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  1. Default Best route from Raleigh, NC to St. Louis, Mo

    We will be driving from Raleigh, NC to St. Louis, MO on Dec 26 and wonder what the best route will be. We would like the route with least mountainous and less traffic. Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated! Happy holidays!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Try This

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Well, you do have to cross the Appalachians, and roads in general are designed and built to connect rather than avoid population centers. Still it is possible to design a route that will seem like what you've asked for. Remember that Interstate highways are built to design criteria which limit the steepness of any grade and the sharpness of any curve, so other than the scenery you really shouldn't feel as though you're driving through mountains. The worst part of your trip as far as congestion goes is the initial leg in North Carolina, and familiarity with parts of it should ease the burden. You just head west on I-40 through Greensboro to Winston-Salem where you switch over to US-52 up to join I-77 just west of Mount Airy. I-77 up to Charleston id probably the most mountainous portion of your drive, particularly the West Virginia Turnpike, but again it's excellent quality road, and if you just enjoy the beauty you should have a great time. At Charleston, hop on I-64 and take that the rest of the way to St. Louis. After you leave North Carolina, the only sizeable cities you'll hit are Charleston, Lexington and Louisville. not bad for a trip this long. You'll need two days for the drive and halfway would be roughly Huntington, WV.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default the bigger suggestion

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Before we get into routing, it first must be noted that the shortest possible route makes this nearly an 850 mile day. That's a brutal day on the road and in the best case its going to take you 16 hours. That's vastly more than professional drivers are allowed to do, and significantly more than we recommend for a single day, even with multiple drivers.

    On top of that you've got a winter weather system that is moving through the Southeast bringing snow to places like Atlanta and Nashville that simply aren't adept to dealing with winter weather. That will make it very likely that you're going to see additional delays. I'd strongly recommend you plan to spend a night on the road for this trip.

    The most direct route is I-77 to I-64. It will involve some mountain travel - which simply is not avoidable in this case. However, traffic should really not be a major issue. The other option would be I-40 to I-24 right through Nashville which adds about 20 more miles. Double check the forecasts, because that might be a better choice depending upon the path of the storm.

  4. #4

    Default What I'm going to do on Thursday

    Hello jd,

    I'm also in Raleigh and am due to depart for a long RoadTrip west on Thursday. It'll be my 4th cross-country RoadTrip in the last 8 years and my 3rd since late 2007.

    While the numbers don't lie in terms of the I-77 to I-64 at Charleston, WV route, it is the not the route I will take next week. The roughly 160 miles between Mt Airy, NC and Charleston, WV are very much up-and-down as you cross the Blue Ridge, the Valley and Ridge, and the Alleghany/Cumberland Mountains back-to-back-to-back. When I last drove the stretch from Charleston back into NC in 2002, it was the worst roadway surface I'd seen on what was a 6,000 mile RoadTrip that summer--concrete Interstate all broken up and patched and very rough. Perhaps it's been repaired and is smoother now, but that doesn't change the fact that you're in the mountains much farther than my route, below:

    I'll take I-40 all the way from here in Raleigh to Nashville, TN, thence I-24 slanting northwest to and through Paducah, KY to I-57 in southern IL, then connecting to I-64 at Mount Vernon. From my Raleigh residence to Mt Vernon via my route is 20 miles farther than the I-77 route.

    The truly mountainous parts of the I-40 departure are the 10 miles up Old Fort Mountain just east of Asheville and the 30 mile segment from Waynesville to the TN line. Passing through the southern edge of the Cumberland Plateau west of Knoxville is a bit hilly, but once you reach Lebanon, TN, east of Nashville, you've got flat to very gently rolling terrain for the duration. On this route, you're at higher elevations only at Old Fort and for the 30 miles west of Asheville as opposed to virtually all of the 160 miles from Mount Airy to Charleston. You trade Charleston, WV; Lexington, KY; and Louisville, KY for Asheville, NC; Knoxville, TN, and Nashville, TN and in that deal you receive lightly traveled parts of I-40 and very lightly traveled parts of I-24 in exchange for heavily traveled I-77 and the highly industrialized corridor between Charleston and Huntington, WV. Those cities and the roadways are a very favorable trade for one another. All of that makes the 20 miles added by the I-40 route meaningless in my opinion.

    Lastly, if your destination is on the south, southwest, or west side of STL, you can look at crossing the Mississippi a bit north of Paducah and take I-55 on up, thereby avoiding East St Louis and downtown STL.

    For travel tomorrow, the caveat to all of this is exactly what track the oncoming storm takes. Looks to me like the backside wrap-around is due to pass pretty much directly through KY, WV, and VA tomorrow. If that's what happens, shooting out I-40 to get west and away from the Coastal low and its snowfall predicted for eastern and central NC late tonight and tomorrow is all the more desirable.

    Good luck tomorrow, Merry Christmas, and do come back and post your route and experience for all to share (especially me, since I'm but days behind you headed to and through STL).

    Last edited by Foy; 12-25-2010 at 05:56 AM.

  5. #5

    Default UPDATE 4:30pm, 25 December 2010


    I've got family here from Asheville and Franklin, NC, and their neighbors back that way are reporting bad conditions throughout the area, including along I-40. Have a look at and select Asheville and/or Waynesville specific forecasts and you'll see they're looking for 6-10" by the end of the event and have already gotten close to the 6". Temps dropping hard later tonight and into tomorrow would seem to promise icy conditions tomorrow, when the temps will peak in the high 20s.

    By contrast, the I-77 route was east and north of the "sweet spot" of the storm and as best I can tell they've only gotten a couple of inches. They'll be colder tomorrow, with highs in the low 20s, but if I had to make a call on my own trip right this minute, I'd go up the I-77 route.

    I'd check for Wytheville, VA and Charleston, WV as well as Raysweather for western NC early tomorrow morning and adjust accordingly.


  6. Default

    Thank you all very much for your helpful suggestions. We are thinking of taking I-77 route and will check the weather again tomorrow. We will take it slow. This is truly a wonderful website. Again, we really appreciate your help!


  7. #7

    Default That's what I'd do

    Quote Originally Posted by jdtravelist View Post
    Thank you all very much for your helpful suggestions. We are thinking of taking I-77 route and will check the weather again tomorrow. We will take it slow. This is truly a wonderful website. Again, we really appreciate your help!

    The Ray's Weather site reports from all over the NC mountains and foothills, and from what I gather this morning, far southwest NC has received much more accumulation than northwest NC. If I were to be leaving right now, I'd go up I-77. I'd expect to be getting out of the mess by the time I got to Winston-Salem or just north of there, and by contrast I'd expect to be in the middle of the worst of it for all of the 300 miles between here and the TN line on the I-40 route.

    I will be interested and grateful for your followup report on the condition of the roadway along I-77 in WV, as it's been a long time since I drove it.

    Good luck today!


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