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  1. #1

    Default Moving from Kentucky to Sacramento in January

    Hi guys--

    So, I'm moving in with a friend in Sacramento from Kentucky this upcoming January and I'm trying to plan my road trip right now. It will just be me (25 year old female) and my cat. We are pretty strong, independent women and we're fine on our own but I'm not so sure about the weather... I drive a pretty basic sedan that's done me well in Kentucky snow storms but I don't know what will happen on the journey. Hopefully the stars will align and I won't have to worry too much. I do plan on picking up some chains since apparently that's the law in certain places and might as well be prepared.

    As far as itinerary goes, this is what I have so far... Please tell me what you think and all suggestions/recommendations are welcome. I've planned this out so that I'm not stuck in the car too long every day but also gets me there in a reasonable amount of time since I am not made of money and can't afford too many nights with Airbnb or hotels.

    January 3rd: Berea, KY > Columbia, MO
    January 4th: Columbia > Hays, KS
    January 5th: Hays > Grand Junction, CO
    January 6th: Grand Junction > Salt Lake City, UT (chose to go a bit north up to 80 since there is literally NOTHING and nowhere to stay for hundreds of miles and I'd rather add time than be sorry)
    January 7th: Salt Lake City > Fair Oaks, CA

    I plan on staying with I-70 and then heading up to I-80 just to make sure I stay on heavily traveled routes and not get stuck in some podunk place that doesn't get plowed. Mid-winter and with a cat (and alone) is really not an ideal time to get stuck in a storm.

    So anyway, thanks in advance! I need as much help as possible!! I need some cool stuff to see along the way! Just gimme all the ideas

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Few Odds and Ends

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    A number of things struck me about your general plan, so let's start with those. The first was your decision to use I-70 through the Midwest and Rockies rather than I-80. It is worth noting that staying 'farther south' really isn't the way to avoid bad weather which can just as easily strike Kansas and Colorado in January as it can Nebraska and Wyoming. Your better method of avoiding any snowstorm is to have enough time built into your agenda to just sit out any that you might encounter. Adding miles, even an hour's worth, makes it more likely that you will see bad weather. More important is that by using I-70 through the Midwest and I-80 across the Great Basin, you're committing yourself to roughly 125 miles of two-lane highway through Utah. That stretch of US-191/US-6 through the Wasatch Mountains is far less likely to get plowed in a timely manner than the Interstates (such as I-80) that are the nation's commercial arteries. Finally, if you haven't used chains before, I would urge you to read this old discussion.

    The other thing I noticed is that your driving days aren't very evenly spaced, ranging from a low of 281 miles to a high of nearly 600. You would better serve yourself by treating the entire drive as a marathon with the need to set a steady pace. If you plan on doing the drive in five days, then I'd suggest aiming for just under 500 miles a day. That would put your overnights around (approximately) Columbia MO, Oakley KS, Grand Junction CO and Elko NV. Note that such an itinerary only requires the change of two overnights, from Hays to Oakley in Kansas and from Salt Lake City to Elko. Even more importantly, as noted above, you should maintain the flexibility to pull up any time the weather turns against you and extend your drive by a day. Fortunately in January motels will rarely be full and you should be able to find a vacancy fairly easily along the Interstates, except if you push on too long into snow and others get off the road and fill everything up before you decide to call it quits.

    Finally, as for where to stop en route. Much of that will depend on your interests, about which you haven't really told us much. You can start with this (very non-exhaustive) list of places to take a break near the major cross-country routes. Sticking to around 500 miles a day will let you take a couple of short breaks each day, even accounting for the shortened daylight hours. But if there are places where you'd like to stop for an extended period of time, say more than an hour or two, you'll need to build that extra time into your schedule. If you do have specific interests, please let us know and we'll do our best to point out some appropriate venues that you'll be passing near.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 10-08-2016 at 07:33 AM. Reason: Added link

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I would recommend you take:

    I-75 to I-64
    I-64 to and through STL to I-70
    I-70 to KC, use I-435 bypass to I-29
    I-29 to IA/NE-2/US-77 to Lincoln and I-80
    I-80 all the way to CA

    Recommended overnights all evenly spaced out:

    Columbia MO
    Kearney NE
    Rawlins WY
    Wells NV

    Overnights can be adjusted somewhat - each one is at LEAST as far as you need to get to stay on a 5 day schedule.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Looking at the three routes mentioned so far, I would agree with GLC's. Two route plans use I-70 over the mountains from Denver to Grand Junction. I'd keep that as a "Plan B" or "Plan C", as that route goes to almost 12,000 ft elevation and is likely to be very snowy. Also, if it's on a weekend, traffic levels from Denver to Vail might be very heavy, particularly if it's Friday!

