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  1. Default Indiana to Vegas

    In a little over a month, I will be getting transferred to Vegas for work. Where I'm currently located, in north central Indiana, I have a few options about which routes to take.

    Option #1: Head down on I-65S to I-465S to I-70W all the way until I-15S. This seems like the most direct route, but I'm worried about traffic in Saint Louis and Denver if my timing is off. I'm familiar with I-70W through Saint Louis, but I've never driven west of there on that road.

    Option #2: This route would take me along I-65N to I-80W just outside Chicago to I-76, which would lead me to I-70 in Denver and then finally I-15S. I'm familiar with I-80W to Omaha. I'm pretty much guaranteed to hit traffic in Chicago and will once again have to worry about mistiming an arrival in Denver and hitting more traffic there.

    Option #3: This wouldn't even be an option if I was leaving today because the road I would use to get there is currently under construction, but it's projected to be finished by the time I leave so I'm including it just in case it actually is completed. I could head almost due west from my house for about an hour and jump on I-74W, which becomes I-72W and eventually US-36W, to I-35S and finally picking up I-70W in Kansas City and then on to I-15S. I've actually only driven on I-74 between Crawfordsville, IN and Indianapolis.

    As you can see, I have 3 potential routes. I'm not concerned with sightseeing really, just want to get out there somewhat quickly. However, if there is something that might be just a quick detour to see, I'd definitely consider it. According to Google Maps, the 3 routes are all about 27 hours of driving time and they range in mileage from 1851 miles (option #3) to 1873 miles (option #1). Option #2 comes in at 1869 miles. So similar distances and similar drive times obviously.

    So my questions are:

    1) Is there any considerable advantage over taking one route over the other two?

    2) Is there anything close to any of the routes (say within 25 miles of the interstate) that would be worth seeing enough that you'd pick one route over the others?

    3) Regarding traffic, my first potentially bad traffic (barring a major accident) would be Chicago, Saint Louis, or Kansas City. I personally can't imagine Kansas City being too bad, but I do know that Chicago and Saint Louis can be a real mess. I'm not counting Indianapolis as potential traffic because I know I can avoid that traffic (once again, barring a major accident). So I guess my question is this, would it be better to hit what will be guaranteed traffic early in my first day of travel or hit traffic a bit later?

    Some final details. Regardless of which route I take, I will most likely be leaving between 6:30-7am. If I take option #1, that would put me passing Indianapolis International Airport between 7:15-7:45am and in Saint Louis at about 10:30am St. Louis time. If I go option #2, that would put me in Chicago at 8-8:30am Chicago time. Option #3 would put me in Kansas City at about 1:30-2pm Kansas City time, but this one would probably actually be later because I'd definitely stop some and stretch my legs and I'd need gas before I got there and would probably also grab a bite to eat.

    I'm also uncertain on potential overnight stops. The first day, I would like to cover as much distance as possible while still being able to drive safely. Any suggestions for overnight stops along the routes I've mentioned?

    This is my first time posting here, but I have been reading posts here for awhile. I'm not asking you guys/girls to plan my trip for me as I will do my own research on any and all suggestions to see what works out for me. All I'm asking is for some suggestions based on your own experiences in case something is suggested that I hadn't considered previous.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you might give.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Option 3A

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As you noted, all reasonable routes will take you about three and a half days to drive. (N.B.: Do not think of these drives in terms of hours, and the driving time estimates of computer-based mapping routines are pure fantasy.) So, the real question is, what are you looking for in the way of a driving experience. From your comments, it looks like your major concern is avoiding large metropolitan areas, especially at rush hour. So here's what I'd do.

    You don't say where you're starting from (Sorry, but "north central Indiana" is an area not a location,) but I'm guessing roughly Lafayette. In that case, get on I-74 west as soon as practicable and then, as you indicate in your option 3, I-72 and US-36 across northern Missouri. But stay on US-36 across northern Kansas and into Colorado and I-70 east of Denver rather than dropping down into Kansas City. Over the Rockies on I-70 and then drop down into Vegas on I-15. This is shorter (in miles) than any of your other options but will still take just about the same amount of time - three and a half driving days. Other advantages are the lack of any major cities besides Denver, and the fact that it will take you through Hannibal MO (Mark Twain), St. Joseph MO (Pony Express history), the Pony Express route across Kansas, Colorado National Monument, Arches National Park and Zion National Park, all within easy reach of the route. If you want to avoid Denver, you could even, at the cost of another half day or so of driving, use CO-79 and CO-52 to skirt it to the east and north and include Rocky Mountain National park in your itinerary, using US-40 (east!) to return to I-70.

    As for where to stop, plan on covering about 550 miles a day if you only do minimal sight-seeing. That allows time for getting going in the morning, stops for food and fuel and bathroom breaks, a couple of short stops to get out of the car for some fresh air and mind-clearing walk, and to wind down in the evening before trying to get to sleep. It is a common mistake to try to "cover as much distance as possible" especially on the first day. But you need to treat his like a marathon, like work, and just keep a steady sustainable pace. To that end, making reservations beforehand will help you maintain that pace and not be tempted to drive 'just another hour' down the road. Having reservations also means that you won't be wasting precious RoadTrip time looking for a room or worse, not being able to find one once you really are tired. Remember, though, to factor in any longish stops you decide to make and don't plan on driving quite as far on that day.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default No guarantee that it will be open.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    If you want to avoid Denver, you could even, at the cost of another half day or so of driving, use CO-79 and CO-52 to skirt it to the east and north and include Rocky Mountain National park in your itinerary, using US-40 (east!) to return to I-70.
    That assumes that the Trail Ridge Road (US-34) will be open. This road which crosses the Rockies at over 12000' from Estes Park to Grandby, is subject to blizzards at a moment's notice, any day of the year. It was in a July, August and September (in different years) that I found it closed by a blizzards.

