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  1. Default Chattanooga,TN to Bellingham,WA

    April of next year (2015) I'm going to be making the trip from Chattanooga,TN to Bellingham,WA and after looking at the routes on Google Map it seems like I have 3 choices and there all about the same millage and time(by what the map says).My question is what route would be the most scenic to go,I-94w to I-90w,Just I-90w or I-70w.I know weather will probably be a big factor in what way will be more feasible to take at that time of year but it would be nice to get some opinions on the subject from people that have been thees routes before.I will be driving a 4x4 (Jeep Cherokee) so I'm not to worried about the snow and I plan to leave with plenty of time to make the drive so if I get "stuck" somewhere for a wile it will not be that big of a deal(giving myself 2 weeks to make it there). Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Why Limit Yourself?

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    You've got nearly triple the time you need for a 'straight through' drive (assuming this is a one-way trip, you don't state otherwise), so why limit yourself to just such routes? You can pretty much include any sites you want to see between Chattanooga and Bellingham. While it's true that some parks (Yellowstone for example) won't be open to through traffic that early in the spring, those are mostly in the northern Rockies. So, what I'd suggest at this point is that you concentrate on places rather than roads, and only later 'connect the dots' that you've chosen. Places or areas that I think you might want to visit on such a trip include Memphis, the Mississippi between there and St. Louis, perhaps the Ozarks, The Missouri River and the numerous Lewis and Clark sites along it, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Great Basin, the Great Salt lake, the Snake River, the Columbia River Gorge, Mounts St. Helens and Ranier, and the Olympic Peninsula. Those sites are clearly not on a straight line, and you probably can't include them all, but so what? Go to the places you want and will enjoy rather than just going where some highway engineer decided a certain road should go.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Many more than three routes.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    You actually have hundreds, if not thousands of choices of routes. In two weeks you could choose any of them. Remember that Google maps is only interested in getting you there, is not interested in scenic routes nor for that matter, in what your particular interests are.

    So what are you hoping to get out of this trip. What are your particular interests. Considering you have two routes, you could choose any route on a map. First thing I think you should do is get hold of some really good maps of all the States between your departure and destination points. Then check out along those routes what there is to see. Good maps will have most of the historical sites, geographic and touristy attractions on them. Scenic routes are also marked. If you can get hold of the State issued maps of each State as well, you could find even more scenic routes and attractions. There are also route attractions on the green bar above.

    As for snow. I was on the road for just about the whole month of April, this year, and saw some flurries in OH and western PA/MD, as well as MN. Mostly you should be fine, but it is good to see you are prepared for the possibility.

    Lifey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Look again.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    I can tell you is that you have many, many more route options and combinations of different routes to explore with the time you have available. You do not have to stick to a computer programs route that has you mainly stuck on Interstate. You could do the journey in 5 days, so with 2 weeks you have time for some for wandering. The best thing you can do right now is to do a little research and get hold of a good map and see what places grab your interest. As you get some markers on the map, you can then look at how best to join them up. Of course, once you have made a start we will be happy to fill in the blanks and make further suggestions. For scenery, well west of Denver I70 is probably the most scenic Interstate of all. Enjoy the planning !

    [I see that 3 of us were typing responses at pretty much the same time. No we were not repeating each other despite the fact the advice is all but the same ! In fact the 3 responses came from 3 different Continents !]
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 07-07-2014 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Added note.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the responses everyone. It's a 1 way trip,I will be boarding the ferry in Bellingham to go to Alaska and I would like to try to make the most of the trip and see some stuff along the way.I sure would like to go to Yellowstone but I'm not sure it will be open or not.I get what you all mean by saying that I don't have to stick to the "main interstates" but I also don't want to zig zag across the country and add hundreds of dollars in gas on to my budget.I will be making the trip alone so it's only going to be me driving and I will have to stop to sleep and such and I am mostly interested in parks and outside stuff but I will go into a museum if it's something I find interesting.

    What would be the best kind of map for me to buy that would show the most detail about the parks and stuff?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default

    There is no need to zig zag up across the country, but that's not to say you can't connect road numbers with various routes. Most of Yellowstone will still be closed to traffic. If you are interested in the outdoors/natural wonders then you can't go far wrong with heading through the Four Corners region. Both Colorado and Southern Utah have some fine scenic drives and quite a few National parks. RMNP [weather?] Black canyon, Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce canyon, Zion etc. You could also consider driving US50 [aka 'The Lonliest Road' out to Great Basin and then head North to Twin Falls ID where there is the Snake river canyon and Perrine bridge and not too far away, Shoshone Falls, aka 'The Niagara of the west'. Just a few options out of thousands. As mentioned, once you have made a start on routing we can be of more help.

