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  1. Default Idaho Falls, Idaho to Stafford, Virginia - JANUARY 2016

    USMC being reassigned to Quantico. This will be my first cross country trip. I'll be driving the first week of January 2016, in a moving truck, hauling a personal vehicle. I'll be traveling with my wife and two dogs. I'd like any/all suggestions for the SAFEST route. I have five days to complete the trip.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 12-23-2015 at 02:36 PM. Reason: Removed non standard color and font

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    The "safest" route is the one that doesn't have weather problems at that exact point in time. This is within reason - if you have to detour hundreds of miles, you might as well hole up in a hotel and wait for things to clear. I would stick to Interstate highways as much as possible, they are maintained better than other roads.

    If Uncle Sam isn't reimbursing you for tolls, I'd avoid I-80/I-76 from Chicago east (IL, IN. OH, and PA) , tolls with a truck towing a trailer (do NOT tow with a dolly, get a car trailer) are considerable. You can avoid this (if you take I-80) by dropping down on I-74 at Davenport IA to Indy, then I-70 to Washington PA, then I-79 to I-68 back to I-70. Other ways to get to I-70 from I-80 are I-25 or I-29.

    Real time road conditions are at

  3. #3

    Default PCSing to Quantico....keeping it flat as can be

    On a winter trip in a rental truck towing a car (and by all means get a trailer instead of a dolly, as suggested above), I'd be interested in the flattest possible route which doesn't add lots of miles and which avoids urban congestion to the greatest extent practical. With that in mind, I'd run I-15 to Ogden, I-84 passing gently up Weber Canyon into the Wasatch Range (follows the railroad grade so not too steep, connect to I-80 at Echo Canyon, thence up the railroad grade to Evanston, WY, and I-80 at least all the way to Lincoln, NE. From Evanston to Cheyenne, I-80 holds high elevations between 6,000 and 7,500' with an 8,640' pass between Laramie and Cheyenne. With this reality, up-to-the-minute weather info is a must, as the elevations provide for high winds and ample precip when the weather is bad. It is here where you'd likely need to pause to "wait one out". The good news is that with fronts passing from west to east, it's likely you can let bad weather pass, wait 12-24 hours, and "surf" the backside of the front all the way across the plains. From Cheyenne to Lincoln, I-80 is very flat and conducive to slower rental truck/towed vehicle travel.

    At Lincoln, you have a choice: Continue on I-80 to I-74 to I-70 or drop down to I-70 east of KC via NE-2 to I-29 to I-70 east of KC via the I-435 beltway. If you can hit KC AND St Louis at non-rush hour times of day, I like that option since I-29 is largely flat to very gently rolling from the southwest corner of IA all the way to KC. I-70 to St Louis is a bit rolly-polly, but not bad. I-80 across IA is somewhat more hilly than we often think of IA being, especially from Omaha to Des Moines. All of that said, I did run the upper route through Des Moines, Davenport, and Champaign to Indianapolis in early August and it was a nice and reasonably flat drive.

    If you go the upper route, snagging I-70 at Indianapolis, you'd just run that across Ohio to east of Wheeling, WV to I-79 to I-68 at Morgantown, WV, then I-68 east re-connecting to I-70 at Hancock, MD. Ducking down I-79 to I-68 bypasses some Pittsburgh congestion and a particularly awful stretch of I-76 east of there--the old 1950s route of the PA Turnpike. Last summer, I towed a camper from Morgantown, WV to Cumberland, MD along I-68 and found it to be a very good roadbed (built in the early 1990s) but much more hilly than I'd like, but the long grades were mostly 3 lanes on the uphill side and the overall hilly distance was "only" about 75 miles. Continuing to Hancock, MD adds around 30 more hilly miles. From Hancock to Hagerstown you're on the Potomac River so it's nice and flat to gently rolling, as it is on down to Frederick, MD.

    At Frederick, I'd strongly consider dripping south on US 15 through Leesburg, VA and on down to Gainesville, VA and connecting to US 29 south at Gainsville. Thence US 29 south to US 17 South at Opal. US 17 south connects to I-95 around 10 miles south of Stafford/Quantico. Some of US 15 in northern VA is two-lane and some of US 29 south of Gainsville is older highway with stoplights, but you avoid the traffic nightmare which is all of the DC Beltway and I-95 for the 40 miles south of DC to Quantico. I'd take those short, scenic 2 lane segments over DC traffic in a New York Minute.

    Thank you for your service, enjoy the Holidays, safe travels, and welcome to Virginia!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    FWIW, I agree with GLC regarding the toll-free routing. At 2200 miles, five days is good - 450 miles a day is comfortable when you're driving a U-Haul towing your car (on a trailer - I agree with GLC, no tow dolly).

    Weather conditions call for an extra day to have on hand, in case you have to hole up in a motel along the way to wait out a storm. Do you have an extra day of PCS leave or similar that you can save, "just in case"?

    Thank you for your service!


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