First: thanks for all the great info in sticky's and trip reports. Very helpful for deciding a route and creating a todo list for preparation. Glad to read sound advice for once about researching, weather monitoring, and paper maps vs. solely relying on a GPS.
Background: leaving early March moving from Washington DC to Los Angeles.
Desired trip duration: 8-9 days, with a 10th day possible for weather delays. We're not inclined to drive more than 600-700 miles a day even though there are two of us.
Passengers: Two adults; one who loves long drives, but grew up in the south and not a huge amount of experience driving in snow/ice; one who doesn't love long drives, but lots of experience driving in snow/ice in New England/Mid-Atlantic and several solo road trips with challenging drives. And a 10 pound dog who travels well in the car, but can't be boarded in a kennel.
Vehicle: 2009 Chevy Traverse SUV, All Wheel Drive.
I'm looking for a sanity check on the route below we've tentatively mapped out.
Primary Route being considered:
Day 1: 270/70/76 to Cleveland
Day 2: 90 to Chicago
Day 3: 55 to Springfield MO, then 72/36 to Macon
Day 4 (Break Day): Tourist stop in Marceline MO, Short Day of Driving 36/35 to Kansas City MO/Lawrence KS
Day 5: 70 to Denver
Day 6: 25 to Santa Fe
Day 7: 40 to Flagstaff
Day 8 (Break Day): Detour to Grand Canyon (Need recommendations here for a route and pet friendly lodging in winter... would have loved to do a park lodge, but no dogs allowed)
Day 9: 40/15 to Los Angeles
Route Above Mapped on Google with Mileage
Any Alternates to Consider Once 3-5 Day Weather Forecasts are Known?
To avoid Great Lakes weather, take 70 until Denver?
To avoid Raton Pass/25 weather issues: could continue on 70 to 15?
Originally, we would have preferred to take the most northern route, since hubs hasn't done that drive before (and has done TX/OK ad nauseum) and the scenery is supposedly unbeatable, however, 90 ends us too far north on the west side of the divide with no good southwestern cuts southward (I've recently done SEA to SFO on the coast as a solo road trip). 80 seems the worst of the winter pass options. Any scenic options along the route above are welcome (subject to weather, of course).
Overnight Stop Recommendations? We welcome recommendations from anyone's past experience. (We know people in Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, and Denver, hence those factor into our plans to stay overnight near those cities and grab dinner with friends, etc... but we haven't scoped out hotels nor any specifics for the nights in MO and AZ.