    You can get a great deal of NP info on the nps.gov website. In the tool bar above you will see 'Maps'. If you put your cursor on it it will highlight different pages. You have the RTA Map centre where you can search for attractions along your route and a page of where to find road maps. For fine detail I usually buy a State map rather than a US Atlas. AAA do pretty good maps and if you are a member I believe you can pick them up for free.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Benchmark Maps

    In the western states, I always carry a Benchmark Map. Much more detail than other types of maps and they give hints about places that might beckon you toward a side-trip or other detour. Here is an example of the Benchmark for Utah. Also on this same page is the list of the other Benchmark Maps that could be on your route.

    I have the entire set -- but that can get pricey. But I never leave home without them.

    Mark

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Most for the Least

    Dave has set you on a pretty decent general path, but I'd offer some minor tweaking so that you are seeing the most scenic wonders while adding only minimal miles to your driving. I'd start, as he does, by heading basically straight west from Chattanooga. Assuming that you are willing to spend time but are less thrilled to spend money (in the form of extra gas), I'd also stay on the better US highways (with 55-65 mph speed limits) than the Interstates (with 75 mph speed limits). Initially this would mean US-64 across southern Tennessee to Memphis. Then US-63 northwest through Arkansas to US-60 in Missouri. Follow that across the Ozark Plateau to join up with I-44 to Joplin. Using a combination of MO-66/KS-66 (yes, the old Route 66 roadbed) to Lowell OK pick up US-400 to Wichita and beyond, switching over to US-50 when those two roads are duplexed. At La Junta CO use CO-10 to Walsenburg and get on US-160 for a spectacular drive over the Rockies through Wolf Creek Pass. This will bring you into southwestern Colorado: Durango, Mesa Verde National Park, Cortez and the Four Corners area. A detour to the Grand Canyon is possible at this point if you can afford the time and miles, but you really want to head north on US-191 from the Four Corners/Monument Valley area up past Canyonlands and Arches National Parks to Price UT and then US-6 into the Salt Lake City Area. From this point on using 'local' US routes becomes a bit more problematic because the tendency in the west was to completely replace the older roads as the Interstates were built, but your route will be gorgeous nonetheless. I-84 through the Snake River Valley in southern Idaho and across the northeastern corner of Oregon to I-82 and finally I-90 into the Seattle area and I-5 up to Bellingham.

    Now that's all a very scenic/interesting routing with many more sites along it than just the few I mentioned. And for all of the seeming roaming around off the Interstates, it's only about 240 miles longer than the shortest all-Interstate route - which would be through the northern Rockies in early spring, which can be 'iffy'.

    AZBuck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
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    6,936

    Default Simple maps will be fine.

    I would have to agree that the Benchmark are famtastic maps. However, they are not exactly a budget option, and can get pretty bulky. They probably have a lot more detailed information than you will be needing on this trip.

    If you are already a member of AAA, then get your maps there. They are free to members, and among the best. If you are not a member of AAA roadside service, it might be a good thing to join before you go. Great peace of mind lest something should happen along the way.

    State issued maps are usually picked up at the Welcome Centres as you enter each State. These are mostly, but not only, along the interstates. Most visitor information offices, tourist information offices or chambers of commerce would have them as well.

    Then you have the road atlasses, such as Rand McNally. Recently I have seen these at truck stops for as little as $2 or $5 - because next year's edition is about to be launched. (I travel with an atlas, AAA maps and State maps.)

    Having driven most of the routes outlined by Dave and Buck, above, I can assure you of its great scenery and numerous attractions. You may find other attractions along or near that route as small detours. Another great way of finding things along the road is to ask in small towns what their local attraction/favourite place is. It is amazing how you can discover little gems that way.

    Lifey

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I will also give you a hearty recommendation for a AAA membership, if you don't already have one. Already this year, our service calls have more than paid for the membership, including one while on our road trip. The maps are a big help as well.

    We carry the following: AAA membership cards, AAA maps, two Rand McNally atlases (though only one is really needed), and a GPS. When we stop at Welcome Centers, I often pick up a state map for the extra detail (since AAA maps will often give you two states in one map, and the states themselves will concentrate only on themselves). Also with us we have Google Maps on our phones and of course the laptop has it all when online, but I rarely try to rely on electronics.


    Donna

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