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  1. #1

    Default Rochester, NY to San Diego in 7 days

    I currently live in SD, and I need to move my car in Rochester NY here the first week of January. I can leave either New Years Eve, or the first of January, but I need to be in SD no later than January 8th. What route should I take? I have a 2001 PT Cruiser with 60,000 miles and new tires. I want to avoid mountains and lots of snow, so I'm thinking driving south toward Tennessee and then through Texas to CA. Am I crazy for driving my car in January? Should I have it shipped to me instead? I won't be traveling alone, and I have always wanted to travel across the country. I would be traveling with a filmmaker friend who would document the entire trip and use it in film school, which would make this all the more fun. What should I do?

  2. #2


    The southern route you describe would add about 200 miles to your trip and, at least in my opinion not be as scenic. It would however decrease the chances of serious weather problems. Once you got through NY, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the chances of serious winter weather would be low.

    What I would do is watch the long range weather forecasts before leaving. You would have to make a decision as to which route to take at Indianapolis and if the weather looks OK, take the shorter more scenic northern route.

    With 8 days, you should be able to make it easily - barring serious weather problems.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You should certainly do this trip, and traveling in winter shouldn't worry you too much. Thousands of people drive cross country all year long, and most of the time weather is a minor problem.

    Having said that, I wouldn't pick a route right now. Wait until just before you leave, and can look at accurate weather forecasts.

    The single biggest myth of winter travel is the idea that you can avoid snow and ice by going south. In fact, every single cross country route can and does see winter weather and often going south can actually cause more problems by driving in ice instead of snow and in areas where plow crews aren't as good at dealing with snow and ice.

    You could make this drive in as little as 5 days in good weather, so having 8 gives youplenty of time to wait out a storm if there is some bad weather.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Here's one thought, if the weather holds: Take I-90 to Cleveland, and catch I-271 to I-71 to Columbus OH. Jump on I-70 there and stay there until St Louis, where you take I-44 down to Oklahoma City. Take I-40 to I-15. The only downside to using I-90 is that it's a toll road, but for "just a car" it shouldn't be too unreasonable.

    As for mountains -- that should not be especially mountainous. The grades on I-40 are nice and easy, and you may not even know you're climbing. Flagstaff is at 7000 ft elevation. You'll drop down into Barstow, and then go over Cajon Pass, but going southbound on I-15 you're going downhill pretty gradually.

    My husband used the above route from central Missouri to San Diego, back in Oct 2011, driving a U-Haul truck. It worked well for him.

    You could drive this in about 5-1/2 days. Overnights could be in Columbus OH, Rolla MO, Elk City OK, Grants NM, and Kingman AZ. (That's around 400-500 miles per day.)

    If you'd like to avoid Riverside and San Bernardino County traffic (and I wouldn't blame you!), turn south on I-17 at Flagstaff toward Phoenix. It's probably among the steepest downgrades for an interstate, but it's really a pretty drive. You can go around Phoenix by catching Loop 101 West through Sun City, Peoria and Glendale, then I-10 west to AZ-85 south to I-8 West. The only problem with that is that I-8, just east of San Diego, has a climb from the desert up to about 4000' elevation. It's interstate grade, but you WILL know you're climbing uphill, because you'll be able to see it. Also, there are radiator water stops every 1/4 mile for a few miles. The more modern cars rarely have to use them. You may go slow in a 4-cyl vehicle (I do, every time I drive that in our 5-on-the-floor 4-cyl!), but others will also be slow. If you take this route, instead of doing your last overnight in Kingman, make it in Avondale or Glendale AZ. (Go around Phoenix first, and place yourself on the west side so you can avoid the rush hour traffic.)

    Just a route to keep in mind.


  5. #5


    I would highly recommend use I10 and I8 as a part of last trip phase. You can get in to San Diego without much traffic until you hit El Cajan and closer to SD city limit.

    You have few options
    - take I30 south from Little Rock, AR to I20/I10/I8
    - From Albuquerque, NM to I25South/I10/I8

    For me I10/I8 much more pleasant drive through desert then I40.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Flagstaff...

    Yes, but I-40 goes through Flagstaff and roughly follows old route 66 -- which is pretty scenic.

    But both roads have their merits.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default I-40

    Until I drove it again some months ago, I had forgotten just how scenic I-40 is through NM and AZ. A stretch worth driving.


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