    Should you be unlucky to find it closed, CO 7 and CO 72 is another magnificent drive from Estes Park back to I-70.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    As Buck indicated, having only a general area as your starting point makes it pretty difficult to help you narrow down between your options - especially because your starting point could have a big impact on which of the 3 route's I'd suggest.

    One thing I will tell you from the very beginning is that you should really dismiss the time estimates of google, as they are a complete fantasy - assuming you never have to slowdown or stop for anything, including gas. That seems especially important to note based on your statement that such estimates would have you getting to KC sometime around 2. In the real world, it's going to take you roughly 9 hours on the road.

    As far as routing, It really will depend on your overall goals. If your goal is to get there as fast as possible, I think I would go with either route 1 or 3 - depending upon your exact starting point - ruling out Chicago because of traffic issues. If you're just trying to get there as fast as possible, I think I would stick to taking the Interstates across Kansas. The trip is on the very outer edge of how far you can safely get in 3 days - and if you go that route, Junction City KS and Glenwood Spring are pretty much your only options for overnights. Those are going to be just over 600 mile days each, putting you on the road for 10-12 hours, and not leaving any time left for anything other than covering miles. As Buck suggested, giving yourself 3.5 days would make this a much more comfortable experience.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'd like to propose another option, which is a modification of your #2 and #3 - take I-74 all the way to the Quad Cities and pick up I-80 there. This keeps you out of all troublesome metros except Denver. Des Moines and Omaha are no problem.

    FYI, Kansas City traffic can be a real mess in rush hour - every bit as bad as St. Louis.

  6. #6


    My limited experience with the I-270 By-Pass north of St. Louis, has been positive. It is like an outer beltway segment, connecting I-70 east and west of St. Louis. More cities, of all sizes, need "outer beltways" these days. I've seen some real messes in "small cities" such as Wichita and Albuquerque.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I've been on I-270 in rush hour. It's no fun at all. Still better than going through downtown though.

    Wichita is better than it used to be, US-400 has been upgraded to freeway quality most of the way through the city.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Yeah, if you can avoid St Louis in any rush hour, you're probably best off. When we head west or east, we use a combination of I-70 to I-270 to MO-370 to I-70, or vice versa (heading east). We plan our departure very well to avoid STL *or* Kansas City during rush hour.

    Referring to MWMichael's suggestions for Junction City and Glenwood Springs, both places have a number of different lodging options. Exit 299 in KS has 4 choices including an Econo Lodge and Super 8. Exit 298 has 5 more choices, all of them a bit more upscale (BW, Candlewood, Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn, and Quality Inn). Exit 296 gives you back to budget-minded Budget Host, Days Inn, Ho Jo, Ramada, and ValuePlace.

    Glenwood Springs, because it's a bit more resort-like, is going to be a little higher priced. There are oodles of offerings at exit 116 and 114. There are budget-minded places if that's what you're looking for.


  9. Default

    Sorry it took a few days to get back to you guys. I've had a couple long days of work and had internet issues one day.

    I live about 20 miles SE of Lafayette, near Frankfort. The one problem right now with any route involving I-74 is the road for me to get there (SR28) is completely shut down right now between US52 and US231 so to get to I-74, I have to go either through Lebanon and take SR32, which is in dire need of repair at the moment, or go to Indy and pick on I-74 down there, in which case I would only be like 3 miles away from I-70. The construction on SR28 is projected to be done before I leave, but if it's not, then I'll at least have to take another route to get to I-74.

    I'm not afraid of driving in the larger cities during rush hour, but I do want to make my trip without a lot of delays. I did get my official schedule from work just yesterday concerning the transfer. My last work day at my current office is June 21. My first work day at the new office will be on June 27. I know I'll make it in time, but I'd like to avoid any delays that can be avoided so I can have a little more time to get things organized in my new home.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I see your trip as three very full days of driving, or four more leisurely ones, giving you a day to get moved into your new place before beginning work. That's if you're ready to go on the morning of the 22nd. It's 1850 miles, which means 3 days of hard driving around 620 miles per day (just a hair more than commercial drivers are allowed to do), or 4 days of about 465 miles per day.

    Or, if you really want that extra half day to help you move in, do about 550 miles per day for 3 days, then the last 200 on the 4th day. If you did something like this, you could spend your first night in Topeka, KS (about 560 mi), your second night on the WEST side of Denver (to avoid rush hour in the morning, about 540 mi), third night either in Beaver, UT (527 mi) or Cedar City, UT (580 mi - there isn't much between Beaver and Cedar City), then on the 4th day you'd arrive in Las Vegas after 170-220 mi of driving, depending on what you chose to do on the 3rd day.

    You know your local roads better than I do, but if it were me, I'd put up with the 18 or 20 miles of bad roads on SR32 to catch it to I-74, then take I-72. US-36 across Missouri is divided four lane most of the way, then use US-59 and KS-4 to drop down to I-70. This route will help you avoid St Louis *and* Kansas City.


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