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  1. Default Planning Road Trip - Need Advice - DC to Kansas


    I'm going on a road trip from the Wash DC area to Kansas. First time driving east like this. My concern are the mountain areas thru western MD, WV, and the like. I'm going to be using a trailer for the first time and would like to avoid steep grades. My current plan involves going west on 70. Does anyone know this area pretty well and can give me a "thumbs up" for no steep grades, or do you have any alternate routes in mind? Any thoughts on this would be appreciated! :) Thanks everyone!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default pretty mild

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    If you are sticking to the interstates, you won't have any significant problems with grades. The entire interstate system is designed with limited grades and curves, so that whether you're going over the mountains of the east or through the heart of the rocky mountains, you should still be able to move along easily.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Not Quite

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    While it's true that all Interstate highways are built to specific grade and curvature limits, I-70 follows the Pennsylvania Turnpike through the central and western parts of that state. Now it has been a while since I've driven it, and grades and curves are not the problem, but it is a less than ideal road for pulling a trailer. It was built before the advent of the Interstate system and has a series of tunnels, narrow shoulders and lanes, and is a toll road that nevertheless sees a lot of heavy truck traffic. But there is an alternative. At Hancock, MD get off I-70 and follow I-68 up the Cumberland River valley instead. Continue on to Morgantown, WV and get on I-79 north which bring you back to I-70 at Washington, PA after that highway has left its shared alignment with the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Surprisingly, this 'detour' will only add about 5 miles to your overall trip, it's a great scenic drive, and you'll save the cost of tolls on the turnpike (~$7.75).


  4. #4


    I 70 along the PA turnpike has a number of long grades, but none steeper than 3 percent. I 68 thru Maryland and West Virginia has a number of grades all in the 5-6 percent grade range. If you are pulling a trailer it will take more brake descending these grades. There are also a number of steep uphills to consider if you are taking I 68. Both rts are very scenic. I 70 is the more traveled of the two. Traffic along I 68 is usually light. I 70 is more curvy than I 68. I 70 has 1 tunnel between Breezewood and where you exit the PA pike at New Stanton. I have been both ways in a tractor/trailer and I wouldn't pick one over the other. If it was going to snow I would take I 70. Pa usually does a pretty good job of keeping the turnpike cleaned off. Snow can be extremely heavy between Cumberland Md and Morgantown WVa and sometimes its hard to see a snow plow in that part of the state. Whichever way you go you will be fine.

  5. #5

    Default DC to Kansas

    Personally I would take 270/70 to 68W, to 79S to Charleston, WV and 64 W. While in the Air Force my son used to drive back and forth St. Louis to Southern MD, preferred 64 due to less traffic.

  6. #6

    Default Opinions are like, well, everybody's got one........

    Hi Corsina,
    Even though it's been 25 years since I've traveled the PA Turnpike between Breezewood and the Pittsburgh area, from everything I read, it's still worth avoiding. Put it this way--PA has just proposed or completed the sale of the operating rights to private industry in order to avoid long-term maintenance and capital replacements! Yes, it was build before modern Interstate standards were developed and while it has been much upgraded, I'd still avoid it given the chance.

    The alternatives you've been given came from folks who know those routes. I do not. But, I've traveled I-81 south to Lexington, VA, thence I-64 across WV to Charleston and Huntington, and excepting a few long grades, it's decent traveling. Truck traffic can be a headache on I-81 and I-64, but that's hard to avoid regardless of the route. I think it's worth determining the distance differential of the various routes and have that in mind when finalizing your routing plans. I'd look carefully at the 70/68/79/64 and the 66/81/64 route if I were you, another reason being the relative lack of large urban areas on that pathway.


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