    Columbia MO has a lot of places to stay. There is some construction in the area, though I'm not sure how much progress will be made on it, through the winter months! Your best bet for an overnight, with a cat, would be at the La Quinta at exit 124 (Stadium Blvd), or at the Motel 6 at exit 128a (US-63). There are some great places to eat, too. Flatbranch has great food in a bar atmosphere.


  5. #5


    Hi guys! Thanks for all of the advice! A few things for you...

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    A number of things struck me about your general plan, so let's start with those. The first was your decision to use I-70 through the Midwest and Rockies rather than I-80.

    The other thing I noticed is that your driving days aren't very evenly spaced, ranging from a low of 281 miles to a high of nearly 600.

    Finally, as for where to stop en route. Much of that will depend on your interests, about which you haven't really told us much.

    First, my original plan was to take I-80. The same route that glc posted, but I shared this on social media and a few of my friends who have traveled that route explained that it was painfully cold and also had much less to see. So I decided to go with 70.

    My goal with this trip is to make something that is necessary and turn it into something more fun. I want to see natural beauties, vistas, and what nature has to offer. Good places to eat, coffee shops, and tourist attractions are nice, but I won't be able to bring Carbon inside most places anyway and I will be leaving her in the car with some blankets when I stop and get things to eat/drink. So, I won't have much time to go inside and really do any museum hunting or whatever, and will most likely not leave Carbon alone in the car for more than an hour, especially if it is very cold.

    That being said, 70 is apparently an astonishingly beautiful way to get to Sacramento (sans Kansas). I know that it's going to be cold everywhere and the likelihood of snow is more dependent on the altitude rather than distance from equator. So I'm trying to factor in overall distance, road maintenance, and views along the way. I don't want to drive straight across and not be able to enjoy some beautiful views. I am not opposed to re-doing my itinerary (again) but I'm having trouble finding decent cities with enough people to host me (Utah seemed basically completely empty), and knowing which roads are safest/most reliable. I also have no idea how high up I will be driving so my biggest focal point so far has been where my friends are scattered across the country (why I chose Hays because I've lined up a free place to stay, rather than Oakley) and where there are CouchSurfing hosts and Airbnb hosts. That is why they are not evenly spaced out. As I said before, I will be traveling alone, and I would much rather stay with someone at their house for $20 a night than be alone in some dingy hotel for $40-$50. I don't particularly want to spend my nights alone and I would like to get some local experiences while I'm traveling.

    So, that's about where I'm at right now. I'm also getting the feeling that the weather will be so iffy, I shouldn't even book rooms in advance in case I have to cancel and start a domino effect. I am just trying to get a fail-proof plan that will allow me to get there safely, enjoy the trip, and make some good memories.

  6. #6


    Also, I don't mind at all to add some extra time to my trip if it will make the journey safer or if there's something that I just "can't miss" and you all recommend I spend some time there.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    The difference between I-70 cold and I-80 cold may be very little. What you *could* do, and probably *should*, is to leave your route decision until just before you leave, and base it on weather reports.

    As far as places to stay in UT -- if you continued on I-70 through Utah, your most-likely places for overnights after Grand Junction, CO, are Green River, Salina, and Richfield. All have a number of choices in all budgets with pet-friendly available. Be sure to have plenty of fuel when you leave Grand Junction. Green River has some expensive fuel (but it has some!), but the next town with fuel after Green River is Salina, 108 gorgeous miles later.

    Some of the most beautiful interstate highway in the country is I-70 between Denver and Salina, UT. Kansas can be beautiful in its own stark way, but admittedly, mostly in summer when the corn and the wheat are colorful. Still, I don't knock it -- I have family there. Same with MO.

    But I still think you're probably better off getting to I-70, taking I-29 up to I-80, and head west from there. The history along I-80, particularly in Nebraska and Wyoming, makes it interesting. Think back to 4th and 5th grade history, where you learn about the Oregon Trail. It went right through there; I-80 follows it in some area.


  8. #8


    Thank you! The more I've been reading and talking with people, the more I'm realizing that I may need to plan a few different routes and then just see what the weather is like once I leave. As I said before, I won't be staying in hotels. I will be staying with people on Airbnb and Couchsurfing to save money and to get the local experience. So I will have to choose larger cities for overnights since they have more people that host.

    As for 70, I think that's the route I'm going to stick to because I don't want to miss the beauty of it. I have heard wonderful things!

    Thank you for all of your help!
    Last edited by AZBuck; 10-12-2016 at 10:36 AM. Reason: Removed quote of entire previus post

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