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  1. Default Sacramento to Washington DC

    We are moving to Wash DC/Northern VA and we are taking the trip out in the car with the dogs! I was wondering what is the best way to go...I-80 or I-70? I want the highway that is most traveled because I am afraid to be out in the middle of nowhere (which I will be I know). Is there more little towns along I-80 through Wyoming than there is after you leave Denver on I-70? On my map it looks really bare out after Denver through to Kansas. It looks like Kansas is tho a little more populated than Nebraska.

    I am also worried about cell phone coverage through either Utah-Colorado-Kansas vs. Utah-Wyoming-Nebraska. Would you have better coverage on 1 interstate versus the other?

  2. Default What's your concern?

    I don't know that either one of these highways is more isolated than the other (overall) -- but what is it exactly you are concerned about? In fact, you will rarely be too far from a town on either one, relatively speaking, so gas, food and lodging are readily available all along the way.

    Are you concerned about being stranded without services? I can assure you that isn't likely. Cell phone coverage is pretty good along most interstates -- I can't say it is universal, but it is getting there. Both of these highways are very well covered in terms of roadside assistance. A couple of ways you can get a little "insurance" is to buy an auto club membership such as AAA, and/or get yourself a portable CB radio as a back-up to the phone. These are not expensive. Check out Mark's primer on CB radios. I recommend both options, just for the peace of mind they'll provide you.

    Even without these, if you happened to break down along a major highway, a highway patrol officer or even another motorist is very likely to stop to assist you sooner or later.

    Thousands upon thousands of people complete long-distance trips on these highways every day without any difficulties whatsoever, and most of us find driving the American roads a fascinating adventure, & certainly nothing to be apprehensive about. If there's another concern that you have, let us know and we'll try to address it. Bob

  3. Default

    Well...I have Onstar in my truck...and my cell phone. I definitely have AAA and I upgraded my membership to the 100 mile towing plan. I guess I am just chicken and I don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere...like on Hwy 50. Do you know which one out of 80 or 70 has the least amount of steep grades? I heard there are some steep areas on 70...is it equally as steep on 80?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Interstate 80

    Quote Originally Posted by aburas
    Well...I have Onstar in my truck...and my cell phone. I definitely have AAA and I upgraded my membership to the 100 mile towing plan. I guess I am just chicken and I don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere...like on Hwy 50. Do you know which one out of 80 or 70 has the least amount of steep grades? I heard there are some steep areas on 70...is it equally as steep on 80?
    You have to get over the Sierras and continental divide somewhere. I-80 is less steep over the Rockies, but the grade over Donner Pass in California is significant. Do you know how hard it is to find stretches of (paved highway) road with no one on it? The thing about being nowhere is that I always read that word as "now-here" which is a lot different than nowhere.

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    I wouldn't worry about steep grades if you are driving a car. Steep grades are far more significant to those in RVs or driving semis. Cars usually handle them fine. As with all roadtrips, make sure your car is in good shape before you take off. Having your brakes checked would be a good idea.

    I agree that you shouldn't be apprehensive about this trip. It will be fun and, as long as you practice the normal safe driving habits you practice at home, you'll be fine. Both highways are well-traveled. You will rarely, if ever, be alone on the road.

    I hope all this advice helps you feel better about this adventure.

  6. Default

    I guess I just hate driving next to cliffs...that is why I am wanting to take the hwy with the least steep grades. I am a big chicken and I am freaking out about this trip. I am used to being close to sea level and now I have to travel over all them mountains!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Well, if it gives you any comfort, I live at sea level, too. When you drive along the coast, aren't there areas where there are cliffs? Driving over cliffs on mountain passes are no different, in my opinion. The only problem I have with passes is ear pressure. Us folks who live at sea level probably have a few more problems with pressurizing than those who live at higher elevations.

    I think you are assuming that passes go on the sides of mountains and, therefore, always have cliffs. That is not necessarily the case. Passes are cut through the mountain. So it's actually more common to have hills on each side of you than it is to have cliffs. You might have short stints with a cliff on your side but you would be hard-pressed to find any mountain pass where there are cliffs the entire way.

    White Pass in Washington state has the most cliffs of any mountain pass I've ever driven over and, even there, the cliffs are only on a small portion of the entire pass.

    I believe the only way you can avoid going over a pass at some point would be to go south via I-40 or I-10. But, even on these roads, you will have elevation gains and grades to climb. New Mexico and Arizona are actually states at fairly high elevations. However, I've never been east of Tucumcari on I-40, or east of El Paso on I-10 so there could be passes east of those points that I'm unaware of. Hopefully, if there are, someone will chime in here.

    Have you ever driven from Sacramento to Reno? If so, you have already driven roads no worse than what you should experience anywhere else along your route....if my memory of these drives is accurate.

  8. Default Donner Pass

    Yes -- the climb east from Sacramento to Donner Pass is about the highest and steepest part of I-80. The rest of it is pretty wide open -- and in most other places where the road has a grade, you hardly even notice it (like southern Wyoming).

    There's really no need to get stressed about interstate highways across mountain areas -- remember these roads were engineered for high speed transcontinental travel -- moving trucks and armies from one coast to the other. The grades and curves are gentle, comparatively speaking.

    If you drive reasonably (conservately, no speeding), you will have no trouble whatsover. These are some of the most beautiful parts of our country, and a vehicle on a cross-country trip is absolutely the best way to see them.

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