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  1. Default Louisiana to Washington DC in an RV

    We are planning a trip from Louisiana to Washington DC this summer in our motorhome. Thinking of taking the shortest route which involves driving Interstate 81 through Virginia then getting on Interstate 66 to get near DC. How is Interstate 81? What are the elevations like along the roadway through Virginia? We are not used to driving through the mountains and have had our motorhome only a year.

  2. #2


    Interstate 81 is the valley between the mountains. It is relatively straight driving all the way through. It may be a bit elevated in spots but I would say it is more hilly than steep. You basically are driving through the farms between the mountains. There is nothing to worry about here. It is only a four lane highway so there is traffic at times, though. I've been an I-81 a bunch of times and have found it a relatively easy drive.

    For elevation, the Smokey Mountains around the borders of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia will be the most mountainous area you will be driving through (I've never been on I-66). This basically includes the area of near Kingsport. For what it's worth I remember this area being less steep and mountainous than I-26 on the Tennessee and NC border through the national park. You won't go on I-26 so this is also a relatively easy drive as far as mountains and elevation.

    Keep in mind all interstates are graded for mountainous terrain and are safe.
    Last edited by Dominic Longo; 01-25-2011 at 10:39 AM. Reason: general edit

  3. #3

    Default Cruising the "Great Valley of Virginia"

    Hello MF Landry,

    While fairly rolly-polly and hilly all the way, I-81 through Virginia runs in the "Great Valley" and from around Lexington on up to I-66, the Shenandoah Valley (which is a large portion of the Great Valley).

    The Blue Ridge is close on the east side, and the Alleghenies close on the west, but some long hills within the Valley is all you'll be subject to. That being the case, however, the frequently heavy truck traffic can be challenging to deal with when they grind uphill side-to-side. There are but a few 3-lane uphill segments. In any event, it's the only logical route if "most direct" is your goal.

    I-66 cuts through the Blue Ridge at a particularly low point between Front Royal and DC and presents no mountain driving issues.

    You'll pass no closer than 40-50 miles from the Smokies as you drive east of Knoxville and turn up I-81 off of I-40. The mountains Dominic Longo refers to near Kingsport and Bristol are the Blue Ridge Mountains, only 15-20 miles to the east of I-81 in that area. You'll keep the Blue Ridge close to the east all the way to I-66.

    You'll be fine in your motorhome if you remain vigilant about keeping out of the left lane except when actively passing, which for you will generally mean passing trucks on the uphills. The last thing you want to do is occupy the left lane on the downhills, where the truckers make up for their slow uphill grinds.


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