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  1. #1

    Default Northwest Arkansas to Northern California

    I am going to a wedding in Sacramento, CA in late Sept. The simplified version of what Google Maps suggests is “Get on I-40 to Bakersfield and then take CA-99 to Sacramento”. What would be the fun in that?

    I hope I am posting this in the correct topic. Although I am open to suggestions and will have a few specific questions, what I post will be as much about my process for planning the trip as the route itself. Because I do plan and enjoy the planning.

    I did go AAA and get guide books and maps for almost every state I will be driving through. I also tried to have the kind of coversation with the guy at AAA we used to have when they prepared Trip Tiks. He didn’t seem to “get” it.
    I will also collect state maps at welcome centers. However I seem to be something of an outlier on this because I find these days with a little “coaching” my in car GPS does pretty well. I am now finding the AAA online site does pretty well for planning because you can overlay scenic routes, road construction, and points of interest to Google Maps routing suggestions.

    I try to plan my stops at night by using reviews from Tripadvisor supplemented by other sites if I am not getting a clear picture.

    I do not mind two lane roads if they scenic are not too congested. In this area we have several highways with a third lane that alternates as a passing lane. Those are great. Four lane US roads are better. I would much rather take US 60 or US 36 across Missouri vs I-44 or I-70.

    I try not to repeat traveling over routes that I have used before. When possible I try to avoid large cities unless they are the point of the trip.

    Now down to details on the evolution of my plan.

    One place on my bucket list is Crater Lake. Adding the new destination changed things a lot. This resulted going to Joplin, Mo, two lane highways to Wichita, KS, I-135 to Salina, KS, I-70 to Denver then north to I-80, I-80 to Winnemucca, NV and the two lane road through Nevada and Oregon. This did not work for me. Didn’t care for going through Denver and Salt Lake. I was having a hard time finding accomodation that broke up the trip correctly. Plus I have done I-80. The only good thing I could find was that Hays, KS was one of "those" exits. Several low price motels with good ratings.

    So the first change I make was to go I-70 out of Denver. That is an Interstate I can drive again. The last time I was there it was snowing at the tunnel and the river was high so I did not get to do some walking I wanted to in Glenwood Canyon.

    I also want to try to go via Loveland Pass if the weather cooperates. How much longer does it take?

    To be continued.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    US-60 is now a freeway almost the whole length through MO from Sikeston to Springfield. What you would want to do is take it through Springfield, it will turn into MO-360 and dump you on I-44. Go a short distance and get off on MO-96 (which is actually old 66) and take that to Carthage. On the other side of Carthage, go under I-49 then take the first exit which will be the continuation of MO-96. Take that to MO-171 northwest of Joplin, take that into KS and take US-400 to Wichita.

    Why not take US-400/US-50 all the way across KS and CO to Grand Junction, then I-70 to Salina UT, then US-50 (The Loneliest Road) to Fallon NV, then Alt-50 to I-80? Then head out of Reno on US-395 to Susanville and take CA-139 and OR-39 to Klamath Lake, then US-97 and OR-62 to Crater Lake?

    If you want to take Loveland Pass, you could take I-25 off of US-50 to Denver to get to CO-470 to I-70, avoiding downtown Denver.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A good time.

    Loveland Pass is fantastic in September. The Aspen leaves are just brilliant yellows and gold. Loveland Pass is one Pass which is kept open all year for the trucks which are not allowed in the tunnel.

    The route laid out by glc is interesting and sometimes quite scenic. I have driven almost all of it.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    It's nice to see that Crater Lake is on your bucket list, and you plan to go this trip. I've been 2 or 3 times, and am more impressed each time! Bear in mind that facilities there start to close Oct. 5th, though some will be open until mid-October. The Visitor Center is open year-round. The Rim Drive is open, pending weather, until weather closes it for the winter. Go in with a full tank of fuel.


  5. #5


    When I left off the main issue I was having that it seemed that the places that were logical to spend overnight were not going to break the trip with a good day’s drive. A couple days were going to be about 500 miles which is bit much if you are going to pull of occasionally.

    Another consideration is that I am trying to cut some the cost by using points for the motels, so I wanted to find properties where the point price is good.

    So my itinerary as it now stands is:

    Day 1: I have added Abilene, KS because I want to go to the Eisenhower Library. Then stay overnight in Salina.

    Day 2: I am going to Denver to stay at the Country Inn near the airport because I can use points. This only place I have seen so far on this trip I can use points from that program. Plus I think I need a little time to acclimate to the altitude before heading into the mountains. The last time I had zig zagged across Colorado from the south to north so had already spent time at higher altitudes.

    Day 3: Denver to Fruita, CO. A short drive but it will give me plenty of time to explore along the way. To me I-70 is one of those exceptions where driving the Interstate is interesting in itself.

    Day 4: Fruita to Ely, NV. I have been this route before and it is an interesting drive.

    Day 5: Ely to Reno, NV. This part of US 50 will new to me. Last time I headed north from Ely,

    Day 6: Reno to Klamath Falls, OR. I will take this day as it goes but right now I plan to drive through Lassen Volcanic National Park. I will not do this park justice but to me a little is better than nothing.

    Day 7: Crater Lake. Klamath Falls is a little farther from the park than I would have liked but I hope to get an early start. After I leave the park I will spend the night in Medford, OR.

    Day 8: Medford to Ft Bragg, Ca. I hope see a little of the coast and redwoods.

    Day 9: Ft Bragg to Sacramento via Mendocino.

  6. #6



    We are almost neighbors. I go to the Undercliff about once a week. It is my Cheers although I go for the food rather than the spirits.

    Sorry I am such a slow typist so I had only got through part of my thought process when I posted last night. I have been working on this plan for a while and have made most of my reservations. Pretty soon I need to start working on how to get home.

    I go to Cincinnati a couple times a year and use US 60 across Missouri a lot. Even when it was a two lane road west of Poplar Bluff I liked it vs I-44. Sometimes little traffic east of Springfield is about the only holdup ever. Then I cross the rivers at Cairo and take the parkways across Kentucky to Lexington. A few extra miles but it is all pleasant driving until I hit I-75. I drove on US 60 in West Virginia this spring. Entirely different there. Part of it is a very winding two lane.

    In the end I think a lot of what you suggested ended up in the plan. The Eisenhower Library is something I had been thinking about for a while so taking US 50 doesn’t make sense.

    When I leave Salina to go to Denver I had considered using US 36. However they are milling the road along that route so I think I will just go I-70. Looking at traffic cameras and youtubes the traffic on I-70 there does not appear near as heavy as between KC and St Louis. I get much better milage if I keep my speed to 65 or less but don’t like to hold up traffic.

  7. #7



    I am just trying to get an idea how long it takes to drive Loveland Pass. If the weather would be like last time I went up i-70 the lack of visibility would make taking the pass pointless. After I got above 10,000 feet all attention had to go to the road. From what I have read elsewhere those trucks you mentioned tend to keep the speed up unlike a scenic only route.

  8. #8



    Some places you can never go to too often. Best ten bucks I ever gave the Federal Govt was for my Geezer pass.

    I seldom let my gas tank get below half full at any time. I have Gas Buddy on my Ipad and plan stops with an eye to price and availability. And sometimes potty breaks.(g)

  9. #9


    On my home I plan to go via Yosemite. This will be near the end of September. Does Tioga pass ever have short term closures for snow this early in the season?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    A short term closure of Tioga Pass is not out of the question at the end of September. It would be relatively rare, and it would almost certainly open back up within a day or two.

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