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  1. Default Spokane, WA to Valdosta, GA in November

    I'm looking for some advice from some seasoned travelers. My husband and I will be moving from Spokane to Valdosta and will drive our two cars there. No children, but our cats will be coming with us. We did a similar move from east to west around 8 years ago with the same cats, but in May.

    I'm hoping for some advice on doing the drive in November. I have two routes planned, one northerly and one southerly. Personally, I'm not a fan of driving through the rockies and going across montana again. My husband's car does not have awd or snow tires. However, that route is shorter.

    Please take a look at these two itineraries and let me know which one you'd choose, why, and any must see stops along the way.

    Northern route 38hrs:
    Spokane WA to Billings MT (8.5hrs)
    Billings MT to Sioux Falls SD (10 hrs)
    Sioux Falls SD to St. Louis (9hrs)
    St. Louis to Atlanta Ga (8hrs)
    Atlanta Ga to Valdosta GA (3.5 hrs)

    Southern route 47hrs:
    Spokane WA to Twin Falls ID (8hrs)
    Twin Falls ID to Las Vegas NV (8.5hrs)
    Vegas to Albuquerque NM (8hrs)
    Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (8hrs)
    OK City to Nashville TN (10hrs)
    Nashville to Valdosta GA (8hrs)

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default The weather may help decide.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The first thing to address is the fact that you are taking your drive times from a mapping program that are pure fantasy, in the real world where us humans need to rest, eat, cope with congestion and construction and possible weather related delays. A good example is your journey from Billings to Sioux Falls will be a 12-13 hour day and is too much as part of a multi day trip. The trip can be done with 4 overnight stops but I would recommend they are spaced more evenly so that you stop for the night between 500 and 550 miles per day to stop fatigue setting in.

    As for which route to take, well only you can decide based on your time and interests and what your 'must see' stops are. [We don't do 'must see's' as mine maybe your avoid at all costs] I would lean towards choosing a favoured route and then check the weather forecasts and road conditions a couple of days before leaving and make a final decision then.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Spokane WA to Billings MT (8.5hrs)
    This will work, but expect it to be more like 10 or 11 hours, not 8.5.

    Billings MT to Sioux Falls SD (10 hrs)
    You should cut it short at either Chamberlain or Mitchell, SD. Sioux Falls is almost 700 miles from Billings. You'll hate yourselves! Allow yourself a few minutes stretching time by walking through Wall Drug and getting your Free Ice Water or your nickel cup of coffee, at Wall. If you stay in Mitchell, you could walk the Corn Palace as well.

    Sioux Falls SD to St. Louis (9hrs)
    This will now be affected by the change. Instead of St Louis, stay in Columbia, MO. Lots of choices for motel and restaurants there. Stay either at Stadium Blvd. or at exit 128, US-63. Mitchell to Columbia is about 560 miles.

    St. Louis to Atlanta Ga (8hrs)
    From Columbia, try Chattanooga. Then in to Valdosta on the last day.


    Donna

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

    Default

    Replying now to your alternative routing, this may not be as easy to fix.

    Spokane WA to Twin Falls ID (8hrs)
    The most direct route is going to take you down US-95 and ID-55. The only way to avoid those 2 routes would be a little longer, to take I-82 down to I-84. However, if there's a weather issue, the interstates are more likely to be plowed and sanded, than ID-55. BTW, if the weather's beautiful, the 95 and 55 have some beautiful scenery. It's going to be a very long day, though, as both go through small towns. You will slow down through many, and even come to a halt. Hubby and I were just on those, about a week ago!

    At Twin Falls, I recommend the Quality Inn. Good location (not right on the highway or freeway) but close enough to lots of places to eat.

    Twin Falls ID to Las Vegas NV (8.5hrs)
    Going down US-93 or I-15? Via 93, it's not quite 500 miles -- which is the most I'd recommend on 2-lane roads. Via the 15, it's 640 miles, and definitely not doable in one day. We just used that routing this past week, and St George is about where you'd want to cut it short.

    Vegas to Albuquerque NM (8hrs)
    Doable from Las Vegas. From St George, you'll find yourselves on non-interstate roads again. They're good roads, and through some beautiful country. Highly recommended if the weather's right!

    Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (8hrs)
    Doable. Definitely. But not in 8 hours -- 10 or 12. Stay on the east side of both cities (Moriarty in NM if nothing comes up for ABQ), especially on a weeknight, as you'll avoid rush hour in the morning.

    OK City to Nashville TN (10hrs)
    Instead of going that much out of your way, up to Nashville: at Memphis, get on I-22. Overnight in Tupelo, MS. Lots of Elvis Presley history there, if that interests you.

    Nashville to Valdosta GA (8hrs)
    Tupelo MS to Valdosta -- about 445 miles, or around 9 hours.



    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    If your major concerns for this trip are about the weather, than your southern route is a pretty horrible option.

    The easy way to tell is that instead of looking at hours from a computer program (which as others have indicated, are just not reliable), look at a trip of this size in terms of days. In a full day on the road, you should be planning to cover 500-600 miles.

    Your first plan, at a bit over 2500 miles, is a solid 5 day trip. Your southern idea is over 3200 miles, including many of those miles on remote 2 lane roads through Nevada. In other words, by going a southern route, you're really adding a day and a half of driving to your trip.

    When it comes to weather, that means on your southern route, you'd have 1.5 more days where you have a chance to see a winter storm (one of the biggest myths out there is that going south increases your chance of avoiding winter weather). You would be far better off taking the direct route, and if a storm does hit, you could sit in a hotel for a full day, wait for the conditions to improve and for the roads to be plowed, and even then, you'd still have a half day extra to play with!

    And certainly, keep an eye on the forecasts, but even then, dipping all the way down to I-40 would rarely be a wise move. If there is a storm forecast across Montana, then perhaps look at taking I-84 down to Utah, and then take I-80 across Wyoming. If there is a storm in the Dakotas, then switch from using I-90 and go down to I-80 across Nebraska or I-70 across Kansas instead. Changes like that, which only add 100 or 200 miles rather than the 700 miles in your southern route, are a far more effective way to deal with the chance of winter weather.

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