more tips.

    We often mention the westbound route to I-84 from WY to northern UT, ID and then OR as including "I-80 to Salt Lake City", when in fact I-80 intersects I-84 around 30 miles east of Ogden, UT, so the westbounder headed for I-84 never reaches SLC. This is important for three reasons: the 7,000' pass through which I-80 passes just west of Park City, the 10 mile 3,500' elevation drop section of I-80 from the pass, named Parley's Summit, and the fact that I-80 then dumps you into the heart of SLC, where rush hour traffic can be burdensome. By contrast, from its junction with I-80 at Echo Canyon, UT, I-84 runs a far gentler grade into the northern suburbs of Ogden, dropping but 1,200' into the basin.

    The other tip is to look at the weather forecast carefully before departing. I'd choose I-90 over I-80 in a New York Minute unless something highly unusual was forecast to bring bad weather to Montana/Idaho and somehow missing the I-80 corridor only 200-300 miles south of there in Wyoming. My colleague is correct about maximum elevations along I-90 in MT (well, close enough--Homestake Pass just east of Butte is more like 6,700'). The fuller story is that I-90 runs mostly in the valleys of the Yellowstone River, the Missouri River tributaries, and the Clark Fork River, so from Billings to west of Missoula the highway averages <4,000' in elevation and even drops to below 3,000' west of Missoula. There are more and larger towns/cities along I-90 in MT than along I-80 in WY. I-90 does go through 4 passes between Billings and central ID, but the passes are relatively low in elevation (excepting Homestake) and the run-up and descent from each of them is but a few miles on each side of the pass. By contrast, the majority of I-80 in WY is at or above 6,000', with an approximately 120 mile stretch in excess of 7,000' which has an 8,640' pass within it. I ran I-80 all the way across WY and back in January 2011 and 2012, and 3 of the 4 legs were terrible in WY. I don't think I'll be doing that again any time soon, unless I can plan a trip with a couple of "lay days" to let a weather system pass before scooting across WY in a good weather window. In short, in the Rockies, from AZ/NM all the way to MT, elevation brings weather extremes more than latitude does. Choosing between two routes comparable in distance becomes easier when you can determine one is on average much lower than the other.


  7. Default Grateful

    Thank you all so much---what a great web site this is! It is so nice when people try to help people whom they don't even know--doesn't happen much anymore.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 12-28-2012 at 07:43 AM. Reason: Removed Quote of Entire Previous Post

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    From Indy to Richland, I would recommend I-74 to Moline, I-80 to I-680 to I-29 north to Sioux Falls, then I-90 to Ritzville, then US-395. With good weather, this is a full 4 day drive, longer if you have slowdowns or stops due to weather.

  9. Default

    We had to change our route from Indiana to Richland Washington due to Storm Gandoff. We will be in Cheyenne WY tonight (Sat. Jan. 12). Should we go up 25 to Montana or go straight across 80 to Salt Lake? We know that there will be leftover snow and terrible temperatures both ways---I am assuming that going up from Cheyenne and then west across Montana would be less risky than going west on 80 over the high Rockies?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Wither the Weather?

    As things stand right now, according to the NOAA forecast, your best bet would be to stay to the south and use I-80/I-84. This is not because staying south will take you to a warmer place where there will be no snow, but because by heading north on I-25 you will be driving along the length of the cold front which is producing the snow and so you would see snow for a greater proportion of your drive. You would be better off to head west from Cheyenne and go directly through the front to get to the clear weather on the other side as quickly as possible.


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