A buddy of mine and I would be making a one way trip from West Lafayette IN (Hail Purdue !!) to Seattle WA around the 8th of February. On the way, I would also like to meet up with my brother in Denver CO. I had a few questions regarding the best route to take and places to see on the way.
I am going to take a rental Toyota RAV4 from Hertz (I am getting a Nissan Xterra for 80 bucks more and gas costs would be much more on the Nissan - so is it worth it ?). I have about 5 days to make the trip. Me and my buddy would be doing the 1100 mile trip to Denver on a single day/night, and then breaking for the day/night at my brother's place in Denver. I have driven such long stretches before alone (around 900 miles in a day), and with someone else around, I would not think that doing this stretch (1100 miles) would be a hassle. From Denver to Seattle, we would be doing a more relaxed pace and breaking somewhere in between.
I have some questions regarding the route to take:
1. Would I-70 till Denver be better than I-80 and then I-76? Better means less icy, less traffic etc. Both routes are almost equal in miles. I know it is not possible to predict the weather beforehand, but which route is generally better ?
2. I have 3 options from Denver to Seattle - I-70 across the rockies ->I-84, I-80 to Salt Lake City and then I-84, or the northern I-25->I-90. What do you think would be the best route. I have 3 days for this part of the trip. The best route in this stretch would be less icy and have more attractions (natural parks not snowed in ?). I was thinking of yellowstone, but have some doubts about going there for just a day and the significant detour that going to the North Entrance would require. The northern route of I-25-> I-90 seems to have a high probability of being snowed in/icy with difficult mountain passes as well.
3. Any portions of the road to watch out for ? Also any attractions that absolutely must not be missed ?
I wish that I could make this trip in summer, but my dates are not flexible - and will have to be there by the 12th. Thanks a lot for your help, and I already have answers to some of my other questions by browsing the awesome and helpful forums in roadtripamerica. Thanks again !!