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  1. Default Driving from Western North Carolina to Southern Californa

    I plan to drive from Western North Carolina to Southern California this month. I am a single woman who will be traveling alone. I would appreciate any tips on the best route to take, for ease, safety and scenery, and some idea of how long it should take. Thanks for any ideas you could share.

  2. #2

    Default You may have any two of the three

    Hello "neighbor" (I'm in Raleigh)

    Mapquest shows Asheville to LA as 2302 miles and a shade over 34 hours drive time. The distance is hard to foul up, but Mapquest (and the other programs) usually understate the safe drive time. In this instance, they're showing an average of 67.71 mph over the distance. While it's entirely likely to average that speed or greater while actually driving, a more accurate measure is total travel time per day, which includes food, fuel, and nature stops. It would be hard to beat something in the upper 50s in term of whole day mph averages with the stops included in the time.

    So, at 58mph, it's more like 40 hours drive time including routine stops. And that's at the very least 4 days' driving. We tend to get a bit spacey after more then 8-to 10 hours behind the wheel, so the resulting 575 mile/day average over 4 days is probably all you want to attempt.

    The title line (any two of three) is simply to say speed, safety, and scenery are difficult to roll into one. That said, I-40 is the route Mapquest shows as the 2302 miles (well, you find the end of I-40 at Barstow, CA and take I-15 south into the LA Basin from there). So the most direct route is I-40 to I-15 at Barstow, CA.

    Scenery is "one woman's treasure is another woman's trash" to a large degree. Any route you take cross-country is going to put a lot of corn, wheat, sand, and rocks before you. When my son and I drove from Raleigh to Port Hueneme, CA about 2 years ago, we took I-40 all the way, but took a detour at Flagstaff, AZ in order to do a one afternoon drive-through at the Grand Canyon, and the next morning we looped north from Kingman, AZ to the Hoover Dam, thence the short hop to Las Vegas to connect to I-15 there.

    Given that it's the most direct, and not a serious challenge in terms of terrain, I-40 is by definition the safest, too.

    Have fun planning and taking your RoadTrip!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Foy has stated just about everything. I'd just like to add that for planning purposes, you should allow 5 days, don't push yourself to the point of being overly tired. When I travel cross country, I try to avoid driving after dark. I get an early start in the morning and try to get a hotel room before dinner in the months with limited daylight. In the summer, I'll push it a bit more and have dinner before I go looking for a room.

    There should be no need to have a detailed itinerary - you should never be more than an hour away from an available hotel room. The major chains are all well represented all the way across I-40 at or near the exits, and I would actually avoid hotels in large cities. I stay in suburbs and more rural areas.

  4. Default Thank you

    I thought I replied last night to the postings, but don't see it. So I'm trying again. Thank y'all very much for the thoughtful responses to my question. I appreciate it. Can anyone suggest a good map to take with me? I'm a AAA member, but wondered if there's a go-to map for this kind of trip. Also, is it true that one is never more than an hour away from a gas station on the I-40 route (same as hotel distance estimation)? And are there any other sights you'd recommend taking in along the way, in addition to the Grand Canyon?

    Thanks again!

  5. #5

    Default "Loves" all the way

    I favor a routine, new edition of a nationwide road atlas. Rand-McNally publishes such a volume, and most any bookstore will stock it.

    Having the national map book will give you sufficient detail as to state and local highways, rest stops, and state, local, and national parks.

    The reference to "Loves" in the title is that the regional travel plaza operator "Loves" is present at many, many I-40 interchanges from western TN all the way to AZ and maybe beyond. The xc trip my son and I took saw us stopping at Loves all the way out for fuel, snacks, and nature stops. So yes, there are no long-distance intervals without food and fuel. Well, the segment in westernmost AZ, just east of Kingman, is a bit isolated, but I still doubt there's > 50 miles without fuel.

    To replicate our Grand Canyon drive-through, turn north on US 89 at Flagstaff and drive to Cameron, AZ. At Cameron, turn west on AZ 64, which then takes you to the East Entrance to GCNP and along the South Rim, replete with many overlook points, to the main Village/entrance, at which point you'll drive south to Williams, AZ and pick up I-40 again. My son and I turned off of I-40 shortly before noon, had a leisurely drive through GCNP, and were back down to I-40 by around 5pm.

    In eastern AZ, I-40 takes you close to Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater, too. I'd suggest acquiring the Road Atlas and just follow I-40's route and just see what looks interesting to you, then do some googling or other research as to what the attractions are like.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by hmitchell View Post
    ..............Can anyone suggest a good map to take with me? I'm a AAA member, but wondered if there's a go-to map for this kind of trip.

    Thanks again!
    As a member of a AAA affiliate, I get their free maps for every State and major urban centre through which I will be passing, before I set out on a trip. As well as that, I have the afore-mentioned road atlas. The maps are mostly on a larger scale and easier to read. With those at hand I have a plethera of information (and still manage to get lost!! LOL).

    The maps I leave in places where other travellers may pick them up. The atlas becomes a permanent souvenir, as I mark with a hi-liter all the roads on which I drive.

    Lifey who could not travel without both

  7. Default Thanks again

    Thanks for the additional tips y'all gave re: maps, fueling and sights to see. I really appreciate it!

  8. Default

    I wanted to thank the people who replied to my question back in October. Your tips were invaluable to me as I made that long trip by myself, from spending the night in small towns - never paid more than $60 a night - to gassing up at Love's stations, it was all very helpful. Just wanted to let you know that you were of great help. I much enjoyed the trip and saw a lot of country I had never seen.

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